Question of the Week

Why do deodorants stain some clothes?

Tue, 21st Jan 2014

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What causes deodorant stains?


Me and my friend is using the same kind of deodorant and I am the only one having yellow stains on my shirts whereas he doesn't. Is there something my skin only produces that causes yellow stains?


Jonathan Michael, from the Philippines, and I love listening to your podcast.


Hannah - So, are Jonathan’s pig tendency is to blame for his deodorant stains? With the answer is Susan Taylor from Iowa State University.

Susan - I was doing a laundry for my sister. They were visiting and I noticed Sow with pigletthe yellow armpits of the t-shirts of my brother-in-law and so, I kind of asked her. I said, “Don’t you know how to take care of that?”  she kind of said, “Well, we tried, but…”  My brother-in-law tends to lather the deodorant on because he thinks he’s going to have a stressful day or whatever. Our deodorants have anti-perspirant ingredients like aluminium and they react with the salts in the sweat. That’s caused the yellow in the white fabric. Regular detergents that we use won't always do much for the armpit stains. There's a couple of things that you can do to tackle the stain though. One is not to put so much deodorant on and let it dry a little bit so that it doesn’t transfer right onto your clothing.

Hannah - And if you can't limit the amount of deodorant you use or wait for it to dry before you put your clothes on, then how best to get rid of those aluminium deposits that are reacting with the sweat salts to produce those unsightly stains?

Susan - Scrape off any excess material that you may have in that area of the t-shirt, soak for 15 minutes in a mixture of 1 quart lukewarm water and 1/5 teaspoon of liquid hand dishwashing detergent and 1 tablespoon of ammonia. Gently rub from back to loosen up the stain, soak another 15 minutes in the above mixture and rinse. Soak a protein stain in an enzyme product for at least 30 minutes and then launder.  If the same remains, launder using cream bleach if it’s safe for the fabric and if it’s a t-shirt that’s of colour, use oxygen bleach to that type.


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