The Best Do It Yourself Deodorant Stain Remover Solutions

Ah, the inevitable set-in pit stains. A topic I have not written about in a long while. Who wouldn’t like to have an effective formula for DIY deodorant stain remover solutions?

But, before we talk about how to make your own underarm stain remover at home, let’s clarify what we’re talking about.

Deodorant buildup
Pit stains (yellow/brown) and Deodorant buildup. Credit

Deodorant Marks vs. Pit Stains (Yellow) vs. Deodorant Buildup vs. Pit Stains (Sweat)

Let’s get one thing clear right off the bat – there is a big difference between deodorant marks, pit stains and deodorant buildup.

1. Deodorant Marks

Those white streaks you get on the outside of your shirts as you’re sliding the shirt down past your deodorant/antiperspirant-coated armpits.

deodorant stain
A deodorant mark – a white streak on your clothing from stick antiperspirants.

I’ve personally experienced this mostly when using some form of stick antiperspirant or deodorant. But, it’s possible that it’ll also occur if you use spray or roll-on solutions.

Keep in mind that you can get “deodorant marks” (white streaks) on your clothes if you’re using deodorant or antiperspirant.


Rules to wearing undershirts

FACT: Antiperspirant is for sweat prevention and most antiperspirants also have odor prevention. Deodorant has odor prevention only.

2. Pit Stains (Yellow)

Those set-in stains that occur primarily as a result of using antiperspirant.

The aluminum content in the antiperspirant combined with residual underarm sweat can transfer to the underarm area of the shirt, and over time, yellowish or brownish stains can begin to appear.

These stains can even harden over time. Regular laundering or bleaching except for deodorant stain remover will not remove them. In fact, bleaching them can make them worse.

3. Deodorant Buildup

That thick, caked-on residue that forms on the pit area of your shirts over time.

It’s usually a result of using stick antiperspirant or deodorant. The wax-like substance of these solutions will transfer to the shirt during the day, and won’t fully wash out while laundering.

Repeat this a bunch of times, and eventually you’ll have a gooey, cakey, waxy buildup in the pit-area of your shirts.

4. Pit Stains (Sweat)

The term “pit stains” is also widely used to refer to the sweat stains that show up on the underarm area of someone’s shirt who is sweating a lot.

There’s really no need to address this particular issue, since it’s just wetness showing through on the pits of your shirts, that will dry once you cool down.

If you’re looking for ways to prevent sweat-through, peruse my Sweat Management category or take a look at this Top 9 Sweat Management Solutions article.

Removing Deodorant Marks

Removing deodorant marks (#1 above) is pretty simple actually. In fact, there are easily thousands of articles out on web that provide ideas on how to quickly remove those white streak deodorant marks from your shirt.

The most common recommendations to remove deodorant marks from your shirts are to:

  • Rub another part of your shirt on the mark
  • Take a nylon stocking or cotton sock and rub it on the mark
  • Used fabric softener sheets
  • Find a piece of foam rubber, like that grippy foam on the top of hangers, and rub that on the mark

Here’s a video showing a good example of how to remove white deodorant marks from a black shirt using a used fabric softener sheet and a sock.

Removing Pit Stains (Yellow) & Antiperspirant Buildup

Although still generally referred to in the public domain as “removing deodorant stains”, there are just as many, if not more articles out there claiming easy at-home solutions for removing pit stains and deodorant build-up.

The most common recommendations are using homemade deodorant stain remover like ammonia/water, baking soda/peroxide/dishsoap, lemon juice, meat tenderizer, etc.

While those concoctions may work on some minor stains, they are simply NOT effective most of the time.

In other words, don’t waste your time trying them. See the Pit Stain Problem YouTube channel where the folks tested a bunch of these solutions.

I wrote an article about Removing Deodorant Stains a while back, keeping it fairly up-to-date over the years.

It’s garnered nearly 200,000 views, and there have been ONLY THREE solutions that people will say effectively remove either pit stains, deodorant buildup, or both (aka “deodorant stains”). They are:

Make Your Own Deodorant Stain Remover

A reader wrote in recently and shared with me his own DIY underarm and deodorant stain remover solution that has a similar ingredients to Deo-Go:


Just wanted to share some DIY tips. I love Deo-Go and it really works. But, the small size of the bottle, the price, and the fact that you have to order it online were a bummer for me.

After doing some research (their patent is online), I learned that the key ingredients are a strong mineral acid and surfactant. I tried several combos like CLR and Dawn with no result.

But, I have found a much, much cheaper solution that works 90% as well as Deo-Go:

50% Lime-a-way, 40% water, 10% Tide Free and Clear
[Note from Tug: Tide makes “Free & Gentle” and All makes “Free & Clear”]

The Tide was the best surfactant and seemed to be the most color safe because it does not contain oxy, bleach or brighteners – it also rinses the cleanest.

Saturate both sides of fabric with solution and rub with brush.

Let it sit for 20 minutes and you will see the residue soften (I was actually able to squeeze some out of the seam like toothpaste. Yuck!).

Spray both sides again and likely scrub, and then wash as usual.

Worked on some pretty serious gunk. Definitely wear gloves and use in a well-ventilated area.


lime-a-way, tide, and water. make your own  deodorant stain remover

What a great find and thanks to Michel for sending in his at-home pit stain / deodorant buildup solution!

I have not personally tried this yet, but I have a feeling it’ll work, based on the research Michel did.

If you give it a go, be sure to let me know how the Lime-a-way / Water / Tide mixture works for you — either in the comments section below, or send me note.

Krud Kutter To Remove Deodorant Spots

Got this update from CLS (who commented below) who tried using Krud Kutter as a deodorant stain remover to scrub marks from her husband’s shirts:

Hi Tug,

Just wanted to give an update but couldn’t post a picture to go along with it.

My comment stated that I was going to try the Lime-a-way mixture but I’ve been to 3 local stores and none of them have that specific lime a way.

I could only find the spray cleaner that’s not as concentrated.

I have a few more stores to check locally before ordering it online.

However, one of the readers comments on that page stated they used the Krud Kutter.

My hubby happened to have some this Krud Kutter (link) in the garage, so I thought why not give it a shot.

While there is some very very slight residue left on the shirts, I’m very happy with the results.

Krud Kutter: Before & After Photos

before & after photo. using krud kutter to remove deodorant stains
Pit stains removed with Krud Kutter

I did not scrub them together, I did not brush them, simply sprayed them, left sit for about 10 mins before tossing in the washer.

My plans are to keep a spray bottle of this next to my washer and give them all a spray prior to tossing in the machine, hopefully all residue will be gone after a few washes.

Or I may give them all a good scrubbing with a brush and soak them a little longer (but he’s due for new work shirts at the end of the month, so I wasn’t feeling that adventurous or is that energetic?) :-)

I wished Deo-Go wasn’t so expensive, but I may have to give it a shot on my sons favorite old T-shirts.

Thanks for the informative page!

PS. If I do the lime a way I’ll definitely let you know how it goes.


Great info from CLS!

Use A Water & Hydrochloric Acid Mixture To Remove Deodorant Stains

A chemist by the name of ALH stopped by here to let us know about a solution s/he created using a combination of water and Hydrochloric acid.

Using a very strong HCl (much stronger than what’s commonly available on Amazon), they used approximately 1 ounce of HCl per gallon of water. That’s about 10 milliliters of acid per liter of water.

  • Take a large 5-gallon plastic bucket
  • First fill it with water (amount of water depends on how many shirts you want to remove deodorant stains from)
  • Add in the appropriate amount of HCl based on the strength of the HCl, getting the pH to around 1
  • Stir mixture
  • Soak your shirts for a day
  • Safely remove the shirts from the mixture & rinse thoroughly
  • Deodorant build-up should turn into a thick white paste. Remove with a scrub brush
Hydrochloric Acid Strengths & Approximate Mixture Ratios
  • HCl 1.0 Molar (amazon) – 10 parts water, 1 part acid
  • HCl 2.0 Molar (amazon) – 20 parts water, 1 part acid
  • HCl 31% (amazon) – 85-90 parts water, 1 part acid
  • HCl 37% (amazon) – 100 parts water, 1 part acid
  • pH strips (amazon)

I emailed ALH, and asked about the different strengths of HCl, some being measured in Molar (M) and others being measured in percent.

