How to Remove Yellow Stains from Clothing

Unidentified stains on your clothing are frustrating enough, but yellow stains can be especially aggravating. Knowing how to remove yellow stains from clothing successfully is often a matter of figuring out where the stain came from. Where the stain appears on your clothing is often a clue as to what caused the yellow spot in the first place.

Remove Yellow Stains from Clothing

If you're noticing that your collars are stained yellow, or that there is a yellow tinge in the underarm areas of your shirts, the culprit is often perspiration and/or deodorant. Random yellow spots all over an article of clothing are often the result of rust or iron, either from a rusting washing machine or from hard water. An isolated yellow spot on a piece of clothing can also be iron, either from hard water, rust, or a badly-treated blood stain, but may also be from food dyes.

There are two very important things to remember when it comes to treating yellow stains on clothing: one, never use regular chlorine bleach, which can make iron or perspiration stains worse, and two, never dry a stained item in the dryer or iron it until the stain is removed. Applying heat to an iron or other yellow stain can set it permanently.

Spot-Treating Yellow Stains on Clothing

What You'll Need Before You Start:

  • Oxygen Bleach

An isolated yellow stain on clothing may respond to spot treating prior to washing normally. As with any stain, you want to treat a yellow stain on your clothing as soon as you notice it. Spot-treating is often recommended for isolated yellow stains and perspiration/deodorant stains.

To spot-treat a yellow stain:

  1. Apply an oxygen bleach according to the manufacturer's instructions. Check the product label first; some fabrics and/or clothing finishes can be destroyed or discolored by oxygen bleach.
  2. Work the oxygen bleach into the fabric. If you are using a powdered oxygen bleach, make a paste by adding water to the oxygen bleach.
  3. Allow the oxygen bleach to stand on the fabric for several hours.
  4. Rinse the fabric in cold water; check to make sure the stain is removed. If not, repeat steps 1-2 until the stain is gone.
  5. Launder as directed by the clothing label.

Soaking Yellow Stains on Clothing

What You'll Need Before You Start:

  • Powder Oxygen Bleach

An article of clothing that has several yellow stains, or has become discolored due to hard water may benefit from a long soak in an oxygen bleach prior to laundering as usual.

To soak yellow stains out of clothing:

  1. Apply an oxygen bleach according to the manufacturer's instructions. Check the product label first; some fabrics and/or clothing finishes can be destroyed or discolored by oxygen bleach. Also check the clothing label to make sure that it is safe for laundering in hot water.
  2. Dissolve one cup of oxygen bleach per two gallons of hot water in a sink, tub, or large bucket.
  3. Put the clothing into the oxygen bleach/water solution, making sure that the clothing is completely submerged.
  4. Allow the clothing to soak in the oxygen bleach/water solution several hours or over night.
  5. Check the items for stains; if any stains remain, repeat steps 2-4.
  6. Launder as directed by the clothing label.
  7. Rinse the fabric in cold water; check to make sure the stain is removed. If not, repeat steps 1-2 until the stain is gone.
  8. Launder as directed by the clothing label.

Removing Old Yellow Stains From White Clothing

What You'll Need Before You Start:

  • Lemon Juice
  • Salt
  • Bright Sunshine

Those old, mysterious yellow stains on your white clothing may not respond to oxygen bleach, often because they have been set-in by heat or just the passage of time. It may be impossible to remove all old yellow stains from white clothing, but this old-fashioned home remedy can sometimes do the trick.

The combination of lemon juice, salt, and bright sunshine is a time-honored method of removing yellow stains from white fabrics. Lemon juice and salt together create a bleaching action, while the heat and UV light from the sun enhance these ingredients' ability to remove stains.

To use this old-time stain remover:

  1. Soak the stain in lemon juice.
  2. Rub the stain (and lemon juice) with salt, working the grains into the stain.
  3. Hang the item in bright sunshine.
  4. Allow several hours for the lemon juice/salt solution to dry and disappear from the stain.
  5. If any stain remains, repeat steps 1-4 until the stain is removed.
  6. Rinse the area with cold water.
  7. Launder the item according to label instructions.

Successfully removing yellow stains from your clothing is as much a matter of timing as it is having the right ingredients. Treat yellow stains promptly, before they have time to be set-in permanently by heat or time, and you may have an article of clothing that's as good as new.