7 Tips To Prevent (and Remove) Pit Stains From Your Undershirts
::cue the sad piano music::
You’ve stopped going to your friend’s house to watch the big game.
Because you can’t raise your hands to cheer a huge play because of the endless jeering you will get afterwards about your unsightly pit stains.
Or better yet, how about this scenario:
A cute girl (ok probably a grandma) asks you to reach for that box of cereal on the top shelf of the supermarket. Hesitantly you climb the shelves like some sort of T-Rex so you don’t have to lift your arms in public.
Forget high fives, removing your sweater on a warm sunny day, or enjoying a well-deserved break by leaning back on your chair with your hands behind your head.
Your social life deteriorates…
Your prospects at work crumble…
You lose clients…
You lose friends…
You wind up sad and alone in your apartment, hands firmly at your sides…
Ok, it’s not going to be that bad!!!
But having stained armpits is incredibly embarrassing. It feels like everyone notices when you show even a hint of armpit.
So, what can you do?
You can know that you’re not alone.
Many guys have this issue, but few realize it as the problem. Even fewer notice it about themselves…
…and of that 1% that DO notice it about themselves, fewer even try to fix it from happening again.
You’re one of the few guys seeking out a solution to your problem.
The way I see it, you’re actually facing two problems.
First, you need a way to get rid of your yellow stains. You probably have more than one shirt that used to be in full rotation in your wardrobe. Slowly, that shirt has faded from your life because of the yellow stain that’s been getting darker and larger.
Let’s reclaim those lost shirts. Let’s eliminate those nasty stains and bring back some of the classics into your everyday collection.
And second, you’ve got to find a way to prevent those yellow pit stains from happening again.
The good news?
I have the answer to both of those problems. Consider this article as a 2-for-1 to solve both issues in one day.
You can thank me after this is done.
Getting Rid of Yellow Pit Stains Once And For ALL
I want to quickly address this before we go any further. I’m going to make several assumptions about your habits.
Because you’re a guy.
And because I’m a guy, I’m also prone to do the same things.
I’d be willing to bet a lot of money (like 7 bucks) that the shirt you’re wearing right now is not fresh today. It’s been worn a couple times since its last wash.
Come on, check it real quick.
Does it even smell fresh?
Unfortunately, that could be part of the problem. Let’s address this issue. If you’re not regularly washing your clothes, you’re more likely to see these stains develop quickly.
So, to start, keep on top of your laundry (geesh – ok mom!). It’s a good way to prevent that pit stain from getting any worse than it already is. Wash your shirts right after wearing them to stop any stain from growing in your hamper.
But, that’s not going to solve the issue. If anything, it’s just going to slow the spread of that unsightly yellow pit stain…
…and we’ll get to prevention in a minute.
What I’ve found is that a good laundry detergent like OxyClean is great for this sort of thing.
Let your shirt soak overnight in a mixture of warm water and liberally cover the area with the OxyClean paste.
Do NOT use bleach.
Do NOT use a regular laundry detergent.
I’ve found these simply aggravate the stain, making it angrier and larger. Just like a wasp, you don’t want to make it angry. You want to kill it the first time.
After an overnight soak, run it through the washing machine. It should come out much cleaner and newer than you’ve seen in years. I’ve personally seen great success with my own stained shirts, and I’ve rescued more than a few “lost causes” that were hanging in the back of my closet.
If you also get a success, great!
Now, we just need to move on to preventing those nasty marks from ever showing up again. You’ve gone to all this work, now you just need to save your progress.
What Causes Yellow Pit Stains To Begin With?
Do you know what your yellow stains are?
Well, I can tell you right now that your pit-stained shirts aren’t because of your excessive sweating.
Yes, that’s right.
Sweat isn’t your problem. Deodorant is.
You can be the most prolific sweater, have the worst case of hyperhidrosis that doctors have ever come across, and you can still proudly display perfectly white shirts after a huge pickup game of ball.
Let me explain.
The active ingredient, meaning the ingredient that does all the work in your antiperspirant, is aluminum.
(Brief Aside – Deodorant and antiperspirant are two different things, although many companies use the word interchangeably. Antiperspirant blocks sweat and masks odor, while deodorant simply masks the BO without doing anything about blocking your sweat. Buy the right kind of underarm product for the problem you’re trying to deal with. Unless you’re a prolific sweater, a pure deodorant should suit you just fine.)
The aluminum in the antiperspirant dissolves in the sweat your body produces. That dissolved aluminum forms a temporary plug over the sweat gland, preventing much of the sweat from secreting on your skin.
But the bacteria in your sweat reacts with aluminum to form a yellow foam that can stain your shirts.
So, you have this Catch-22.
You want to stop sweating because it’s producing these ugly stains on your shirts, so you lather on the antiperspirant. But the excessive amount creates more yellow stains on your shirt.
So, you re-lather more on, further exacerbating the problem, causing you to re-lather…
Ok, you get the picture.
Option 1 – Natural Deodorant That Won’t Stain Clothes
Seeing as some of your normal antiperspirants are the devil for yellow pit stains, let’s steer clear of them.
