How to Get Pit Stains Out of White Shirts

How to Get Pit Stains Out of White Shirts

    There's nothing quite as frustrating as pulling out your favorite white shirt, only to discover unsightly yellow pit stains marring its pristine appearance. Whether you're donning a crisp button-down for an important meeting or slipping into a chic statement blouse for a night out, pit stains can quickly dampen your confidence and style. But did you know that with a few simple tricks and a dash of know-how, you can bid farewell to those stubborn stains and restore your white shirts to their former glory? Let’s take a look at how.

    What Causes Pit Stains?

    Before we dive into the nitty-gritty of stain removal, let's unpack the culprits behind those pesky pit stains. Contrary to popular belief, it's not just sweat that's to blame. The yellow discoloration is actually caused by a reaction between your sweat and the aluminum used in many antiperspirants; this chemical reaction leaves behind a stubborn residue that clings to the fabric, resulting in those infamous stains.

    Sweat itself is composed of water, salt, and proteins, which on their own, wouldn't cause such noticeable staining. However, when these components interact with the aluminum in your antiperspirant, they form a yellow compound that latches onto the fibers of your shirt, creating a lasting mark.

    Pre-Treatment Precautions

    When tackling pit stains, it's key to act fast; the longer the stain sits, the more difficult it becomes to remove. However, before you reach for the nearest cleaning product, take a moment to consider the fabric of your shirt. Always check the care label and perform a spot test on a hidden area to ensure that your chosen method won't damage the delicate fibers.

    It's also essential to avoid applying heat to the stained area, as this can set the stain and make it even harder to remove. So, resist the urge to toss your shirt in the dryer until you've successfully banished the stain.

    Home Remedies for Removing Pit Stains

    If you're in a pinch and don't have any specialized stain removers on hand, fear not! Your kitchen and laundry room likely hold the key to banishing those unsightly marks.


    Crush a few aspirin tablets and mix them with warm water to form a paste. Apply the paste to the stain, let it sit for 30 minutes, and then wash as usual. The salicylic acid in aspirin helps break down the stain-causing compounds.

    Baking Soda and Hydrogen Peroxide

    Create a paste using equal parts baking soda and hydrogen peroxide. Rub the mixture into the stain, allow it to sit for 30 minutes, and then launder the shirt. This dynamic duo works together to lift the stain and brighten the fabric.

    White Vinegar

    Soak the stained area in undiluted white vinegar for 30 minutes before laundering. The acidity of the vinegar helps break down the stubborn residue, making it easier for your detergent to wash it away.

    Lemon Juice and Salt

    Mix equal parts lemon juice and salt to create a paste. Apply the paste to the stain, let it sit for 30 minutes, and then rinse with cold water before laundering. The citric acid in lemon juice acts as a natural bleaching agent, while the salt helps scrub away the stain.

    Using Commercial Stain Removers

    For particularly stubborn pit stains, you may need to bring in the big guns. Commercial stain removers, specifically designed for this purpose, can work wonders.

    • OxiClean: Mix a scoop of OxiClean with warm water and soak the stained area for several hours before laundering. The oxygen bleach in OxiClean targets tough stains, breaking them down and lifting them from the fabric.
    • Raise Stain Remover: Apply this powerful stain remover directly to the pit stains, gently work it into the fabric, and let it sit for 20 minutes before washing. Raise is known for its ability to tackle even the most stubborn stains, making it a go-to choice for many.
    • Shout Advanced Gel: Rub the gel into the stain, allowing it to penetrate the fibers for 20 minutes, then launder as usual. The advanced formula of this gel clings to the stain, breaking it down and ensuring that it washes away easily.

    When using any commercial stain remover, be sure to follow the instructions carefully and always perform a spot test on a hidden area of the shirt to ensure that it won't cause any damage or discoloration.

    How to Prevent Pit Stains on White Shirts

    While knowing how to remove pit stains is undeniably useful, preventing them from occurring in the first place is even better. To do this, consider switching to an aluminum-free deodorant or antiperspirant to minimize the chemical reaction responsible for those pesky stains. Additionally, allow your antiperspirant to dry completely before putting on your shirt to prevent any transfer onto the fabric.

    Another helpful tip is to wear an undershirt beneath your white shirts; this extra layer can absorb sweat and antiperspirant, acting as a barrier between your skin and your favorite white shirt. Opt for a lightweight, breathable fabric to ensure that you stay comfortable throughout the day.

    Laundry Tips to Keep White Shirts Bright

    To keep your white shirts looking their best, follow these simple laundry tips:

    Separate Whites

    Always wash your white shirts separately from colored clothing to prevent any dye transfer. Even the slightest hint of color can dull the brightness of your whites over time.

    Use the Right Detergent

    Opt for a detergent specifically designed for whites, which often contains optical brighteners to keep your shirts gleaming. These specialized formulas help to reflect light, making your whites appear even brighter.

    Don't Overload

    Give your white shirts plenty of room to move around in the wash, ensuring that the detergent and water can effectively penetrate the fibers - overloading your machine can lead to subpar cleaning results and may even cause your shirts to come out looking dingy.

    Add a Booster

    To give your whites an extra boost of brightness, consider adding a laundry booster like borax or washing soda to your wash cycle; certain additives can help to soften the water and enhance the cleaning power of your detergent.

    Armed with these tips and tricks, you can confidently tackle pit stains and keep your white shirts looking pristine. So whether you're rocking a classic tee or a sophisticated Luxeire blouse, you can step out in style, knowing that unsightly stains are a thing of the past. Embrace the crisp, clean look of fresh white shirts and let your confidence shine through!

    Article by:

    Gina Kuyers

    Gina Kuyers is the founder of Luxeire. The idea for Luxeire came out of founder Gina’s frustration with the discomfort and high maintenance of beautiful clothing. With a 20-year career and PhD in school psychology, Gina spent decades applying research to real-world problem solving. She brought these well-honed skills to designing and producing a line of elevated wardrobe staples.

    Gina grew up in West Michigan where she attended Calvin College graduating with a degree in education. She continued her education at Fordham where she received her PHD in school psychology. Gina and her husband, David, have four adult children and live in New Jersey—just a short ferry ride from the Luxeire studio in New York City.