Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Eliminate Under Arm Smell - Naturally

Magnificent morning, not a cloud in the sky.


A little ironic that I am going to talk about getting rid of body odor (we'll focus on the arm pits) naturally after the previous blog. But bare with me, its pretty simple.

What prompted me was a discussion with some people who, in their efforts to use safe deodorants, were lamenting that they had not found anything that works as well as the toxic guns. And to add insult to injury, they smelled so bad that even a good scrub in the shower did not eliminate the under arm stinks completely. And sure enough, they were right. After a particularly warm, active day, followed by a thorough shower, I too had lingering B.O. (body odor).

I was impressed. And I wanted to find a solution. But first I wanted to know, just what is causing this stubborn smell.

Yes we have sweat glands - eccrine glands (all over the body regulating temperatures) and apocrine glands (mostly under arms, groin and around breasts) which secret a fatty substance that bacteria feast on. It really isn't the sweat that smells, it's the by-product of the happy bacteria. Some say its the acid from the bacteria that smells, some say it's the actual .... poop from the bacteria. (double ick) Maybe they are one in the same.

This is not when you reach for the anti-bacterial soap. No, no, no. Remember those anti-bacterial chemicals not only partially kill the under arm bacteria (and the ones that survive become super bacteria - we don't want that) but your body absorbs those chemicals, some of them cancer causing, and the rest goes into our water system, onward to kill good bacteria. (remember we need bacteria to bio-degrade things!) So 3 very good reasons to not use anti-bacterial soaps.

Before we talk about eliminating under arm smell (and we will), let's talk about prevention. Bacteria love heat, so try to reduce the heat under your arms by dressing lighter, in natural fiber clothing, and/or trimming/shaving the under arm hair. And wash on a regular basis. That does not mean you have to waste water and shower twice a day. Try the old wash cloth at the sink (with low chemical profile soap) instead. This is all pretty simple, natural and very environmentally friendly so far.

Now for the magic solution. One word. Vinegar. The mother of all cleaning agents, including for under arm, body odor pit smell. So in the shower, or not, even after washing with soap, if there is that lingering slight smell - pour a little, like a cap full, onto the corner of your wash cloth and rub the entire under arm area. (if you are shaving, I would shave after) Let it sit and do something else (brush teeth? wash another body part?) then wash again with soap to clear the vinegar off. Voila. B.O. gone.

Apparently the low PH of vinegar wipes out the bacteria/smell. What ever it is - it works. And the bonus is, it seems to have lasting power too, before your familiar smell returns.

Unfortunately we do not live in a society that values wreaking under arm odor. There's a nomad tribe in Africa that bathes once a month but the men prefer their women to not bathe at all. Hard to believe really but it would solve a whole lot of problems if we didn't find arm pit smell so offensive. And it would collapse the personal care industry. Hmm.

So here we are, trying to eliminate naturally smelling body odor and then, for many, adding other smells (like perfumes). Interesting how humans have evolved. Some say that's progress.

Anyway, give it a try. Have a bottle of vinegar handy in the shower or bathroom (transfer to unbreakable container if you are a klutz) and make it part of your new bathing routine. I would love your feedback!

33 comments:

Anonymous said...

Great article! I have found a Kiss My Face deodorant that works WAY BETTER than the toxic sticks, but many of my shirts have sweat smell left over from less effective deodorants. I will try vinegar to remove the smells/stains. I have been using products that employ natural enzyme producing cultures to soak the underarm area until the smell is gone. They are great organic (food, blood,etc.)stain removers, too. One is biokleen Bac-Out, and you can buy the same sort of product at pet stores, for removing organic stains/smells such a urine, vomit, skunk spray...
It also helps to use a natural ingredient stain remover & then expose the area to sunshine!

Seeking Harmony said...

White or apple cider or what kind? Does it matter? Thanks for the article will try!

Real Green Girl Activist said...

I use white, but I think the low pH is about the same between the two. Apple cider might be a little more acidic and have some added benefits if you are using it for dandruff or something, but if it is just to kill bacteria, its about the low PH. PH will vary slightly depending upon who makes it. The percent of acid is usually on the bottle, the higher, the better, 5% or 6% is good. Hope this helps. Remember to rub it all over the under arm area, the area is larger than one might think. Hope this helps. Thanks again.

