Homemade Oxi-Clean for Armpit Stains

by Kristen on June 24, 2013 · 67 comments

in Laundry

(Note: if you happen to be one of those lucky people who doesn’t sweat, you can just skip right over this post.)

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When I posted about what I’m doing about my clothes, I mentioned that I had a pile of shirts with deodorant stains that I was going to try to clean.

I had done some googling and it appeared that Oxi-Clean was indeed the ticket to success (which I vaguely remembered, though it’s been a while since I’ve bought any).

Since I didn’t have any in the house, I searched for a homemade version, and all the recipes I came across combined hydrogen peroxide, baking or washing soda, and water.

(I used the recipe that Money Saving Mom posted , which she got from this blogger.)

You just mix up the ingredients, pour it on the stained part, let it sit overnight, and then launder it.

Here’s a before of one of the bad shirts.

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Here it is (along with a few other shirts) with the “oxi-clean” applied.

(I put them in my cooler just to have a contained spot to let them sit. The cooler is not actually necessary!)

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After an overnight soak, I washed the shirt, and it looked a whole lot better. It wasn’t quite perfect, though, so I gave it another treatment and this time it came out of the wash looking almost new.

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Seriously, isn’t that amazing? I would never in a million years have guessed that this shirt could look that clean again.

And it smells really fresh…no lingering odors anymore!

This gave me new hope for lots of my shirts, so I’ve been on a tear with the homemade Oxi-Clean, applying it to all the shirts I’d mentally filed in the hopeless pile. I’m so, so delighted to be able to make them like new again.

The proportions I use are as follows:

Homemade Oxiclean

1/2 cup baking soda or washing soda
1/2 cup hydrogen peroxide
1 cup water

Mix all ingredients together and pour over stains. Let garment sit overnight, then launder as usual.

A few notes-

  • Baking soda and washing soda appear to work equally well, so I’d just use whatever you have on hand.
  • This has worked like a charm on my darker colored shirts as well as my white shirts.
  • The very best results come from shirts that haven’t been put in the dryer because the stains aren’t heat-set. I’ve still had great success with previously dried clothes, though (the shirt in this post is one that routinely visited the dryer.)
  • For a less watery mixture, once I just mixed up the soda and the peroxide without the water and that seemed to worked fine too.
  • I read in multiple places that this mixture loses its effectiveness if you mix it up ahead of time, so just mix it when you’re going to use it right away.
  • Feel free to halve the recipe if you only need a small amount.
  • When I’ve mixed this up, the soda has never quite dissolved completely, but that doesn’t seem to keep it from working.

Ok. That was actually a lot of notes, not a few.

homemade oxi clean before and after

Hydrogen peroxide is dirt cheap, as is washing soda or baking soda. And of course, water is nigh onto free, so this mixture costs very little, and I’m sure it’s less expensive than using real Oxi-Clean.

However, a reader told me that Dollar Tree has a really inexpensive private label brand of Oxi-Clean, so if you’re comparing that to this homemade version, I’m not sure which would come out ahead.

Since I already keep these ingredients around the house, though, I’m inclined to stick with the homemade version so that I don’t have to keep another container in my laundry room.

Edit: I tried the dollar store version, and concluded that it is not as effective on underarm stains as the homemade version.

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Have you ever tried this? If you haven’t, and you’ve got stubborn stains to deal with, you totally should. It’s kind of addicting, actually.

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Joshua’s 365 post: Almost Real

Leave a Comment

{ 67 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Live and Learn-Toss and Turn June 24, 2013 at 8:29 am

This is certainly worth a try. I’m going looking for shirts today.

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2 Victoria June 24, 2013 at 8:38 am

I noticed you said it got out “lingering odors” would that be sweet smell. My work out gear doesn’t stain but it does get very smelly and remains smelly even after it is washed. Do you think this might help get rid of the odor?

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3 Victoria June 24, 2013 at 8:39 am

sweat smell not sweet smell! Nothing sweet about that smell trust me!

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4 Kristen June 24, 2013 at 8:54 am

I bet it would. It’s worth a try, at least. To soak a whole garment, maybe you could dilute this mixture in more water.

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5 Battra92 June 24, 2013 at 9:32 am

Line drying in the sun works wonders for odors, at least in my experience.

