Here's How You Can Get Sweat Stains Out of Tops

Product Care

Worked up a sweat? Follow these steps to treat stains in your workout top.

Last updated: March 9, 2022
4 min read
How to Get Sweat Stains Out of Shirts

After a gruelling workout, it's completely normal for your top to be drenched in sweat. And while most of that residue should come right out in the washing machine, some may stain your clothing, depending on the colour and material (we're especially looking at you, white cotton T-shirts).

Luckily, removing a sweat stain from your top doesn't have to be challenging. In fact, much of the following advice can be applied to most stains—whether it's a sweat stain from doing a HIIT workout or an accidental stain that happens when you sip coffee from a disposable cup without a securely fastened lid.

How to Remove Sweat Stains from Workout Clothes

Whatever caused the stain, you can follow this general advice to remove it.

  • According to the American Cleaning Institute, you should consider dealing with the stain as soon as you can. The less time a stain is allowed to set in, the simpler it will be to remove. Remember, fresh stains are easier to remove if they're less than 24 hours old.

  • Check the label for the clothing maker's instructions for fabric care. For a tough-to-get-out sweat stain, you might need to wash the clothing in the warmest water that's safe for the fabric.

  • Before washing the stained item, treat the stain with a stain-removal product and then let that pre-treatment soak in.

  • Choose the water temperature recommended on the washing powder and stain-removal product that you use. Hot water should be between 50°C–60°C, warm water between 30°C–40°C and cold water between 15°C–25°C.

  • Don't wash the garment if the label recommends that it be dry cleaned.

  • Don't put the item of clothing in the dryer unless the stain is gone. If it's not gone, repeat the recommended steps for stain removal.

How to Get Sweat Stains Out of White Tops

White tops typically need special treatment when it comes to getting rid of sweat stains. If you're trying to remove a sweat stain from the underarm area of a white top, rub liquid biological washing powder on that area. The enzyme in the washing powder will help break down the proteins in your sweat. Let the top sit for 15 minutes, and then wash it.

What if the stain is especially tricky to get out? Try adding a stain-removal product to your load of laundry or using fabric-safe bleach.

It's best to wash the stained white top and other white garments separately from coloured garments in the hottest water that won't harm the clothing. If sweat has discoloured a garment, try putting a few drops of ammonia on a new stain or a few drops of white vinegar on an old stain.

What If the Odour Lingers?

Perspiration odour may cling to garments even after you've washed them. If that happens, soak the top or other item of clothing overnight in warm water containing three or four tablespoons of salt for each litre of warm water, and then rinse the garment thoroughly.

If the odour still remains, pre-treat the area where the stain was with liquid detergent, let the garment sit for 30 minutes and then wash it.

How to Avoid Sweat Stains

There are a few ways you can prevent getting major sweat stains on your top. Consider the following:

  • Wear an anti-perspirant deodorant. This helps stop sweat stains from developing in the first place.

  • Buy workout garments and other clothes geared towards wicking away sweat from your body. Moisture-wicking fabrics can keep you cool and dry however much you sweat. Ideal moisture-wicking fabrics include polyester, polypropylene and nylon.

  • Double up on tops. Consider wearing one top underneath another, which allows the sweat to be absorbed before it stains the outer top. Ideally, the top closest to your skin should be a base-layer top that fits snugly but is breathable and wicks away sweat.

  • Stay away from cotton. Cotton tends to absorb sweat, making you uncomfortable and making it more likely that stains will show up.

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