Q. I recently saw on the Dr. Oz show that vinegar can be used to control underarm odor. They said it changes the Ph of the skin which the odor-causing bacteria cannot thrive on. The vinegar dissipates so you will not smell like vinegar.

A. We first heard about vinegar for underarm odor prevention more than seven years ago when we received the following question:

“My friend uses vinegar with water under her arms and says it keeps her dry and odor-free all day long, better than deodorant.
“I want to try it, but first I want to know if it is safe to use under your arms. Is vinegar all right for this use?”

We advised: Some people soak their feet in a dilute vinegar (one part water to two parts vinegar) solution to deter foot fungus. Perhaps the acid environment also discourages the bacteria that contribute to body odor.
As long as skin is unbroken (do NOT try this after shaving), we doubt that diluted vinegar would cause trouble. Nevertheless, test a small patch of skin first to make sure you will not react badly.
Then we received these two follow-up messages in 2005 from other readers of our newspaper column:

“Thank you so much for writing about using vinegar and water on underarms. I have had a problem with smelly underarms most of my life and have tried almost every product on the market. Nothing really stopped the odor.
“When I read about vinegar, I gave it a try. It has been a miracle. I can now go out in the heat, exercise and go through the day without smelling at all. It is amazing and cheap.”


“I had chemo treatment for breast cancer in 2002 and found that all antiperspirants caused redness and irritation. My doctor advised me not to use any deodorant, but that did not suit me. I tried plain white vinegar, and it worked so well I’ve kept it up ever since.”


Vinegar doesn’t work for everyone. Here are some stories about alternatives:

“Hello everyone. I have been using LEMON JUICE as a natural deodorant for the past five years. One of my friends was given this tip by her doctor and she passed it on to two of her friends. We three have been using it and it works perfectly!
“We just buy lemons, cut a piece and squeeze the juice under our arms and off we go! It works even in the hot and humid weather of Hawaii.
“Only downside is that you need to have a steady stream of lemons–and it stings when you shave–(just shave at night)–but it works really, really well. Give it a whirl.”

PlanetDancer


“Vinegar for underarm odor didn’t work for me, but Milk of Magnesia applied to the underarm area works perfectly. Also it doesn’t sting even when used after shaving.”
JH
“I tried the Milk of Magnesia. It is a miracle! Works perfectly! The vinegar left me smelling like saurkraut and really didn’t work (sorry).”
Kim


“Vinegar didn’t work for me. So yesterday I went to the store and bought Listerine and MILK OF MAGNESIA. What I did was showered, got a cotton ball: 
Applied undiluted apple cider vinegar, let dry…
Applied undiluted Listerine, let dry…
Then applied MILK OF MAGNESIA.
“It’s been way over 12 hours and I DO NOT SMELL!!! This is truly a miracle! I can’t believe this worked for me. I’ve had smelly under arms for about 35 years. I wish I would have found out about this before. But better late than never. Now I can have more confidence and wear cute tops and not worry about body odor. 
Hope this helps!”

Jeckle


Whew…that is a lot of effort and time devoted to overcoming underarm odor. Most folks really want something quick and easy. Here are a couple of recent posts to our website from folks who used our MoM Roll-on Deodorant:
“I love People’s Pharmacy Milk of Magnesia deodorant! And it doesn’t take much to be effective. I just roll on a small amount and rub it around my armpits with my finger (it rinses off easily), so I never have any “damp feeling” to contend with. Works like a charm, and protects me for at least two days.”
M.R.


“Traditional deodorants irritated my underarms, so I switched to crystal deodorant over 10 years ago. Last winter, I developed an irritation in my armpits and tried not using deodorant at all. The irritation went away but now there were other obvious issues.
“I read about milk of magnesia on your website and tried it. It’s wonderful! I bought a bottle at the store and dabbed it on each morning. When I finished the bottle, I ordered the roll-on from People’s Pharmacy and love that. So much easier to get ready in the morning! Thank you for that great product – and for all your helpful information!!”

N.R.

