How to Detox Your Armpits and Switch to a Nontoxic Deodorant

Branch Basics Detox Your Armpits and Switch to Nontoxic DeodorantHow to Detox Your Armpits and switch to a nontoxic deodorant

Sweating is a natural process of cooling and detoxifying your body. And it’s an important feature of the body’s most unique organ: your skin. Nontoxic deodorant is one of the things that Allison considers the “last frontier” of natural products – people are reluctant to ditch their favorite conventional deodorants. We understand the reasons people hang on to conventional deodorants and antiperspirants: we don’t want to look sweaty, smell stinky, or feel uncomfortably damp in our armpits.

Unfortunately, your deodorant, and particularly your antiperspirant, could be interfering with your body’s natural attempts to remove toxins and could potentially be causing long term health effects like breast cancer or Alzheimer’s disease.1 Studies show that mothers who have used an antiperspirant containing aluminum salts (a common antiperspirant ingredient) absorb the aluminum transdermally and even pass the aluminum on to their children during pregnancy.2

You can actually change your own body odor!

Did you know that using certain deodorants or an antiperspirant daily can change the bacterial microbiome in your armpits? Consistent use can actually make your sweat smellier (due to overproduction of a bad bacteria) if you briefly discontinue use.3 Just because your sweat may smell strong if you forget to put on your antiperspirant for one day does not mean that you shouldn’t try to ditch your antiperspirant. In fact, that’s a good reason to try to detox your armpits and transition to a nontoxic option!

First, Detox Your Armpits

Once you correct the bacterial imbalances in your armpits, your sweat should not actually smell particularly unpleasant. You can try our suggestions below to detox your armpits and rebalance the bacteria. If you’re considering switching to a nontoxic deodorant, we highly recommend you try these suggestions as you switch so that your overall body odor is reduced at the same time. Your new deodorant will be much more effective if it’s not fighting conditions that foster bad body odor.

Simple, natural ways to detox your armpits & reduce body odor

Wear Natural Fibers

Have you ever noticed that your sweat smells particularly strong when you wear certain shirts? It’s not just your imagination! As we’ve mentioned before in our Healthy Travel Guide, wearing natural fibers (versus synthetics) can make a huge difference in the smell of your sweat! Look for 100% cotton, linen, or bamboo rather than polyester, rayon, or other synthetic blends.

The Healthy Travel Guide: How to Travel the Branch Basics Way“Natural fibers like cotton are lightweight, which means they’re ideal for layering for warmth or for keeping you cool in the sun. Unlike synthetic fibers (like polyester and blends), cotton doesn’t harbor bad bacteria and trap body odor in the clothing. By wearing natural fibers, you’re more likely to smell fresher longer and get more use out of the same shirt.”

Unfortunately, people tend to wear synthetic fibers when they’re sweating the most, during a workout. Yoga pants made from polyester or spandex or nylon running shorts can be great for stretching and wicking moisture. But wearing them for long periods or every day can contribute to bad bacteria overgrowth and upset your body’s microbiome. Plus, synthetic fibers can be heavily treated with chemicals, including formaldehyde, in production. We love how many options there are now for breathable, stretch-friendly cotton leggings and tanks. Pact is definitely our favorite, since their clothes are made with organic cotton.

Mind What you Eat

Certain foods will actually change the way your body odor smells. If you want to test the way foods can change your body odor, try removing typical offenders like caffeine, alcohol, pork and foods fried in unhealthy oils. In general, a clean and balanced vegetarian diet will help you maintain a neutral body odor, though beware garlic and onions, which may make your sweat smell strong. The best foods for combatting body odor are leafy greens.4

Dry off carefully after a shower or bath

Branch Basics | Choosing a Healthy Water FilterBacteria loves moist environments, which is why it can thrive so well in your armpits on a hot day (and produce odors). When you step out of the bath or shower, make sure you dry off well, paying particularly close attention to your armpits. Not only will doing so make an inhospitable environment for bacteria to grow, but it will also allow you to apply a deodorant more effectively. In a pinch, you can wipe off excess sweat with a paper towel if you want to keep your armpits dry and are not able to wash with soap and water (for example, while traveling, after exercising, or at your office).

