If your armpits are stinky, or you’re switching to a natural deodorant, chances are you need an armpit detox! This simple method uses bentonite clay and optional apple cider vinegar. It’s quick, easy, and inexpensive!
Today’s post is dedicated to something super exciting – your armpits.
Since I’ve already shared with you my review on the natural deodorant that I use, I want to share a method that I learned about for detoxing your armpits – which can help to eliminate stinky armpits. And you know what? It works!!
So let’s talk about the legit reasons why you should consider detoxing your armpits…
- Your armpits smell foul. Okay, okay. This isn’t scientific, but it’s valid. If your deodorant isn’t working like it used to, or your armpits smell foul and you have no idea why, it’s time to detox.
- You’re switching to a natural deodorant. Using deodorant changes your body’s bacteria over time, which is why when you stop using it, you stink more. That’s also why when you switch to a natural deodorant, you think it doesn’t work. That’s not true though. Source (1).
- The initial stink is your body detoxing from the long-term, repeated use of conventional deodorant. Like washing your hair without shampoo, there’s a transition period. This is where doing an armpit detox can help that transition period move along a bit quicker.
- There are unhealthy ingredients in your deodorant. Identifying and getting rid of the junk in our health and beauty products (in a baby-step way) is the whole point of my book Kinda Crunchy. I highly recommend it if you’re new to natural living and are ready to make serious changes, without getting overwhelmed.
But the fact that there is junk in our deodorant isn’t new news.
Some of these things can really do some damage to our bodies. Just a few of the ingredients include:
- Aluminum – linked to breast cancer according to this article, and possibly linked to Alzheimer’s according to this article (although more studies are needed). Source (1) (2).
- Parabens – one of the top 2 ingredients to avoid in shampoo for good reason – it mimics estrogen in the human body.
- Phthalates – this just so happens to be the second ingredient to avoid in shampoo, because they are endocrine disruptors as well (i.e. they mess up how your body makes, receives and processes hormones).
This isn’t an all-inclusive list, of course – But I’ve written about the icky stuff in deodorant here.
Armpit Detox Ingredients
- 1 Tbsp bentonite clay (I buy the big jugs of bentonite clay in bulk because I use it for so many things, including homemade toothpaste. This “normal” size container is great if you’re new to natural living. You can also use this ready-made clay as well.)
- 1-2 tsp water
- 1 tsp apple cider vinegar (optional)
- Cotton balls or a second washcloth (optional)
Step By Step Armpit Detox
Step 1. In the palm of your hand, mix the bentonite clay and the water until you get the consistency of Greek yogurt. You don’t want it runny, but you don’t want it super thick either.
Step 2. Spread in an even layer over your armpits and let it sit for 5-15 minutes. Bentonite clay is known to draw impurities from within the skin, so it’s normal for the area to turn red. This shouldn’t hurt at all, but the armpits can be sensitive, so if it does, remove the clay ASAP.
Step 3. Wash off the clay in the shower, or with a wet, warm washcloth.
Step 4. If desired, you can swipe your armpits with apple cider vinegar using cotton balls or a second washcloth. ACV is known to neutralize bad bacteria that may be causing the stink, but it’s also a mild acid. I don’t recommend doing this if you have sensitive skin.
Step 5. Repeat the detox daily, or as needed, to keep the stink at bay or as you are switching to natural deodorant.
People like to naturally detox their armpits mainly to reduce or remove odor. Also, detoxing the armpits can help to remove any residue that has built up from using deodorant or antiperspirant.
Although not a scientific explanation, it is thought that detoxing the armpits helps to bring the natural bacteria that lives on the skin back into a balanced state – creating a more natural smell.
Most people detox their armpits anywhere from 5 – 15 minutes daily. Of course, you should always listen to your body. It there is any irritation from the bentonite clay, or apple cider vinegar, you should stop using it.
So am I supposed to clean my armpit first and then use the clay ?
Yes – do this after a shower, or washing your pits first.
Hi! I have a liquid bentonite detox. Can I rub this on and have it work the same way?
Any idea if you can make a jar of detox to keep on hand? Or should it always be made as needed ?
You can definitely make a small jar Jennifer!
I use bentonite clay in a deodorant I made at home. Are there issues with leaving the clay on the skin for long periods of time?
There are Mira – it can cause redness and overdrying. It’s fine for a one or two-off instance, like if you’re wearing a poultice on a burn overnight or need to get rid of super stinky feet, but just know that it can make your skin red and dry.
I too have had issues with natural deodorants, breaking out with a horrible itchy rash . I have heard it’s probably the baking soda in the product. Toms does not have baking soda. I like it; it goes on very nicely, I didn’t break out, but I still STINK! I also have read that this detox will help get past the reaction to the baking soda in the products. So I’m def gonna give this a try!!