Hi Tug,

2 M is indeed twice the concentration of 1 M so you’d use 20 parts water to 1 part acid.

The 37% is actually 12 M — the really wicked concentrated stuff.

I know, you’d think concentrated would be 100% not 37%, but actually hydrochloric acid is a solution of gaseous hydrogen chloride in water. And 37% is about the saturation point of the gas in water.

You dilute the 37% HCl in about 100 parts water to one part acid. When mixing, always add acid to water, not water to acid. It’s a lot safer that way.

It’s going to be cheaper to use the concentrated product but it is not as safe. That said, people do use 37% HCl (also called “muriatic acid”) for pool maintenance so it is not like it’s something only professional chemists use.

People could buy some pH test strips to double-check their solution before adding their shirts (Not necessary but maybe a good idea). Here’s one from Amazon that is specifically for use in the acid range.

You want a pH around 1 but I would not risk anything lower than that. My son’s shirts came out fine—even a dark blue one. These were cotton T-shirts but I don’t know how other fabrics might react.

More details listed below in this comment.

Final List: Deodorant, Antiperspirant, & Pit Stain Removing Solutions

So, to summarize, the list of possible REAL solutions to remove deodorant pit stains from shirts are:

Be sure to read through all the comments too because lots of folks have shared their deodorant stain removal attempt results.

Be sure to share your results or questions in the comments section below.

This article has been updated, re-written, and republished. The original comments below have been maintained for historical purposes.


Sweat Proof Undershirts

140 thoughts on “The Best Do It Yourself Deodorant Stain Remover Solutions”

  1. Hi!

    Just wanted to let you know that based on our website, I made a DIY antiperspirant/deodorant stain remover using CLR instead of Lime-Away, and it seems to work fairly well.

    I do the following and depending on how thick / visible / white the stain is, it may take 2 or 3 rounds:
    – Spray the area with the mixture
    – Let it soak for 5-10 mins or longer
    – Fill sink or bathtub with cool or cold water and some laundry detergent
    – Let it soak for 5-10 mins or longer
    – The antiperspirant/deodorant stain now looks more like it’s loosely sitting on top of the fabric
    – Scrub the the stained area with a scrub brush
    – Rinse the stained area really well
    – Hang to dry and see how it looks

    Hope this info helps!

  2. Tug, which of the possible options for deo removal do you think is strongest/most effective? Does Limeaway eat through colours or is it colour safe? As besides white shirts, I have some of mixed colours that have stains.

    Also why did you say bleach makes (yellow) stains worse?

    • heya nina — i haven’t tried the at-home mixtures personally, because i don’t have any clothes with underarm stains anymore.

      about 4 years ago i pretty much stopped using antiperspirant, as i don’t really sweat that much in my underarms. if i feel the need for sweat protection, i’ll use a 7-day antiperspirant wipe, apply it at night, and then i’m good for 7-10 days. then i use a natural salt-based deodorant and i’m odor free (:

      i haven’t heard anyone complain of color fading with these at-home deodorant stain removing solutions. but, if you’re worried about color fading, i’d just recommend testing the solution(s) on an old colored shirt and see what happens. if you don’t have anything you can test on, just go buy something cheap from a second-hand store.

      good luck and keep me posted!

      • Tug, that’s a great success! I’m glad you found something that works for you.
        So how did you wash out those underarm stains the last time, did you use Deo-Go? If you used that on a white shirt, does it fully restore the white colour? (In other words, of all the best options mentioned in the article, which is best?)

        Another thing. I tried 15 deos and they have all stained my clothing. I actually bought an invisible one and IT LEFT STAINS. Are all the producers simply liars? Could you recommend any deo that you know doesn’t stain (means also tested on a white shirt)? (And is your salt based deo homemade? Is it effective if used by itself and would you be so kind to give me the recipe?)
        Please let me know, I’ll be indebted to you. : )
        Btw, you can also reply straight to my email, I might have follow-up questions and don’t want to clog the comments, haha.

      • heya nina — i like to keep the discussion here so others can benefit from the information.

        in the past, and before i knew about these other at-home deodorant stain removers, i used deo-go to remove deodorant & antiperspirant stains from my undershirts.

        you can see the results here:

        whether or not it will restore the white color depends on whether or not the white color has been permanently damaged. solutions like deo-go and the ones in this article will normally remove the build-up and much of the stains. in some cases, it will restore the shirt to it’s normal state and color. in other cases, it may not.

        you just have try them to see how they work for the stains on your shirts.

        regarding deodorant makers, and their claims about not leaving stains, please feel free to read this article:

        regarding the natural (salt-based) deodorant, there are many on the market you can purchase using a google search like this. i personally use crystal rock deodorant — they offer versions of their salt-based deodorants, and you can buy them on amazon, and in many popular drug stores.

        ever since i started using crystal rock deodorant, i haven’t had a stain on one shirt. so, hopefully it’ll work for you.

      • Hey. Thanks for a swift reply.

        It seems I will have to try Deo Go, even though some in the comments have suggested it’s not colour-safe.

        Well, I researched the crystal rock a bit, is this what you use?

        The issue is that these deos contain potassium/ammonium alum as main ingredients. It’s a form of aluminium and for health reasons I avoid this. So, have you ever found any other deo that worked without causing stains? Or maybe have an idea about what I should be looking at/for?

        Feeling quite dispirited when even “invisible” ones don’t work, and now feel clueless as to what I should look for. As said, I just avoid aluminium, which already narrows options. Sorry about so many questions. :)

      • heya nina — i don’t use that specific crystal deodorant, but something similar. while potassium & ammonium alum is a form of aluminum, there’s no way it’s as toxic as the stuff used in antiperspirants.

        in fact, there are claims that the alum molecules in those salt-based deodorants are too large to be absorbed into the skin.

        not sure i can help you any further than i have already. i don’t have any need/want to avoid alum altogether, and all i cared about was finding a solution that would help prevent future deodorant stains.

        my solution works for me, so i haven’t explored anything further.

        if you search google for “alternative to deodorant”, you’ll find suggestions like:

        witch hazel
        lemon juice
        rubbing alcohol
        apple cider vinegar
        baking soda & coconut oil

        so, if you need to avoid alum altogether, my recommendation would be try some of those options for odor protection.

        good luck and keep me posted!

      • Tug, thanks for all those options you listed. I guess I’ll have to try some. Now though, I still haven’t abandoned hope some invisible deo is actually invisible, so I am trying some of them and that is including men’s, haha. At least ones available here.
        Is it true though that even if a deo is “invisible”, it WILL leave stains just because you apply a lot of it, or should it still be invisible as per their claims? What do you think?

        As for stain removal, I think I will try Oxi Clean first, as I have heard for most others they might leave stains of their own on shirts. Or, have you heard from anyone writing to you that Oxi Clean does, too? I sure hope not. : )

      • Tug,

        Just to let you know, thank you for some great advice, I did buy some cheap white shirts in the end and that saved me some accidents with deodorants. I have to say I still have not found any that is invisible despite claims that it is. So I am going to try either colloidal silver or your crystal rock from now on.

        I have one further question if you could help me out with it – I forgot to ask before – does crystal rock (due to being aluminium salts) either fade dark shirts in the underarm area, or leave those white stains instead of yellow?

        Hope you can give me a tip here.

        Hope you are doing great!

