Clothing Care

The Definitive 4-Step Guide To Banishing Stubborn Pit Stains for Good

Tehrene Firman

Photo: Stocksy/Ivan Ozerov

Nothing ruins your favorite white T-shirt quicker than a pit stain. Even wine seems to come out easier than the yellow cast by your underarms. According to cleaning expert Angela Bell, a grove guide at Grove Collaborative, pit stains show up when your antiperspirant mixes with sweat, typically something that contains aluminum, but it happens with natural deodorants, too. “In natural deodorants, ingredients such as coconut oil can leave an oily residue on certain fabrics,” she says. “This oily residue can transform into a discolored area if left untreated.”

While Georgia Dixon, also a grove guide at Grove Collaborative, says using a deodorant without aluminum and coconut oil can help prevent pit stains—she recommends the Weleda 24 Hour Roll-On Deodorant in Citrus ($8) or the Ursa Major Sublime Sage Spray Deodorant ($18)—it can be hard to void the issue completely. This easy-to-follow guide explaining how to remove pit stains is key in keeping your whites looking brand-new

How to remove pit stains

Address pit stains as soon as possible to avoid permanent discoloration. This is how to do it:

  1. Start by spot treating pit stains with an enzyme-based stain remover. The enzymes in the spray help break down the lingering oils before laundering.
  2. Let the spray sit according to the product directions. For tough stains, you may need to wait longer. For set-in or stubborn stains, you can also presoak in Molly’s Suds Oxygen Whitener ($13). Alternatively, this can be added to the wash cycle.
  3. Next, wash the clothing in a powerful but natural laundry detergent.
  4. If stains remain after you’ve completed these steps, repeat the application of stain remover and laundering before drying, as the heat from the dryer can cause stains to set in.

If your pit stains aren’t budging, try this hack from Christina Gwira of Naturally Nerdful. Commenters say it works on even the oldest and yellowest stains, and all you need is baking soda, hydrogen peroxide, and Dawn Original Scent Dishwashing Liquid ($10 for 3). Now that you know what you’re doing, pit stains don’t stand a chance.

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