Anyone who would like to give The People’s Pharmacy MoM (Milk of Magnesia) Roll-On Deodorant a test drive, we are offering a 15% discount on any order from 1 bottle to 100. If you are not happy with it for any reason, you get a full refund! When you reach checkout just put the special discount code MOM15 into the box.
Whatever you choose, apple cider vinegar, white vinegar, lemon juice, baking soda or MoM (milk of magnesia), make sure that it is not irritating to delicate skin. The underarms are quite sensitive. You want something that is gentle, effective and nontoxic.
Let us know what has worked well for you by commenting below. We would love to hear your story.

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  1. Brenda
    TX
    Reply

    I’ve tried everything for my stinky, cat urine smelling armpits. Nothing worked until I started using Dial Gold Antibacterial body wash. I use it every day- sometimes twice a day and have no more bad smell. Wash with it, then apply deodorant after your shower and you’ll be fresh all day.

    • Awia
      Japan
      Reply

      I have this body odor too and it’s very terrible.
      I’ve tried many kinds of solutions but they seem to not be working.
      I wonder if there is any kind of soap out there that help fight body bacteria?
      Please help.

  2. Aniekpon
    Reply

    I used 2 have a very bad body odour, so I tried lime juice but it didn’t give me what I wanted. Now I am using white vinegar and it is really working.

  3. Aoife
    Reply

    Hey I am a young teen and I was wondering if a citrusy BO was a symptom for diabetes type one or two??

  4. sally
    Reply

    I have tried applying vinegar but it never worked. Then I tried baking soda that smelled even worse. I am afraid to try magnesium. I am totally devastated. I want this over with so I can enjoy people’s company coz now I avoid people and I have no boyfriend. I think the smell is a contributor. HELP

  5. T white
    Reply

    I’ve had armpit odor for the past 12years I’ve tried lemon juice, vinegar, baking soda if not all, most of the deodorants on the market, went to the doctor and they recommend I try drysol, can some please tell what to try next, it’s so embarrassing.

  6. nah
    Reply

    I was a little skeptic about using vinegar for my underarms. I was looking for natural/ homemade antiperspirants/ deodorant because I’ve lost faith in all the manufactured ones. They leave a messy sticky feeling that I find very uncomfortable especially bcoz I sweat a lot, hence the odor.
    I tried both lemon & its juice but I couldn’t get rid of that sweat smell for long. Then I tried baking soda which burns a Lil & I ended up with a lot of dead skin that was blackening even though it took care of the odor.
    That’s when I decided to give the white vinegar a try. I must say, its the best natural deodorant I have come across yet. I never have to worry about that stinky sticky feeling ever again. I go all day still smelling fresh. Its amazing!!!

  7. km
    Reply

    I’ve had similar experiences trying everything and ending in disappointment. I’d scrub till my armpits bleed and then within minutes of my shower I would stink again. I tried everything, I mean EVERYTHING.
    By chance, I found what worked for me. It was the zinc cream for baby rash, etc. They sell a big jar of it cheap at stores like walmart. Just apply a thin layer. Really thin, like invisible. Rub it in. You don’t need gobs of it – that will just feel gross and won’t work any better.
    I don’t know if it will work for you, but I thought I’d pass it on.
    Best of luck.

  8. smd
    Reply

    Sorry to say I have not found anything that works all day. Before I shower in the morning I use witch hazel. Then after I shower I use a tea tree oil deodorant which I reapply throughout the day. This works as long as it does not get really hot or I do not do anything really strenuous. Still looking.

  9. IB
    Reply

    I did all of that too including drinking liquid chlorophyll, lime water, taking magnesium and zinc and still nothing. Did you ever find anything that works?

  10. nj
    Reply

    I have irritated underarms over the years with odor.. I just want some helpful advice to how can this be eliminated?.. My girl left me because of this.. and I don’t even get closer to the girls I want because of my underarm odor… please help me… thanks
    PEOPLE’S PHARMACY RESPONSE: Some people find that baking soda helps; others like milk of magnesia. In some cases, a bad odor results from bacteria that need to be treated with an antibacterial topical cream by prescription from the doctor.

  11. NYG
    Reply

    I cannot thank all of the contributors enough for their comments! I was completely at my wits’ end with my armpit odor. I shower daily (sometimes twice) and the odor would be back within minutes after stepping out of the shower. I rubbed with a soapy loofah till my skin was raw. I decided to try the vinegar first but I couldn’t stand the smell. The next day I tried undiluted lemon juice straight from the bottle. I was completely floored—I smelled like a flower and didn’t need to use deodorant. I dabbed a little of my favorite perfume on after the lemon had dried and haven’t needed to use deodorant since.
    I even went without a shower one day and smelled great the next day. Again, THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU all!

