Chances are you’ve had a favorite dress shirt, blouse or dress that after a few wears, the underarms begin to look stained, faded, discolored or torn. With the heat of summer come the challenge of keeping the underarms of your shirts dry, clean, and the same color as the rest of the shirt.

Unfortunately, once the damage has been done, it’s almost impossible to restore. And, your dry cleaner has no way of knowing that your underarm fabric is becoming weakened until the effects, such as discoloration or torn fabric, are visible.

Here’s what you can do to prevent underarm staining and damage:

Change your Deodorant:
In general, the underarm discoloration occurs when a fabric comes into contact with an acid substance that eventually causes a local change of color.

The biggest culprit to your shirt underarms changing color is the type of deodorant you wear.  If it has a lot of alcohol (fragrance) or aluminum you will experience the discoloration more frequently.

You could switch from an acidic antiperspirant to a neutral pH type of deodorant. Choose a brand with the lowest aluminum content that provides the protection you need.  And, allow your deodorant to dry completely before dressing to reduce the amount that rubs off on the fabric.

Wash the garment right after wearing:
Besides the color change in your clothing under the arms you may notice weakening of the fabric – maybe even tears.  This happens when antiperspirants have remained on the fabric for a period of time.  As mentioned, many antiperspirants are acid-based chemicals and may also contain aluminum chlorides.  These chemicals can form chemical degradation on fabrics containing cellulose fibers and holes can result.

Only you can prevent this type of chemical damage by having the shirt washed as soon as possible after wearing to have the antiperspirant removed from the garment.

Possible at home remedy:
If you’d like to try and remove the stains from washable cottons with an at home remedy, we suggest white vinegar.  To remove the build-up and freshen the garments, fill the washing machine with cool water and add one cup of white vinegar. Allow shirts to soak for at least 30 minutes. Drain vinegar water and wash as usual in cool water and your regular detergent.

For discoloration your dry cleaner can sometimes neutralize the discoloration depending on the length of time the staining substance has been on the fabric and the sensitivity of the dye to acids.  Unfortunately, the results are unpredictable and the color change could be permanent.

If you have an item that needs special attention, please let us take a look.  We’ll do our very best to remedy the underarms of your garments that may have been affected by chemicals and perspiration.

– S.O.