How to remove sweat stains from shirts and other clothing: Step by step


Getting sweat stains out of shirts isn’t too difficult. Just follow these steps.

  1. Check the garment’s care instructions and make sure it’s washable.
  2. Soak the garment in water.
  3. Create a solution with one part of your favorite Persil® liquid detergent to one part warm (not hot) water, and soak the stain. Lighter and fresher stains can soak for 15 to 30 minutes. If you notice that your stain isn’t fading, it’s likely a more stubborn stain, and should be soaked overnight.
  4. Wash at the highest possible temperature safe for the fabric (check the care label).
  5. Check the stain after washing. If it is still visible, repeat the stain treatment process.
  6. Once the stain has gone, dry the garment according to care instructions. Doing so before the stain has been removed will set the stain.

Types of sweat stains

Yellow armpit stains are what most of us think of when it comes to sweat stains on white shirts in particular. This yellow discoloration comes from when the aluminum in your deodorant reacts with the proteins in your sweat. The salt in sweat can also cause stains on the back and collar of a shirt, and inside hats. Luckily, a pure sweat stain can be easily removed by washing the garment. This is because the main components of sweat – like water, salts, sugar, urea,  – are generally soluble in water and easy for detergent to remove.

Sweat stain removal tips for special fabrics

When you remove sweat stains from shirts, keep in mind that every fabric type is different. While cotton, polyester, linen and denim are machine washable, silk, rayon and wool require hand washing in warm water.

In addition, certain types of fabric, like cotton and polyester should never be exposed to bleach. Bleach can cause further yellowing on polyester and damage cotton fibers.

How to clean a sweat stained hat

The best way to remove sweat stains from hats will depend on what material the hat is made of. For example, many baseball caps are made using a cotton blend or jersey and can be machine washed according to care instructions. Simply follow the same steps above and wash it as you would a normal garment.

However, sweat stains on hats made of fabrics like wool will need to be treated like your delicate garments and hand washed instead. If you are unsure about whether you can wash your hat, turn to professional cleaners.