Has this ever happened: You’ve laundered your favorite shirts, T-shirts and workout wear, and everything looks and smells clean, until the iron hits the armpits, or you wear the garment again, and… phew! There’s that stinky odor! How do you get rid of it? Regular washing doesn’t work. Here are a few tricks of the trade to power away those embedded underarm smells from fabrics!

Each of these remedies works best if you turn the garment inside out and expose the underarm fabric before treating.

White vinegar is a powerful odor neutralizer and works wonders on underarm areas of fabrics. Fill your washing machine with water, then add 1/3 cup of white vinegar. Turn off the machine and let the garment soak for 20 minutes, then launder as usual.  (This will also work to freshen your musty smelling towels).

Aspirin and Cream of Tartar
Mix three white, non-coated aspirin tablets with a cup of warm water and a tablespoon of cream of tarter (you probably have a can in your kitchen cupboard!). Scrub the solution into the underarm area with a nail brush or old toothbrush, then allow the mixture to remain on the garment for at least 20 minutes. Launder as usual. Repeat, if necessary.

Baking Soda
Baking soda is great for neutralizing strong perspiration odors that are embedded into fabrics. Make a paste with baking soda and warm water, then rub the paste into the problem areas. Leave the paste on the garment for 15 minutes, or allow it to remain overnight. Launder as usual.

Dissolve ½ cup of table salt in a bucket or large bowl half-full of warm water. Soak the affected areas of the garment, then launder.

Listerine® or Scope® work well on underarm fabric odors. Simply pour several capfuls on the armpit areas, wait 30 minutes, then launder as usual.

Murphy’s® Oil Soap
Pour the oil soap directly on the armpit which has been dampened with water, and use a nail brush or old toothbrush to scrub it in. Leave on for 20 minutes then rinse in cool water, then launder.

Meat Tenderizer
This remedy might sound a little strange but meat tenderizer works by “digesting” or breaking down the chemicals that are embedded in the fabric. Simply dampen the armpit area with water and sprinkle generously with meat tenderizer. Work it in with your fingers and allow it to sit for 20 minutes. Then launder.

Be sure the stains and odors are gone before tossing any garment in the dryer, which will further set the unwanted stains and smells. Line drying clothing may also help eliminate odors.

Note: These remedies are based on shirts that can handle a little “tough love.” If you have similar problem areas on delicate fabrics, bring them to us and let our cleaning specialists assess they cleaning needs.

Odor Prevention:

  • Prevent odors by choosing clothing with synthetic fabrics, so be sure to choose fabrics made from cotton, wool, bamboo or silk, and avoid polyester and rayon.
  • Allow perspiration to evaporate before tossing any garment in the dirty laundry basket or rehanging.
  • Wash all of your clothing regularly.

What are your tricks for removing tough underarm stains and odors from fabrics?

– S.O.