How to Control Body Odor

Four Parts:Developing Good Hygiene PracticesChoosing and Using DeodorantKeeping Your Clothes Clean and DryEvaluating and Adjusting Your Diet

Bad body odor can make you feel self-conscious in social situations and prevent other people from getting too close to you. Although body odor usually coincides with excessive sweating, your sweat is odorless. Bad body odor is actually caused by bacteria that multiply on your skin when you sweat. [1] The sweat merely provides an ideal environment for the bacteria to thrive. These bacteria cannot be completely removed, but you can take steps to reduce them. If you ever feel embarrassed because of your body odor, keep reading!

Part 1
Developing Good Hygiene Practices

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    Develop and follow a good daily hygiene routine. A good daily hygiene routine will help minimize the bacteria that cause offensive body odor. Include the following practices in your daily routine.
    • Shower or take a bath daily. Wash your entire body with antibacterial body wash or soap, paying special attention to your underarms, groin, and feet. Use a washcloth or pouf to wash these areas thoroughly.
    • Shave your armpits daily. Hair provides additional surface area for bacteria to multiply, but by shaving daily you will reduce the number of odor causing bacteria on your body.
    • Dry yourself thoroughly. After you get squeaky lean, dry yourself off with a clean, dry towel. Excess moisture provides a breeding ground for bacteria, so dry your armpits especially well.
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    Make your skin less hospitable to odor causing bacteria. After showering and before applying deodorant, spritz your underarms with white or apple cider vinegar and then wipe them dry with a cloth. This extra step will reduce the number of odor causing bacteria on your skin and help you to smell better all day.
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    Use baby wipes on the go. In addition to showering daily, keep your armpits and other parts of your body clean and sweat free by using baby wipes or adult body wipes.

Part 2
Choosing and Using Deodorant

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    Buy a deodorant that contains aluminum chloride. Although some scientists have suggested a link between aluminum chloride deodorants and breast cancer, conclusive evidence of this link has yet to be found.[2] If you are still concerned, you can purchase a deodorant without aluminum chloride. However, deodorants without aluminum chloride will not be as effective against sweating. The aluminum chloride in antiperspirant deodorants will reduce sweating and less sweat means less odor causing bacteria. If your body odor is especially strong, ask your doctor about a prescription strength deodorant.
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    Prepare your armpits before you apply deodorant. Make sure that your armpits are clean and dry. It is best to apply deodorant right after you have showered, but if it has been a few hours since your last shower, use a washcloth and soap to clean your armpits and remove any excess sweat. Then, dry your armpits thoroughly before you apply your deodorant.
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    Apply deodorant to your underarms twice daily. Apply your deodorant once in the morning and again in the afternoon or evening. Deodorant wears off as you move and sweat throughout the day, so a second application is crucial for keeping dry and maintaining a pleasant scent.

Part 3
Keeping Your Clothes Clean and Dry

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    Always wear clean clothing and wash your clothing after each use. Do not re-wear clothing—especially shirts, undergarments, and socks—because odor causing bacteria can attach to clothing and multiply. [3]
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    Spritz your dry clean only items with a vinegar and water solution. Since washing your dry clean only garments every time you wear them may not be an option, you can keep odor causing bacteria at bay with a simple vinegar and water solution.[4] For your dry clean only items, prepare a 50/50 mixture of vinegar and water, turn the garment inside out, and spritz a little of the vinegar/water mixture onto the underarm area of your garment. (Spot test your garment first to make sure the vinegar solution does not cause any discoloration.) Repeat this process after each wear.
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    Keep a set of clean dry clothes handy. Stash an appropriate spare shirt in your car, gym bag, and/or office so that you can change out of sweaty clothing on the go.
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    Invest in some moisture wicking clothing. Moisture wicking clothing is specially designed to help keep you dry during workouts. Wearing moisture wicking clothing will reduce the amount of sweat and bacteria on your body and your clothing.

Part 4
Evaluating and Adjusting Your Diet

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    Evaluate your diet. Some foods can contribute to body odor, so it is worthwhile to think about what you eat and consider reducing or eliminating foods that may be making your situation worse. Think about how often you include the following foods in your diet.
    • Spicy foods. Foods that are spicy may significantly raise your body temperature and make you sweat more than usual.
    • Meat. A study published in Chemical Senses found that men who abstained from meat for 2 weeks smelled better to the opposite sex than men who did not abstain.[5]
    • Sulfurous foods. Some foods contain higher amounts of sulfur than other foods, which contribute to body odor. Limit your intake of eggs, cheese, onions, garlic, broccoli, cabbage, and cauliflower. [6]
    • Alcohol. When you drink alcoholic beverages, the unpleasant smell of of the alcohol may linger on your skin and breath.[7]
    • Caffeine. Drinking too much coffee or other caffeinated beverages (cola, tea, etc.) may cause you to sweat more than usual.[8]
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    Reduce or eliminate the foods that you identify as potential contributors to your body odor. This process may be difficult, especially if some of your favorite foods and beverages seem to be contributing to your body odor. But remember your reasons for reducing or eliminating these items and go slowly. Try reducing or eliminating one item per week until you have made the necessary adjustments.
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    Incorporate more foods and beverages into your diet that help to make you smell nice. Chew on parsley after dinner, eat oranges or apples between meals, drink water with lemon throughout the day, sip herbal tea instead of your usual afternoon coffee, or add a sprinkle of cinnamon to your morning oatmeal.[9]


  • If your condition worsens, contact your doctor or dermatologist.
  • Consider doing a cleanse if you think your diet might be to blame for your body odor.
  • Don’t use tobacco products! Among their other harmful effects, cigarettes, cigars, and chewing tobacco all contribute to unpleasant body odor.
  • Keep baby wipes in your purse, briefcase, or gym bag to quickly wipe away excess sweat on the go.
  • Keep an extra stick of deodorant with you at all times, just in case!
  • Check out a yoga or meditation class! Excessive sweating can be caused by too much stress, so mastering some relaxation techniques may also help to reduce body odor.

Article Info

Categories: Sweating and Body Odor Hygiene