There are few things quite as embarrassing and clothing-ruining as pit stains. If you like wearing fresh white shirts or wear a lot of undershirts to work daily, the dinginess of a pit stain is pretty pervasive. Often enough, failure to remove these hard-to-clean stains will result in the premature purchase of new shirts when the shirt could have still been in its prime. Fear not! They can be removed!
A lot of people assume that the protein, salt and bacteria in your sweat building up on the shirt over time cause these stains. The stains look pretty gross so we assume it's a natural occurrence. Actually, it's a chemical reaction between your sweat and your deodorant. If you use any basic store-bought deodorant, chances are it contains aluminum, the real culprit of the weird color. (You guys who use body spray may have noticed that your pit stains extend to your chest and neck area, right?) The best way to avoid the stains is to switch to a natural deodorant. Spreading on coconut oil and/or rubbing a salt stick where you sweat the most work amazingly well at getting rid of odor-causing bacteria. If you sweat a lot, you might want to consider trimming back your chest or armpit hair a little so it doesn't hold so much water against your shirt. You'll still smell lovely, I promise.
Don't Bleach the Stain
This would seem like the most obvious thing to do, but the chemicals in bleach will react with the stain and make it worse. There are easier and more natural alternatives. If you bleach some of your whites, like towels, do a separate load without bleach for stained shirts.
Have you ever put lemon juice on your hair before going to the beach to lighten your locks? Same principle here. Squeeze a little fresh lemon juice on the effected area and hang to dry in the sun for a day. Voila!
That same stuff that's great for disinfecting cuts is also wonderful for pit stains, and is often safe on dyed fabrics too (be sure to test a hidden spot on your colored shirt first). Spray on the area and let it sit for 15 minutes or even respray and let sit over several hours for more pernicious stains. Throw in the wash and it will come out stain-free.
Some powdered detergents like OxyClean create hydrogen peroxide when combined with water, which helps to lift stains. You can also pre-soak clothing in the detergent for really tough stains. Detergent is usually more formulated for colorfastness than straight hydrogen peroxide, so if you have blue or patterned dress shirts this may be your best bet.
Use these tips to extend the life of all your clothes and keep looking so fresh and so clean! Until next time!