How To Get Pesky Sweat Smells Out of Your Top Armpits

Product Care

For when the stink is extra stubborn.

Last updated: 21 December 2022
4 min read
How To Get That Pesky Armpit Smell Out of Shirts
Time Required
15 min
Estimated Cost


  • Boiling water
  • Aspirin and cream of tartar
  • Bicarbonate of soda
  • Salt
  • White vinegar
  • Liquid laundry detergent


  • Soft-bristle brush or toothbrush
  • Bucket
  • Spray bottle

Picture this: you've just washed your workout top, but it still doesn't smell fresh—especially in the armpit region. Fortunately, you can remove the stink using a few methods that are super easy. Read on for some tricks.

(Related: The 11 Best Nike Gifts for Cyclists)

Shake Out Your Top After Your Workout

Right when you get home from the gym, hang your top to let the sweat evaporate. Don't let your tee continue to sit wadded up in your gym bag.

Then, Wash as Soon as You Can

To prevent smells from building up and bacteria from growing, wash your tops each time you wear them. Here's how:

How to Remove Smell from Tops

  1. 1.Turn Your Tops Inside Out

    How To Get That Pesky Armpit Smell Out of Shirts

    This will expose the smelly underarm fabric.

  2. 2.Treat the Area Before Washing

    How To Get That Pesky Armpit Smell Out of Shirts

    To help fight odours, consider using one of these substances on your tops before throwing them in the washing machine:

    • Boiling water: Pour slowly over each smelly area.
    • Aspirin plus cream of tartar: Mix one cup of warm water with a tablespoon of cream of tartar and three non-coated white aspirin tablets. Use a toothbrush designated for this purpose to scrub the paste into the underarm areas. Then, let sit for 20 minutes.
    • Bicarbonate of soda: Mix with warm water to create a paste, then rub into the underarm areas. Let sit for at least 15 minutes. Or presoak in a sink with 1/2 cup bicarbonate of soda plus warm water.
    • Salt: Soak in a bucket half-full of warm water plus 1/2 cup table salt.
    • White vinegar: Soak in a 1:4 mixture of vinegar to water for half an hour.
    • Liquid laundry detergent: Rub on smelly areas, then let sit for five minutes.
  3. 3.Wash in the Washing Machine

    How To Get That Pesky Armpit Smell Out of Shirts

    Use detergent plus warm or hot water. For odours that remain, run tees through the washing machine again.

  4. 4.Dry

    How To Get That Pesky Armpit Smell Out of Shirts

    Consider line-drying outside (or hanging in front of an open window).

  5. 5.Store

    How To Get That Pesky Armpit Smell Out of Shirts

    If you really want to go the extra mile, try layering dryer sheets in between your gym tees.

When You Don't Have Time to Wash Straight Away

How To Get That Pesky Armpit Smell Out of Shirts

Try one of these tactics—in order from the fastest to the more time-intensive—for when you can't immediately wash your top. For convenience, dispense the first two solutions into mini spray bottles and keep in your gym bag.

  • Deodorising spray: With this instant strategy, you can head straight from the gym to the office. Mix 16 ounces (approx. 473ml) of witch hazel or distilled white vinegar with about 10 drops of essential oil (of any fragrance you like, such as lavender or rosemary) in a spray bottle. Or use a fabric refresher spray product. Shake well and spray on problem areas.
  • Vodka: This is an alternative option for when you're on the go. Pour vodka into a spray bottle and spray areas with odours.
  • Bicarbonate of soda: Sprinkle a small amount over smelly areas, let sit for 15 minutes or more, then shake off.
  • Dryer: Throw the top in the dryer (on the hottest setting to kill more germs and viruses) for 10–15 minutes.
  • Freezer: Place the tee in a plastic bag and stick it in the freezer for an hour. Then let it sit out to return to room temperature.

Consider Wearing More Cotton

Tees made with natural fibres (such as cotton) are more breathable than those made from synthetics (like polyester and rayon). One study, found in a 2014 issue of the journal Applied and Environmental Microbiology, compared the odours and bacterial count of cotton and polyester T-shirts worn during an intensive indoor cycling session. They found that cotton tees did not harbour as much bacteria as synthetic blends, which is likely why tops made from natural materials may not smell as strongly post-workout.

Words by Dina Cheney

Originally published: 16 December 2022

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