I hope it works for you Kit!
i would like to try this but want to avoid having to mix everyday…will this keep it a jar if i pre mix it, how long do you think the shelf life would be?
If you keep it in a jar with a lid, you can keep it for several months! If it gets too thick, just add a little bit more water.
How often does one need to do this? Am I able to wear natural deodorant in between detox applications? How long do I need to detox for *scratches head* I was hoping to find this info in this article but it’s not here 😭.
Judy – the time it takes to detox is different for each individual. I’d recommend 2-3 days and then evaluate, and repeat if necessary. You might even have to repeat this for a few weeks… it just depends on your body! Yes you can wear natural deodorant in between.
Applying lemon juice before sleeping (washing off after leaving it for a few mins) has worked in reducing odour for me. I’m wondering to try and incorporate lemon juice in a home made deodorant.
Interesting – I haven’t heard of lemon juice before, but it makes sense… it’s acidic like ACV!
Thanks for posting this! After years of using the bad stuff (clinical strength) I want to transition back to natural less harsh deodorants.
Twice before I just switched from one day to another and then I broke out in rashes and smelled horrible, I guess my mistake was not detoxing!
I’m not sure if you’ll be able to answer this as you only needed one day, but how many days should I apply the clay to the armpits?
How do I know that i’m “done detoxing” ? Also, did you put natural deodorant on right after your detox or a few days later?
Hi Natalie!! It’s safe to apply clay daily, so I’d do it for 3-5 days and then skip a day and see how bad you stink (pardon for any insinuations, but it’s how I’d explain to a friend!). If you don’t stink on the no-detox day, I’d use the natural deodorant. If you still stink, detox for 2-3 more days. Since it’s different for everyone, there’s no hard line as to when to start or stop. You just kind of listen to your body (and smell!), and gauge that way. As for putting deodorant on after the detox, I did not use deodorant on the days I did the detox, but I did afterwards. You don’t HAVE to skip a day, I just suggest it to gauge your own body’s smell and where you stand in the detox process. I hope that helps!!
Thanks for the quick reply Tiffany!
I’ve been doing it for 4 or 5 days now and my armpits are noticeably lighter, but the stink hasn’t gone away completely :/, perhaps that’s because I’ve been exercising though! But even after detoxing and not exercising, a few hours later there’s a bit of an odor.
I’m not sure if it will ever permanently “go away” but I’m just wondering when I’ll know for sure it’s safe to put on natural deodorant. The first 2 days or so I felt fresh and it didn’t smell, so I’m wondering why they smell and feel a bit irritated now.
What kind of Deo are you using?
Hi Natalie! I think we all have a natural bit of odor – it’s just part of our chemistry. But I also think that our lifestyle (food, exercise, etc.) plays a part too. If you’re doing the best you can, I wouldn’t worry too much. 🙂 I’m testing Tom’s of Maine deodorant right now, and so far so good. 🙂
What kind of natural deodorant do you recommend?
Hi Kristen! I’ve tried two that I like – Bend Soap Company (review: https://dontwastethecrumbs.com/2016/06/natural-deodorant-review/) and Tom’s of Maine.
Could you help me out? Ever since switching to a natural deodorant (primal pit paste) I have the worst pit stains on my clothes. I remembered this blog post and thought I’d try to detox my pits (which I’ve never done) but would really appreciate help to understand why that might be happening and fix the problem at the cause….??? Thanks!
Hi Sheri! In my experience, it has something to do with the deodorant. I’ve had similar issues, but the staining disappears when I switch to a different deodorant. I have a stain remover that works well: https://dontwastethecrumbs.com/2015/04/diy-homemade-stain-remover/. I’m also testing different detergents, and have found that my homemade detergent, Seventh Generation and Method couldn’t remove pit stains BUT Young Living detergent did. Amazing how one domino effects them all!
Thank you! My suspicion has been such! I’ll try switching 🙂 thanks so much, for all your help in living a more natural life!
This totally works!!!
So glad it worked for you Gchick!
Karen in NY
I smell as well. I gave up deodorant, because I’m more concerned about the aluminium causing or contributing to Alzheimers. It does run in my family. But the pits, oh my. Scrubbing does next to nothing! I will try your suggestion. Thank you so much!! Now to find bentonite clay….
Good luck Karen! I linked to the clay in the post from Amazon, if it helps.
Hi! I am using Kaolin clay in place of bentonite in another recipe since I have extreme sensitivity to a lot of things. Do you think I could use kaolin for this instead of bentonite?