Drink plenty of water

Staying hydrated helps your body remove everyday toxins in an efficient way and can help prevent body odor. Make sure you’re drinking safe, clean water for the best benefit.

Take chlorophyll or probiotic supplements

The chlorophyll in leafy vegetables is what makes them a good defense against body odor. If you’re looking to add extra support to your diet, taking a daily chlorophyll supplement is a good way to help your body detox properly.5 Probiotics and probiotic-rich foods are another way to ensure your microbiome is balanced and healthy.

Apply apple cider vinegar, lemon, or witch hazel

Healthy acids like apple cider vinegar or fresh lemon help neutralize bad bacteria that may be growing in your armpits, causing a foul odor. After you shower, you can use a cotton ball to apply either of these acidic foods to your armpits. Allow to air-dry and follow with a deodorant (optional). Witch hazel is another liquid you could apply the same way to get similar results.6

Try a bentonite clay mask

If you’re looking to take your armpit detox a step farther, you can try a clay mask. Wellness Mama has the full tutorial for this method of removing bad bacteria and other toxins from your armpits.

Branch Basics Favorite Nontoxic Deodorants

(once you detox your armpits)

+ Deodorants You can Buy

  • We love Primal Pit Paste so much, we even interviewed the founder, Amy Cazin, on our blog. She has lots to say about the science of sweat. Read our interview with Amy here. Primal Pit Paste comes in several scents (including unscented) and you can choose whether you want yours in a jar (apply with your fingers) or in a roll-up deodorant stick.
  • Fat Face is another company making a great, nontoxic deodorant. They offer options in a jar or in a spray, depending on your preference. While their sprays are vegan, their deodorant in a jar (Stank Stop) is made with tallow from grass-fed cows.

+ Deodorants You Can Make (DIY)

  • We love this classic Coconut Oil-Based Deodorant tutorial from The Free Spirited. You can prepare the recipe with or without essential oils (that’s recommended if you want an unscented deodorant). The arrowroot powder and baking soda are effective at neutralizing odors and keeping your underarms dry. You can experiment with the proportions of the powders if you are sensitive to baking soda – it can be irritating to your skin.
  • Kelly has this tutorial for a DIY Homemade Deodorant. The bentonite clay supercharges the deodorant’s power to remove toxins from your armpits, which helps neutralize body odor.
  • If you’d like to try a homemade deodorant powder, this simple deodorant powder from the Homemade Experiment is an inexpensive, nontoxic solution made from cornstarch and baking soda. You can even use this powder as a follow-up to another deodorant method to ensure your armpits stay dry. Men sometimes prefer this option because it is easy to apply, even on hairy skin. Because this recipe doesn’t have an oil base, you also don’t risk staining your clothes if you apply too much. Be careful when lifting a black shirt or dress over your head – this one may leave a visible white powder!

Tips for using Nontoxic Deodorant

  • detox your armpits as you transition to a nontoxic deodorant (see above)
  • remind yourself that a little sweat is good for you; if you’re not sweating, you’re not efficiently removing toxins from your body
  • tune in to your body odor – if it starts to change, you can take steps to neutralize it again by following our method of detoxing your armpits (see above)
  • if you shave your armpits, shave at night and apply deodorant in the morning to avoid irritation (typically caused by slight exfoliation and reaction to baking soda)
  • you may need to rub deodorants into your underarm skin to avoid caking or staining your clothes
  • if applying a deodorant with your fingers, use a small (pea-sized) amount and warm up with your fingers to soften it so it absorbs well

Further Reading

We think the science of sweat is pretty interesting. Keep reading about how to detox your pits and switch to nontoxic deodorants in our interview with Amy Cazin of Primal Pit Paste.