      • heya nina — i’ve been using crystal rock deodorant for really long time, and i haven’t noticed any fading or white stains in the underarm area of any of my shirts.

        the only thing i’ve noticed is that when i workout (at the gym, or go hiking), if i sweat a lot, i may notice some white “salt” marks on my shirts in the chest area. i really don’t eat much salt, so it’s possible that’s residual salt from the deodorant.

        but it’s not something that permanent stains my shirts, nor does it present itself in the underarm area. it only happens when i sweat a lot — which for me only happens when i’m doing some strenuous physical activities.

  3. RLR laundry additive. You can get it on Amazon.

    It’s hard water for us…Krud Kutter helps but to get out the antiperspirant stains and scent and sweat smells, eventually KK and sun fails and it’s because the water is so hard here. Tried vinegar (it’s in every rinse), borax (in most loads), baking soda….. Started using WEN for sports stuff, Lysol sanitizer. They help, but the hard water kills all efforts and fabrics and detergents after a while.

    RLR does it. Took two rounds per load first time – hubby’s work undershirts (padded underarms) finally are defunkified.

    • heya tc! thanks so much for stopping by and sharing info about rlr laundry additive. i’ll have to check it out.

      do you have any before & after photos?

      • No…most of the whites were smells. The darks didn’t show sweat spots well (just darker spots) – many were marled fabrics, and again you can’t see smells.

        We don’t get the massive white buildup – perhaps because of the Krud Kutter, vinegar and borax I add to most washes? But the smells are massive, believe me.

        I think the hard water contributes to clothes not washing or rinsing well. Over time, residue and antiperspirant and sweat just builds up. Hubs is a super sweater – a very efficient machine. He prefers performance fabric shirts and underwear and elastics become particularly odorous. The bacteria transfers from his clothes to everything else and creates a huge mess.

        I’d be interested in trying distilled water to treat spots and even smell issues, since our hard water seems to be the overwhelming problem. I’m going to try Charlie’s booster and softener laundry additive in each load…I’ll update.

      • thanks tc for that additional info.

        yeah, performance fabrics — specifically polyester — can grip and hold onto odors moreso than almost any other fabric. you probably wouldn’t have as much odor stuck in the fabric if your hubs wore underwear & undershirts made from cellulose or nylon based fabrics.

        as for antiperspirant residue, you may want to have the him try a 7-day or hyperhidrosis antiperspirant. most of these you put on at night, and they take effect overnight. so, no undried reside to pass onto clothing.

        here’s an article that covers applying antiperspirants at night:

        i’ve got a list of 7-day / hyperhidrosis antiperspirants here:

        in the morning all you need to do is put on some deodorant. i personally like the crystal rock natural deodorant because it doesn’t “block” odors, the salt deodorant actually prevents bacteria from growing. if i apply it generously, it can work for up to 2 days — with no odors. otherwise, just apply it every morning right after you get out of the shower when your body and underarms are still wet. also, because it’s salt-based, there won’t be any gunky-type of residue (like you get from sticks, gels, and roll-ons) that will transfer to his shirts

        hope the info helps. keep me posted on your experiments!!

  4. I know this thread is quite old but FWIW: My son and I both use Mitchum Gel antiperspirant because it’s the only thing that can handle our sweat. And we both get deodorant buildup.

    Son was going to toss several of his favorite T-shirts because the buildup had really gotten gross. I tried vinegar, Lime-Away, Lime-Away and Dawn, Krud Kutter, vinegar and baking soda. Only Lime-Away did much of anything and adding Dawn didn’t seem to help or hurt. I had to let the Lime-Away sit on the stains for two days in order to get much reaction. Fortunately, I am a chemist with access to hydrochloric acid and the knowledge of how to use it safely.

    OK so here’s the lab chemist method, BUT BE SURE TO USE SAFETY PRECAUTIONS!!!!!!

    Safety precautions:
    – Wear an apron or some kind of overcoat to protect your clothes from any splashing of the concentrated acid
    – You do NOT want this sh*t in your eyes (Been there done that and it’s not fun)


    I got a 5-gallon bucket, filled it with 100 parts water to 1 part by volume concentrated (12 M) HCl. (That would be about 1 ounce per gallon of water, or about 10 milliliters of acid per liter of water.)


    I stirred the solution lightly with a plastic rod, checked the pH with pH strips to verify the pH. (I wanted a little more acidic than Lime-Away so I went for a pH about about 1.0) Then I put several T-shirts in the bucket, put a lid on the bucket, and left it for a day with warning labels on the outside so no one would mess with it.

    I then removed the shirts with plastic tongs and put them directly into another large bucket filled with plain water. I stirred them around a bit to make sure the acid would be diluted enough not to be harmful. The deodorant residue had turned into a sort of sticky white paste. I scrubbed off what I could with a scrub brush but some of the shirts were so bad I had to repeat the process.

    Still, it worked!

    (Be careful — follow safety protocol and don’t breathe concentrated HCl fumes. And even solutions with a pH of 1 can be very irritating to skin and dangerous to get in your eyes. Keep a hose or bucket of plain water handy so you can immediately rinse off any droplets that contact you. And hose down the whole area afterwards, including anything that touched the acid. )

      • The Amazon product is 1.0 Molar. That is 1/12 the concentration of what I used so it would be a LOT safer. You would dilute it about 10 parts water to 1 part acid to get a pH of around 1. This would be much more forgiving for the average non-chemist but it’s still strong stuff, so take care.

    • Hi ALH, thanks for your tip but did you put this acid on coloured clothes, too? Does this fade/eat through the colour or something, I am very worried about this?
      Thank you so much if you can reply. : )

  5. glad you all find a remedy… but did you know that the internet can reach other places outside the US, do you?

    well, as far as Argentina for example. so, no lime-awhatever or deo-go-figure over here…
    any other suggestion or substitute?

    • for my friends outside of the united states, i have to believe there are cleaning products equivalent to lime-a-way and krud kutter.

      my first recommendation would be to do some google searches like “alternative to lime-a-way” or “alternative to krud kutter” and see what you can find. if you can track down a cleaning product that is similar, then just use that as a replacement.

      some other ideas:

      1. most of the pre-made products like deo-go ship world wide from their direct websites. international shipping may be a bit expensive, but it’s an option.

      2. get a mail forwarding address in the united states, or some other country that the products will ship to. for example, if you get a mail forwarding address in the united states, you can buy on or any other brand site that ships to the united states. then, the mail forwarding service will forward the packages to you in your home country.

      3. there is another product called axi clean (from spain) — i’ve just added the link in the article. they may ship to your country directly too (:

      good luck!

  6. Just tried the DIY Deo-Go and it works fabulously! My husband and I are in a band so his shirts will get sweaty and the silver build-up had become so bad I thought we’d have to trash several hundred dollars worth of shirts. Not now, it’s like a while new wardrobe!

    Would love to submit before and after photos of the worst one I did.

  7. I tried the Lime-away mixed with water and a bit of Tide Free & Gentle.

    I had a cotton shirt, a synthetic blouse and three heavy-knit t-shirts.

    It worked great on the cotton shirt, it worked really well on the synthetic blouse (slight shadow left in the armpits – only looks like slight moisture,) but the three t-shirts, though no longer having waxy build-up, were still substantially dark and somewhat brown/yellow in the armpit area.

    I will be throwing out the T-shirts.

    When I notice shirts showing signs of antiperspirant accumulation, I will treat them right away.

    For the sweat staining, I don’t think I’ve found a solution for that here yet.

  8. TUG – I have a bunch of t-shirts with pretty heavy deodorant buildup.

    I use suave roll-on, and after wearing shirts to work once a week for about 7 months, there was a thick, stiff layer of buildup on my shirts.

    After reading through your site and the comments, I ordered Krud Kutter on Amazon, and found it to be ineffective on the white pit stains on my black t-shirts (although it was effective on a couple of carpet stains). I then bought some lime a-way for your DIY solution.

