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Stopping Underarm Odor Without Antiperspirant

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Q. I am looking for a deodorant that is just a deodorant, not an antiperspirant as well. I can’t seem to find one. Your recommendation?

A. Some readers recommend baking soda. One suggested,“Take a wet washcloth and dip it in baking soda, then apply under your arms. It does not stop you from sweating, but it stops you from smelling.” Others prefer milk of magnesia as an underarm deodorant. There is a growing controversy about the safety of ingredients in most antiperspirants. To read about the latest research and find links to the original data click here. Should you wish to learn more about MoM (milk of magnesia) as a deodorant you can read some of the comments below or check out these stories.
  • Currently 3.2/5
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Was this information helpful? Average rating: 3.2/5 (62 votes)
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52 Comments

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I started using milk of magnesia in late June of 2007 and have been extremely pleased with the results (and haven't received any complaints from friends or relatives, including my wife). It's the greatest thing since sliced bread -- and for someone concerned about the possibility that aluminum in anti-perspirants may contribute to Alzheimer's (which both my mother and grandmother had) it's really taken a load off my mind, so to speak. I do wonder why the inactive ingredient appears to be the same as the active ingredient in household bleach, though. Makes me not want to swallow the stuff...

I used baking soda as an underarm deoderant for awhile. It stained my clothes, especially silk and rayon. Then I found this product called Naturally Fresh Deodorant Crystal and have never been without it since. I got it at drug stores and supermarkets. One stick will last a long time and when I started buying it, it cost less than $5.00. I hope it is still available. I will check next time I go to the store and let you know. I was told it is a natural mineral from France, but don't know for sure.

I hope this helps someone.

Norma

In the past, I've used something called a deoderant stone, and I found it in a health food store. Just rub the stone--it was rather like a large, smooth salt crystal--on cleansed, slightly damp underarms. I also rubbed it on my feet. There was no fragrance or additives. I'm sorry, I don't know what the active ingredient was, but it WAS effective.
Hope this helps.
Brenda J

The crystal can be purchased at most health food stores; one is by Nature's Gate; the ingredients are "mineral salts." Also Adidas now makes a deod. without aluminum; there are also others made with herbs as the"bacteria deterrant" but not sure of the name of the brand; there is also Tom's of Maine. Lots out there.

I found "Arm & Hammer Essentials" at the grocery store. The label states: aluminum free and paraben free. Other ingredients include natural oils and baking soda.
You could probably find a different brand in the health food isle at the grocery store, or at a health store such as GNC.

About two years ago I read about vinegar's many uses. I now buy it by the gallon, both the white and the apple cider. One of the best uses, and cheap, too, is as a deodorant. After my shower (or in between if I get real sweaty) I merely wipe my stinky areas with a cloth soaked in 50-50 white vinegar and water, and no stink! No perfume! and pouring it on stinky feet also works (probably from the acid content, same as using urine to cure stinky extremities). And I take a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar after every meal. It DOES make a difference! So hooray for vinegar! It is also good for curing mold, getting rust off tools left out in the rain, and lord knows what else. It also kills weeds and keeps bugs off your arms if you rub them with a 50-50 mix. Just check it out on the web!

I took your advice a month or so ago about using Milk of Magnesia for perspiration. IT WORKED!! I use about a fourth of a teaspoon under each arm... and it dries right away and does not stain your clothes. Thank you so much to Peoples's Pharmacy for this suggestion.

After showering, soak a cotton ball with isopropyl (rubbing) alcohol and wipe underarms to kill bacteria and dry skin.

There are any number of aluminum-free deodorants that are not antiperspirants, in the natural food stores. Tom's of Maine is a brand that works really well.

I had used baking soda in my arm pits for some years, but when I had to take some oral antibiotic pills, I began to be plagued with annoying fungal plaques in my arm pits. I did some web research about this and found good info from a nurse who wrote about -- as I recall -- things that one should not do in treating skin problems. She said that any basic product, such as baking soda, will change the pH of the skin and cause fungal problems. Skin should be acidic so don't use baking soda if you have to take an antibiotic. Once I stopped using the baking soda and after applying tea tree oil to the fungal plaques in my arm pits, the fungal problem ended!