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6 Amie June 24, 2013 at 2:14 pm

For a strong smell I have hung washed laundry out on the line during a rain storm and left it to air dry and sit in the sun.

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7 Mary H June 24, 2013 at 3:56 pm

I use a cup of white vinegar in the wash to get rid of smells. It works really well, even with the dogs’ bedding.

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8 Sarah June 24, 2013 at 9:49 pm

1/3 cup Borax works great for stinky camping gear

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9 Holly June 26, 2013 at 2:25 pm

I use vinegar in the downy ball for awful smelly urine soaked bed mats daily from my daughter in potty training. Fill to line or a bit over. NO smell. Just shoot a few sprays of water + fabric softener into dryer on wet clean clothes or use a dryer sheet to put good smell back in.

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10 Meredith October 29, 2013 at 7:38 pm

I add about 1/4 cup of baking soda to the wash for things that smell particularly bad (my husband’s workout clothes come to mind).

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11 Melody June 24, 2013 at 8:41 am

Thanks so much for posting this! I am embarrassed to admit how much use I am likely to get out of this. I wonder if it would also help my husband’s shirt collars…?

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12 Kristen June 24, 2013 at 8:53 am

Girl, don’t be embarrassed! I’m right there with you. ;)

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13 Jay Melo October 21, 2013 at 6:18 pm

For shirt collars try Zote. http://www.amazon.com/Zote-Laundry-Soap-Pink-14-1/dp/B0050VKEWS/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1382393378&sr=8-1&keywords=zote+soap+laundry It’s a jumbo size bar of laundry soap. Most stores carry it in the laundry section. I get it at the dollar store. Wet the shirt collars and rub the bar onto the material until its totally soapy. Let sit a few minutes, rinse until water is clear. Then launder as normal. I have oily skin and I am always amazed at the stuff that comes out in the rinse water even though my clothes are laundered regularly. Detergent is not very good at removing grease and oil. Old fashioned soap will get out all kinds of stuff. You can use any kind of bar soap for this but Zote works the best.

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14 Jennifer @ Healthful Saver June 24, 2013 at 8:48 am

Thank you for this idea and recipe. I love that is is safe and easy to do. I’m going to be on the lookout for the worst of the undershirts!

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15 Frugal Nurse June 24, 2013 at 8:55 am

I have tried using hydrogen peroxide alone, and it didn’t work so well. I will definitely try it in combination with the baking soda. Your results speak for themselves!Thanks for the post.

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16 Natalie June 24, 2013 at 8:59 am

Kristen do you think this will work on any type of stains like watermelon/strawberry etc stains? Even with a bib always on my baby manages to stain his clothes. The other thing is do you have any tips on how to get rid of washing machine odor?

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17 Barb: 1SentenceDiary June 24, 2013 at 9:07 am

Natalie:
I just happened to find a solution to this for my washing machine. It’s a front-loading HE washer, and everyone I know with that type of washer has a problem with the odor.
I had searched the web and tried all the suggestions (a full bleach run, use vinegar, etc.). None of them really worked.
I bought the washer used, so it came without documentation. So I looked up on the web the exact model and found the full user’s manual. In the manual there is a section which describes a monthly cleaning you are supposed to do. It’s like a secret code, set it to this one thing and then press this other button 4 times within 5 seconds… seems like a strange James Bond thing. :-) But I’m telling you, it worked wonders! The special cycle soaks the tubes, gaskets, etc. in a bit of bleach. It’s specially designed to clean the machine, rather than the clothes (you run it without clothes for this purpose).
I’ve been doing this about every 4 months, and I haven’t had a problem with smelly washers since. So my recommendation is to look up the specific washer you have and read the manual carefully. It really worked for me. Good luck!

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18 Jenessa June 24, 2013 at 9:51 am

I keep the door of my front loading washer propped open whenever I am not using it. This seems to help keep it from getting smelly.

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19 Lisa June 24, 2013 at 12:09 pm

Jenessa – I was going to write the same thing! Leave the door open and there is never any smell because, I think, it drys out the drum not allowing any bit of water leftover to stagnate.

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20 Helen - myliladventures June 24, 2013 at 1:52 pm

Don’t forget to open the soap drawer to let that air out as well ;)

21 Natalie June 25, 2013 at 8:20 am

Thank you so much Barb: 1SentenceDiary. My front-loading HE GE brand washer is 2 years old. It’s in the basement so maybe that’s why leaving the door ajar does not work for the odor. I found the manual and it turns out that cleaning does simply require to push few buttons. Add 1 cup of bleach into the basket, select “basket clean” option, then start. Keeping my fingers crossed that it works.