Anonymous said...

I experienced exactly what you described. A long soapy shower and my underarms still reeked! I started using ACV, and that keeps me stink free for a full day.

However, I've been searching the web, and something I can't understand is how vinegar can kill bacteria similarly to the antibacterial soap, and yet somehow repeated use of vinegar has not been reported as creating a vinegar superbug. I did find one article that spoke of a strain of e. coli becoming resistant to vinegar.

How does vinegar work, that bacteria does not evolve to withstand it, when bacteria seems to eventually outsmart every other bacteria killer?

Real Green Girl Activist said...

Interesting questions! I think vinegar denatures or breaks down the protein in the cell wall, mechanically if you will.That's why it softens meat in marinades. Antibacterial soaps have a different mechanism. There are bacteria that can live in vinegar but apparently they aren't the ones that would causes health problems in humans. There are millions of bacteria and we must remember many are good bacteria and others don't make us sick. But a slow evolution of adapting to acid is an interesting concept. Thanks for writing! If you find more information, please share.

Anonymous said...

which vinegar should i ask for?
and i hope it doesn't darken the skin under arms?

Real Green Girl Activist said...

I use white vinegar. There should be no darkening of the skin. That may only come with red wine vinegar.
You can also use lemon juice which is equally acidic, might smell nicer!Or simple use the rind after a lemon squeeze and rub away. Leaves the skin nice and soft too.
Thanks for asking.

Anonymous said...

Hello, I just read this article. I have bad B.O. I am allergic to every type of underarm solution I have tied. Just tried the vinegar. Will post and let you know how it works for me!!! Thanks Hillary

Anonymous said...

Thanks RGG, great article. I also heard that one should wash clothes in vinegar to remove bacteria stuck in the underarm area that detergents are not able to remove. Removing sweat from your body may be 1 of 2 steps needed to stay naturally fresh.

Anonymous said...

Thank you soooo much for this article. I will be buying some vinegar tomorrow!
I just got home from hanging out with friend doing some outdoor activities, I was do embarrassed cause I smelled do horrible and I'm a woman! Women are not suppose to smell the way I did today!!!

Michelle Smith said...

Good article! I'm trying it! As for clothing I found an article that said using ammonia on your clothing! I sprayed clear ammonia on the under arms of my clothing. Let set 10+mins and laundered in my usual Charlie's Soap. It seemed to have taken the smell out. I did have to retreat a sweater. I will add ACV to my regimen. Thanks

Shannon Gonzalez said...

I tried using hand sanitizer. It worked. My armpits dont smell bad for a certain period. I only use it while stepping out.

Anonymous said...

Omg real green girl i love u !!! U have give me back my confidence now i can go close to people.the vinegar work wonderful :))

Gertrude said...

Does it matter if I use raw, unfiltered Vinegar? Seems to make more sense....

Anonymous said...

what brand of white vinegar should be better to use? is it necessary to wash my underarm after putting vinegar into it?

Real Green Girl Activist said...

Any white vinegar will do, store brand may be least expensive. You may wish to follow with soap to quickly take care of the vinegar smell but I find it goes away just fine. When camping I'll just do my arm pits with vinegar and after a few minutes you are god to go. Vinegar is clean smelling. Let's us know how it works!

Anonymous said...

Hi,

I just wanted to share that I have been using a homemade deodorant which for me works better than the store bought natural deodorants. It is a mixture of baking soda, Shea butter, peppermint oil, and olive oil if I remember correctly from the last time I made a batch.
I found this recipe while searching for homemade natural deordorants.you can omit the peppermint oil or add a different essential oil instead. I really like the vinegar idea and will try it!

Anonymous said...

My first couple times trying thr vinegar it worked like magic!! Have you noticed your body becoming immune to the vinegar and youre smell returning quicker? Soo helpful though, thank you!

Real Green Girl Activist said...

It really should continue to work well. I suppose anything can eventually evolve resistance but I think it would take a long time against vinegar because of the PH. Thanks for commenting!

