James Perce Long Sleeve White Tee

No Sweat (Marks)! How To Remove Them

It’s the bane of white tee shirt lovers everywhere—fabric discolouration due to perspiration. Frugalbits asked an international expert how to remove this pesky stain—and he told us what to do.

James Perce Long Sleeve White Tee


DO IT YOURSELF | Many general stain removal charts do not even include underarm perspiration as a category. Google “how to remove perspiration/ deodorant stains from clothing” and you’ll find a confusing number of disparate solutions. If there’s a rule of thumb for dealing with this universal problem, who could rightfully claim to know what it is: Martha Stewart; Linda Cobb, the self-proclaimed Queen of Clean; Heloise? Learned as these ladies are, they are home-keeping generalists, not laundry stain specialists. For the definitive answer, Frugalbits asked a leading light in the stain removal industry.

“The world’s leading custom couture cleaner for half a century,” Madame Paulette in Manhattan is dry cleaner and garment refurbisher (the company restored gowns belonging to the late princess Diana) to A-list celebrities, fashion houses such as Chanel and stores like Bergdorf Goodman. We asked company president John Mahdessian, whose mission is to “keep the world spotless, one stain at a time,” how to remove pesky perspiration stains from fabrics at home using basic cleaning products. Here’s his prescription.

Madame Paulette’s Perspiration Stain Removal Strategy

The Basic Solution

“Start with 10 parts water, one part over-the-counter ammonia (it gives the solution an alkali PH which is what you would use to remove these types of combination perspiration/deodorant stains) and one part neutral [colourless with absolutely no bleach] liquid laundry detergent. This is your first line of defence.”

The Application

“If the garment is a washable, dab on this solution and let it sit there for a minute or so and then throw it in the wash. If the fabric is delicate like silk, dip a towel in the solution and lightly tamp it over the area and let it sit for a second, then flush [rinse] it with cold water. If the stain is fresh, this will work fine. The cold water will flush out any particles. If you are hand-drying the area, work on the stain from the outside in to avoid a water ring.”

The Extra-Strength Formula

“If you have stubborn yellowing on your garment, use this extra-strength formula: 10 parts water, one part ammonia, one part liquid detergent and a half part peroxide. The peroxide will basically remove traces of yellowing, but you do have to be careful. With cottons, light colours and other washables going directly in the wash, no problem. Anything else, like silks and wools, you have to watch it.”

The Extra-Strength Formula Application

“If you leave peroxide on wools, silks, rayons and other synthetics, it will eventually bleach out the colour. When you apply this solution, let it set for a little while—this will make it work better—but make sure you flush out the peroxide completely [super well, with water] within five minutes. You don’t want any peroxide left sitting there. If you’re spot cleaning your garment and aren’t going to wash it immediately, I’d recommend flushing the area with distilled water; the irons and minerals in tap water could possibly leave a ring.” —C. Rule

For more on stain removal and to watch John Mahdessian remove a variety of stains using Madame Paulette’s Professional Stain Removal Kit, visit www.madamepaulette.com.

Use promo code, FRUGAL020, when you order five stain kits online at Madame Paulette and pay just $6 each.

Photo: White tee shirt by James Perse; visit www.jamesperse.com

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