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22 WilliamB June 24, 2013 at 1:13 pm

My front-loader is 2 years old. I leave the door open when the machine is not in use and haven’t had problems with odor. I’m going to look for the Secret Cleaning Code anyway, though, seems like that’d be a good idea.

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23 Barb: 1SentenceDiary June 24, 2013 at 1:59 pm

I leave the door ajar (couldn’t resist that one :-)) as well, but find that over time the smell returns. It may be due to the very small laundry room (more like a closet); there’s not a lot of room for air circulation.

And WilliamB, from this day forward I will call it the Secret Cleaning Code (SCC). Excellent name.

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24 Tammy June 24, 2013 at 9:21 am

I’ve used dishwashing soap (Dawn) and peroxide to get stubborn stains out, but not baking soda/peroxide. I’ll have to give this a try too!

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25 Laura June 24, 2013 at 9:22 am

You said it works for colors, and there isn’t any discoloration? I’ve had past experiences with discoloration when I tried to get out stains on colored shirts.

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26 Kristen June 24, 2013 at 12:17 pm

Yeah, my black and dark red shirt came out just fine. I don’t know if repeated applications would make a difference…maybe use baking soda instead of washing soda to be on the safe side?

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27 Tamsyn Angelini October 18, 2013 at 12:51 pm

Fun fact: homemade washing soda is made by baking some baking soda until it crystallizes. I can’t remember what temp at the moment but I will look it up and edit this comment.

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28 Tamsyn Angelini October 18, 2013 at 12:58 pm

http://hollythehomemaker.blogspot.ca/2013/05/how-to-make-washing-soda-redux.html?m=1

You bake the baking soda on a cookie sheet (thin layer) at 400-450 F for an hour.

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29 Battra92 June 24, 2013 at 9:30 am

Fun science facts!

The active ingredient in OxiClean is Sodium Percarbonate (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sodium_percarbonate) which is nothing more than an adduct than Hydrogen Peroxide and Sodium Carbonate (Washing Soda.) So I’m not surprised that this works.

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30 WilliamB June 24, 2013 at 1:14 pm

I love me some fun science facts. Thank you.

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31 Maria H June 24, 2013 at 9:46 am

I think this is great if you don’t have OxiClean or can’t wait until your next trip to the store, but shockingly it isn’t as frugal.

A couple months ago, I did a cost comparison on Jillee’s blog, One Good Thing, in the comment section that showed even the namebrand oxy through Amazon cost less than the homemade per use/load. I wish I would have save the information because that entry disappeared without a trace the very night of the day I shared.

The cost of peroxide alone was more than the Oxi.

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32 Kristen June 24, 2013 at 1:16 pm

Ooh, really? I wondered about that, since the OxiClean is a powder. It costs quite a bit for a container of it, of course, but the one container would go a pretty long ways.

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33 Diane C June 24, 2013 at 9:33 pm

Hi All – OxiClean is on sale in the current Costco flyer!! You have until 7/7/13 to save $4.00. Limit is 4, so you can pick some up for your friends or bribe them to grab some for you.
I haven’t researched this, but I’ve been meaning to check. I’m told there is stronger HP available via pharmacies. I suspect Costco pharmacies may carry it or be willing to order it. Based on all their other pharma prices, I’m sure it would be priced well. If anyone out there knows more, please chime in.

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34 Maria H June 25, 2013 at 9:40 am

Strangely, her blog entry reappeared during today’s giveaway and my comment is still there.

My analysis:
Homemade:$.40/load (Peroxide~ 4loads )(Washing Soda 14loads)
Homemade:$.17/load (Peroxide~4lds)(Baking Soda Baked 8loads)
OxiClean: $.10/load (Amazon 5lbs~89 loads~S&S)
LA’s Totally Awesome Power Oxygen Base Cleaner $.055/load* (Dollar Tree~1lb~18lds)
Disclaimer* It neither says how many loads nor could I find a review that said, therefore I just did the math as if it is Oxiclean’s equal.

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35 Maria H June 25, 2013 at 9:45 am

Ack! I forgot to double check my math the first time around and the second too!

