Stain Less DIY

A bit more work than simply dumping a cap-full of something blue and sudsy into the washing machine, but it’s totally worth it…and Mother Nature will thank you for it!

So you’ve taken my advice and made the switch to natural deodorant. Good for you! Your armpits and hormones thank you. But while you may be sweating more cleanly these days, one thing that isn’t faring quite as well is the underarm area of your favorite shirts. As a human being with sweat glands and a need to regulate your body temperature, I’m guessing you’re no stranger to sweat stains. They may be annoying, but they’re a fairly routine part of being a person with skin and a quick tumble in the washing machine is often enough to remove these pesky stains from fabric. But now that you’ve introduced your t-shirts and tank tops to natural deodorant….things may be different.

The all-natural ingredients in clean deodorant are undoubtedly better for your health, but the same can’t be said for fabric. The coconut oil and shea butter that serve as the base for most clean deodorants? They like to leave yellow hues behind. Same goes for any essential oils in the formula. Now you’re faced with a conundrum: You switched to natural deodorant to get away from harmful chemicals and additives, but it seems like conventional laundry detergent full of harmful chemicals and additives may be the only way to remove the yellow residue left on your clothes by that natural deodorant! What’s a girl to do?!

I’ll tell you: go the DIY route. It’s a bit more work than simply dumping a cap-full of something blue and sudsy into the washing machine, but it’s totally worth it. Below are a few recipes you can play around with, all of which I’ve tested and give two very green thumbs up! 

Cream of Tartar: More Than Just a Meringue Ingredient

What you’ll need:

  • 2 tbsp cream of tartar
  • Lemon essential oil
  • Water 

How to use it:

In a small glass bowl, combine the cream of tartar, a few drops of lemon essential oil and just enough water to create a paste. Spread the paste on the stains and work it into the fabric with your fingers. Let it dry before laundering as usual.

Why it works:

Cream of tartar is just a funny name for potassium bitartrate, an acid salt. When mixed with another acid (like that lemon essential oil), the combination works to break down the proteins in your sweat that cause stains.

H2O2

What you’ll need:

  • Hydrogen Peroxide

How to use it:

No fancy mixing here; simply pour or spray hydrogen peroxide (3%) onto the stained area. Let it soak in for at least half an hour, then wash.

Another option for really gnarly yellow stains is to make a paste with hydrogen peroxide and baking soda. Rub it into the stain from the back (so, the inside of the shirt to help push the stain out and through rather than further into the fabric), then leave it alone for five minutes before laundering.

Why it works:

The hydrogen peroxide you keep in your first aid kit works wonders on stains — and is way more environmentally friendly than chlorine bleach since the oxygen-based formula breaks down safely in water. When it comes to stains, this same oxygen works to break down color-causing sections of chemical structures, which removes the appearance of a stain. Just make sure your bottle of hydrogen peroxide is fresh: an opened bottle is only really potent for about six weeks before it loses the oxygen that makes it useful.

White Vinegar

 What you’ll need:

  • White vinegar
  • Coarse salt

How to use it:

This one may sound like the beginnings of a salad dressing, but it makes for an easy stain fighter: simply pour white vinegar over the stained area, then rub coarse salt into it, almost as if you’re exfoliating the fabric. Let the whole thing dry before washing it normally.

Why it works:

Aside from removing stains, white vinegar is also a wiz at deodorizing and softening fabrics. A lot of people simply dump a cup into the washing machine every time they do laundry — deodorant stains not necessary. The reason it works? The acid in white vinegar can cross cell membranes in bacteria that causes the release of protons, thereby leading to the cell’s death. Science-y, yes, but effective nonetheless.

+ Want to learn more from Allie? Read these articles here

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