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Our sweat contains a chemical called urea (the same stuff that is in our urine). But contrary to popular belief, this chemical is colorless, and does not stain our clothes. But it ain’t that simple.
In a cruel twist of fate, the very products that are supposed to protect us from sweat are the real villains in this story. That’s right, your antiperspirant. The primary active ingredient in most antiperspirants is aluminum, and even some deodorants contain aluminum as well. The aluminum forms an unholy reaction with the proteins in our sweat, creating that ugly yellow discoloration in our white tee pits. To make matters worse, cotton is another protein, which also joins in on this chemical party, exaggerating the effect.
The pit stains become harder to remove if left untreated over time. But it’s not impossible. They key is to fight fire with fire, science with science.
There are a couple ways to attack the scourge of pit stains, but these are the ones we trust most, and they utilize simple ingredients you should already have in the household.
For mild stains, it’s best to use a mild solution, in this case, white vinegar.
First, turn the shirt inside-out and pour the vinegar generously all over the underarm stains. Using an old toothbrush, gently rub the vinegar into the stain. Let it set for a 30minutes to an hour. Then put the shirt in the washer on a normal cycle with warm water – preferably not the “delicate” cycle, as long as the clothing is up to it.
For tougher stains, we support two battle-tested strategies:
- It can cure muscle pain, and it can also cure your stained armpit dilemma. It’s that miracle drug – aspirin! First, run the stained armpit areas under water. Meanwhile, crush up two or three aspirin tablets in a bowl of hot water and stir until they dissolve completely. Aspirin contains salicylic acid (also good for fighting acne), which helps remove stains. When your mixture is ready, submerge the stained areas in the bowl and let it sit for 2-3 hours. Finally, wash as per usual.
- Grab some hydrogen peroxide from the medicine cabinet. Yes, it fades the color from bright fabrics, but that is exactly why it works so well in massaging away those nasty armpit stains. Create a wizard’s brew of 1 part water, 1 part hydrogen peroxide, and ideally, 1 part baking soda as well. Mix it well into a paste, and apply it to the stains with a utensil. Use your fingers (in gloves) to rub the paste into the fabric. Allow it to sit for 30 or so minutes, and then launder as usual. If you don’t have any baking soda on hand, you can still try filling a bowl with the hydrogen peroxide and soak the shirt for 30+ minutes before laundering.
There you go, that’s three simple household solutions to erase those embarrassing pit stains from your favorite white tees – tackling one unavoidable chemical reaction with several friendly ones.
You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to see the sense in that.