Whether you put on your bra after you apply deodorant or the other way around, chances are, every once in a while you’re going to end up with annoying white deodorant stains on your bra and clothing. Especially when you’re on the go, knowing how to quickly address the issue, then properly wash it at home, is a rite of passage for bra wearing women everywhere. With a few little hacks for hand washing or machine washing approaches, you’ll be ready to remove those white streaks and move on with your day.
How to Remove Deodorant Stains
Overall, there are two approaches to bra washing, and similarly, two approaches to stain removal. As we discuss in our How to Wash Bras primer, hand washing is typically preferred, especially for your more delicate delicates, however, we get the ease and convenience of machine washing and when done right, it can certainly be a safe option.
Assuming you’re following the recommended rotation approach detailed in our guide to How Often Should You Wash Your Bra, you should get a few wears out of each bra before laundry day. Accordingly, this means that you may need to spot treat any stains that pop up between washes, the most common being white deodorant stains (and even some clear options or those that claim to be mark free but aren’t always 100%, am I right?).
Clean by Hand
First, the in between hand clean (not to be confused with hand wash, which is the longer, actual cleaning process). Depending on the situation (you’re at home with full access to supplies or out and about with more limited resources), try one of these quick hacks to handle white deodorant marks.
In a pinch, lightly wet a cloth (even a napkin should work) and gently wipe the stain away. Be sure to spot test your fabric if it’s a more delicate material and know that it will be difficult to remove multiple levels of deodorant residue, so try to get to them as soon as you see them, even on lighter colors. But this quick trick works especially great on darker fabrics, like your go-to black bra (and the little black dress you slip over it).
Transfer the Stain
You may have tried rubbing the material of a shirt or dress against itself to rub out a deodorant stain, and the idea is the same here, except usually there isn’t much “extra” bra to rub against the underarm area. Instead, grab a sock (a freshly laundered one please!) or pair of nylon tights and work in a circular motion to remove the stain (be firm, though not aggressive here).
Similar to the above transfer, say it’s laundry day and all of your socks and tights are in the wash/dryer. While you’re there, grab a fabric dryer sheet (preferably a used one as it won’t leave residue) and use it in much the same way, erasing deodorant stains with a quick rub. You will need to wait for the dryer to finish its cycle though as you don’t want to use a wet dryer sheet.
Wet Wipe or Makeup Remover
Busy moms often find they’ve rushed everyone out of the house, only to look at themselves last, and may have missed the mark on the deodorant application, thus leaving literal marks. Diaper bag to the rescue, and no you don’t have to load one more thing into it just for this situation. A baby wipe will do the trick to quickly remove deodorant marks from your clothing including your bra.
Kids not in tow? Same goes for a makeup remover wipe (which not only gets makeup off your face but off of your clothes should foundation or powder leave a mark). If you prefer liquid makeup remover, it works as well, you’ll just need to be a bit more careful in applying.
Wash in the Washing Machine
Ok, you’re ready to wash, and while you’ve tackled the worst of those pesky stains when you were wearing your bra, now’s the time to really get them out to avoid build up. We always recommend washing bras in a lingerie bag and on the delicate cycle. To tackle those tougher deodorant stains, add a few deep cleaners to the process.
By now you’ve likely heard all of the wonders of white vinegar, quite possibly the cleanest cleaning agent you can use around your house, and now, on your bra. A simple soak of about 45 minutes to one hour followed by a gentle brushing of the stain with a clean cloth (or even an old, clean toothbrush) before laundering (we typically recommend cold water but you may want to use warmer water for deeply set stains) should clear stains from both lighter and darker fabrics.
Baby Soap or Gentle Detergent
We always recommend an alcohol-free, gentle detergent when machine washing bras, but baby soap can also be a great alternative (especially if you’ve got in on hand for kiddos). Typically tear-free and made for sensitive skin, it’s perfect for your delicates and actually has many uses outside of the bathroom. Use it for everything from cleaning makeup brushes to lubricating metals, resizing shrunken sweaters, cleaning appliances (and even your car!) and ultimately, washing your bras. Another tried and true hack is to mix it with a bit of baking soda to turn it into a paste you can use to spot treat before washing.