    Instead of mixing all of the ingredients, I just sprayed straight lime a-way on the armpit areas of a black t-shirt. After letting it soak in for about 20 minutes, I rinsed it in hot water and ran the shirt through a normal wash cycle with hot water.

    The white armpit build-up stains were greatly reduced. It took 2 more applications of lime a-way with wash cycles but all of the stains are gone, and there has been no fading on the fabric from the lime-away.

    I am so excited, and have used this effectively on at least a dozen t-shirts now.

    Thanks for your website.

    • good stuff terry!!

      thanks for stopping by and letting us know that straight lime-a-way removed the heavy deodorant build-up on your t-shirts!

      do you have any before or after pictures i can post here?

      • Unfortunately, I didn’t take before and after pics. But my shirts were about the same as the before and after pics on your website for the Krud Kutter. Thanks again for your website.

  9. Hi,—fascinating site you have. I may try some of your new tips, if not back to hydrochloric acid!

    My husband’s shirts have been very abused by antiperspirant over the years.

    I tried deo-go and it was fantastic but doesn’t go very far for what you buy. It’s small! And my hubby used out stick religiously and enthusiastically. Luckily he is a chemist and there was a bottle of hydrochloric acid at home.

    I put a good capful into the dregs of a bottle of tide laundry soap, fill up with water and shake to mix. I then use this on every load of laundry to scrub his shirts before the main wash. It takes extra time, but wow—huge improvement in how the fabric holds up.

    Thanks for your tips!

  10. I had a waxy deoderant build-up that I really wanted to get rid of. I bought all the Lime-Away mixture ingredients.

    Soaked shirts for 20 min., scrubbed and scrubbed, and added more and more and soaked for a lot longer, continued to scrub.

    It sort of loosened it, then I grabbed some goo gone, poured it on and could scrape the wax out. So it sort of worked. But the goo gone was the key.

    Next I ordered some Krud Kutter online and did the same thing.

    Again after time and scraping, washing about three times – I resorted to GOO GONE. It worked best!

    • I can’t imagine that Goo Gone would be a good idea for clothing. Number one, it is pure oil. You’d never it out of the clothes, and number two is the smell. It’s pungent citrus that would probably also never come out.

  11. Brilliant! Haven’t tried yet, but so glad to find new advice after a zillion variations on the usual theme of vinegar, baking soda, etc. Really hoping this will do the trick for the odor,not just appearance.

    My question is, has anyone found a method of treating the pit area of new shirts to prevent staining/odor absorbtion in the first place? I’m considering using that stuff that makes shoes waterproof, but I’m not sure it will be skin-friendly. Thoughts?

    • I agree about trying to prevent it! I even sprayed the pits of one dress shirt with the scotch guard type of product, I hate to experiment with my husbands nice shirts, though.

    • heya nana,

      if you’re looking to prevent getting “pit stains” (yellow stains, or deodorant build-up) on your shirts, the most common recommendation i’ve seen is to turn your shirts inside out and spray the armpits of your shirts with water or pre-treater before you put them in the hamper.

      that will dilute any antiperspirant chemicals that get transferred to the armpits of the shirts, and as a result, it will help less the chance of getting discoloring due to the chemicals in antiperspirants.

      alternatively, you can either:

      1. switch to a non antiperspirant deodorant, though you won’t have any underarm sweat protection
      2. switch to a 7-day antiperspirant product that you put on at night
      3. switch to a 48 hour antiperspirant product that you put on at night

      for #2 and #3, you put on the antiperspirant at night, let it take effect overnight, and then you don’t have to worry about getting the chemicals transferred to the shirts during the day.

      hope that info helps!

    • Maybe try taking a shower or bath and scrub your armpit with loofah and bath soap! Then put your deodorant/antiperspirant after you take a bath. This way your armpit will not stink and stays on your clothes. Guarantee… it will work!!!

  12. I needed something tough on deodorant buildup but colorsafe. I live in Arizona and dark colors get white stains and light colors get yellow/gray stains.

    After reading several comments on here, I was hesitant to use the acidic options on my blacks.

    Instead, I mixed 1 part dish soap, 2 parts white (clear) mineral oil, and 2 parts water. Sprayed it on and gently rubbed with old toothbrush. So far I completely eliminated some deep stains on several black tshirts and a purple polyester dress shirt.

    One or two have a little white still, but I think a second treatment will clear it up! I only let it sit about 10 minutes before washing in cool water with my regular detergent.

    Crossing my fingers that it works as well on lighter clothes!

    • heya brandi — i’m no chemist, but i’m pretty surprised that a mineral oil mixture with dish soap and water worked.

      in all of the proposed at home deodorant stain remover mixtures, there is some acidic component.

      to my knowledge, mineral oil doesn’t have any acidic characteristics.

      did you mean “mineral spirits” by chance?

  13. Tried the Lime-A-Way solution (Well, technically the Lime Out solution as I am in Canada and that’s what we’ve got).

    It worked pretty well, really softened up the stains, but now I have a new problem. All of my shirts smell like Lime Out. I’ve washed them a few times to try to get the smell out without much success.

    So, my new question is how do you get the smell of Lime Out out of a shirt?

    • heya jonathan,

      thanks for stopping by and letting us know that the lime out solution worked to soften and remove the underarm deodorant stains on your shirts.

      to remove the lime out smell, i’d recommend trying diluting a cup of white vinegar in about 1/2 – 3/4 gallon of water, and soaking the shirt for a few hours.

      while i pretty much despise the smell of white vinegar, it’s got a lot of uses, including getting odors out of clothing.

      plus, it’s water soluble, so it will rinse out of your shirts with one or two washings.

      give it a try and let us know if it works for you (:

  14. Hey Tug, Nice website! You mentioned that Deo-Go is mineral acid and surfactant.

    So is Zep Shower Tub & Tile Cleaner, sold in 1 gallon bottles at Home Depot for under $8. I use the stuff to clean my showers at home; works great on soap scum removal.

    Give it a try; it worked to get armpit buildup out of my shirts for me several years back.

    I need to do it again on several shirts, so I went searching and found your site. I think the Zep may work as well as what you and others have recommended.

    The last time I did this, I soaked the shirts in it in a bucket, but the spray-on-and-let-sit-then-wash method may work as well (I haven’t tried yet, but plan to this weekend).

    I was just thinking that you must have to ask people to borrow their yucky shirts for testing; your own shirts are likely amazingly clean!

  15. Hi, I want to try the Krud Kutter solution but I’m outside USA and is a new product for me, never hear of it.

    I have 2 questions:

    1. There are like 15 different Krud Kutter product on their web site, which one should I use?

    2. I can’t find KK here, does anybody know if a similar product? So I can search for it over here.

    Thanks, this is is a nice website congratulations!

    • have you looked for lime-a-way or oil eater? those are other options that work.

      another option you could try is using a mail forwarding service, where they give you a usa-based shipping address.

      you place an order on amazon [or other website), have it sent to your mail forwarding service address, and then they will forward it to you in your country.

  16. The Lime-A-Way with Tide mixture worked for my shirts that had years of deodorant buildup. I bought both at the local Dollar Tree so the treatment was very cost effective.

    Thank you for saving my shirts.

  17. Thanks for the tips.

    I soaked two very hard and stiff armpit Deo/sweat stains in undiluted white vinegar for an hour and that did the trick.

    The stains had been there for more than a year and we’re getting worse with each wear. The stain discolouration is 95% gone and the fabric is soft again.

    This was a cheap and easy fix though I might buy Deo-Go to stop the staining and hardening in the future.

    An overnight soak in Nappy-San did nothing.

