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The Deodorant Dilemma

Summer heat and sweat. The two go hand in hand, or more like arm and arm. Going without deodorant can cause you to smell like a locker room, but deodorant can also wreak havoc on your clothes.

The Culprit

Deodorants and antiperspirants contain many chemicals including aluminum chloride, alcohol, and fragrances. When these acidic ingredients bond with your sweat, they can stain, weaken and ruin your clothes.  Cotton, linen, rayon and synthetic blends are especially susceptible to stains and damage from aluminum chloride. And, your dry cleaner has no way of knowing that your underarm fabric is becoming weakened until the effects, such as discoloration or torn fabric, are visible – often after cleaning.

What Can You Do?

If your deodorant has a lot of alcohol (fragrance) or aluminum you will experience the discoloration more frequently. Try switching to a product that has a lower aluminum content and a neutral PH. Let your skin dry completely before applying deodorant and then allow your deodorant to completely dry before putting on your clothes. Wearing undershirts can protect your expensive dress shirts from stains and premature aging. Try to clean your clothes soon after wearing them and avoid leaving soiled clothing in hot cars before your trip to the dry cleaners. The heat can actually set stains and make matters worse.

What Happened with the Shirt Above?

Looking at the fine vertical tears it might appear that the shirt was damaged during the laundry and pressing process. It was sent to the National Center for Garment Analysis where lab experts carefully examine garments, test them and prepare an objective report on the cause and responsibility of the problem.  The report from the lab concluded that the holes in the shirt were caused by the chemical reaction of perspiration and antiperspirant. The chemical reaction degraded the fibers virtually making them dissolve. Unfortunately, once the damage has been done, it’s almost impossible to restore.