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Posted on June 15, 2022

Perspiration and Your Clothes

As a young girl, I remember my grandma wearing a kitchen towel around her neck while cooking in the kitchen or working in the garden.  She used it to wipe sweat off her face and neck, which I thought was odd and disgusting.  Fast forward some fortyish years, and I have become my grandma.  While I do not tend to sweat while working in the kitchen, I run daily and spend many of my summer days outside in the garden or doing yard work.  My grandma could produce some sweat, and so can I.

I try to balance the sweat by wearing the appropriate clothes for each occasion and by loading up on antiperspirant.  But did you know that using too much antiperspirant can be problematic for your clothes because most contain aluminum salts, a product that is designed to block sweat glands from producing sweat?  As the day wears on your antiperspirant wears down, rubs on your clothes, and eventually fails resulting in perspiration.  Over time, the aluminum salts combine with the minerals in sweat, and both penetrate the fabric of your garments and discoloration begins to show.  But not only can perspiration impact the color of your clothes, if left untreated, it can weaken the fabric’s fibers leading to tears.  Further, some fabrics are more susceptible to damage, for instance silk, than others.

How to combat perspiration and antiperspirant issues on your clothes:

  • Check the ingredients in your antiperspirant and avoid purchasing brands that contain aluminum chlorohydrate.  Aluminum chlorohydrate gets trapped inside cotton fibers and causes damage.  Consider using a product that is either aluminum free or has a neutral pH.
  • To avoid getting lots of antiperspirant on your clothing, allow it to dry completely before getting dressed.
  • Wash or dry clean clothes as soon as possible after wearing to remove as much of the perspiration and antiperspirant as possible.  Fresh perspiration is easier to remove than dried, caked-on, yellow, crusty, old stuff.
  • If antiperspirant residue or sweat stains remain, do not place the garment in the dryer or iron it; heat will permanently set the stain into the fabric.
  • If residue remains and it is a machine washable garment, try soaking the garment in cold, soapy water.  Instead of detergent, use a dish soap that contains a de-greaser.  After soaking, rinse and wash according to the care label’s directions.
  • Never use chlorine bleach to try to remove perspiration stains; the proteins from the perspiration will react with the bleach, making the stain darker.
  • Sometimes, if the damage is too great, the garment may be past restoration.

If you are unsuccessful in two attempts, we recommend taking the garment to a professional.  Too many attempts could lead to color loss or other damage.  Just drop it by one of our three convenient locations, and we will take it from there.  Removing unwanted stains from clothing is one of our specialties.

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