(But the problem could be you. I’ll dig into that in a second)
You could instead focus on just buying deodorants which mask unpleasant body odor.
And while you’re at it, there a great number of natural options that exist for you. You can take advantage of the natural ingredients to prevent any risk of your body’s bacteria reacting with any of the components.
Avoid aluminum (obviously!) and parabens. You shouldn’t find any of those in a natural deodorant. But if you’re inclined to go “au-naturelle”, look instead for one of these options:
- Witch Hazel – good for sensitive skin
- Essential Oils – you can even combine these oils to make a smell unique to you
- Baking Soda – why not? You’re using to mask odors in the kitchen. It works just as well on your body
- Hops – yes, the beer ingredient. Besides it being an incredibly manly thing to have hops in your deodorant, it works well to eat up the bad bacteria that causes the funk under there.
Option 2 – Spray Antiperspirant To Prevent Stains
Ok, if you’re one of those guys who absolutely needs an antiperspirant, I get it. I can still offer you a solution.
Get the spray version of an antiperspirant. It’s the friendly way to stop sweating without risking those yellowing marks from coming back again.
- They create a lighter coat than a roll-on or gel stick. Let’s face it. You’re probably tempted to apply a pretty liberal coat of a roll-on when you’re using it.Because you could be part of the problem, use a spray instead. You will get the same effect without using as much of the aluminum ingredient. You’ll slow down the development of yellow pit marks. Along with regular washing and the occasional OxyClean hit, you’ll be good to go.
- These sprays are much better for the environment than they used to be. The Montreal Protocol, signed over 30 years ago, has changed the way aerosol cans are produced.It has single-handedly replaced all the harsh and depletive chemicals that were destroying the ozone. And now an aerosol spray is so much cleaner and better for the environment.
- It doesn’t even feel cold. Many deodorant companies have developed a dry spray that doesn’t shock your system when you first spray it on.Gone are those days when you cringe and grimace from applying spray deodorants on a cold winter morning.
Option 3 – Undershirts
If for no other reason than to prevent yellow stains on your favorite clothes, I’m a huge fan of undershirts.
But that’s not the only reason I like them. I think they keep you warm, they prevent that “poky nipple” thing that some shirts can do, and they look timeless as well.
But for this article, let’s stick with the prevention of stains feature. Undershirts keep a barrier between your fancy dress shirts and direct contact with your skin.
There are some great companies out there like Tommy John that have created fantastic undershirts that never come un-tucked and fit you right.
They keep the sweat from easily showing through on your shirt, and they certainly take the brunt of the damage on yellow stains. Sure, they show up easier on a cotton white shirt, but they’re an undershirt. They sacrifice themselves for the sake of your nice dress shirts.
All hail the classic undershirt.
Option 4 – Trimming Armpit Hair
If you want to keep sweat to a minimum, you can always keep your armpit hairs neatly trimmed.
This prevents sweat from wicking along the hairs onto your shirt. It doesn’t actually prevent stains, but it does slow it down from actually reaching your shirt.
You don’t have to shave all the way down. I’m talking about a light trim here and there, maybe once every month or so that keeps you much more managed under your arms.
Option 5 – Pit Pads
Yes, you can buy pit pads:
Yes, it exists. And yes, people have bought them before.
I feel like I can picture the kind of guy who would actually add these to his shirts. He talks a lot about the prospects of the basketball stars of his favorite college team.
He wears Crocs un-ironically.
If something doesn’t scan in properly at the cashier, he makes the same joke that “it must be free”. He carries around a portable Tabasco sauce bottle “for emergencies”.
Ok, I’m not sure I even wanted to add this to the list. I’m not even sure that I feel right recommending this.
In fact, I’m going to say this. This is an option. This isn’t an option for you.
Don’t do this.
Option 6 – Pit Stain Remover
Yes, there is a specific armpit stain remover designed to take advantage of your yellow stains. It’s an actual thing:
In the interest of being complete unbiased in my exposition of options, I’m adding this to the list. But I wholeheartedly do NOT endorse this product.
If you have an old shirt that you have memories with that you want to preserve as a keepsake. Like when you climbed up to the top of the Empire State Building, and you locked eyes with this one hot girl.
You totally felt the electricity, and you knew she was into you. You walked over confidently and chatted her up. For some reason, the universe aligned and you came up with like three witty lines and made her laugh. She gave you her number and added a kissy face on the paper she wrote it on.
And every time you see that shirt, you think about that time when everything went right.
In order to salvage that shirt, and only in this very specific instance, I recommend buying a dedicated pit stain remover.
Otherwise, steer clear.
Where Does This Leave Us?
When you look back on this article, it’s all about reclamation.
You’re reclaiming your lost confidence when you displayed your ugly pit stains.
You’re reclaiming lost shirts that you thought were beyond repair.
You’re reclaiming a life where you can feel free to lift your hands, high five, cheer your local team, and grab that thing off the shelf for that cute girl.
And you’re reclaiming a fresh, clean underarm that doesn’t show any sign of staining or yellow marks.