I’m not sure Carrie – I’ve never tried Kaolin clay!
I also have stinky pits! I have only been able to use Toms of Main, unscented for a long time, due to itching pits with everything else that I had tried for a long time. Often I would even get rashes from some of them. My Dermatologist had me try Toms and I have had no itching, but I am very dissatisfied with it. When I do sweat, my personal feeling is that I really stink! I have asked my dear long suffering daughter to smell my pits for me, ( my husband has no sense of smell) and she says I do not smell like chicken soup, that is what I pick up on…or after several days of being home sick this week , I swear I smell like garlic or onions! I have not even been eating, I have the flu!
I am ready to detox my pits, but I don’t know what I am going to use after this. The plus, I see my Derm next week…there is hope for a new deodorant!
Thanks for your pin, I now at least have hope for a less stinky life!
God bless you, Margaret Davis
Please try Phresh Sugar Mint, a natural deo. The only one that works for me, same with you, I itched in every deo I’ve tried in the past.
I tried natural deodorants for a couple years but finally gave up and went back to the aluminum because I just stank all the time and I got tired of it. I will have to try this now. Thanks!
You’re most welcome!
So I am not sold but am having a stinky pits problem – posting here for honesty- I’m going to try this tonight with my earthpaste – yes it will be me more expensive but if I try it for a few days it may.be just the ticket to breaking down and making my own toothpaste.
I hope it works for you Amanda! I noticed a difference in just one day!
I’m reading this at 6am on Saturday and I’m wishing I could find some clay RIGHT NOW. I have a couple friends that have it but they probably wouldn’t appreciate a call from me. I’ve used homemade deodorant for years, but have noticed the last year or so that I’m a little stinkier, one might say I smell like an Italian sub! Your husband was spot on. I thought it might be hormonal since I’m in my 40s now. But now I’m wondering if it’s more a detox effect from much cleaner eating and much more frequent exercise. Or a combination. It’s a mystery. Whatever the cause, I’m going to try this!!!
Interesting that you mention exercise Michele, because I’ve been exercising regularly since Spring and didn’t notice issues until Summer… and I’m only a few years younger than you!
Do you think this would work on feet????
Good question Helen! It’s worth a shot. For stinky feet, my experience has been to spend less time in shoes, and to wash socks/shoes regularly. But bentonite clay is completely safe, so it couldn’t hurt!
Is there anything we can use besides bentonite Clay?
This post comes at the best time for me. I’ve been wanting to do this for awhile and have done research but am always unsure if it works or not. So I have an odd question – while your sitting there for 5 – 15 minutes do you need to keep your arms up or can you walk around and do stuff?
Thanks for the great tips and blog!
Hi Rachel! You can definitely walk around and do stuff, but you don’t want to put your arms down all the way. I picked up the bedroom and bathroom, putting things away type of stuff, while it dried – just kept arms slightly away from my body in the process. 🙂
Can you use this on your stinky preteens?
Kyare - Team Crumbs
Yes, Liz, you have me laughing so hard!
I have read that coffee (excess caffeine) and certain other foods make us sweat more but who wants to give up coffee?!
I will be trying this detox tonight, thanks for your honesty 😉
Who wants to give up coffee? NOT ME!! 🙂
I hope you still read these.
I have made my own deodorant for years, but have noticed this past month that I stink within a couple of hours. Would this detox help someone who already uses natural deodorant?
Kyare - Team Crumbs
Yes, this detox will help clean and refresh your armpits.
No one wants to give up coffee, that’s a rule! But a natural remedy for excessive sweating could be found in spicy food. Ginger root tea could also come in handy sometimes.
Hi Tiffany! I’ve been doing this for about 2 weeks and it’s made a huge difference. I have been wondering though, as I’ve been doing it in the evenings, if it should be done on totally clean armpits? All I wear is natural deo but I’m wondering does it make a difference? Thanks!
Whether you do it morning or night shouldn’t make a difference. 🙂
Did u even read her question?
Kyare - Team Crumbs
Yes, the response probably was not clear enough. However, it shouldn’t make a big difference because this detox cleans your armpits. So in the morning without deodorant or at night with just a bit left wont have a big impact.
I would prefer to do it directly to me skin with no deodorant though.
I have had bad reactions to a lot of DO and the most recent my skin was peeling off like sun burn! I heard this helps and I’m trying it right now!!! I have super sensitive skin but so far so good!!!
Kyare - Team Crumbs
I hope it works well for you!!
Does this work well for guys as well?
My pit odor has been worse lately, I’m assuming from anxiety and stress.
Also, use normal deoderant, even women have made my underarms burn and hurt.
Kyare - Team Crumbs
It works wonderfully.