    • heya jo,

      glad to hear an overnight soak in white vinegar did the trick in removing the deodorant stains from your shirts.

      in more severe cases, white vinegar doesn’t work. that’s why everyone here has been discussing alternative deodorant stain removal solutions that you can mix-up at home.

      i’m not personally familiar with nappy-san, but it sounds just like oxi-clean.

      if that is the case, then i can understand why an overnight soak in nappy-san would not remove set-in underarm deodorant stains.

      for set in stains, you normally need something with a stronger active ingredient. that said, i am glad to hear that vinegar worked for you.

      in the future, if vinegar does not work for you, you may want to try oil eater, or some of the other mixtures recommended in the article above or in these comments.

      thanks for stopping by!

  18. I too, like Brian (thanks Brian!), recommend Oil Eater (for the Australians – you can pick this up at Supercheap Auto) – the process is super simple on whites or colored Ts:

    1. Spray Oil Eater and rub into the deodorant spot using a hard brush – leave for 15 minutes (if you’re keen to try longer, let us know, any less than 15 minutes didn’t yield great results)

    2. Add 2 x Nappy San (for the Australians) or Oxi-clean and 1 x detergent to the washing machine

    3. Using a warm cycle, turn on the washing machine and pause when it’s full to leave soaking for 1 hour (again, if you’re keen to try longer, let us know)

    4. After the 1 hour, let the machine wash as normal

    This is the only process that worked for me – I tried Goo remover, all the natural processes, and a bunch of alterations to the above process on old Ts before I settled on the process above.

  19. So I stumbled across this when I finally had a large enough pile of shirts that I like that I can no longer wear due to buildup stains.

    After reading the comments I went with what sounded like the perfect meeting point of easy & cost… Krud Kutter.

    I sprayed it on the pits of my out of circulation shirts and it worked really well.

    Caveat… I’m not the most meticulous type, so I didn’t get the whole stain area on most of the shirts the first time… just the worst of it.

    So after the first wash there was a fringe area of stain that represented the outside area of the old stain.

    A second, more careful spraying made sure to cover those areas followed by a trip through the wash cleared them up too.

    One thing… depending on the level of buildup, the seam areas of about 1/2 the shirts required a little brushing.

    Normally that would have been too much effort for my lazy butt, but I was so excited by the 95% job that the first spraying had done, I decided I’d go for it.

    The seam areas of the shirts that had stayed a little dark after the first washing I sprayed again and then went over with an old toothbrush… the stains came all the way out of the seam areas in the wash too after that.

    I saw where someone suggested maybe giving the shirts a spritz with KK before every wash as a preventative.

    I’m not sure you’d need to do it that often. I’d bet every 3rd or 4th wash would be more than enough.

    • heya ross,

      thanks a bunch for stopping by and letting us know that krud kutter removed the deodorant build-up on your shirts!

      appreciate the extra details too (:

      • HI Heather, I did not dilute it.

        I just did another batch of shirts with the KK just a few days ago.

        While it didn’t do as great as it did the first time, it still made a big difference.

        I got a new washer without the agitator since the original posting (and I hate it).

        Next time I will definitely let them soak and might even have to give em a scrub.

        Did I mention I hate my new washer? :-)

  20. I decided to give the 50% Lime-a-way, 40% water, 10% Tide mixture a try.

    I’ve long been plagued by deodorant buildup on my shirts and normal laundering never solved the problem. I mixed up the solution in a spray bottle and tested it out on 4 shirts.

    I saturated the affected area on each shirt and gently rubbed it in.

    I let them sit for 20 minutes and then lightly sprayed them again and gave them a light scrub with a nail brush.

    I then threw them in the washer for a normal cycle and after they came out of the dryer there is no sign of buildup on any of the treated shirts.

    Even my dark black shirt shows no signs of discoloration or residue.

    I’ll be treating the remainder of my shirts this evening and I’ll rest easy knowing there is an inexpensive solution to this recurring problem.

    • oh yeah! great to hear bill!!

      thanks for stopping by and letting us know that this do-it-yourself at home deodorant build-up stain remover worked for you (:

      • heya jonathan,

        the mixture ratio initially recommended by michel was 50% lime-a-way, 40% water, 10% liquid detergent.

        so, let’s say you want to make about 2 cups (16 ounces) of a solution to use, that would mean you use:
        – 8 ounces of lime-a-way
        – 6.4 ounces of water
        – 1.6 ounces of water

        another option is using oil eater, which brian has recommended either using directly or a 1:1 ratio (equal parts of both).

        also, it has been recommended to use krud kutter as another alternative. if you scan the comments here you can see if people recommended using it directly, or diluting it with some water.

        good luck and keep us posted!

  21. Hi, just wanted to let you know I found an alternative to Deo-Go for removing the old built up antiperspirant stains on my shirts.

    I used Lysol brand toilet bowl cleaner from Costco, which, like Deo-Go, contains hydrochloric acid as its active ingredient.

    Rubbed it in, waited 20 minutes and washed as usual.

    Might not want to use it on white shirts as the blue coloring could stain the fabric (I haven’t had this problem though).

    You could also mix it with some tide or soap to mimic Deo-Go more closely.


  22. Thanks for the article! Wanted to pass on that Lime Out Stain Remover (available on walmart or amazon) also works well.

    * Had lots of buildup on some polo shirts, including a black Lacoste
    * Long Oxy Clean soak didn’t work
    * Krud Kutter pre-treat and soak didn’t work
    * Lime Out mixed with Tide works! Mixed Lime Out and Tide at roughly 3:1 and worked it into the fabric. Let it sit for 10 minutes or so and regular wash
    * Lime Out removed most of the buildup. No impact on fabric colour!

    The active ingredients of Lime Out are phosphoric acid and hydrochloric acid so I was bit nervous that they might bleach out the color. However, a ten minute soak had no impact. Next time I’ll leave it in a bit longer before washing.

    Thanks again for the great tip!

    • thanks john!

      it definitely makes sense that lime out works, since it’s probably very similar (or nearly identical) to lime-a-way.

      regardless, thanks for popping by and confirming that an alternate lime/rust remover solution works as well (:

    • This solution didn’t work AT ALL!

      I was very surprised because of how much positive feedback is on here about the Lime-Away solution. I was really excited to use it and followed the ingredient recipe to a T.

      After multiple attempts and washes, the pits were NOT restored to their originally non-yellow color, not even a little.

      So I’m not sure what I am doing wrong – even though I followed everything step by step, including what water temp to use when doing final wash and even letting the solution sit on the pits for double the recommended time (this was after the initial 10 min period seemed to not work, I tried 15 and then 20 min, still no change).

      Or if everyone on here is smoking something really nice.

      Either way, didn’t work, didn’t even dull the yellow color a little.

      I recently heard about a new product Oxy Clean put out that is specifically for yellow pits, so I guess I’ll that a try.

      • heya david — so sorry this method didn’t work out for you, but it’s possible your stains are too set-in to be removed.

        couple ideas:
        1. are you open to trying a higher concentration of lime-away?
        2. what about trying krud kutter or lime out?

      • I tried it, and there was a big difference between its effectiveness on white shirts (poor at best) and its effectiveness on non-white shirts (decent). I finally realized that I had used chlorine bleach on the white shirts, which makes the problem intractable.

    • heya john, do you have any more shirts you’re going to clean using this method?

      if so, any chance you’d be willing to make a video, and send it to me so i can include it in this article?

  23. I am going to try several of these methods using inexpensive LA’s Totally Awesome cleaners from Dollar Tree.

    Active Ingredient of Krud Kutter, according to the MSDS Sheet is Phosphoric Acid.

    Active Ingredient of Lime Away is hard to determine because there are several products sold under that brand, with many different listed ingredients, some of which list Hydrochloric Acid, some do not. It appears that an acid and degreaser/surfactant are the necessary ingredients. I would think the heat helps the breakdown of the grease/wax. BTW, I have been using Gel deoderant/antiperspirant for at least 20 years, and I have went through countless t-shirts with the issue.

