Remove Sweat Smell from Your Clothes

Below I’ve listed several steps to follow that will help you eliminate existing body odor from your shirts and prevent future body odor from returning. First I’ll tell you what led me to what actually works. By the way…most of the suggestions that you’ll read on the Internet won’t work. I’ve spent years trying almost everything and I’ve found that only two things work. What I’ve listed below, or a washing machine with a sanitize mode. The sanitize mode on a washer is a uses a heating element that raises the temperature of the water much hotter that your “Hot” setting. It’s used to sterilize clothes that have encountered unusual circumstances…like after a flood. Now on to how I know what I know…I’ll try to make it short…


Several years ago I went to an event with my friend who said…”You smell”. I knew I had showered and put on deodorant as usual, so my response was, “No I don’t.” But as I said that, I sniffed my armpits and definitely smelled body odor. I knew I was clean and “deodorized”, so it must have been the shirt which was washed recently. From that day on I was always worried about smelling bad…not knowing if my clothes were going to smell or not…no matter how clean I was.

Years later I bought a high-end washer. I didn’t know it at the time, but I was buying the solution to my shirt odor problem. I’d tried everything I’d read on the Internet…washing with baking soda or Pine-Sol, adding vinegar to the fabric softener dispenser, putting my shirts in the freezer; I even learned how to make my own laundry detergent and tried that, but all of these attempts failed. Then I noticed the “Sanitize” mode on my washer and read that it could be used to eliminate any biological organisms from fabric.

By this time I had already learned that body odor comes from bacteria that thrive in the armpits. To this day I don’t know if they can survive a regular wash cycle or not, but I considered that possibility. I figured that if anything was living in my shirts, the sanitize mode of my fancy new washer would eliminate it. Luckily I was right and I had a couple years of worry-free shirt wearing. Then I had to move to a location that couldn’t accommodate my washer…so I was on the hunt again for another solution. After years of trial and error I finally found something that actually worked.

Before I get to the specifics, keep the following in mind…don’t use antiperspirants. I noticed that when I used antiperspirants, over time they would harden and stick to the armpits of my shirts. My guess is that this caked-on material also locks in any odors and makes it more difficult to remove them. Now on to the specifics…

What I suggest below originated from the assumption that bacteria continued to live in my shirts after a regular wash cycle, so I had to figure out a way to kill them and prevent them from returning. I used the Right Guard deodorant spray because it contains alcohol (to kill) and agents that enable the alcohol to stick to things (to prevent)…whether it’s skin or clothing. I used the 91% alcohol because at the end of the day, it’ll kill anything that has survived the deodorant.

I’m confident that what I describe below actually works…not because of speculation, but because I’ve actually done it and continue to do it with all of my shirts. For example…I had a white undershirt that was one of my worst offenders…meaning that it smelled worse than most. I marked it with a permanent marker to monitor how well these suggestions worked. Two weeks later I was getting dressed for an outdoor summer party…90+ degree heat. I only had one clean undershirt, and yes, it was my test shirt from weeks earlier. At the party, everyone was shirtless or in t-shirts. I was hot and sweaty, so all I wore was my t-shirt. If you’re reading this, I’m sure you know that once you start to sweat, that triggers the fowl-smelling shirt to start offending big-time. Like I said, I was hot and sweaty, but even after the party I didn’t smell a thing in my t-shirt. If you follow my suggestions for eliminating body odor-causing bacteria from your shirts, you’ll have the same results.

The first section covers what you should do if you already have body odor in your shirts that you can’t wash out. The second section is for how prevent body odor from getting trapped in the armpits of your shirts after you’ve eliminated it.

Eliminate Body Odor from Your Shirts

  1. Spray a generous amount of “Right Guard Sport Deodorant Spray Original” on the armpit areas of the affected shirts. If you can’t find Right Guard, Axe Deodorant Body Spray may also work, but I’ve never tried it.
  2. Spray the armpits of the affected shirts with 91% alcohol. Make sure to totally saturate the armpits with alcohol. You can purchase an empty plastic spray bottle from places such as Walmart, Walgreens, or your local hardware store. Fill the spray bottle with the 91% alcohol and use it as described.
  3. Toss the shirts in with your other dirty laundry.
  4. Wash all the treated shirts as you normally would with your other laundry. Steps 1-4 MAY eliminate all odor after the first wash, but in some cases you may need to follow these steps 2-3 times…meaning you wash your clothes as often as you normally would while following these steps (once a week for example). But you may not be odor-free until 2 or 3 weeks later.

Prevent Body Odor in Your Shirts

  1. Discontinue use of antiperspirant, and switch to “Right Guard Sport Deodorant Spray Original”. Again, I’ve never used “Axe Deodorant Body Spray”, but it might be an alternative option if you can’t find Right Guard.
  2. Spray the armpits of your shirts with “Right Guard Sport Deodorant Spray Original” (or possibly “Axe Deodorant Body Spray”). This has to be done IMMEDIATELY before putting the shirt on, or right after you put it on.
  3. At the end of the day, remove your shirt, and spray the armpits with 91% strength alcohol. Don’t use the more common 70% strength…91% alcohol is stronger and better. For this step you’ll have to buy an empty plastic spray bottle…maybe from Walmart, Walgreens, or your local hardware store.
  4. Toss the shirt in with your other dirty clothes.
  5. Wash all the treated shirts as you normally would.