How to remove sweat stains and keep your clothes looking like new

Yellow rings be gone!

A white-hued long sleeve ribbed top with yellow sweat stains in the armpit.
(Image credit: Getty)

Let’s get real for a minute. Sweat stains happen. We’ve all been there: You buy a lovely new top, wear it once or twice, and bam — you notice an ugly yellow ring forming under the arm of the top. Sigh. 

If you’ve noticed that your fave T-shirt has yellow splotches under the arms or your new bedding now features pale yellow spots of dried sweat, you might be tempted to toss it out and opt for a darker color in the future. Instead, why not try getting the stains out? Honestly, I’ve tried it myself and it’s fairly easy — and quick, too. 

Before you get started, be sure to check your garments' laundry symbols to see how to wash them. And when in doubt, look up if you should use bleach or not if you're working with serious stains — better safe than sorry!

If you're invested in saving your sweat-stained clothes (and bedding too), I've tried and confirmed that this method is the best way to clean them.

Good to know

Difficulty: Easy

Time: 15 minutes (the actual work for this takes 15 minutes max, but there is also some additional time needed to leave things to sit)

Helpful hints: It’s always best to avoid washing and drying stained clothes or bedding before attempting to remove stains. Otherwise, the stains might set, making them more difficult — and sometimes impossible — to remove. 

Here’s what you’ll need

How to remove sweat stains from clothes

Step 1: Create a baking soda paste  

The first step to removing sweat stains from clothes is to create a thick paste of baking soda and water. Ideally, you want to use a 1:4 ratio of water to baking soda. As always, we recommend this one from Arm & Hammer, which you can buy from Amazon if you've run out.

Step 2: Apply the paste to the stains

Once you have made your paste, the next step is to apply it to the stained areas. Use a sponge, gently dab the formula onto the stained areas and leave to sit for up to 30 minutes. 

Helpful hint: If you don’t have baking soda, you can substitute it for distilled white vinegar (this one from Heinz, available at Amazon, is ideal for cleaning) and apply that to the stain in the same way. For removing lingering sweaty odors, white vinegar also works well. 

Step 3: Wash the solution off with cold water 

After the baking powder paste has set for a little bit, you’ll need to wash it off. It’s important to only use cold or lukewarm water for this, as hot water can make the stain permanent.

Step 4: Treat your garment with stain remover 

The next step is to apply stain remover (like this Tide one from Amazon or similar) to the affected area, allowing it to sit for the recommended amount of time as per the instructions. 

Step 5: Wash as normal 

Once the stain has been completely removed, the next step is to wash the garment as usual on a cool wash. However, if the stain is still present, it’s best to repeat the process before washing, otherwise, you may accidentally make it a permanent feature on your clothing item (no, thanks!).

Wash it with your usual laundry detergent. If you need a recommendation then this Tide one is Amazon's Choice.

Step 6: Dry the garment

After washing, air dry the item. Avoid tumble drying the item if any of the stain remains, as the heat may set the stain in place. 

FAQs

How do you get old sweat stains out of fabric?

For older sweat stains, start by soaking the affected item in a mixture of white vinegar and cold water. Then apply baking soda, salt, and hydrogen peroxide and scrub the area with a soft toothbrush to help lift the stain. 

How do you get rid of yellow armpit stains?

To remove yellow armpit stains, follow the steps above and use a formula of baking soda and water to help lift the stain. 

How do I get sweat stains out of white shirts?

For removing sweat stains from white shirts, both baking soda or distilled white vinegar tend to work well. 

Beth Mahoney
Freelance journalist

Hi! I’m Beth Mahoney and I’m a former staff writer at Real Homes. I’ve been a journalist for the national press for the past six years, specializing in commerce and trends-related lifestyle articles, from product reviews and listicles to guides and features. With an eye for pretty things (think: quirky wall prints, scalloped edge furniture, and decadent-looking tableware) but a limited budget, I love nothing more than a bargain buy.

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