The best ways to reduce body odor naturally do not involve getting rid of sweat altogether.
Sweat on its own does not make our bodies smell. It is a natural body function that flushes out the toxins and helps us cool down.
In the matter of body odor, sweat is simply an accidental accomplice. Skin bacteria is the primarily culprit here. Only when bacteria reacts with sweat do we scurry for our deodorants.
How do we control or reduce body odor without the use of commercial and non-green deodorants?
“Y’all might as well come on out,” I said. “I know you’re there. I can smell you.” “Smell me? But I just took a shower this morning!” an indignant voice drifted out of the shadows.
(NOTE: Some are more treatments than deodorants. The effects do not last as long as deodorants and may require constant use over a period of time to get rid of body odor.)
To begin with, let’s look at one of the more trusted and popular DIY natural body odor treatments, the one featuring baking soda.
1. Baking soda
Baking soda has detoxifying properties and does well to absorb odor from our body.
Among the most popular remedies to reduce body odor with baking soda is to mix it with just enough water to form a paste. This mixture can then be used on the affected areas.
Here’s a more elaborate recipe:
- 1/2 cup fractionated coconut oil (if you want a DIY deodorant without coconut oil you can add jojoba oil instead)
- 1.5 tbsp shea butter
- 1/2 cup organic cornstarch (or arrowroot powder)
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 2 tsp beeswax
- 6-10 drops essential oils (lavender, patchouli, sandalwood, bergamot and eucalyptus are popular choices)
Melt the coconut oil and shea butter in a pan and then add the rest of the ingredients. Keep the mix in a glass container and refrigerate. It should serve you for about two months at least.
To apply: Take out a pea-sized amount with your finger and apply it on wet underarms.
2. Takesumi detox
Takesumi is carbonized bamboo charcoal. Does not sound like a big deal, does it? So, why is this detox treatment so popular in the present day?
Charcoal is among the most porous substances on earth. Because of this, it does a great job of completely ridding the affected area of the smell producing bacteria.
Unlike commercial deodorants, this treatment does not just mask the problem but takes it out from the root. And despite its anti-bacterial properties, it actually does a great job of balancing the microbiome on the treated area.
When applying the charcoal (you can get them in bars) to your underarms, don’t expect immediate results. In fact, it can take up to a month before the detox takes effect. This is because the body goes through a cycle when it reacts with the charcoal.
First the impurities come out (you will smell in this phase) then the body normalizes and finally it adjusts to the natural treatment.
Activated bamboo charcoal also happens to be possibly the best air freshener and purifier for your closet.
3. Bentonite clay
Bentonite clay is another fine remedy which helps to bring out those unwanted toxins.
Take a tablespoon of the clay and mix it with a teaspoon of apple cider vinegar till it becomes a smooth paste. Use the mix on the underarms and let it dry. Once it dries, you can wash the area with warm water and pat dry with a cloth.
No need to make a daily routine of this. Once every seven days is fine. Repeat the treatment till the odor bids adieu for good.
Now, let’s see how effective vegetables can be in fighting body odor
Rich in vitamin C, turnip does a lot of good for the body when consumed.
But guess what, the juice from the vegetable is also an effective and one of the simpler ways to reduce body odor.
This antidote requires fresh turnip. Extract the juice and apply it to the affected region area till the juice is completely absorbed in the skin. You’re good for 12 hours.
A heads up here:
Extract the juice yourself and don’t buy the commercially packaged product; there’s no guarantee that it is free from chemicals.
If for some reason you don’t like turnip, try radish.
Good old starchy can also be a fine remedy.
The vegetable has antimicrobial properties and especially due to its slightly acidic nature, can lower pH and kill off the harmful bacteria.
What you can do is rub a thin slice on the affected region. Once it dries, you can apply your natural deodorant over it.
Do it twice daily for best results.
Tomatoes shrink the pores in the skin and control chronic sweat.
Why is this commonplace vegetable so effective against body odor?
It’s because tomatoes contain acid that bacteria don’t fancy.
A diet rich in tomatoes or even a glass of tomato juice in the mornings can reduce sweating. If you don’t like eating them, apply tomato juice in the problem areas, let it sit for some time, and rinse it off.
