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Deodorant Build-up

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Does anyone know how to remove the built up hard yellow stuff in the armpits of shirts? I have been told it is a deodorant/antiperspirant buildup. It is unsightly and uncomfortable to wear as it is very hard, let alone looks dirty, even if just laundered. Any hints and help is appreciated!

By Beau D from Vancouver, WA


Recent Answers

Here are the recent answer to this question.

By singlefather12/05/2009

I had a black polyester Nike work-out shirt that had the white caked anti-perspirant in the under arms. I boiled a full tea kettle of water and poured it through the fabric, then laundered as usual and the build-up is gone now.

By Annie Rios Hill [12]09/27/2009

Make a paste of baking soda and white vinegar and place this on damp clothing (area like under arm)
or just put white vinegar on shirt then baking soda and add a bit more vinegar til it fizzes then scrub away and wash. If you can hang it out in the sunshine it will help too. They also sell "whitener" the people who make RitDye has these and use in the yellow areas to get the dingy color out.

Good luck I also will be getting one of the Rit product as my boyfriend's undershirts are yellow.

By Melody T. [5]09/21/2009

I use Mean Green on the underarms of my husband's shirts and it helps with deodorant buildup. However, I have only tried this with white shirts. The spray recommends you test it on an inconspicuous area first if you are in doubt about it discoloring something. I've heard that you can drop a couple of plain aspirin in the wash with new white tee shirts to prevent buildup in the first place.

By Joyce [3]09/21/2009

I wear a lot of black. Unfortunately the antiperspirant that works best for me is a white solid kind. As Megan F. mentions, try rubbing the underarm areas with a pantyhose when damp before drying. The texture of the pantyhose works better than anything I've found so far.


Thrifty Fun has been around so long that many of our pages have been reset several times. Archives are older versions of the page and the feedback that was provided then.

Archive: Deodorant Build-up

My husband is a professional firefighter who wears navy blue t-shirts under his uniforms. The underarm areas become stiff and extremely uncomfortable due to a build-up of deodorant and the otherwise good shirts quickly become unwearable. Any suggestions for preventing this or for removing the deodorant build-up?

RE: Deodorant Build-up

I've never tried this myself, but I know someone who swears it works. You make a paste of water and meat tenderizer, and spread it on the stiff area. Let it set overnight. Brush off the dried paste, pre-treat with liquid detergent, then wash as usual. NOTE -- make sure you buy the unflavored tenderizer -- the flavored has spices in it which could add to the stain! (06/14/2001)

By lmlhlinc

RE: Deodorant Build-up

I had never heard about or had this problem but I asked my sister and she said in 10 years that had never happened to her firefighter husband's shirts. Then they tried a different deodorant (sample in the mail) and it was like stiff cardboard right out of the dryer. They went back to their old brand (which was unscented) and have not had the problem recur. She does not remember which brand it was that made the stiffness happen. Try a different deodorant and she suggests one without scent. She's guessing it was the combo of that particular deodorant and your type of water, etc. (06/14/2001)


RE: Deodorant Build-up

Have you tried white vinegar to the rinse water? (05/17/2004)


RE: Deodorant Build-up

My husband also has this problem. We have tried changing brands and he only uses unscented. I have yet to find a solution to this problem. (07/17/2004)

By terrilee

Archive: Deodorant Build-up

How do you remove deodorant residue from t-shirts? It has hardened on the armpit of the t-shirt. I have tried vinegar with no luck.

Sara from Southeast Missouri

RE: Deodorant Build-up

Please try to soak the shirts in Cascade..yes, the dishwasher soap. I have seen stains removed from garments that have been there for some time. Good luck! (04/02/2007)

By Monica from Detroit

RE: Deodorant Build-up

Try rubbing the marks with some pantyhose. It works for me and it's the only use I get out of my pantyhose! (04/02/2007)

By Megan F.

RE: Deodorant Build-up

I had a shirt that had been washed several times with a paint stain on it that would not come out. I sprayed it with a little WD-40 and it took the stain out completely. Can't hurt to try. (04/03/2007)

By busdrivr

RE: Deodorant Build-up

I have always used white vinegar per "Hints from Heloise" (I think) even on old stains. There were shirts that I had stopped wearing until I remembered reading it years ago and tried it for the first time about 3 years ago. Vinegar is a natural sanitizer too. It works on coffee pots, nebulizer breathing treatment machines, dishwashers, etc. (04/16/2007)

By B

RE: Deodorant Build-up

Well all I can suggest is to get petrol and soak it for a few minutes, and then see if it's worked. Hope this helps. (11/06/2007)

By mazzy

RE: Deodorant Build-up

Use the strongest dish washing powder you can get (Active brand powder in NZ). Wet the area with hot water, rub a little powder on the area, and rub vigorously or use a nail brush. You may have to treat the stain a few times, and it's very caustic on your hands, so take care. Don't soak the garment or you could end up bleaching the color out. Rinse well. (12/11/2007)

By Jan

RE: Deodorant Build-up

Buy cheap shirts and replace as needed. (02/12/2008)

By Derek

RE: Deodorant Build-up

I have the same problem, so I switched to spray and no more stiff pits. I might try regular deodorant instead of antiperspirant in stick and see if that works. I don't really like spray. (10/20/2008)

By tom

RE: Deodorant Build-up

I have had this problem with only a few shirts. Today I discovered that "Goof-off" does the trick. I used it on a black shirt. It can be bought at any Lowe's or Home Depot, probably in the paint departments. It smells like gasoline, but after trying vinegar, baking soda, boiling salt water, etc, this is the only thing that made any difference at all. (12/31/2008)

By Just Me

RE: Deodorant Build-up

I have battled this problem for years with my husband's shirts. I don't even like washing his shirts with the rest of the laundry because the smell gets into everything else no matter how much detergent I use. I have tried some of these ideas and none have worked. I have the hard, crusted build-up with odor. I'm going to give the goo stuff and meat tenderizer a shot.

I do know this. One thing they have to do is make sure their arm pits are really clean before applying more deodorant after their shower. Deodorant does not just wash off, you have to really work at it to get it off, in that residual deodorant is the days worth of sweating and bacteria that has built up that is causing the odor.

That is also what is trapped in the pits of the shirts, old deodorant that has encased bacteria in it. It heats up and gets moist after they put the shirt on and bingo, the smell is stronger than ever. (07/01/2009)

By SusanLee

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