Do you find the warmer weather is wreaking havoc with your whites, with work shirts and T-shirts starting to yellow at the armpits? You’re not alone! This is a supercommon issue that the summer heat will always bring.
The good news is that it is easy to sort and you don’t have to throw anything away or use harmful products. In order to resolve it, we need to first understand why this happens.
Our sweat is usually colourless and made up of many things, salt being one. Antiperspirant also has many elements, but its superpower for reducing sweat is aluminium. The yellowing of sweat is caused by the salt in our sweat meeting this aluminium. The reason that it stains so badly and is hard to remove is down to the staying power of the antiperspirant and also the fact that sweat is also a protein stain.
So, what can you do? Aside from opting for an aluminium-free product, you can reach for the household queen: distilled white vinegar. Not only is she incredible at breaking down the stain, she will also remove any odours.
Let’s begin with new stains. The key is to treat before you wash. All you need to do is soak the armpit area in some white vinegar – 30 minutes will do the trick. For older stains that have already gone through washes, it’s the same method but leave it for an hour. If it is particularly bad, after the soak you can make a paste with warm water and bicarbonate of soda and massage it in.
This will help to break down a layered stain. After the treatment, wash the garment as normal. Always ensure that you don’t apply a lot of heat until you are sure the stain is gone. So, air dry – don’t use a dryer. For lighter stains, keep a spray bottle of vinegar near your washing machine and spritz T-shirts before they go in the wash.
While I’m here, if bedding or socks have recently started holding on to odours even after washing, this too will be down to the heat. The best way to combat odours is to add a cup (or two if it’s particularly bad) of vinegar to the wash.
White vinegar is fantastic at removing odours from fabric and will help you banish musty or sweaty smells for good. The key is to pour it into the fabric softener drawer so it is released during the final rinse stage, which is key for removing smells.
Don’t forget, adding vinegar to any wash will also benefit your washing machine as it’s a great natural cleaner – what a stunning state of affairs!
Laura de Barra, aka the Gaff Goddess, is a property manager, author and She–IY enthusiast from Cork, now based in London