Easy Sweat Stain Buster Recipe

I am all about saving money and the environment by buying quality items and trying to make them last.  Many times I have seen my and my family’s clothing stained, and I questioned whether I could clean and therefore salvage the garment.  In this post I share a simple, 3-ingredient recipe for removing the yellow stains that often plague the collar and armpits of shirts.  This sweat stain remover has saved me many garments and much money over the years!

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Sweat Stain Buster Recipe

The most common cause of this yellow stain, that I often find on shirt collars and shirt armpit areas, is sweat.   But I also have found that the oily natural sunscreens can leave a yellowish residue on clothing, too.  Don’t get me wrong, I still love these natural sunscreens, but I now can use them without worrying about destroying my clothing as I protect my skin!

The Sweat Stain Remover Recipe

1 tsp Dawn Original Dish Detergent

1 tsp Baking Soda

2 tsp Hydrogen Peroxide (3%)

Sweat Stain Buster shirt - before
stained shirt collar
Using the Sweat Stain Remover

To use this sweat stain remover, I mix 1 teaspoon Dawn, 1 teaspoon baking soda, and 2 teaspoons hydrogen peroxide.  Once I have the ingredients mixed together well, I use a toothbrush dedicated to laundry apply a small amount to the stained area.  I use the toothbrush to work the solution into the stained fabric.  If the fabric is thick or I just don’t feel like I am able to work the solution into the stain well, I sprinkle a little water to thin, then keep working it into the stain.

I allow this to soak on the stain overnight (12-24 hours) then launder as usual, without rinsing before putting the clothing in the washing machine.

NOTE about possible staining:  I have had Dawn stain light colored natural fabrics (cotton), so when using this solution (or any other that use Dawn) I wet the fabric with water first, add water to the Dawn solution, and only soak about an hour before rinsing.  I repeat the soak as necessary to remove the stain.

shirt soaking in sweat stain buster
entire shirt soaking in sweat stain remover

I have used this successfully on synthetic (typically polyester) garments with the long soak time, and still with success but more effort with natural fabrics.

Sweat Stain Buster shirt - after
shirt collar – stain removed!
How much do I use?

Well this is a tough question to answer.  It really depends on how big the stain is.  The recipe I have here is enough for about 3 shirt collars, but it depends how much of the collar is stained.  I mix this up in small amounts (hence, the above recipe) and if I have any left over I store it in a little container.  I like using a clearly labeled old pill bottle – it doubles as a storage vessel plus an extra barrier to keep kids from getting to the chemicals.

I once turned my white Columbia UPF40 button down yellow from natural sunscreen.  Pretty much all over.  I thought my shirt was ruined.  And unfortunately I forgot to take a “before” picture.  I think I made a 7x batch of this sweat stain remover to soak the entire shirt to try to make it white again.  It worked for the most part – there were a couple panels of a different fabric or different weave that stayed tinged yellow (the panels on each side under the arm pit and down to the bottom hem), but most of the shirt was bright white again after the soak and laundering!  It’s definitely wearable again, and I am thrilled that I was able to salvage this shirt!  I think it has many more seasons of life left, to protect this pasty-pale skin from the sun!

white shirt after soaking to remove natural sunscreen residue
white shirt after soaking to remove natural sunscreen residue

Again, cost depends on how much you need to use.  To make the sweat stain remover recipe above, it only costs $0.05!

I have found the best prices for these types of common household products to be at Walmart, grocery stores, or drug stores.  If you want to order online, the best prices I found were at Walmart.com.

Dawn Original Dish Liquid. ($2.00/14.6 fl oz)x(1 fl oz/6 tsp)x(1 tsp)=$0.0228

Baking Soda. ($.99/1 lb)x(1 lb/454 g)x(4.8g/1 tsp)=$0.0105

Hydrogen Peroxide (3%).  ($1.00/32 fl oz)x(1 fl oz/6 tsp)x(2 tsp)=$0.0104

Total: $0.0228+$0.0105+$0.0104=$0.0437 ≅ $0.05

before and after treatment with sweat stain buster

Do you have any tips or tricks to salvage dirty or damaged clothing – or other items?  Please share in the comments below!