woman sniffing her smelly armpit and checking for stinky body odor

Q. I use milk of magnesia as a deodorant but first I apply a spray of vodka under my arms. Using vodka to fight body odor is no recent discovery.

Theatrical wardrobe professionals going back to vaudeville days have used vodka spritz on elaborate costumes that can’t be cleaned easily.

Applying vodka and letting them air dry gets rid of the odor. The only problem is explaining to strangers why you have industrial-sized jugs of vodka in the house.

A. Thanks for reminding us that it can do double duty as an underarm deodorant. We have heard from others that vodka can remove odors from theatrical costumes. Here is the first report we received:

“I used to work backstage for the wardrobe department in a theatre. Actors sweat, and clothes that are not machine-washable are dry cleaned only once a week. Clothes get sweaty and smell.

The solution that I was taught is to spray undiluted white vinegar or vodka (the cheaper and higher proof the better) on the armpits and other sweaty areas of the clothing. Once the vinegar or vodka dried, the clothes didn’t smell. This worked for the 15 years that I did it.”

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  1. GRD
    Palm Bay, FL

    I have found applying hydrogen peroxide to my under arms works better than anything and it doesn’t burn like alcohol and has no smell and cheap too. I know sweat has no bad smell but bacteria does so why not use a bacteria killer.

  2. Jeni

    After sweating always wash your armpit good then put lemon. Slice the lemon then squeeze the juice on your armpit never let your armpit sweaty until it dries bcoz the bacteria multiply. Never use deodorant like spray or roll on with strong good smell coz it wont eliminate the odor it just cover after 5hours of sweating the smell will be bad again. After the bath always put lemon under arm and the parts that has odor you’ll see the diff.

  3. Donnie

    I’ll try the vodka as a deodorant. I’m allergic to corn and derivatives, sulfites, and can’t tolerate perfume or fragrance in products, and most deodorants contain them. So it is almost impossible to find a deodorant that doesn’t cause flare-ups of my atopic dermatitis and cause allergic reactions. Even ones that seem safe can cause a rash, and I only use a little if I’m going somewhere. I just wash with my safe soap and water and hope for the best, most of the time. There are some brands of vodka that are free of my corn and sulfite allergens.

  4. DJ

    Another remedy is baking soda. I spray first with rubbing alcohol and then dust with dry baking soda (aluminum-free, from the Health Food Store). It’s the best deodorant I’ve ever used.
    Also works without the rubbing alcohol by just splashing on a little water, then dusting with baking soda.

  5. Renae

    I dealt with underarm odor more and more as I aged. I tried many of the suggestions online and tried different products but what finally worked for me was to wipe my underarms with hydrogen peroxide after showering. That’s it…no more problem. After it dries, I use a bit of body spray by Secret.

  6. Jeanne

    Yes, rubbing alcohol is the best deodorant I’ve ever found, too, and it’s even better with a little of your favorite fragrance added. Not only does it prevent underarm odors from developing, but it also seems to be able to remove old odors from clothing as well, all without leaving any residue or causing any damage to clothing or skin.

  7. MEW

    I’ve discovered an even simpler solution to underarm odor control I have a small spray bottle of rubbing alcohol with some added essential oil drops added, (your choice) and voila, I have not noticed even after exercise any nasty essence a la armpits. It’s cheap and inexpensive and free of aluminum compounds.

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