    • I recommend trying “Oil Eater” first for your 20 year old antiperspirant stains, as I describe in my post below, dated 4/2/17.

      Also, heat is NOT required to break down waxy buildup when such chemicals as sodium metasilicate pentahydrate – found in the highly recommended degreaser “Oil Eater” – are used. The chemicals do the work.


    It may also work on colored shirts but I did not test for this. It may also work on other armpit stains (deodorant, sweat, etc.).

    Stop experimenting! Don’t use Krud Kutter, or Lime-A-way, which is dangerous and a bad suggestion.

    Instead, use Oil Eater, which is odorless, and “very safe” – relatively speaking. It is sold as a concentrate, with instructions to dilute.

    It is not sold in stores. A 32-oz spray bottle only costs about $4. It’s also great on difficult to remove carpet stains – AND MANY OTHER THINGS!

    Using Oil Eater – note that this is for very heavy duty “baked in” ANTIPERSPIRANT stains where other chemicals simply don’t work (I know, I tried), besides more ordinary antiperspirant stains that resist the usual pretreatments.

    1. Even though Oil Eater is “very safe” – relatively speaking – put on rubber gloves. Spray full strength or a 1:1 dilution (1 part Oil Eater and 1 part water in a separate spray bottle) onto stained area, depending on stain. Soak the stained area but not so it’s dripping.

    If the stain is years old and dark gray and other chemicals don’t work, use 100% strength and let undershirt sit in a pail for 6-8 hours. Just put the undershirt in an empty pail, with the undershirt more or less folded so the Oil Eater won’t evaporate. For mild armpit discoloration use a 1:1 dilution and set aside for 6-8 hours (less time for lesser stains).

    2. After allowing to set, lightly scrub stained area with a wash cloth saturated with diluted Oil Eater (I used a 25% dilution, or 1:3). Heavier armpit stains will still be visible after this step, but don’t worry.

    Also, this step may not be necessary for very mild stains.

    3. Put undershirts in washing machine that has been set for lowest water level (or just enough to cover shirts) with about twice the recommended amount of liquid Tide and about twice the recommend amount of Oxi-Clean and set for the longest wash/soak cycle in “very warm but not hot” water.

    This way the undershirts will be as white as possible! This may seem like too much detergent but YOU ARE NOT DOING AN ORDINARY WASH! Put it through 2 rinse cycles, preferably using warm water.

    4. Put in dryer as usual.

    This removed at least 99% of the dark gray stains on my 30 year old “heirloom” Jockey undershirts that other “pre-treatments” absolutely failed to remove, and that included scrubbing the stains with a brush.

    It also converted a set of other, newer undershirts, with ordinary gray armpit discoloration, to “like new.”

  25. another reader mentioned that he uses goop to remove underarm stains, in addition to using it to removing ring around the collar.

    here is the article and his comment:

    he also shared how he applies it:

    I turn the undershirt inside out and apply it directly to the underarm area of the shirt. Don’t scrub it in really just rub it on and let it sit for 10 mins or so. Seems to work best of anything I’ve tried this far.

    • Do you just spray OilEater on the deodorant stain and immediately throw in washing machine? Or do you wait a while before throwing in the washing machine – how long do you wait? Do you wash in cold, warm, very warm, or hot water? Is the deodorant stain gone from the OilEater alone – in which case washing simply removes the OilEater – or is the washing step a critical part of the stain removal process?

      • I mixed lime away , tide / gain , water 3 parts, 2 parts 1 parts. I turn the shirts inside out, spray generously. If its bad I do that the day before laundry and let it sit in the hamper. I wash on warm and have noticed 98/99% removal. I suspect the other 2% is my own fault for not spraying generously enough. Dry on low , always. It bakes the stuff in if you go higher. I find I need to do this two of four washes per month.

      • How in the world do you determine the 3/2/1 ratios? It would seem that if someone finds something that “works perfectly” and that was commercially available that that would put an end to all the experimentation!

      • Lots of lime away.
        A bit of detergent .
        Enough water it comes out of the spray bottle. The stuff is thick before the water and breaks dollar store spray bottles. :)

      • Um, what part don’t you understand? Perhaps you don’t understand that ratios are another way of referring to “parts,” i.e., 3 parts/2 parts/1 part. Depending on how much product you want, choose what “part” (unit of measurement) to use, e.g. an ounce. Then mix 3 oz Lime-a-Way, 2 oz detergent, and 1 oz water to get 6 oz of the combo product.

      • Thomas Motley, I was wondering how “user” arrived at the 3/2/1 ratio he describes, which could take many trials, and after a lot of experimentation on the same undershirts the stains may finally disappear due to the AGGREGATE EFFECT of all the previous trials, in which case whatever critical factors that might lead to the stains disappearance would be indeterminate. In any case, Oil Eater seems to be a simpler solution, which I describe in my post dated April 2, 2017 in full detail.

      • heya bri, good to hear from you! that’s a great question.

        i looked at the msds of clr & lime-away, and it would appear they are made from different sets of chemicals.

        clr: lactic acid (10-30% concentration), d-gluconic acid (3-6% concentration)
        lime-away: uronium hydrogen sulphate (10-30% concentration)

        i’m not clear how lactic acid compares to uronium hydrogen sulphate (sulfuric acid), so i’m not sure if one would be more or less caustic on clothing than the other.

        they do both have the same concentration range, but i’m not sure if that tells us anything.

        you may want to make the mixture with clr, and then perform a 60-90 minute test on some fabric that you’re ok if it gets damaged.

        if it doesn’t damage the fabric after that period of time, you may want to try the mixture on your stained shirts for 30 minutes, to start.

      • heya bri, i just re-reviewed the article, and noticed that the person who told me about the lime-a-way solution to remove deodorant stains, also tried a clr & dawn mixture.

        unfortunately, that combination wasn’t effective for him.

        that said, you could try a higher concentration of clr (like 70%) along with water (20%) and liquid detergent (10%) to see if that works.

      • Bri,
        I tried using CLR instead of Lime A Way in the Tide and water mixture and found that it bleached out one of my softer cotton shirts, which was a huge bummer! It didn’t seem to affect any of my other clothes though. I did not have that problem at all when I made the mixture with Line A Way. Good luck!

      • heya brian — i just emailed eric to let him know you had a question. he didn’t subscribe to this thread, so he didn’t get notified when you posted your question.

        hopefully he’ll be back to us soon!

  26. Thank you all so much. Those stains have been a plague on my being for more than half my life.

    I found success getting the certain dri sparkly white crap that kakes on to all my shirts, without much effort at all. Black shirts were literally white.

    All I did because Im lazy was pretreated with lime away foamy cleaner on all 5 of my black shirts I was ready to throw away. I didnt soak, I didnt scrub, I didnt squeeze gunk out. Then I washed on warm instead of cold.

    To my utter astonishment all my shirts are perfect and one was particularly gnarly and appeared to be starched , it would hold a crease if you squeezed it. Perfect. Not even the sparkly crap from certain dri was there after all was said and done.

    What a horrible thing to have lived with for so long without reprieve when it was so easy to find.

    I used gain for what its worth but im betting the money shot is the lime away and warm wash
    Thanks man.

    • It seems that soaking the shirt stain in the lime-away would be an essential step, for at least 20-30 minutes, because if you throw the shirt in the washing machine right away you’re DILUTING the chemical many times. And it seems the lime-away isn’t actually a PREtreatment, but THE TREATMENT. In which case, washing the shirt afterwards is incidental and simply to remove the lime-away, and in which case the temp of the water WOULDN’T MATTER, such that COLD water might be preferable to hot to reduce any “dangerous” fumes that might occur.

      • I’ve found the warm water seems to help, I had some residue stuck in there after the cold wash the first time. The second and third I got 98/99 % out with warm water.

