How to Get Rid of Deodorant Stains

By Cassi Bee

Deodorant stains are universally frustrating. Product buildup gets on your clothes, creating embarrassing discoloration where the whole world can see.

Our product exists in part because we didn't want to accept deodorant stains as a side effect of smelling good.

We also don't believe you need to accept deodorant stains as a fact of life, either. Yes, it's important to be careful when applying deodorant, but once you know how much is appropriate for your body, you can avoid deodorant stains altogether. 

There are a few things to consider when getting rid of deodorant stains, including the kind of deodorant used, which fabrics are affected, and which cleaning products are best. 

Is it product buildup or a sweat stain?

Before we get into the down and dirty of deodorant-stain removal, we think it’s important to clarify what a deodorant stain actually is. Not all stains are created the same, nor can they be blamed on deodorant.

If you’re experiencing yellowish-brown stains, they most likely stem from antiperspirant use. Since antiperspirants have aluminum in them, the chemicals cause a reaction when introduced to the bacteria being carried by your sweat. The concoction is deposited into the fibers of your clothing, and, over time, sweat stains occur.

Deodorant buildup, however, are a little different. Depending on the brand you use, the stain could be caused by any number of synthetic or natural ingredients. The good news is that the more natural the product, the easier it is to remove the product transfer. It just may take a little time and elbow grease. 

Jar vs stick: Determining the potential cause

Both the stick applicator and the jar have the same trusted PiperWai ingredients that help make our deodorant an effective, all-natural option. Some of the additional ingredients, however, are slightly different between the two products. For example, the stick applicator uses vegan wax to give it a solid consistency, whereas the jar uses cocoa butter. Both have a mattified consistency. 

Because of these small differences, we suggest treating the residual product a little differently depending on which deodorant you’ve used.


If the product transfer you see is lighter in color on your darker fabrics, you may be able to remove this with just a damp cloth or paper towel. Another neat trick is to use a pair of nylons or a used dryer sheet (really!) to rub more stubborn residue spots clean. Typically, in natural deodorants, this kind of stain is caused by the powdery, dry ingredients mixed in to help mattify the oils. If a damp cloth or dryer sheet doesn’t do it, a light, regular washing will do the trick.

If the marks you are seeing on your darker clothing are darker in nature, you will want to treat the area before washing. Since PiperWai’s ingredients are high-quality, food-grade ingredients, we consider the product transfer sometimes experienced to be most similar to a cooking oil stain — our stick applicator and jar product both use cold-pressed coconut oil, after all!

Darker stains on lighter clothing are perhaps the most noticeable, but this is where knowing the type of stain becomes important. Remember: yellowish stains on lighter clothing are usually attributed to a chemical reaction between bacteria and the air, so the sooner you can wash these types of tops, the better.

For darker stains caused by deodorant build-up, we offer the friendly reminder that less is more when it comes to natural products, and just a small amount of our jar product and one or two swipes of our stick applicator will keep you covered all day. Over-application happens to us all once in a while, and if your shirt experiences a product buildup, you can use a pre-treatment or soak-and-wash technique to loosen up the spot and wash it out. Be sure not to wash this type of stain without treating it first the stain can set and become much more difficult to remove. 

You can see our pre-treatment suggestions below!

Determining laundering requirements and pre-treatment methods

First, you’ll want to inspect the article of clothing for a tag or indication of which type of fabric it might be and prepare to follow the item’s laundering instructions. Colder water temperatures may require a second treatment and wash, where warmer (but not hot!) water temperatures will help loosen and lift the oils from the fabric much more easily. If the article of clothing is dry-clean only, we suggest bringing it to your dry cleaner for professional assessment.

There are a ton of options for pre-treating your clothing before their next wash, but we’ve narrowed it down to five for you to choose between:

  1. Baking Soda and White Vinegar: 

  • This one is pretty easy, and uses tools you may already have in your pantry: baking soda and distilled white vinegar. Lay your clothing down inside-out with the stain facing upwards. Sprinkle some baking soda across the spot, making sure to cover the entire area. You can rub the baking soda in a bit before adding a few splashes of distilled, white vinegar to the affected area. This will cause a chemical reaction with lots of bubbles, and those bubbles will help lift the product build-up to make the next step much easier. Once the vinegar-and-baking-soda reaction has stopped and soaked in for a couple minutes, use your fingernails or the edge of a credit card to carefully scrape and lift the product buildup until most of it is removed. From here, wash as normal and line dry. If there is still residue after a first washing, repeat the above steps until satisfied.
  1. Dish Soap Soak:

  • For this method, you’ll need a large sink or basin, some dish soap (preferably the degreasing kind) and some time to spare. First, check the article of clothing’s tag for laundering instructions. Depending on the water temperature recommended, fill the sink or basin about one-half to two-thirds of the way, then add a few drops of dish soap to the water. You’ll want to give it a quick mix, but don’t froth it up too much — we need to save those future bubbles for the work they’re about to do. From here, you can submerge your garments for up to 20 minutes, wring the garment out carefully, and repeat the process if there are still signs of buildup. Once the spot seems to have lifted, you can toss this article into the wash per usual. 

    *Note: For wool or knit sweaters, you’ll want to use cornstarch instead of baking soda and only allow this to soak for about 3-5 minutes with more repetition, rather than 20 minutes. Instead of wringing the sweater out by hand, we suggest using a dry towel to roll and press the water out. As you repeat the process, the sweater will lose its shape, so we recommend using a large piece of cardboard or paper to trace the outline of the sweater before pre-treating. 
  1. Baking Soda Paste:

  • To use this method, you’ll need to prepare a workstation in advance. This workstation should include a bowl of baking soda, some dish soap, a toothbrush, and a pair of gloves, if you prefer not to get your hands dirty. As a pre-wash treatment, sprinkle a thick layer of baking soda onto the affected spot. Allow the baking soda to sit for up to one hour. When you return, the baking soda may be clumpy instead of powdery — this is good! It means the baking soda’s absorptive properties were able to suck up any excess oils from the fabric. You can use an old toothbrush to lift the excess baking soda and apply some dish soap to the spot. You’ll want to work the dish soap in and add a little more, creating a thin top layer of soap, before tossing the clothing into the wash.
  1. Simple Green, Gojo or waterless mechanic’s soap: 

  • These are great one-and-done options for pre-treatment of lighter spots, since their main purpose is to remove grease while being gentle enough to use on hands. As with many of the methods outlined above, you’ll want to use these as a pre-treatment directly onto your clothing before washing. 
  1. OxiClean: 

  • America’s Test Kitchen has rated this product the number one stain remover of its kind. While not the most natural option, it is one that is tried and true for even the toughest food stains. Since our products use high-grade, food-quality oils and ingredients, we suggest this as an option as well.

Once your garment has been washed, inspect it for any signs of residual product or staining. If there seems to be a spot remaining, repeat your preferred pre-wash treatment. 

With a little education and understanding, it's easy to see why so many people are switching over to natural deodorant. Will you be one of them?