I keep regular rubbing alcohol in a spray bottle and spray that under my arms most mornings and when otherwise needed. I presume the alcohol kills the bacteria that causes the odor. I became concerned about the ingredients in deodorants in my youth and have been using that method for over 30 years. It works great, and has never caused any irritation. My wife uses it also and she shaves under her arms.

I recommend skipping the deodorant aisle. Go to the body powder section and purchase bath/shower body powder. I tend to perspire heavily. This keeps me as dry as any deodorant, feels more natural, and avoids any side effects.

My husband broke out with a rash in his underarm area with plain deodorants. Dermatologist recommended Thai crystal deodorant stone sold by Deodorant Stones of America. Lasts almost one year and works great. May find at health stores or spas.

I have been using a technique that I think anyone who sweats A LOT and doesn't want to use harmful aluminums should do. I wash the area (arm pits) with soap and water, then dry. Then I apply just a little less than a dime-size amount of baking soda and water paste, divide that between both armpits. Spread evenly, let dry. then I use arm and hammer natural deoderant "fresh scent", which is aluminum free and paraben free. And you will see that you get about 6 hours of protection, if not more. Just make sure that you do 9 circular spreads of the deoderant on the first daily dose.

I alternate between that deoderant and naturally fresh deoderant crystal. It says it is free of harmful aluminums but the active ingredient is called potassium alum; this is the same ingredient in "Thai stones", "Crystal Deoderant", or the "deoderant stone". I have heard and been told that this is not a harmful aluminum, but it IS AN ALUMINUM . The difference(from what I was told) is that potassium alum is technically a "salt," as is the other harmful aluminums in any regular antiperspirant. Now it's hard to validate this, but let's hope that they are not liars trying to make money off the health-conscious people out there.

I am very paranoid about checking, and I know this technique works. So do research on your aluminums and ALUMS.

When I start to smell & have nothing to use, if at a restaurant, I ask for a piece of lemon slice, for emergency purposes only. I then take the lemon to the restroom, then squeeze the juice into my armpits. Odors are gone for about 4-5 hours.

I have tried a few aluminum-free deodorants and the BEST IS the Adidas brand so far. I heard on the news about a creme that when applied to the underarms the odor was contained for several days. I am trying to find out the name of this product and where to buy. If I get more info I will be baaaaack:)

I live in a warm humid climate and I haven't been able to find a commercial deodorant that kept the odor at bay all day. I tried a deodorant crystal and found that it worked beautifully and I liked that it is better for me and the environment. However, I developed a rash when I used it more than 2 weeks. Now I just swab my underarms with rubbing alcohol in the morning and at night and that works just as well. I also keep a small package of alcohol wipes (hand wipes) in my car and at my desk so that I can refresh at work if needed. I am finally odor free and it is costing me much less than commercial deodorants.

Most amazing deoderant by far is the Arm and Hammer Essentials Aluminum Free, Paraben Free. It works amazingly!!! Nothing works on me... this goes on dry, smells amazing as it is made with all kinds of natural oils, is only 2.29 at some Walmarts (can't find them in all). I can wear sleeveless shirts, work up a storm in 100 degree humid weather, stay dry and still smell like I've just gotten out of the shower.

I want to buy this by the case. It's wonderful for people who don't want or are allergic to aluminim -- it's just so hard to find. Go figure. It beats anything I've tried in Whole Foods (and they are all so expensive).... so people, go ask drugstore for this product. You will be so happy.

I read some comments on here and bought the arm and hammer essentials and also that crystal deordorant stick. It worked for a week but now it doesn't seem to work anymore. I don't know what to do. I have tried all sorts of deordorants and nothing seems to work. I don't think that rubbing alcohol is a good idea for under arms. Any ideas from anyone in the same situation as me? It's so embarrassing.

