If I ever smell bad because of a physical activity or just in general, and I have no deodorant available, what could I do to reduce or perhaps even eliminate the smell?

I know people most likely want a "what I've tried" list, but I can't seem to think of anything I could possibly do in this situation. It has happened to me before, and all I have done is avoided people and crossed my arms the entire time.

  • 4
    Have you tried applying more deodorant before hand? How about switching brands to a longer lasting one? Carrying a stick of deodorant with you? Commented Dec 13, 2014 at 4:19

8 Answers 8


These are some methods I use with references from a site. From mnn:

Baking Soda: This works if you apply it to a dry surface. Over time you may have to have to reapply, but it works. Here is a recipe, but I just use plain baking soda:

Using baking soda as a deodorant is a simple way to combat body odor without subjecting your pits to a variety of chemicals. Mix an eighth of a teaspoon of baking soda with a little bit of water — don't dissolve it — and rub it under your arms. You can also create a baking soda and cornstarch mix to fight odor and help prevent wetness. Simply mix one part baking soda with six parts cornstarch and dust a little on your underarms.

Shaving you underarms: To get rid of the smell, shaving your underarms can work. But in a pinch this tip may be worthless.

Using scented antimicrobial soaps: Soaps such as Tea Tree oil and Peppermint can kill the odour causing bacteria and leave you fresh and clean smelling.

Lemon Juice: This may burn if you have any open wounds. You can even use non-sugar lemonade as a cleansing solution.

The citric acid in lemon juice can kill odor-causing bacteria, and there are people who swear by the lemon deodorizing method. Jennifer Palmer, chief executive of an organic skincare line, told The New York Times that she swipes her armpits with a sliced lemon on a daily basis. Just be sure not to apply lemon juice to recently shaven armpits — ouch!

Rubbing Alcohol: All these methods I use and they are cheap. The alcohol may burn if applied to fresh shaven arms or wounds. These include hand sanitizers, but make sure the are healthy before applying them to yourself. These really work in a pinch.

Rubbing alcohol is another inexpensive and easy deodorant that kills odor-causing bacteria. Simply fill a spray bottle with alcohol and spritz your underarms with it. You can even add a few drops of your favorite essential oil to give it a scent — witch hazel absorbs oil and is mildly astringent, and tea tree oil can help relieve body odor.

Just cleaning really quick works. If you bring some soap you can probably wash up real fast, baby wipes and other cleansing solutions ready work wonders.

Making solutions out of essential oils work, but make sure you aren't allergic. Mixing a peppermint or Tea Tree Oil and water solution works, as well.

Additional Info

Home-made Deodorant recipes:

Tammy Luna's deodorant

1/4 cup baking soda

1/4 cup arrow root powder or corn starch

5 tablespoons coconut oil

Combine baking soda and arrow root powder in a bowl and mix with a fork. Start with about 4 tablespoons of coconut oil and add it to the baking soda mixture, working it into a paste. You can store the deodorant in a small, air-tight container or put it into an empty deodorant stick dispenser.

Amy Karol's deodorant

3 tablespoons shea butter

3 tablespoons baking soda

2 tablespoons corn starch

2 tablespoons cocoa butter

2 vitamin E oil gel caps (squeeze out the oil)

Essential oil

Melt all the ingredients except the oils and stir. Then mix in the oils, pour the mixture into a container, and place the container in the fridge to set. This recipe filled a 1/4 pint jar.

Three DIY antiperspirant alternatives: These are recipes and are all natural and made of cheap items. Because if you don't sweat you won't smell. But make sure you aren't allergic to anything.

  • What about using vinegar? Would it help clean your armpits? Commented Dec 13, 2014 at 5:06
  • @GrrHackPrecioussss I have used vinegar and it has worked slightly for me, but it can leave a sharp odour. Vinegar also might cause burns it left wet on the skin.
    – Pobrecita
    Commented Dec 13, 2014 at 5:11

I will just go to a public restroom and wipe my armpits with a paper towel. If you happen to have baby or body powder with you, that will also help. Changing your shirt can also help.

  • 1
    Washing them in the sink with hand soap before you wipe them down helps even more Commented Dec 14, 2014 at 23:00

I don't use deodorant because it makes me itch. For years I've been using Hibiclens which is 4% chlorhexidine surgical scrub. Pharmacies carry it, WalMart, etc. There are other brands of chlorhexidine scrubs. The vet may have sent your animal home with Novalsan. Hibiclens is easy to find and it keeps other areas like navel and feet from smellings. Smelly feet can be corrected. It's a disinfectant not an antibiotic. Sometime I just wipe some on my underarms with toilet paper. After a while you might not need to use it every day.

