5 Tips to Avoid Armpit Stains

Tired of walking around with your elbows held in tight, trying to hide those armpit stains? While most people sweat when they exercise, or are nervous, anxious, or under stress, walking around with sweat stains can be embarrassing.

For some people, the answer to put an end to armpit stains may be simple: an over-the-counter antiperspirant. Antiperspirants work by inhibiting the action of your sweat ducts with aluminum salts, thereby reducing the amount of perspiration that reaches your skin. However, some experts say it is the transfer of your antiperspirant to the fabric that can result in staining.

To counter this, follow these tips:

  • Choose solid antiperspirants rather than roll-on or gel types. Roll-ons have a higher water content, which is transferred to your shirt more easily.
  • Make sure to allow the antiperspirant to dry thoroughly before dressing.
  • If you are dressing for business, consider wearing an undershirt to prevent stains from ruining your favorite business shirts.

In addition to antiperspirants, the following suggestions may help you reduce sweating, and therefore avoid armpit stains.

5 Tips to Avoid Armpit Stains

Bathe daily. Regular bathing helps keep the number of bacteria on your skin in check, and therefore helps reduce sweating and odor.

Wear looser clothing. The tighter your shirt, the more contact it will have with your underarms, and the more others will be able to see your sweat.

Wear cotton. In moderate temperatures, such as in the office, cotton is your best choice for staying cool because it breathes. Polyester or poly/cotton blends tend to trap heat causing you to sweat more.

Wear hemp and bamboo. Other natural fabrics such as hemp and bamboo handle moisture well. Bamboo and hemp also inhibit bacterial growth, which can prevent odor.

Try relaxation techniques. Consider relaxation techniques such as yoga, meditation or biofeedback. These can help you learn to control the stress that triggers perspiration.

Change your diet. If foods or beverages cause you to sweat more than usual or cause your perspiration to smell, consider eliminating caffeinated drinks from your diet as well as foods with strong odors, such as garlic and onions.

How to Remove Armpit Stains

  • Rinse in cold water first. It's the acidity of antiperspirants that causes staining. Instead of washing those stains out, warm or hot water can 'set' them by causing a chemical reaction that binds the stain to the fabric. Instead, rinse the affected area of the garment with cold water before you wash it.
  • Wash sooner than later. Wash your clothes as soon as you can, especially after sweating excessively. For example, don't let your sweaty T-shirts linger in your gym bag for days, and always wash your business shirts (especially the white ones) regularly. Sweat contains salt that will erode and stain your clothes quickly.
  • Use bleach on whites. Make your whites whiter by bleaching them in warm water or by adding 1/4 cup of baking soda to your laundry.

Is Excessive Sweating Normal?

It's almost impossible to define what is a "normal" amount of sweat; however unusual changes in sweating could be cause for concern. Staff at the Mayo Clinic suggest contacting your medical provider if you experience any of the following:

  • You suddenly begin to sweat much more or less than usual.
  • Sweating disrupts your daily routine.
  • You experience night sweats for no apparent reason.
  • You notice a change in body odor.




"Expert Answer: Pit Stains are Stoppable." International Hyperhidrosis Society. Jan/Feb 2006. Web. 14 Jun 2010. http://www.sweathelp.org/English/CMN_Article.asp?ArticleCode=51394783&EditionCode=47270790

Mayo Clinic Staff. "Sweating and Body Odor."  MayoClinic.com. Web. 14 Jun 2010. http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/sweating-and-body-odor/DS00305/DSECTION=treatments-and-drugs

"Perspiration." Wellness.com. Web. 14 Jun 2010. http://www.wellness.com/reference/conditions/perspiration/prevention-and-treatment

"Sweating." MedlinePlus. Web. 14 Jun 2010. http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/003218.htm