I read some comments on here and bought the arm and hammer essentials and also that crystal deordorant stick. It worked for a week, but now it doesn't seem to work anymore. I dont know what to do. I have tried all sorts of deordorants and nothing seems to work. I don't think that rubbing alcohol is a good idea for under arms. Any ideas from anyone in the same situation as me? It's so embarrassing.

For two months, I have successfully used lime juice, applied to the armpits after a bath. I never reuse any garment(top, whole slip or bra) that was in contact with the armpit unless it is washed. (even if I only wore it for half an hour to go to the shop) This is to avoid contact with the stale sweat

i have tried baking soda mixed in a paste with lemon juice and it works great.

I've been researching this today and found that some people have had success with alcohol based mouthwash - apply to armpits after showering and let dry. Then apply deoderant. I'm gonna try it! :)

I don't sweat a lot but always had underarm odor minutes after showering. I kept drying different deodorants but finally found something that works! I started using Crystal Body Deodorant, it's like a stone that you wet and rub on and it's cheap, I found it for $1.60. OMG! No odor!

I agree with the effectiveness of milk of magnesia, although several of these postings mentioned the natural crystal or stones which do not solve the aluminum problem; I thought it was great and used one for years until I discovered they contain alum which turns out to be some sort of aluminum derivative - not a good idea if you're concerned about the link to Alzheimer's.

I trying to apply rubbing alcohol in my under arms but its not seem to work for me...and it's getting worse. I don't think that rubbing alcohol is good for curing under arm Odor. its not work for me...

i used to sweat a LOT, and my friend nat told me about this antiperspirant called CertainDri. i tried it and it works so good to stop you from sweating. you put it on at night and it lasts for 3 days. i highly recommend it

Corn starch has worked for me.

I read about using Purell for underarm odor and it seems to work for me. It dries fast. milk of Magnesia took too long to dry. Regular underarm deodorants with aluminum made my underarms itch.

Just go to Whole Foods Market or any other natural foods store. There are dozens upon dozens upon dozens of deodorants without antiperspirants.

Conventional antiperspirants are irritating, and I have used Oil of Olay Age Defying Lotion as a deodorant for many years. It works extremely well, smells wonderful, is not irritating. Only the Age Defying type works.

Can I use white vinegar for body odor? How should I use it?

I stopped using antiperspirants about a month ago, and have tried all of the aluminum-free ones from Whole Foods (Tom's, etc.) and the Arm and Hammer Essentials. None of them work for me. I am a female who sweats like a man and can't stand smelling! I don't know what to do, but don't want to risk going back to antiperspirants...although I am wondering if the risk if worth it. Any ideas????

Old school - Old spice will not make you itch but you will smell like your Grandpa. I have always used it until a gf complained about the scent so I tried others and the itching came back. She is gone now so I guess I'll go back to the old spice. It used to be in the round container but now it is in a red one and never makes me itch.

Hi, I read you post on people's pharmacy it looks like I have the same problem as you. I was wondering if you ever found something because I have tried every deodorant possible.

This comment is for "D". He mentioned he had heard of a creme u apply and keeps u odor free for days. Well is it "Lavilin" or is it "Kieh's deodorant creme"? Do any of those ring a bell? I tried Lavilin and it made me smell like a dead mouse. I haven't tried Kiehl's deodorant creme, but it's been around since the 1800's so I will try that one next. Let me know if u found the name of that cream deodorant u saw on a tv advertisement. Thanks!

That stone like thing you rub under your armpit is "alum," that used to be a popular deodorant of the old people in the Philippines.

I have used Lavilin and I do not smell like a dead mouse. Basically you put it on once at night and then reapply about every 3-4 days. The salt crystal works very well too. I find that if you put anything oily or creamy under your arms eventually you will smell more because this causes bacteria to grow. The salt sprays work very well. Lemon may work but will eventually stain your clothes because lemon works like a bleach.

I used to sweat A LOT but was concerned about the aluminum in regular antiperspirants.

A friend said to try rubbing alcohol and it has worked for the past month so far. I think it dries out the skin where it's applied so you sweat less. But it also kills the bacteria that make you stink in the first place.