        As for fumes , I have not noticed any. I do goto laundromats though

  27. I wonder if there is a conspiracy between clothing manufacturers & deodorant producers? This is such a common problem you’d think they might change the formula. I am giving the Krud Kutter Tough Task Remover a try. If that fails I will try Greased Lightening.

      • I did try Krud Kutter on one of my son’s very waxy built up shirts. The crud wasn’t hard but there was so much the shirt was ready to be tossed out.

        I scraped off as much junk as I could and saturated the fabric. I let it sit for an hour then put it into a bucket of hot water with a bit of laundry soap & scrubbed with an old tooth brush.

        I am amazed. The shirt has been salvaged! Krud Kutter took so much junk off!

        I may do a second application because a tiny bit remains but the shirt is wearable even if I don’t.

        I will be doing more of his shirts like this. I dumped the dirty water outside as I wasn’t sure if it would coat my plumbing with the dissolved junk.

      • great stuff kay!!!

        thanks for stopping by and letting us know how krud kutter helped remove that set-in waxy built-up deodorant stains on your son’s shirts (:

  28. Hi Robert:

    Do any of these remedies work for dry-clean only clothes? I live in a small town were a visit to a decent dry cleaner is a rare event. I’ve tried to extend the length of my clothes with steaming and using vodka, but if I’ve noticed that treating underarm sweat and stains has started to discolor the underarm portion of my clothes. I’m looking for a good solution for dry clean only clothes that doesn’t pull the color away.


    • heya amy!

      in my experience, many dry-clean only clothes can be washed by hand at home, and laid flat or hung to dry.

      if you feel comfortable doing that, then any of these underarm stain removal solutions would work on your dry-clean garment.

      if you’re not, i’d recommend doing some google research on dry-clean labels and see what people say about hand-washing dry-clean clothing (:

      hope that helps!

  29. I’m wondering if using hot water instead of boiling as L H hanks used would produce faster, more effective results [than just using cold water].

    I’m going to give it a try on hubby’s red work shirts. I’ll post results after washing.

    I’ve tried oxy and the vinegar, dawn, resolve, and many other products over the years, to no avail.

    • thanks so much cls!! please do keep us posted on your results.

      yeah, none of those other solutions (like oxy, vinegar, dawn, resolved, salt, baking soda & peroxide) really work on removing set-in underarm/pit stains.

      those solutions may work on minor stains, but they don’t on tougher stains.

      the only two solutions that have a chance of working on those set in deodorant stains are deo-go and raise.

      • Thank you for starting me in the right direction to removing built up deodorant on my kids shirts. I think the substandard college laundry machines is the culprit.

        I thought I had some LimeAway in the house but did not. A bright red shirt with underarms that were stiff was my test subject.

        I had some Greased Lightening cleaner and gave it a go. Sprayed both the inside and outside of both armpits of the shirt, let it sit while the first load went in, did not scrub the areas at all, tossed in with the second load of mostly towels on regular cycle and on eco-warm setting, and IT IS PERFECT!

        I had nothing to lose, everything to gain, and I’m a happy camper! Hope this helps someone!

      • hey dn — thanks for the note and info on the use of grease lightening!

        glad it worked for you (:

        hoping other people give it a try and see how it works for them as well.

  30. I have horrible pit stains on a lot of my t-shirts, used to use gel stick antiperspirant, looking forward to trying some of these remedies as I was about to throw out some of my favorites. Having said that I switched to native deodorant about 3 weeks ago and have had no issues with either sweating/odor or pit stains.

    Not affiliated with native in any way just sharing.


  31. Hi all. I have some old white tees in a box in the garage for grease and spill rags. Most of them have caked buildup, some even completely solid and brown.

    I use Gillette’s clear antiperspirant gel, which the internet claims is the big culprit for this builup issue.

    Anyway I am trying some of these methods on those old shirts because I’d like to find out what actually works. There are some effected band shirts I refuse to toss out, but don’t want to risk experimenting on them!

    Yesterday I soaked one tee in dishsoap-vinegar and one in krud kutter (as per two of the above posts).

    Neither had any noticable effect. I think the Krud Kutter shirt got more solid. Its like carpet undermesh. It was KK concentrate from a gallon jug mixed with water. Trying again right now with KK in a spray bottle. Scrubbing does nothing so far.

    Too bad, would have liked such an easy solution. Heh. So today I am off to buy Lime Away and soak some tees in Michael’s concoction.

    If that doesnt work it will be time for the more expensive stuff Tug listed. I will let you know how the experiments go. Might try Goo Gone and other disolvers too, if needed.

    • Oil Eater should work on really old, set in stains. It worked on an old stain on a relative’s carpet, where it removed it with just a few seconds of light scrubbing with a hand brush. Other carpet cleaners didn’t work.

      Read my post for the exact technique, using Oil Eater.

  32. HUGE THANKS! Almost had to spend $30+ on new work polos because mine were so gunked up with deodorant. Tried the lime-a-way method and now they are just like new!

    It must depend on the type of shirt you’re using, but I found best results when soaking them for a couple hours and scrubbing with a toothbrush. :) I can’t wait to get my hands on the real deal so I can compare to the DIY version!

    Also, just to add, I had some oxiclean on hand and tried an overnight soak to no avail.

    Thanks again! A life saver!

    • that’s awesome sarah!

      thanks for coming back and letting us know the diy solution for removing deodorant stains/build-up worked for you!

  33. Tried the lime-a-way formuula on a merino wool (gasp!) shirt.

    Had some serious waxy/gel-like buildup from using a gel-based deodorant/antiperspirant. Old shirt, so I didn’t have much to lose.

    I mixed up the formula by liquid oz. 16oz lime-a-way, 12.8oz cool tap water, 3.2oz dish soap. I replaced tide free and gentle with simple dishsoap, as it appears to also use a surfactant and I had it on hand.Mixed it up in a 5 gallon bucket, but it only filled the bottom inch or two.

    It smelled awful and seemed very strong.

    My process:

    Took the bucket outside. Put on large gloves, threw my black merino t-shirt in. Massaged it around a bit paying special attention to the pits.

    Came back about 2 hours later, again massaged it and trying to break down the pit build-up. Also turned the shirt inside-out at this point, and rubbed together the other side of the pits.

    I let it sit for another couple hours. I then let it dry overnight (outside) on a milk crate. The build-up was definitely broken down and mostly gone. The shirt was slightly damp in the morning. In a different bucket, I rinsed it and soaked it several times with water, trying to get as much of the solution out of the shirt as possible.

    Washed in the washing machine on warm with woolite as the only detergent. Laid it flat to dry.


    It appears all of the underarm deodorant/anti-pers build-up has been softened and removed. There are a couple very tiny holes on the shirt, mostly on the upper shoulder area.

    This is an old shirt that has been worn a ton, and it was very thin to begin with. The holes may have even been there to begin with.

    I have another shirt (navy) that I will inspect and process in a similar way, however I believe I will “spot treat” the underarm area instead of soaking just to be more gentle on the shirt overall.

    Overall, I’d say the lime-a-way recipe worked excellent.

    The build-up I had was a waxy consistency and rendered the shirts totally unwearable. Now the shirt appears clean and has no build-up left. There was no discoloration or running of dye of the shirt, which was my big worry with a dark shirt.

    Thank you to Michel for the initial recipe and undershirtguy for writing this article and passing it along!

    P.S. I now know it’s mostly the “antiperspirant” aspect that really gunks up most shirts.

    I’ve switched to a deodorant-only for now and have had no problems, and will be switching to simply an “alum block” (Potassium Aluminum Sulfate) soon to eliminate the problem entirely.

  34. I tried the combo of the three ingredients and it didn’t work on getting out the deodorant build up. I even soaked my husband’s shirt for 24 hours. Maybe I didn’t use the correct amounts…does anyone have exact measurements of each liquid? I’d like to try again.