Branch Basics | Increase Stomach AcidOne of our most popular articles is about Increasing Your Stomach Acid. If you work on your digestion, you will likely have improvements in body odor. Check it out!

Break the fragrance habit and try these Nontoxic DIY Air Fresheners instead of the synthetic variety to remove odors.

Check out our Healthy Travel Guide for our favorite travel snacks and tips for preventing sunburn, jetlag, and more!

There are many synthetic chemicals that are harmful to health. We created a series about five Common Household Chemicals that helps you identify and remove the worst ones from your home.

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13 Comments

  1. great article I have been making my own deodorant for the past couple of months honestly it works great. I will only use the clinical strength stuff I was using before when I am in extreme situations Like recently spending time at Ft. Irwin CA.

  2. Re: deodorant: earthclinic.com helped me solve an acute armpit odor problem that lasted for weeks. The problem was the biofilm that kept me from being able to wash off the bacteria. The INSTANT solution was milk of magnesia–the product for constipation and muscle tension in the bright blue bottle. It broke down the biofilm. I bought the store brand instead of the brand name product because the store brand had only the one ingredient I was looking for. A shake and a finger swipe half around the top of the bottle delivers just enough for one armpit. So two swipes and done! Nothing to make.

    A mercola.com article on biofilms says magnesium stearate encourages biofilms, so apparently not just any kind of magnesium will do.

    Teeth tartar is also a biofilm problem, so I brushed my teeth with “MoM” and found that worked very well, too. I could tell it broke the biofilm because when brushing I tasted/smelled exposed bad breath germs. It was pleasant as is, but you could add peppermint if you like.

  3. Both my husband and I have used In Love with Bodycare deodorant for many years. Great product, family company based in Washington. I highly recommend their deodorant. Has worked through many 20 mile hikes for us!

  4. I felt tenderness under my left armpit two weeks ago and decided to go without deodorant for the weekend. OMG. Thinking it went well enough I decided on Monday morning before work to put baking soda under my arm – I put it in a spray bottle, diluted with water and sprayed. I didn’t bother to do it at nights and I was odorless for the entire week. On the weekend I continued the process and on the following Monday saw a soft bristle brush staring at me from my bathroom wall. How did I forget I had this brush? Dry brushing would help to relieve my body of toxins faster right? So I used that 🙂 but forgot that I needed to shave. Unfortunately, the brushing then shaving caused irritation and the baking soda burned me that day, so I had to wipe it off. I returned to my baking soda regimen the following day (minor stinging experienced) and I believe I will go the entire month. After that, I will do arrowroot with baking soda. I really am trying to be healthier and treat my body better. Wish me luck!!

  5. I have tried multiple “natural deodorants,” with great success in the odor department and disaster in the rash department. I’ve tried Schmidt’s, Pit Paste, and one I picked up at a flea market that the woman had made. It seems either the essential oils or the baking soda is the culprit. I can use it for about 2 weeks, then I’m in trouble and miserable. I don’t shave under my arms. I quit that about a year ago, when store-bought deodorants (including the clinical strength) stopped working. I happen to have benzonite clay, since I use it for facials. I’m going to try this and hope for the best. My question is, should I let the rash clear up and THEN use the clay? Then what? I can’t use essential oils and baking soda (and I won’t use something with ingredients I can’t pronounce). What are my options next? Thank you in advance for your consideration.

  6. I am 3 weeks into my detox, using a clay mask every 2-3 days and a homemade deodorant of coconut oil, baking soda, arrowroot powder and Purity EO. My armpits are still embarrassing red and rashy, and I smell horrible by about 3 pm everyday. It seems like most people say they have these symptoms for a few days, and I’m nearing the end of my 3rd week and my armpits look like I just started still. Am I doing something wrong?
    I did add or coconut oil to my deoderant because I have sensitive skin and I knew the baking soda would activate that. Should I cut out the baking soda all together? Do I just need to give it more time? Any suggestions appreciated!

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