Dealing with sweat stains

By Cynthia Wairimu

Sweating is a normal body function that happens to everyone usually in response to heat, physical activities and even stress. The problem comes in when it creates stains, from the salts and a combination of deodorant, on our attires, which can be embarrassing and even interfere with day-to-day activities.

So, what can one do to be rid of these stubborn sweat stains? First, tempting as it is, do not bleach! It sounds like a good idea but only serves to make the stains worse. Here are a few hacks to use with just common household items that are budget friendly and available.

Detergent and cold water

The longer a sweaty item remains unwashed the stronger the stain will set in. Use detergent and cold water to wash the sweaty laundry as soon as you take it off.


Crush two tablets into a powder and add to half a cup of warm water and then dip the affected area in the solution and soak for two to three hours, then wash normally

Liquid soap and hydrogen peroxide

This is for white clothes, as hydrogen peroxide has a bleaching effect. Simply add two teaspoons of liquid soap to quarter a cup of hydrogen peroxide, and rub the resulting mixture onto both sides of the fabric, wait an hour then rinse with warm water and wash normally

Salt – Good old table salt will do for this. Add four tablespoons to a litre of hot water and then proceed to sponge the affected area with the solution until the stains disappear.

Lemon – When life gives you lemons and stains, squeeze the lemons onto the stains and leave the garment out to dry in the sun. Lemons have a bleaching effect as well so be sure to use on whites only

Vinegar – For the dark colored fabrics, soak them in cold water enough to have them submerged and then add half a cup of vinegar and wash normally

Be sure to check on a small area first if lightly colored fabrics can take the vinegar without running.

Baking soda – Add four tablespoons to quarter a cup of warm water and proceed to rub the paste into the shirts, wait 20mins then wash, and if they are really bad, let the paste dry on the shirt for about two hours before washing it.

Preventing sweat stains

The oldest trick in the book is wearing an undershirt to prevent the sweat from reaching the main garment

Trim, shave your underarms, less hair means fewer sweat stains, as hair will hold it longer.

If you would rather not trim your underarms or feel there is more you can do, then use of armpit shields/pads is an option that works to form a barrier between your sweaty armpits and your garments. If not available, or there is a fashion emergency, panty liners do come in handy.

If sweating in itself is the problem, consider using an antiperspirant deodorant and if possible one with natural ingredients as opposed to those with aluminum, which result in stronger stains once you sweat. However too much sweating would require seeing a professional. It is also advisable to switch up your roll-on every six months, as the body has been known to become immune to it after some time. Ensure your armpits are completely dry before application to ensure it works well and let it dry off as well before dressing up. Use just enough and not too much.

Wearing breathable and free garments will help reduce sweating.

Find a way to cope with stress, which triggers excessive sweating as well.

Shower often

Eating healthy means less sweating. Avoid spicy foods and too many carbohydrates as they highly contribute to body odor. Cut down on caffeine (coffee, tea, sodas) as it causes you to sweat from all the energy it brings to the body after consumption.

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