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How to Avoid Buying New White Shirts

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I recently laid a pile of breezy, white summer tanks and tees on my bed and glared at them. I can’t even donate these to Goodwill, I thought. They’re ruined.whiteshirt

The problem? Sweat stains. Ugly, yellow sweat stains, which sometimes darken to gray. The innocent white eyelet shirts are sweet and fresh until I raise my arms, when it looks like I must have successfully found a way to excrete spicy mustard from my armpits.

Before ditching nearly half my wardrobe, I did some research to see if I could successfully re-whiten my shirts. Here are three tactics to keep you stain-free:

Deodorant choice: Apparently, the aluminum in my deodorant is what’s helping to cause the sweat stains. Aluminum is commonly used in most antiperspirants, however, and I’m a sweaty Betty. I’m currently training for a marathon, I live in a small home without air conditioning, and my teaching jobs regularly have me on the spot in front of packed classrooms of teenagers. I’ll take a sweat stain over a soaked shirt.

Aspirin: Gomestic suggests that I crush up two aspirin in a half-cup of warm water and apply it to the stains. Aspirin’s main ingredient, salicylic acid, is supposed to lift the stain. I dutifully scrubbed it in, waited an hour (though they recommend waiting two), and washed the clothes as usual. The result? The stains had slightly faded, but were still embarrassingly present. I have, however, taken the tip of tossing two aspirin (the cheaper, generic kind) in with each load of wash. They’re supposed to help prevent sweat stains in the future. So far, none of my new white shirts have shown signs of stains.

OxiClean: I scooped a tablespoon of OxiClean into a small bowl and dissolved it in water, scrubbing it into my shirts. I let them soak for around half an hour and tossed them into the washing machine (with the two aspirin). When I pulled out the shirts, I was shocked: The stains were mostly gone. With one more application–and diligent scrubbing–I pulled out white shirts that were completely stain free. I had also experimented on a couple of colored T-shirts with stains and was surprised to see that the underarms, instead of seeming bleached, returned to their original color.

Results: I’m excited to report my shirts are as good as new, and not only has my shopping budget remained intact, but I’m now free to high-five, YMCA-dance, and fist-pump with abandon.

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