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Why There Are Deodorant Stains on Your Black Shirts (How to Fix It)

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It’s likely happened to us all at some point: We’re dressed up nicely for work, looking our best in our slimming black shirts and pinstriped pants; we look good. But then, we go to the bathroom and catch a glimpse of our reflections in the mirror just to notice ugly patches of deodorant staining our armpits. So why do we get white, chalky marks on our black garments, and how can we fix it?!

You get white deodorant stains on your black shirts because of the deodorant’s ingredients and the amount of product you’ve applied. You’ll also get stains if you wore your shirt before the deodorant dried or if you applied the product to wet or sweaty underarms. 

Now, let’s take a closer look at each of these causes and how best to fix them. Better yet, let’s see if there’s a way to prevent them in the first place! I’ll also give you a few ways to clean the stains if you notice them while you’re out in public. 

It’s All Because of the Deodorant’s Ingredients

The ingredients in your product make for the deodorant stains on your shirt. That’s because these items are often made with a mix of protein, aluminum, and alkali. 

When combined, these elements create the deodorant’s white or silvery-white color. Since your black shirt’s color is the opposite, it’s no surprise that deo stains quickly appear on it. 

How To Fix

It seems like it would be tough to fix this problem as you can’t alter your deo’s ingredients. 

As it turns out, though, the fix is pretty simple: Ditch your usual deodorant for a crystal deodorant. 

Crystal deodorant is often advertised as a product that doesn’t cause white marks. This benefit is made possible by the natural mineral salt known as potassium aluminum sulfate. Like other conventional ingredients, it has antimicrobial properties. However, it’s believed to be safer, for it may lead to a lower breast cancer risk. 

The best thing about potassium alum deodorants is that they are clear in color. As such, they won’t leave deodorant stains on your black shirts. 

I’ve used mine daily for over two years and it’s still going strong.

Here’s my favorite deo on amazon (paid link).

You’ve Put On a Lot of Deodorant

When it comes to applying deodorant, it’s not always the more, the merrier.

If you’re using a roll-on or a solid deodorant, putting on a lot of swipes is mighty wasteful. The same thought goes for spray-on deodorants.

In other words, the more deodorant you apply, the more white stains you’ll find on your black shirt.

How To Fix

To avoid these pesky stains, only apply two or three upward and downward swipes of roll-on or solid deodorant for every armpit. 

If there’s hair on your armpits, you may want to put on more pressure as you apply the product. This will help ensure that the deodorant adequately covers all the sweat glands. 

As for spray variants, spray the liquid for about two to three seconds per underarm. Hold the can about 15 centimeters (5.9 inches) away from your armpit when applying for the best results.

When it comes to white gel deodorant, the proper technique is to rub it for only ten seconds per underarm. 

The deodorant Didn’t Have Time To Dry

Maybe you’re in a hurry, which is why you’ve put on your black shirt right after applying your deodorant. Since it didn’t have time to dry, your armpit wouldn’t have had enough time to absorb the material. Unsurprisingly, this will show as white stains on your black shirts. 

How To Fix

The fix for this problem is plain and simple – you need to give your deodorant time to dry before you get dressed. 

Since different deodorants have varying formulas, there’s no set time for drying. However, the consensus is that you need to give your product several minutes to completely dry. 

Once the deodorant has settled, you can put on your black shirt without worrying about getting white marks.  

You Haven’t Dried Your Underarms Before Applying Deodorant

It’s not only the deodorant that should be dry but your underarms too!

If you apply your deodorant on wet armpits, it won’t be absorbed as thoroughly as it should. Likewise, it wouldn’t be as effective in keeping your underarms dry and odor-free.

How To Fix

The solution for this is to make sure that your underarms are dry before you apply your deodorant. It’s as simple as patting your armpits dry after every shower. 

The same thought goes when applying a deodorant even if you haven’t showered (it’s always best to take a bath beforehand, though.) 

Before applying the product, you should pat your armpits dry – even if you think they’re already dry. 

You’ve Applied the Deodorant on Sweaty Underarms

Again, this boils down to the principle I’ve mentioned above. 

When your armpits are wet, they won’t absorb as much deodorant as they should. Not only will this result in white stains on your black shirts, but it can also leave you feeling unpleasant – and smelling unfresh. 

How To Fix

As I’ve previously explained, you need to dry your underarms first before applying deodorant. 

As always, it’s best to shower first because this will help get rid of the odor-causing bacteria on your armpits. 

Even if your deodorant has prescription strength, it won’t be as effective if your underarms are ridden with germs and sweat. 

Likewise, it’s also good to keep your underarms hair-free. The more hair you’ve got, the less air you’ve got circulating your armpits. That’s why your underarms end up all sweaty – even if the temperatures are relatively cool. 

Getting Rid of Deodorant Stains

If you implement the five methods above, you may find that you’ll have to deal with this problem less often in the future. However, you may still get deodorant stains from time to time. 

Here are three ways to get rid of them if you do:

  • Use friction to clean the stain. Rub a part of your shirt with the stained area. The friction will help get rid of the marks quickly. 
  • Rub the stain with a nylon stocking. Just like using one part of your shirt, rubbing a clean nylon stocking on your shirt should help eliminate the stain. When doing this, make sure to start from the borders. Work it to the center until you’ve cleared the mark. 
  • Blot the stain. Another option is to blot the stain with a damp cloth. This should help remove the white stains on the fabric. 

Final Thoughts

Whenever you get white stains on your black shirts, it’s often due to the product ingredients. However, it also happens when you apply an excessive amount.  

Wet underarms – and not letting your deodorant dry – contribute as well. 

To prevent these stains, you should only apply an adequate amount to clean underarms. But, of course, if all else fails, you can always make the switch to clear deodorants. 

I wrote a comprehensive guide on why your clothes are changing color that covers every type of discoloration. Feel free to check it out next.

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