And if your whole body’s a problem (no, we’re not judging) mix the juice of a few tomatoes in your bathwater.
Lemon juice also has astringent properties. In other words, it has the capacity to contract the skin.
Plus, it does have a pleasant smell (explains its popularity with many products).
Lemon’s highly acidic nature also makes it a bacterial killer, but the flip side is that people with sensitive skin should probably avoid it.
To use it as antiperspirant, you can either cut the lemon in half and rub it on the armpits or dilute the fruit with water. Don’t leave it on for too long and expose to sunlight before washing off.
And one more thing – the lemon must be fresh.
Did you know that artichoke as a body odor treatment was big among the nobles in Rome and also the Greeks?
So much so that famous Greek physician Dioscordides, a doyen in herbal medicine in the 1st century AD, swore by it. He recommended that the thistle be mashed and left to rot and subsequently used as a deodorant for the armpits and feet.
In the past, the root was also boiled and the liquid drunk to flush the kidney of “stinkingurine.” By the way, that’s bad urine odor in simple language.
What about herbs, plants, flowers and trees?
9. Witch hazel
Now here’s a proper curse for those nasty bacteria infesting our armpits.
Extracts from the bark and leaves of this plant are not only powerful astringents but they also make it difficult for bacteria to thrive. Use it in a spray bottle, which is particularly useful during travels.
Like most of the products mentioned in this list, sage also has properties that stop the growth of bacteria that causes body odor.
Crush four tablespoons of sage and combine it with half a cup of apple cider vinegar and let it rest for seven to 10 days. Run the mixture through a sieve and apply the liquid to the affected regions.
Here’s a fun one.
That bitter taste in beer?
This flower is responsible for that goodness, besides acting as a stability agent in the beverage. This preserving property also makes the flower extremely effective against body odor.
It gives the bacteria a bitter taste of its own medicine (no puns intended). Hops damages bacterial cell membrane and thereby its proper functioning and that stops odor formation.
While there’s not enough evidence that hops extracts can be applied directly to the armpits in their natural state, there is no doubting their effectiveness.
One company that does uses hops in their deodorants and produces them in a sustainable way is Tom’s of Maine.
12. Aloe Vera
Aloe vera is full of antibacterial properties and rich in antioxidants. Its juice is consumed for detoxing and thereby alleviating body odor.
For topical usage, you can apply aloe vera directly to your underarms, leave it there for about 12 hours before washing it off.
Daily treatment can be one of the more successful ways to reduce body odor.
A natural astringent, sandalwood powder is another fine option.
For the body odor remedy, combine two tablespoons of sandalwood powder with water to make a paste.
Apply the past to you underarms and let it dry before rinsing it with water.
14. Tea tree oil
Tea tree oil is regularly found in commercial deodorants due to its antibacterial, anti-inflammatory antimicrobial, and antiseptic properties.
For green living souls, this oil can be used in combination with carrier oils for a natural body deodorant. The smell is strong so one suggestion would be to combine it with a carrier oil that has a light scent.
Minerals are pretty effective too
Potassium alum has several benefits. Historically, it has been used an antiseptic and also to treat stomach issues.
However, it has mostly endured as a body odor treatment.
Alum’s large molecules create a barrier on the skin, which stops the bacteria from reacting with sweat. Apply it daily or as desired for optimum results.
16. Milk of magnesia
This exotic sounding topical body odor treatment is popular among Brazilians. It is made from magnesium hydroxide that is found in mineral brucite.
How do you use it?
Simply put a little aside in a cup and let it turn into a paste, which it does in a few days. Then apply the paste into the affected areas.
It’s simple and going by the reviews of most that have used it, does a bang up job too.
17. Dead Sea salts
The Dead Sea is quite alive apparently.
It has 15 natural minerals that benefit human health, some of which can help to alleviate conditions such as psoriasis and eczema.
The high content of such minerals, especially the presence of magnesium, makes the use of Dead Sea salts one of the better ways to reduce body odor.
Some other natural treatments…
18. Green and black tea
Green and black teas both contain Vitamin B and magnesium that have the capacity to contract sweat glands.
So maybe it’s time to say hello to green and black tea in the mornings. In fact, black tea is an astringent so you can apply the tea bag directly on your underarms before disposing it. How easy is that?