  12. Paragon
    Reply

    I live in Central Florida where it’s super hot 6 months of the year. I must stay dry. I wonder which would be best for me?

  13. Sally
    Reply

    I use 70% Isopropyl Alcohol and MOM for my underarm deordorant and it works great. I put the alcohol on with my fingers – it dries fast and then apply the MOM. I find the two together work better than MOM alone.

  14. smd
    Reply

    I have tried vinegar, milk of magnesia, baking soda, witch hazel, aloe vera, tea tree oil, and many many natural deodorants. NONE of these has worked for me.

  15. Peggy
    Reply

    I use MOM when I shower but I use apple cider vinegar every day. I take a cotton ball, dip it into the vinegar and wipe under my arm. It works great! I also use it for the little “skin tabs” one gets as they age. I had one on my eyelid which is almost gone. (Be sure to keep your eye closed). Vinegar is good for lots of things and through Peoples Pharmacy, I have learned more. Thank you.

  16. CG
    Reply

    I use vinegar for around-the-house cleaning and I love it, so when I heard it could be used instead of deodorant, I thought it was a great idea. I went out shopping that day and was in a dressing room when I realized it did. not. work. At all. Not only did the vinegar smell not dissipate, I was really stinky, only a couple of hours after my shower. I smelled like a sweaty pickle. I’ve also tried crystal deodorants, Listerine, lemon juice, and MOM, with zero success. I really don’t like using strong chemical antiperspirants, but I just can’t find an alternative!

  17. Kimberly
    Reply

    I would like to comment on underarm odor. Odor that smells citrusy can be a symptom of diabetes. My underarm odor changed to a stinky lime smell a little over a year ago. Since I had read that changes in body odor could signal disease, I went to the doctor. Sure enough, I was diagnosed with diabetes. Now that my blood sugars are back in the normal range, the odor has disappeared.

  18. rg
    Reply

    I tried MOM for a while and it worked fairly well but was messy and I didn’t like the feel of it. Lately I’ve tried rubbing alcohol which kills bacteria and it worked really well but I was not sure using it daily would be good for my skin so I now am trying vodka! It also kills bacteria. The smell is milder than the rubbing alcohol and is gone by the time it has dried which is very quickly. The vodka works as well as the rubbing alcohol. I hope there is no harm in using the vodka because so far I am very impressed.

  19. TKB
    Reply

    Just wanted to comment to charle s., who uses Hibiclens: be very careful not to get it in your eyes; it will cause eye opacities and can lead to blindness.
    An old wound care nurse

  20. Ellen S.
    Reply

    I tried the MoM and it did not seem to deter odor at all and did absolutely nothing for wetness. I imagine that different products will work for different people, depending on the chemical/bacterial/Ph makeup of one’s skin.I will try the vinegar next. I always have that on hand.

  21. charle s.
    Reply

    I’ve seen the vinegar and MOM and lemon juice remedies for underarm odor.
    For years, I’ve use Hibiclens – at the end of my shower, I wash my underarms and feel with Hibiclens – have had no underarm or foot odor aince I’ve been using the Hibiclens.

  22. betty
    Reply

    I bought a lump of Milk of Magnesia and used it for a week. One day I went shopping and OMG I stunk so badly. But I had driven so far. I stayed away from people in the store and apologized to some when they got too close, and told them not to use trust milk of magnesia. I could not even try on clothes because I stunk so badly. I soon drove the hundred miles back home and felt I had learned a big lesson that day.
    PEOPLE’S PHARMACY RESPONSE:
    How does one buy a “lump” of milk of magnesia? Milk of magnesia is available as a liquid laxative or in a roll-on deodorant from People’s Pharmacy. We cannot imagine a solid form of MoM.

  23. cpmt
    Reply

    I HAVE A very strong odor under my arms. Milk of Magnesia ( I got the info. here) works very well for most of the day. Thanks

  24. LM
    Reply

    I use diluted apple cider vinegar after every shower . It keeps my hair shiny too.

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