Anonymous said...

After you apply the vinegar do you apply any type of deodorant? I had tried everything, alcohol, vinegar, baking soda, coconut oil . I even made my own deodorant with corn starch, coconut oil and baking soda, a few drops of scent oil too. However, it works for a while but my under arms get really dark and I get little painful bumps full of pus. They will go away but its unconfortable.

Anonymous said...

I'm gonna try it, but I've got some STRONG pits! I am in menopause and the hot flashes are just a way of life. It causes my body to heat up and that's when the pits sweat. I will keep u posted.

Anonymous said...

If your pointing on the being acidic, then some fruits that we say acidic and we say rich in vitamins C can use too as alternative and as much as the vinegar works? Like calamansi and orange?

Anonymous said...

it doest work..dont get ur hopes up..ive been trying this for a while and i reek..it makes me sad and self concious...vinegar definatly did not work

sam said...

Fantastic article. I have really struggled with the lingering B.O. after switching to olive oil soap. I tried the washing of armpits with cider vinegar before soap and it works brilliantly. Next I am going to try it on the tshirts that also picked up the odour. Thanks!

Anonymous said...

I never had a problem with underarm odor. But suddenly, now I have a kinda onion soup smell on my underarms and can't get rid of it.

click here to said...

I don't normally comment on web stories. But I had to 'thank you' for this brilliant solution.

White vinegar literally works like magic. It is so easy to do, and natural too. In the past I've switched from shower gel to soap, from supermarket soap to natural soap, and bought brushes and loofas. Nothing worked. This, however, did. First time. I was amazed.

It may seem like a small thing, but this basic tip will have a small but significant benefit on my health and well-being. My shirts will also last longer and need less washing.

All in all – amazing. Thanks again :D

NB: A few years back I learned the tip about soaking smelly shirts in vinegar and water before washing for a while now. I hadn't made the link between washing my body with vinegar though to target the problem at cause! Duh.

Claire said...

Sweating is a natural process. We can use aluminum free deodorants to escape from body odor. Vinegar and baking soda are the best ingredients to remove the body odour.

Anonymous said...

I used vinegar but it's not working..
My bo is like sour smell... I purchased American garden natural white vinegar. It has very strong smell.. Nd it's not working on me Wat to do please help me

Anonymous said...

Hello
i used this i.e American garden natural vinegar but still my armpits smell horrible.
please help me

Sanjay Nair said...

Wheat grass juice works equally well to neutralise BO. But I have felt the smell returning after a while, even though its less severe. Will definitely try the Vinegar or the Lemon.

Unknown said...

I always bring a trimmer when i travel. So I shaved my armpits grabed a wash cloth and no smell. When i have a chance ill try the vinegar and write back. Thanks for the post.

GeorgeR said...

I had a persistent bad odor, like that of a racehorse after the big race. I scrubbed hard and repeatedly with a coarse wash cloth, many kinds of soap, shampoo, and body wash and right after the shower, as I was drying, I still smelled.

I read the article, immediately went to the kitchen to obtain a container of white vinegar, and then a bathroom for Hydrogen peroxide. I followed the process with the vinegar followed by a good application of peroxide, and as soon as I dried I smelled brand new. I couldn't believe it, so I smelled myself several times throughout the day. I have no odor at all.

This cure works greatly. Thank you so very much for revealing it.

Real Green Girl Activist said...

You have made my day! So bravo to all who find this useful. Be careful to not scrub too hard because broken skin will sting like heck. Also, remember to wash the clothing and pit area well also with vinegar to get rid of any lingering bacteria.
For those of you who this is not working, try again and wash the entire pit area, it is bigger than you think. However, sometimes it can be health problems. If your sweat smells like peroxide, it may indicate a kidney or liver disease. A fruity body odor often points to diabetes. Also a rare genetic disorder, called TMAU-Syndrome (trimethylaminuria), makes a person produce constant fishy body odor.
There is a condition called Hyperhidrosis that effects about 2% of the population. That could also be an explanation of excessive sweating and vinegar not working.
Best of luck to all!