I have to say I have been drier than I was with conventional antiperspirants, other than one or two times that I got really hot or really nervous. My solution for that is to carry individually wrapped alcohol swabs that you can find at any pharmacy. Just dry off with a paper towel, then swab.

Glad I landed here. Tried some 'alum' products but took too long to dry. Then, too dry. Surprised no one mentioned the removal of lymph nodes. Due to breast cancer, 13 nodes were taken out. antip.s block the release of fluid and large pockets fluid can build up on arm. Then Dr has to drain. I would think with all the breast cancer around, someone would've developed something pleasant and convenient to use. there's money to be made! Don't know if it's healthy but I've been making due with my good old Avon talc. no aluminum and relatively few chemicals. Imari,

I believe what you are looking for is called "Lavalin" (or possibly, it could be spelled, "Lavilin"-I cannot remember). You can find it at the healthfood store. They have it for feet and for underarms. I used it for years and it was very effective. I only stopped because I no longer had body odor. Hope this helps you!

Hi! I don't normally reply to sites like these, but I feel compelled to mention that lime juice will actually stain your skin when it comes into contact with the sun. This chemical reaction is called phytophotodermatitis, and will create splotchy, dark stains on your skin that look like a rash--so please do not use lime juice under your arms if you are at the beach or in the sun! The hyperpigmentation lasts from weeks to months, so it can really ruin a formal event like a wedding if you are wearing a sleeveless dress. Most citrus fruits similar to limes kill odor causing bacteria, so perhaps lemon juice is the better choice--although this will bleach your underarm hair if it is in the sun!

PEOPLE'S PHARMACY RESPONSE: PROBABLY BETTER TO AVOID CITRUS JUICE ON THE SKIN IN THE SUNSHINE. IT CAN CAUSE A RASH.

People should be informed that talcum powder was linked to cancer,I read that women who use it near their genitals can get uterine cancer :( many people use talc for their babies they should stop.

I have tried lemon and baking soda and it worked for a while. Then I started to sweat and my armpits would get raw and hurt. I have tried the whole antiperspirant deodorant before bed thing and nothing seems to work. I live in Tampa Florida where it's humid and hot and feel so embarrassed half the time and cant wear certain things because of this problem ugh!.. HELP! any suggestions anyone?

it really works!!!!!!!!!!!!

mmmmmmmmm, if your eating meat try and stop!? I did and the b.o. went away! I still smell like regular sweat, but the stinky b.o. that makes ya gag is gone! People weren't made to wear stuff under their arms, those pores need to release sweat and breath! Go all natural!!

I used baking soda under my arms for about 3 months and it worked well, except that my underarms started to look stained or bruised. Reading the above comment...eek, could it be a fungus?

i used baking soda about a week ago. and the body odor went away. But when i looked my underarm it has a discoloration and painful. I think burn skin. How can i resolve this. Help. Pleaseeee. :((((

HAND SANITIZER! I apply it after drying my underarms after bathing, and then re-apply every few hours - more often if I'm sweating heavily. Works like a charm, plus almost everywhere I go these days they're providing it for free!

How do you use the baking soda?

About 10 years ago I began to get a rash and itchy armpits from deodorants. Even ones recommended for sensitive skin. Then I started using Thai Crystal which worked or about 7 years then the rash returned. I tried Tom's which worked for about a year then the rash reappeared. I was going without but I was worried about my odor & if others noticed it when doing athletics. Today, with no deodorant and having showered I noticed an odor while working in the studio. On a whim I tried baking soda which I keep in the studio to neutralize acids I use. I washed the armpits and rubbed baking soda in them. So far no odor. That's when I went online and found this forum & discovered I'm to the only one with this problem. Time will tell if this solution works. By the way I have recently switched to a mostly plant based diet. I wonder if this has changed my body chemistry. I'm 66 and until I was 50 I was one of the lucky ones that just didn't have body odor.

yes. just apply a 50/50 mixture to it.

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