I got happy with the number of cups in a pound of baking soda; it’s only 2 not 4 therefore 4 one half cups not 8. As a result, making your own Washing Soda would cost $.12/load instead of $.06 bringing the total cost of that version to $.23/load instead of $.17.

If I have errored in another way that makes my findings substantially different, please share.

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36 Mandee June 24, 2013 at 10:23 am

Thanks Frugal Girl ! Can’t wait to try this

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37 nicoleandmaggie June 24, 2013 at 10:29 am

That sounds a lot more pleasant than stewing with lemons…

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38 Audrey Robles June 24, 2013 at 10:59 am

I am definitely exited to try this. My husbands’s job is very labor intensive and HOT. He was just showing me the horrible sweat stains on his work shirts the other day, and I was thinking they were going to have to go to the rag bin for sure. Now, I’m going to give this a try first to see if we can get a little more life out of them…and I am sure it will help with residual manly smells in the shirt too. Thanks for sharing Kristen!

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39 Kristen June 24, 2013 at 12:17 pm

Haha at “manly smells”.

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40 Karen L June 24, 2013 at 11:13 am

Thanks so much for this advice, can’t wait to try it on our laundry!!

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41 EngineerMom June 24, 2013 at 11:14 am

I started using Oxi-clean about a year ago to remove deodorant stains – it never even occurred to me to look for a homemade version! My budget thanks you. :-)

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42 Sloan June 24, 2013 at 12:21 pm

Ah, this will be so fun to try on my husband’s workout shirts!! I also get small joys out of things like this!

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43 Kristen June 24, 2013 at 1:15 pm

I know. Like painting, it’s sort of addicting. You end up all, “Ooh! I found more shirts with armpit stains. Eeeexcellent.”

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44 WilliamB August 31, 2014 at 1:28 pm

This made me laugh in an audible fashion! The reason I’m going to try this now (and am commenting 14 months later) is that I had to restrain myself from painting more of my walls.

Related sidenote: freshly painted walls make not-freshly painted walls look grungy. Even if your painters didn’t do the lousy job mine did.

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45 Kristen September 1, 2014 at 7:00 am

Yes! And so very true with moldings, I’ve found. Once you get out the bright white paint and fix one part of the house, it’s hard to stop because then all the other moldings look super dingy.

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46 Helen - myliladventures June 24, 2013 at 1:56 pm

Quick question: did you treat the armpits/affected area’s and then let sit overnight or did the garments soak in the diluted solution overnight before laundering?

I wonder if one would put this directly into the washing drum before/with the clothes as you would with the powdered version? Or is this strictly a stain removing recipe? (quantity wise)

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47 ingrid@morestylethancash.com June 24, 2013 at 4:31 pm

When I was in the antique business I would use a mixture similar to this on linens but I found that some stains would “ghost” back. You were sure that you got rid of them but when you looked a week later you could see them faintly.

Have you stains “ghosted” back after a few weeks?

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48 Kristen June 24, 2013 at 5:06 pm

I’ll let you know…I’ve only just done this in the last week or two, so it’s too soon to tell!

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49 Leigh Ann June 24, 2013 at 7:00 pm

I recently used this recipe on VERY old coffee stains in the upholstery of our car. I scrubbed it into the stain with a toothbrush and let it sit for 10 minutes. Then I poured water over the spot and pulled the water/soap out with a shop vac. It worked like an eraser. I was SO excited! :) I can’t wait to try this on other “old” stains.

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50 Matthew June 24, 2013 at 7:02 pm

I use a combination of baking soda, hydrogen peroxide, and dawn. I make a paste out of the ingrediants and use a scrubbing brush to paint it onto the stains. I let it sit for about an hour and then wash as normal. It gets about 90% of the yellowing armpit stains out of my white under shirts. Highly recomended.

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51 rosarugosa June 24, 2013 at 8:49 pm

Thanks for the tip and the before & after pics. For some reason, I trust you more than P & G :)

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52 Yvonne June 24, 2013 at 9:18 pm

Oh I am going to try that right now. I have a bunch of shirts that I was only wearing inside while cleaning etc since they did not look that good. Awesome.

