woman sniffing her smelly armpit and checking for stinky body odor

As the heat and humidity prove that summer is really here, it’s time to think of those around you. You do not want to offend family, friends or co-workers.

Most people turn to commercial antiperspirants to solve this problem, but as we have pointed out many times, they all contain aluminum salts. That is an FDA requirement or you can’t call your product an antiperspirant. The aluminum plugs sweat glands in order prevent perspiration. Some people report that aluminum is irritating and it leads to a rash. Others fear absorption of aluminum from their underarms. One reader was convinced that her antiperspirant affected her brain:

“Aluminum chlorohydrate present in many underarm deodorants causes my short term memory to be flaky. I proved it to myself by using and not using it before I heard of aluminum chlorohydrate being in the products; the results of bad short-term memory were quite dramatic…I could not hold a fact for long enough to walk across a room.” D.B.

Many visitors to this website have offered a variety of non-aluminum tips for controlling body odor.

“I have had antiperspirant itching and irritation for years. Then I tried taking clove oil and a carrier oil (I use argon) and put on a drop each day. I love the smell of cloves and it really works. The amount of each will depend on your tolerance.” S.W.

That seems a bit messy to us and we’re not sure whether clove oil (and argon) would be safe for everyone. Some people may be allergic to clove oil. Here is another suggestion:

“I believe in KISS [keep it simple stupid], so here is what works for me as a deodorant, which I only apply every four days or even less frequently. The solution of white vinegar is diluted 1 to 1 with water and applied with a small piece of reusable cloth (which I store in a small plastic bag between uses). This works, as near as I can figure, by greatly reducing the odor-causing bacteria (which I believe are alkaline loving) due to the vinegar’s high acid level. The cost of the vinegar used is only pennies. A liter of vinegar would last me probably 3 years.

“Giving credit where credit is due, I heard about using vinegar as a deodorant on The People’s Pharmacy.” Russ

Then there is milk of magnesia. We heard about using this old-fashioned laxative topically on the underarms several years ago. Since then many people tell us it is a safe and gentle solution to prevent body odor. Here is just one such message.

“I have been using the People’s Pharmacy MoM deodorant for over a year now and although I sweat, I do not have much of an odor.  I am not allergic to the ingredients in it. So far so good!

“I just wish I wouldn’t have to order it online every time. I would like to be able to purchase it OTC where I live.” Renee

If you too are interested in trying out our Milk of Magnesia deodorant, we now offer two varieties: Original Unscented MoM, and Women’s MoM (with a light feminine scent).

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  1. pp

    A nurse just said that rubbing alcohol can burn the skin. For the person who has problems with sweat ruining garments, maybe you can find armpit protectors–little pieces of oval cloth with elastic that fits over the shoulder and arms, or pins into the garment. Haven’t seen them for years, but they used to be available at sewing notions counters wherever fashion fabrics were sold.

  2. Mary

    I decided to apply some MOM to a couple of intensely itching areas on my abdomen. It worked. I found it can reduce the itch of mosquito bites and eczema.
    Above, someone asked about possible harm. It is magnesium so unless you have an allergy, that is unlikely.
    Apply to a small area first to find out how YOU react.

  3. Elaine

    I tried and use Rubbing Alcohol which was mentioned on The People’s Pharmacy and have no odor or perspiration at all. I will never use Antiperspirant again especially since there is a lot of Breast Cancer in my family.

  4. Joan C.

    I no longer use an antiperspirant (I think sweating is beneficial) but DO use bicarbonate of soda as a deodorant, and it works perfectly. I also use it as a toothpowder when I travel (can be packed in tiny containers); it’s available everywhere and very cheap as well! Of course bicarb is good for lots of other things in kitchen, bath, etc.

  5. Donnie

    I put a dab of epsom salts in my bathroom sink, and run some warm water in it. After the epsom salts dissolves, I wash my underarms with my usual soap, and this seems to prevent underarm odor very well. I don’t need to use deodorant at all. I also use epsom salts when I soak my feet, and that works great, too.

  6. frenagd

    Following up an on-line tip, I tried lime juice. Dubious as I was, it worked. You just squeeze some fresh lime Juice from an actual lime and wipe underarms. It’s not sticky, it dries immediately, you don’t smell and you do also sweat less.
    I know, I know, I didn’t believe it either. In the interests of science, I then tried lemon juice and orange juice — no go on those. So it’s something in the lime. Don’t believe me, try it. And if you have a faint lime-essence to your aura, well, that’s already a plus.

  7. Elizabeth

    MOMs deodorant is the best thing ever! I was sceptical before I tried it but it really does work. I still sweat on hot days but the odor is gone. There’s one other thing I do daily that helps especially on hot summer days: after I shower I swab my underarms with the original, gold Listerine which kills the bacteria, then I use the lightly scented MOM’s.

  8. Pat

    Greetings from Pat in Florida – I’ve been using the MoM deodorant and have been very satisfied. My question is: Are there any after effects -good or bad- from using this product? After all, we are absorbing milk of magnesia through our skin. Just wondering…

  9. Sheri

    I’m more concerned about sweat stains in my clothing! My son and I have excessive sweating under the arms. It’s highly embarrassing. Odor concern is secondary for us. I cannot wear nice dresses or blouses and as a college student, this is a social issue for him. Any ideas?

  10. Fred

    Been using Milk of Magnesia for over a year… no more itching!

  11. Gina P.

    The MOM I use is the inexpensive store brand at the local grocer or pharmacy. I open the bottle top and leave it ajar to let the liquid evaporate to become a thick cream. Then I apply a finger tip of this to each underarm daily. Thanks People’s Pharmacy for the idea – I have tossed the antiperspirants and only use this inexpensive MOM and keep some in a sealed plastic container in my travel bag.

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