  35. According to the original instructions, from Michel, for the 50/40/10 solution of lime-a-way, water, and tide, after the treatment to “wash as usual.” Does anyone else see this as being more than a little ironic? It seems this extra step would be COMPLETELY unnecessary, and that a good rinsing in the sink would be more than adequate.

    • heya steve, i don’t think we should fault michel too much (:

      he came up with a good solution, and maybe just thought a full wash was more effective in getting out the lime-a-way than trying to rinse the garment by hand.

    • Depends on the type of material. Lime away can eat little holes into your clothes if left at high concentration on an area for a long time. A good washing is always a good idea when using products (such as lime away that shouldn’t touch your skin) for off label solutions to problems.

  36. I tried this on several t-shirts with significant build-up; so much it had caked into inflexible patches under each arm. I followed the instructions above and it barely made a dent. However, it made the patches much softer. Essentially the patches were so thick the solution could not entirely penetrate the patches.

    I mixed up a batch in a bucket, soaked the shirts, for a couple hours, then manipulated the patches (picture rubbing it together) to soften the patch and allow more solution to soak into the patches. About 90% of the build-up was removed without damage to the shirts or the sleeves.

    I’m going to mix another batch and soak straight away. I’ll also manipulate the patches more frequently throughout the soaking session and expect to see a complete removal of the stains.

    Great information here! Thanks for posting!!

    • This is genius! I did follow directions on a set of 4 shirts. One barely crunchy all the way to one so stiff it was headed to the trash.

      Followed directions for mix. It obviously moved the gunk but I wanted more speed.

      I put all 4 in a stainless steel pot, poured 4X the basic recipe (1 cup lime away…) on the shirts I had already worked on, covered the shirts -barely- with more water, brought the whole thing to a boil and stirred. Once fully boiling I covered and turned off the heat.

      The stuff sat several hours and now cool, the water was yellow and milky and the yuck mostly gone.

      I threw it all in the washer on hot and the longest cycle I have and…. Wearable shirts -all of them. Thanks so much for this!

      • The original instructions don’t include boiling. Why do you add this extra step, which will create dangerous fumes and vapors? People should not be in their homes boiling lime-away or other cleaning chemicals.

  37. I have a nice problem with deodorant buildup and have tried many of the at home remedies with little luck so I plan on trying either the deo-go or raise on some of my tough stains.

    I’ve read a few of the comments and like the idea of pre treating regularly to prevent deodorant buildup, but was wondering what you recommend to do that…easy and cheap preferred but I will try anything at this point!

    • heya liz! thanks for stopping by (:

      let me know how your tests go with deo-go and/or raise.

      i’d say the cheapest and easiest way to pre-treat underarms — soapy water in a spray bottle. treat your underarms after wearing with that, and put in the hamper until it comes time to washing.

      if that doesn’t work, you should try a small spray bottle with a water-diluted resolve, or something similar that you can keep near your hamper.

      simple. cheap. and likely very effective to keep those stains away.

  38. I’m glad I ran across this particular blog. I have 5 “trial shirts”‘, CLR, and Gain. I’m going to try with hot water to see if that makes it even more effective, or horribly detrimental, lol!

    • sounds great stacey! keep me posted and let me know how it works.

      i also just heard of another new product, and am going to be digging into learn more about that to see how it performs.

  39. I tried the lime away solution. It didn’t fade the fabric on the tee shirts or dissolve them. They are cotton poly blends., but only works as well as a 24 hour soak in oxyclean . I got a 50% improvement. I think I should just pre treat the pits on a regular basis, and not let the gunk build up.

    • thanks for your feedback leslie!

      have you tried using deo-go or raise?

      but, i agree — pretreating the pits on a regular basis is the best way to prevent the underarm staining.

  40. I just used Krud Kutter. I soaked the shirt for 20 minutes, rinsed it with cold water and dryer it. It not only removed the pit residue but it brightened the shirt as well.

  41. I use a mix of about 50% Dawn dish detergent and 50% vinegar (same stuff I use to clean my shower!) and have had pretty good success getting rid of build up.

    • hey there carina! thanks the tip.

      it’s funny, seems like vinegar is used for about everything around the house, probably because it has some mild acidity.

      i have that tip in the following article, though it doesn’t mention mixing vinegar with dish soap:

      only problem for me is that i super-hate vinegar, and the smell of it. crazy how much i hate it, and the irony is that my wife absolute loves it.

      in fact, she’ll even mess with me at times where she secretly drinks a shot of vinegar, and then comes up to me and tries to kiss me! ugh.

  42. Hi Tug,
    I have been looking for a site like this for years. . Over time I have tried everything you suggested with no success. So TY for taking the time to solve this problem for me. My husbands work shirt is 100% polyester and navy blue. So you can see these deoderant build up stains from 2 miles away.
    My question is, is it safe to use “Lime-A-Way” on colored shirt. Theses shirts are expensive and I could go the “Deo-Go” route if I must, but, I have all the ingredients and not a any of the patience to wait.
    Thank You
    keep up the good work

    • heya monique! thanks for stopping by my site and for posting your question!!

      you know, i have not personally tried the lime-a-way solution, so I couldn’t tell you whether or not it’s safe to use on a colored shirt.

      i know that while deo-go is safe to use on colored garments, there have been some reported cases of discoloration too. i think it has to do with the way the garment is actually dyed during manufacturing.

      i did a little research on lime-a-way, and it uses a sulfamic acid, compared to deo-go that uses a hydrochloric acid. hydrochloric acid is said to be “more volatile and irritating”.

      knowing that, logic would dictate that this home-remedy solution would be less likely to cause damage to a garment, but it also may be less effective. that said, you can make as much as you want for real cheap, so you could repeat the cleaning process many times to dilute the deodorant build-up stains more slowly.

      the only safe way to determine whether or not this lime-a-way concoction (or deo-go) will damage your husband’s 100% polyester navy blue shirt, would be to test it on a hidden part of the shirt. on some shirts, i think that’s easier said than done though — especially if it’s a shirt that is not tucked in.

      while i’d love to recommend doing a test-run on a separate shirt, the problem with that is that it won’t be the same shirt with the same fabric or same dyeing process. so your test shirt could be fine, but your husband’s shirt could get hurt, or vice versa.

      hope all this helps.

      if you do decide to use this at-home stain removal formula on your husband’s shirts, please be sure to let me know how it works (: would love to hear back from you.

    • I attempted to use the limeaway solution on my workout gear and followed the instructions to the “T”.

      Unfortunately, it made the antiperspirant build up MUCH worse.

      It didn’t affect the color though, so I suppose that is a positive.

      It solidified the underarms turning a minor issue that I was trying to nip in the bud a much more significant issue.

      Word of caution: do NOT use on workout gear. Off to do more research…

      • wow, mike — that’s really wild to hear, but thank you so much for sharing that information about your experience with this at-home deodorant stain remover solution!

        you may have to try deo-go or raise to see if those solutions can dissolve those underarm harden stains.

  43. I’ll never understand why everyone doesn’t use gels for antiperspirants and deodorant. They don’t leave white marks on clothing, or under your arms, and they dry quickly. Why use a solid, when a gel removes most of the problems caused by solids? Yet, there must be a reason, because you find far more solids on the shelves then gels.

    • heya robert — thanks for your comment!

      i personally have tried gel antiperspirants and prefer using other types over gels. gel antiperspirants don’t seem to dry as fast for me and don’t appear to be any more or less effective than roll-on or stick antiperspirants.

      so i current use either a roll-on antiperspirant or stick. but still looking for an antiperspirant that i really love.

    • Hi, Robert, my husband is an electrician. He is in attics, or weather is 80 outside, then he goes inside with no AC. He uses gel, bad build up. I will try this home remedy for this, thank you Tug….

    • Gels start to give me a rash after a few days of using and aren’t as effective on sweat for me. When I start to sweat it feels like I rubbed a slimy fish under there (but without the stink).


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