How to remove sweat stains from clothes

Sweat stains can be one of the most frustrating types of stains to deal with when it comes to clothing. Not only are they unsightly, but they can be quite difficult to remove, especially if they’ve had time to set in. Sweat stains are caused by a combination of the salts and proteins found in perspiration, as well as the body oils that are released when we sweat. These elements can adhere strongly to fabrics, creating stubborn stains that don’t want to come out easily.

Fortunately, there are several effective methods you can use to remove sweat stains from your clothes. In this article, we’ll go over the best techniques and products to use, as well as some prevention tips to help stop sweat stains from forming in the first place. By the end, you’ll be equipped with the knowledge and tools to keep your clothes looking fresh and stain-free, no matter how much you sweat.

remove sweat stains from clothes

Sweat Stains on clothes

Before we dive into the removal methods, it’s helpful to understand a bit more about how sweat stains work and what causes them. As mentioned earlier, the main components of sweat stains are the salts, proteins, and oils that are secreted through the skin during perspiration.

When we sweat, our bodies release a combination of water, sodium, chloride, and other minerals and organic compounds. These substances can then interact with the fibres in our clothing, causing discolouration and staining. The proteins in sweat can also attract and bind to dirt and other environmental pollutants, further contributing to the staining.

Additionally, the body oils that are released along with sweat can create a greasy stain that is particularly difficult to remove. These oils can penetrate deep into the fabric, making them stubborn and hard to get out.

Sweat stains are most commonly found in the underarm area of shirts and blouses, as well as in the back and chest regions. However, they can occur anywhere on the body where there is a high concentration of sweat glands, such as the palms of the hands, the soles of the feet, and the groin area.

The sooner you can treat a sweat stain, the better. The longer a sweat stain is allowed to set, the harder it will be to remove. That’s because the salts, proteins, and oils in the sweat will have more time to become deeply embedded in the fabric fibres.

Removing Sweat Stains

Now that we understand a bit more about the nature of sweat stains, let’s dive into the various methods you can use to effectively remove them from your clothes.

1. Pretreat the Stain

The first step in removing a sweat stain is to pretreat the affected area as soon as possible. This helps to loosen and lift the stain before you put the garment in the wash.

There are a few different pretreatment options you can try:

  • Dish soap: Apply a small amount of mild dish soap directly to the stain and gently rub it in. The surfactants in the soap can help break down the sweat stain.
  • Vinegar: Soak the stained area in undiluted white vinegar for 30 minutes to an hour. The acidity in the vinegar can help dissolve the stain.
  • Baking soda: Make a paste with baking soda and water and apply it to the stain. Let it sit for 30 minutes before washing. The baking soda will help absorb and lift the stain.
  • Enzyme cleaner: Look for an enzymatic stain remover or pretreatment spray. The enzymes in these products can break down the proteins in sweat to help lift the stain.

After pretreating, be sure to launder the garment as soon as possible, as letting the pretreatment sit for too long can cause the stain to set even further.

2. Wash with the Right Detergent

When it comes time to wash the garment, be sure to use a laundry detergent that is formulated to tackle tough stains. Look for detergents that contain bleaching agents, enzymes, or other stain-fighting ingredients.

Some good options include:

  • Oxygen-based bleach detergents: These contain hydrogen peroxide or other oxygen-based bleaching agents that can effectively lift sweat stains.
  • Enzyme-based detergents: The enzymes in these detergents help break down the proteins in sweat to remove the stain.
  • Detergents with stain-lifting agents: Certain detergents contain surfactants and other stain-lifting ingredients that can help remove stubborn sweat stains.

Whichever detergent you choose, be sure to follow the instructions on the label carefully. Using too much or too little detergent can impact the stain-removal effectiveness.

3. Try a Stain-Removing Soak

For especially stubborn sweat stains, you may want to try soaking the garment in a stain-removing solution before washing. This can help loosen and lift the stain even further.

Here are a few options to try:

  • Oxygen bleach soak: Mix a solution of warm water and oxygen-based bleach (like hydrogen peroxide or sodium percarbonate) and soak the stained garment for 30 minutes to an hour before washing.
  • Enzyme soak: Use an enzymatic stain remover or make a soak solution with warm water and a bit of liquid laundry detergent containing enzymes. Soak for 30 minutes to an hour.
  • Vinegar soak: Mix a solution of equal parts white vinegar and warm water and soak the garment for 30 minutes to an hour.

After soaking, be sure to wash the garment as normal using your regular laundry detergent. The soak should have helped loosen the stain so it can be more effectively removed in the wash.

4. Use Heat to Set the Stain

While heat is generally not recommended for setting stains, in the case of sweat stains, a bit of heat can actually help lift and remove the stain. The key is to apply the heat before the stain has had a chance to fully set.

Try one of these heat-based methods:

  • Iron the stain: Place the stained garment face-down on an ironing board and press a hot iron over the stain for 30 seconds to a minute. The heat will help set the stain and make it easier to lift out in the wash.
  • Use a hair dryer: Holding the stained area taut, use a hair dryer on a high heat setting to blow hot air directly onto the stain for a minute or two. This can also help set the stain for better removal.
  • Soak in hot water: Fill a sink or bucket with hot (but not boiling) water and submerge the stained area. Let it soak for 30 minutes before washing.