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53 Lisa June 25, 2013 at 4:31 am

I mixed some up last night and spread it on my stained porcelain sink (coffe colored), went to bed and woke up to a brand new looking sink! I was inordinately excited about it. :)

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54 Helen June 26, 2013 at 6:36 pm

I love this blog post! Am absolutely saving it for future use. I wanted to comment, too, on the rank smells that often accompany those stains on clothes. I’ve had luck putting cleaning vinegar (10% acetic acid vs the usual 5% in white vinegar) in a spray bottle, spraying the offending stench and letting it sit for about an hour before tossing it in the washer and running a regular cycle. Smells are gone!

It’s worked well so far, my fingers are crossed that I don’t cause all my shirts to have holes in the underarms due to the use of the acid!

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55 Holly June 27, 2013 at 9:39 am

This might work for sweat stains, but it was unsuccessful for others:( Sadly. My 4 year old daughter has a favorite shirt. Of course it’s white. I stain cleaned it most days successfully with my trusty Oxi Gel stick. Then lasagna struck it and some really dark dirt. Both are locked in. I have not dried it in the dryer. I tried this method after the Stick, Shout, bleach and store brand Oxi Clean. Any other suggestions? Its in the bin awaiting the trash.
I also couldn’t get the stains from the white bath mats. Those are laundered about every other week and do go in dryer. They are 1.5yr old. We are on City soft water.
I’ll just stop with white purchases!

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56 Kristen June 27, 2013 at 9:42 am

Have you tried laying it out in the sun? The sun often works wonders for food-based stains like tomato sauce. It wouldn’t fix the dirt problem, but it could get rid of the lasagna stain.

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57 Katrina June 27, 2013 at 8:01 pm

Hey Kristen,
Great tip! Just wanted to let you know I tried your tip on some really grimy-going-to-the-trash Hubbs work shirt collars. I didn’t add the water and used washing soda, let the solution sit for a couple hours and washed the shirts in a hot water load and magic happened! No scrubbing needed. Amazing stuff. Fabulous idea and thanks for posting.

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58 Kristen June 27, 2013 at 9:45 pm

Ooh, what a great idea. I hadn’t thought about shirt collars.

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59 Ruth July 4, 2013 at 11:47 am

Well, this one gets chalked up to a big fat frugal failure for me. I tried it on about 5 of my dark colored shirts, and 3 of them have giant bleached spots all over them. Replacing them = $50. Sigh.

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60 Kristen July 4, 2013 at 7:06 pm

Oh my goodness, I can’t believe that happened! I used it on a navy blue shirt, three black shirts, and a dark red shirt, and they’re all fine. I’m so sad for you, and I’m stumped as to why that would have happened for you and not me.

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61 Yesenia September 6, 2013 at 4:54 pm

The hydrogen peroxide is like a bleach. It doesn’t ruin the colored shirts?

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62 Kristen September 7, 2013 at 4:45 pm

I have personally used it on colored shirts with no problems, but just to be safe, you might want to test it in a small, inconspicuous area, or only use it on shirts that are so stained that you wouldn’t be able to wear anyway (that way if they get messed up, it’s no loss.)

Also, dollar store oxy clean is actually cheaper than this, so if you want to be super safe, you can run out and get some to use on your colored shirts.

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63 Michelle October 18, 2013 at 10:05 am

I’m sure it wasn’t a mom who decided that my son’s football team should have WHITE practice pants. It might be okay if they practiced on artificial turf, but no…..I’m dealing with mud and grass stains. And, being a boy, he only brings them home to be washed once a week, so they’re extra nasty. I can’t wait to try your recipe this weekend!

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64 Krista Davis October 18, 2013 at 3:02 pm

I use a baking soda and hydrogen peroxide paste all the time on stains. I was actually able to save white shorts from purple juice that had been dried on them for 5 hours with this method. I just wanted to say, I would be careful about washing soda. Here is some information about washing ingredients (also discussed is oxygen cleaners and the damage they can cause): http://cleaningouttheclutter.com/2013/10/eco-friendly-all-natural-homemade-laundry-detergent/ I’m glad to see other bloggers are taking the DIY natural method.

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65 Katy @ Purposely Frugal February 26, 2014 at 3:34 pm

Just made some with 3 shirts soaking. I would love for these shirts to be fixed, as they’re some of my favorites! :)

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66 Kristen February 26, 2014 at 6:39 pm

I hope it works well for you!!

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67 nicole August 15, 2014 at 5:21 pm

Is hydrogen peroxide the same as oxygenated water?

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