How To Remove Underarm Odor From Clothes

You take a peek at the underarm of your underwear and notice a conspicuous ball of stain around that region, and more concerning is the strong whiff of smell that strikes against the walls of your nostrils the more you go closer.

But it’s a relatively fresh fabric, you murmur to yourself. It has to be a stained and smelly underarm, you immediately recognise the problem, but what could be the solution? How can you make your clothes smell fresh again around the armpit area?

The solution is quite simple. Through a series of preventive and active cleaning techniques.

When you have a smell around the armpit area that returns persistent especially after washing and then wearing it, you’re most likely dealing with a set-in body soil that is apt to get more pronounced with time when no measures are employed to tackle it.

To remove persistent underarm smell, soak the fabric for an hour or more in a solution of water plus ⅓ cups of white vinegar, depending on the degree of smell you perceive. Then wash using a heavy duty detergent preferably with added scent and using the hottest settings allowable for the fabric.

This should tackle the smell at one go. Below we provide more ways you can employ to get rid of persistent smells in the underarm area of your clothes, and to conclude, we explain the popular procedures for getting rid of old or fresh stains from your clothes.

What Causes Underarm Odor?

Body soil that set-in around the armpit area is the main cause for underarm odor. And how does body soil set in?

When you abstain from washing cloths frequently as recommended by the manufacturer, you don’t allow clothes to breath and dry properly after taking them off but rather pile them up, smelly, like a heap of trash matter, use little and weak detergents for washing, overload your washing machine for every cycle, never use the correct temperature setting recommended by the manufacturer, never disinfect your clothes, and never separate sweatpants and gym clothes from everyday fabric and garments materials when cleaning which can end up depositing stain and smell to them.

All these can contribute to a cloth that retains part of the body soil even after washing, which can consistently buildup and eventually cause smell, especially with synthetic fabrics like polyester and nylon.

The summer or heat season is also known to increase the amount of body soil we deposit on clothes, especially in regions around the armpit and back, and thus being guilty of the practices mentioned above will most likely result in a really smelly cloth in the shortest amount of time.

How To Remove Underarm Odor From Cloth

Getting rid of the smell that returns on a cloth is quite easy, first make sure to ditch all habits that could potentially result in a stain and smell prone fabric with time, as mentioned above.

This means that you sanitize and disinfect clothes regularly with bleach or fabric sanitizer, let them air dry whenever you take them off and never pile them up into heaps in their smelly state which can result in a two way transfer of odor between fabrics, and also ensure you’re using the right temperature for washing the fabrics which will destroy bacteria and lift soil off easily.

Additionally, you want to avoid washing heavily stained, soiled or smelly garments and clothes together with regular clothes, and make sure to opt for a strong and scenty detergent that can leave your fabrics clean and infused with scent.

Now that we’re done with the preventive measures, it’s time to learn how to tackle problems you already have at hand.

Water and white vinegar

Vinegar is a good disinfectant because it has acetic acid in it which kills mold and bacteria. So adding it to your clothes will go a long way in removing soils and killing bacteria.

Vinegar also has anti-odor properties which makes it a good solution for tackling smelly clothes, especially at the underarm area.

You can use white vinegar in two ways, first, add ⅓ cups to a bucket of water or the equivalent in a bathtub. Now soak the garment for an hour or more depending on the severity of the smell.

Next proceed to wash the cloth using a heavy duty liquid laundry detergent (because they dissolve faster which makes them more effective and efficient that powdered one) in the highest and hottest wash settings allowed by the fabric manufacturer to really get that stain and smell out, and then dry properly using the dryer or air, depending on which one of them your fabric manufacturer recommends.

It’s a good thing to add fabric softeners or scent boosters to ensure the fabrics come out all clean and fresh!

The second method, which is for less soiled and smelly clothes, is to simply add the vinegar into the washing machine and let it do it’s magic.

For this, you want to fill your washer with the right amount of water as per manufacturer’s instructions, then add ⅓ cups of white vinegar, turn on the wash knob dial to the soak configuration (30 mins).

After it’s soaking time, you want to drain the vinegar solution and add new water, then add in liquid detergent and continue with the laundry.

Water and baking soda

Baking soda is also a good ingredient to neutralise the acidic molecules that cause smell around the underarm of your cloth.

To use baking powder, make a paste of it using warm water, then apply to the underarm area and let sit for 30 minutes or more. Then launder using liquid detergent and a scent booster. Repeat if necessary.

You can also make a solution with baking powder by adding one cup of baking soda to four cups of hot water and pour the solution into a bucket full of room temperature water.

Then soak the garment in the water for at least 4 hours or overnight and launder using liquid detergent with scent if you aren’t allergic to it. Dry as per manufacturer’s instructions.

Odor remover or freshener

Many products are designed to tackle odor build up on fabrics, and you can purchase them and use them as per manufacturer’s instructions.

Some of these are typically added to the wash water alongside the detergent to do their thing.

For dry clean only clothes with smelly under arm, take it to the dry cleaners and ensure to report the issue to the clerk there.

Dry cleaning is a powerful procedure, and there’s typically a spot treatment procedure first that tackles most of the smell first, and then the dry cleaning solvent that does away with the rest.

How To Remove Underarm Stain From Cloth

Most times, especially on clothes that aren’t dark, accompanying our underarm odors are underarm stains that may have accumulated from the same body soil responsible for the smell.

If you have these, you want to tackle them with a 1:1 solution of water and vinegar. Make the solution in a bowl then use a soft brush to apply it around the affected spot from outside in.

Make sure the fabric allows for such kind of agitation, most cotton, cotton/polyester blends are sturdy enough for this.

Then go ahead with the smell removing techniques outlined above.

Another easy option is to use detergent based stain removers. They work to tackle stains no matter how old they are and are very effective when used as instructed.

Some tips you want to note in order to prevent stain build up around the armpit area are these:

  • Underwears are most prone to yellowing because they have the most contact with your underarm, so avoid wearing them for the second time which will cause the stain to become prominent.
  • Avoid using deodorizers that dont stain. When these mix with sweat and deposit on clothes, it can be annoying to get them out.

The One Solution To Removing New Stains From Clothes

No matter the kind of stains you have, you most likely will be able to get it out in no time when it’s fairly new, and especially when you follow the procedures mentioned below.

For a sturdy material that can withstand agitation, quickly remove solids from around the area in a way that minimizes spread, blot or sponge with a paper towel and apply a liquid detergent to the affected area from inside out. Then let sit for 5 minutes and scrub under running water until the stain fades away.

Now wash using the hottest setting allowed for the fabric and rinse. Inspect to see if there is still some stain left, which would mean you’ll apply more detergent and let sit for a few minutes and then launder again.

This technique should work to remove almost all types of fresh stains. You can read our guide on “how to remove oil stains from clothes” to learn more techniques for tackling fresh and old stains.

Final Thoughts

Underarm odor is caused by body soil that have firmly attached to the fabric and won’t get away easily. Many day to day habits contribute to this.

Tackling it would require pre-treatment using vinegar or baking soda and then a long agitative hot water wash.

That, hopefully, will get rid of the smell for good!