Be careful not to apply too much heat, as this can set the stain even further if left for too long. Always test an inconspicuous area of the garment first to make sure the heat doesn’t cause any damage.

5. Bleach as a Last Resort

If you’ve tried all the above methods and the sweat stain is still proving stubborn, you may need to resort to using a bit of bleach. However, it’s important to use bleach cautiously, as it can be harsh on fabrics and colours.

Only use bleach on white or colourfast garments, and always test it on a small, inconspicuous area first to make sure it doesn’t cause any discolouration or damage. When using bleach, be sure to follow the instructions carefully and never mix it with other cleaning products.

Some options for using bleach to remove sweat stains include:

  • Adding a bit of chlorine bleach to the wash cycle
  • Soaking the stained area in a diluted bleach solution before washing
  • Using an oxygen-based bleach product, which is gentler on fabrics

As with the other methods, be sure to wash the garment immediately after using any bleach treatment to prevent the stain from setting further.

Preventing Sweat Stains

Of course, the best way to deal with sweat stains is to prevent them from occurring in the first place. Here are some tips to help keep your clothes looking fresh and sweat-free:

  1. Choose sweat-wicking fabrics: Look for clothing made from synthetic fabrics like polyester, nylon, or spandex, which are designed to wick moisture away from the skin and prevent sweat build-up.
  2. Wear undershirts: Wearing a thin undershirt or camisole under your outer garments can help absorb sweat before it reaches the outer layer of clothing.
  3. Use an antiperspirant: Applying an antiperspirant deodorant can help reduce the amount you sweat, thereby limiting the potential for sweat stains.
  4. Wash clothes promptly: Don’t let sweaty clothes sit in the hamper too long before washing. The sooner you can launder them, the easier it will be to remove any sweat stains.
  5. Check care labels: Pay attention to the care instructions on your clothing and follow them carefully, especially when it comes to washing and drying. Some fabrics may be more prone to sweat stains than others.
  6. Consider sweat pads: You can buy disposable or reusable underarm sweat pads that adhere to the inside of your shirts to help absorb excess moisture and prevent staining.

By being proactive about sweat stain prevention, you can save yourself a lot of time and effort in trying to remove them later on. And when sweat stains do occur, don’t be afraid to try a combination of the removal methods we’ve outlined above to get your clothes looking fresh and clean again.

Related Products

If you’re looking for some additional tools and products to help tackle sweat stains, here are a few options worth considering:

Laundry Detergents for Sweat Stains

  • Persil ProClean Stain Fighter Liquid Laundry Detergent – This detergent contains enzymes and optical brighteners to help break down and lift tough stains like sweat.
  • Tide Plus Febreze Sport Odor Defense Liquid Laundry Detergent – Formulated to tackle athletic odours and sweat stains, this detergent uses a combination of surfactants and odour-fighting technology.
  • Arm & Hammer Clean Burst Liquid Laundry Detergent – The baking soda in this detergent helps absorb and lift sweat stains, while also freshening fabrics.

Stain Removers for Sweat

  • Puracy Natural Laundry Stain Remover – This plant-based stain remover utilizes enzymes to break down protein-based stains like sweat.
  • Shout Advanced Ultra Concentrated Stain Remover – The advanced formula in this pre-treatment spray helps penetrate and lift tough sweat stains.
  • Fels-Naptha Heavy Duty Laundry Bar Soap – Using this traditional bar soap as a pretreatment can help dissolve and lift stubborn sweat stains.

Sweat Pads and Liners

  • Thompson Tee Underarm Sweat Pads – These reusable and discreet underarm pads help absorb excess moisture and prevent pit stains.
  • Kleinert’s Underarm Sweat Shields – Available in both disposable and washable options, these liners provide an extra layer of protection against sweat.
  • Neat Cheeks Underarm Sweat Pads – Made from a breathable, non-slip material, these pads can be worn discreetly under your clothing.

No matter which products or methods you choose, the key to tackling sweat stains is to act quickly and use a combination of techniques. With a little elbow grease and the right tools, you can keep your clothes looking their best, no matter how much you sweat.

Sweat stains can be a real nuisance, but with the right techniques and products, you can effectively remove them from your clothes. From pretreating the stain to using the right detergent and stain-fighting soak solutions, there are plenty of ways to tackle even the toughest sweat stains.

And don’t forget about prevention – choosing the right fabrics, using antiperspirants, and washing clothes promptly can all go a long way in avoiding sweat stains in the first place.

With a little elbow grease and the methods outlined in this article, you’ll be able to keep your clothes looking their best, no matter how much you sweat. Say goodbye to unsightly pit stains and hello to fresh, stain-free clothing!

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As the founder of Clean It Spotless, I am Melissa Walker, a leading expert in removing tough stains from fabrics, carpets, and upholstery. With over 10 years of experience in the cleaning industry, I have developed my own natural, non-toxic stain-fighting formulas that lift stains while preserving the integrity of the underlying material. My stain removal tutorials are widely read online, and I have appeared on local TV segments demonstrating my techniques. I also present popular stain removal workshops at community centers and schools.