Chlorhexidine is also in oral rinses. I make a homemade version of the oral periodontal rinse PerioRx and our dentist always remarks on how little build up we have. It inhibits the formation of the "dental pellicle" by bacteria which is their first step in attaching to your teeth. 200 ml of cheapest vodka, 4 ml of peppermint oil, few packets of some sweetener and add 25 ml Hibiclens and fill to liter with water. Vary as you wish, but real PerioRx is 0.12% chlorhexidine with 11.6% alcohol. (I make ours a bit stronger usually and the peppermint helps kill its slightly soapy taste.) Sometime I dab a bit of Hibiclens on my teeth and floss. Small skin cuts seem to heal better after cleaning with it.

In thinking about the question below I realized the place I often have long contact with the full 4% solution is on my feet. I've never had a bad reaction. I don't get fungal infections, my toenails are in good shape, used socks don't smell bad. I've found the easiest way to use it is to put some in an empty eye drops bottle. (The solution is bright pink and can't be confused with the original eyedrops.) These droppers have a nipple like tip that fits between toes. I keep the dropper where I generally sit to put on socks and I just use it like a marking pen on my nails and between my toes.

  • Hi Nebuchadnezzar! Welcome to Lifehacks SE :) I think your post could be quite helpful, my only question is "Is Chlorhexidine harmful with frequent exposures of the raw product or even masked with other stuff?" This is my only concern so far. Thank You for your post and I would love to see you around Lifehacks Se!
    – Pobrecita
    Commented May 11, 2015 at 3:49
  • I've been using it for years, sometime undiluted, and haven't had a problem. I use it before soap because apparently soap inhibits its action but neither of us here has noticed anything adverse in years. Once the bacteria have been reduced the effect seems residual so I don't need to do it every time. Here's something about its action. chlorhexidinefacts.com/mechanism-of-action.html Commented May 13, 2015 at 11:24

I was in your exact situation once and I put some hand sanitizer on a napkin and wiped my underarms with it. It worked great. It's not something you'd want to do everyday as I suspect the alcohol would be rough on your skin. It worked great for me in an emergency though.


First of all, try a different deodorant or switch to using an antiperspirant. It's important to know the difference between the two. See Wikipedia article for general info.

If it still isn't enough, try wiping your armpits with baby wipes or similar cosmetic tissues. If that doesn't work too, maybe find a place to take a shower.

If that's not available and you have no other way to do anything about the smell, maybe try not to sweat it so much. After all, if your work involves physically intense labor, your coworkers are likely to understand and not be bothered by the smell. Or you could ask them for advice if you're the only one who smells more than others and you're still concerned.


I did a lot of ‘google research’ a year or so ago on this topic, as the cost of commercial Deodorants was getting costly and they sometimes gave me a rash. Also the one I used and liked was getting harder to find. My solution – I like Simple and low-cost.

I was warned that rubbing alcohol was not good to use long term, but that other Alcohol is okay. I bought a bottle of name-brand Vodka, filled a small spray bottle and never looked back. It almost immediately removes the bacteria(smell) and lasts for about 2 hours. It does not help with too much perspiration, but your body is expelling the toxins through that process, and I think that is a good thing.

You can even spray directly on your shirt underarm from the outside if it needs it. No harm to clothes or self.

Recently I use a little as a ‘bracing’ aftershave, either spraying on the face directly or hand to face.

This ‘experiment’ has lasted about a year now, it works great for me, but I have come up with two requests:

  • I wish it would last at least a half-day or longer

  • I would like to find something like alum power - that I could add that is safe, non-irritating and restricts the sweat (perspiration) - but only when I absolutely need to (two spray bottles – regular and extra strength?)


The 70% Ethanol gel-ified hand-disinfecting liquids that we normally use against SARS-CoV-2 do a pretty good job when applied to the armpits (and their immediate surroundings) in a sufficient quantity, for a sufficient amount of minutes.

I mean, it seems to be a solid win for a few days, and the positive effect (even if fading) can last almost into a week.

I figured it out for myself and have not consulted any health-experts whether it has any health concerns or not.

  • Ah, now that I use the browser's search feature to find occurrences of the word "Alcohol" on this page, I can quickly see it's not such a unique idea...
    – Levente
    Commented Apr 25, 2021 at 23:46

This is a stupid simple strategy, but it works. You get the bad odor on your skin from Bacteria that ferment in your sweat. So if there's no sweat there's no problem! That being said, sweat is important for cooling down, so you'll need to cool down somehow. There are two ways I combat sweat. The first is making the sweat dry faster by moving my clothing. I wiggle my clothing to move large volumes of air across my skin. Basically for the upper body you beat your chest like an ape while holding your shirt, and for your legs you bounce up and down while pretending your pants aren't all the way on, and you're trying to pull them up. This works really well, but looks really weird. Another way of combating the bacteria in sweat is to simply replace the sweat with tap water.

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