How do I get the smell out of the armpits of my t-shirts?
February 27, 2009 7:14 AM   Subscribe

How do I get the smell out of the armpits of my t-shirts?

I've got a few t-shirts that right out of the washer/dryer immediately smell in the armpit area. There doesn't seem to be the thick buildup from deodorant, and they don't look stained...they just smell.

How can I get that smell out? I'm just using regular laundry detergent to wash my clothes.
posted by JPigford to Home & Garden (13 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Try adding a scoop of baking soda to your regular laundry. That helps, as does a paste of baking soda and water applied to the pits of your shirts and left to sit overnight.
posted by deadmessenger at 7:17 AM on February 27, 2009 [1 favorite]

Spray some white vinegar onto them and let it soak in for a while before they go into the washing machine.
posted by jonesor at 7:31 AM on February 27, 2009

This is a known problem with "technical fabrics" -- you know, those non-cotton shirts for running etc. -- and someone invented a detergent especially for it. I haven't tried it, but it's called WIN. You could probably get it at a sporting goods or specialty running store.
posted by kestrel251 at 7:54 AM on February 27, 2009 [1 favorite]

You might also try cleaning the shirt with ammonia - it specifically works well for sweat. Just throw it in with the detergent at the beginning of the wash. And, of course, never mix ammonia and bleach.
posted by Citrus at 8:00 AM on February 27, 2009

For smelly stuff, I recommend a 1/4 or so of white vinegar in with the wash. Give it a try -- I know that it removes musty smell from towels that have sat too long in the washer!
posted by amanda at 8:25 AM on February 27, 2009 [1 favorite]

That should read: "a 1/4 cup."
posted by amanda at 8:26 AM on February 27, 2009

Try OxyClean or similar.
posted by kindall at 10:39 AM on February 27, 2009

Seconding ammonia. Just dump some right into the machine while it's filling up. It's cheap, smells funny during the wash, but rinses away with no residual odor. Kills the pit smell entirely.

Oh, and wash them in hot water.
posted by jeff-o-matic at 10:54 AM on February 27, 2009 [1 favorite]

Vigorously rub in a good dollop of hand sanitizer, then follow everyone else's advice.
posted by aquafortis at 12:11 PM on February 27, 2009

If you're lazy like me, get some Febreeze, spray it on the armpit area, toss in hamper, wash is during your next run. Ideally you want the febreeze to be on the clothes for at least a day to make sure it gets all the smell out. If your in a rush, you can just Febreeze it and be off, it'll usually get most of it.

Alternately, if you're not so lazy, you can rub some baking soda and water mixture paste on the armpit area of the shirt and let sit for a day or two.
posted by nikkorizz at 2:53 PM on February 27, 2009

Canesten laundry rinse - gets all of the stink out and as a bonus actually smells pretty darn good itself.
posted by mu~ha~ha~ha~har at 5:58 PM on February 27, 2009

Seconding OxyClean, specifically the spray. It's amazingly effective of getting stubborn smells even out of my delicate fabric sweaters.
posted by katemcd at 7:35 AM on February 28, 2009

Try everyone's advice! BTW, there are tons of sites out there answering this question. I found some suggestions on these sites when I was dealing with a related problem: my stress sweat digs in to the fabric and is quite a bit stronger than normal, working-out, hot day sweat. The clothes are fine out of the dryer, but the smell revives in full force at the slightest hint of body heat. Some other suggestions I remember: add lysol to your laundry, add vinegar to your laundry (dab the pits on the shirts AND your actual pits too), or spray the pits on your shirts with spray used to kill pet urine odor (apparently urea is excreted through sweat as well and contributes to the staying power of the scent). The key seems to be to break down the bacteria or whatnot stubbornly clinging to the fabric. Masking this with Febreeze probably won't help. When you dab or spray, remember to do it on the inside of the clothes to attack the source and guard against any damage to the color/fabric of the shirt. Good luck.
posted by Jezebella at 5:32 PM on March 4, 2009

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