19. Apple cider vinegar
Apple cider vinegar is another full of antibacterial, antifungal, and antiseptic properties.
This means the obvious: it is great for body odor treatments.
Simply take a ball of cotton, dip it in vinegar and use it on the affected area. It’s best to do this a few minutes before a shower. Or you can spray the area with a water and cider vinegar solution that should ideally be in a ratio of 2:1.
20. Rose Water
Rose water is another effective remedy especially in combination with the above.
What you do is mix rose water with apple cider vinegar in a ratio of 3:1 and store the mixture in a spray bottle.
Use it daily for best results.
Alcohol makes this list too. Now hold on folks, we ain’t talking about drinking it.
It’s high proof alcohol or grain ethyl alcohol, such as vodka or gin that gets the job done… when used in topical way!
Simply combine it with an equal amount of witch hazel and add in a few drops of essential oil for the desired fragrance.
Voila, you have your own effective DIY deodorant!
22. Zinc oxide
We’ve mentioned it like a broken tape recorder but we’ll do it one more time: body odor happens when bacteria break down.
Bacteria finds it easier to achieve their objective when the sweat from our body softens the skin’s keratin. Zinc oxide is effective in forming keratin.
Besides being an able warrior in the fight against naturally occurring body odor, zinc oxide also fights bad smell from surgical wounds.
Here’s a quick recipe you can try out:
- 1 tbsp zinc oxide
- A pinch of zinc ricinoleate powder (it has to be a tenth of the zinc oxide amount. Zinc ricinoleate is a fatty acid derived from castor oil and great for absorbing odor.)
- 1-1/2 tbsp of shea butter
- 2 tbsp of jojoba oil
- 1 tbsp of beeswax pellets
- Essential oils of your choice
In a pan, melt together shea butter, jojoba oil, beeswax and zinc ricinoleate powder. Take mixture off the pan. Add the zinc oxide powder and the essential oils. Allow the mix to settle before use.
23. Hydrogen peroxide
This chemical compound is another with antiseptic properties.
For body odor reduction, you can take a teaspoon of 3% hydrogen peroxide and combine it with a cup of water. Then soak a pad and use it to wipe affected areas such as underarms or feet.
24. Have your glass of water and eat natural food
This one’s such a common yet so underrated and underused treatment.
The equation is very simple. As we have been told gazillion-and-one times, water flushes out impurities from our systems. Bacteria that cause our body to smell are impurities that need to be flushed out.
So, drink your quota of water.
As for food, stick to natural fare that your body can digest easily. Go easy on caffeine and booze. Take care of your gut health.
And choose slow living because stress tends to produce a type of high-protein sweat where bacteria can thrive.
25. Choose natural fabrics
As with food, it is best to stick to natural when it comes to fabrics. They do a far better job than synthetic ones to keep body odor in check.
The make of natural fabrics is such that they tend to absorb sweat a lot more and also allow that sweat to evaporate. While cotton is all right, wool is the champion in this regard.
Synthetic fabrics are kinder to odor causing bacteria. Especially polyester has no absorb and release policy but encourage the bacteria to stay and party. These fabrics also contain microplastics which find their way to the ocean when we wash our clothes.
History had some strange ways of combating body odor
Egyptians ground ostrich eggs with nuts and tortoise shell and mixed them with fat into an odorless paste, which they used on their underarms.
The residents of the Nile did not stop with the big birds. They also used flavored porridge balls on armpits.
Egyptians also used the pods of the shrub, carob, as a remedy. They crushed them and rubbed the bits on their body to neutralize the smell of sweat.
Centuries later, not to be outdone, medieval people stumbled upon the magic of musk. Their way of extracting it was, however, unpleasant? They found the elixir on a sac attached to a male musk deer’s privates. They cut it off, harvested and dried it and, miraculously, succeeded in finding the desired smell.
Use what works for you
I don’t stick to any one recipe covered here and prefer to rotate them. I’m talking about those covered before the bit on history 🙂 .
Till today, the results have been pretty good. Use what works for you. Remember bodies may react differently to the same treatment.
There are many other ways to reduce body odor through natural and eco-friendly means. Which ones are your favorites? Do you know of some that have not been covered here? Let us know in the comments.