Does Homemade Deodorant Work?

This post is going to get a little personal.

As in: something I’ve never told anyone.

And since no one (including Brian) ever mentioned it, I’m assuming it was only me who was bothered so much about this thing.


OK, here goes. *deep breath*

I smelled. Stunk. Couldn’t stand the smell of myself in certain situations. Like after a workout (OK, that’s not that unusual…), or when I was nervous, or just a little warm, or the worst- in the summer when I wore sleeveless shirts. It got so I didn’t want to wear tank tops, even when it was super hot.

And this is the clincher: I’d even smell myself right after taking a shower. No kidding. And sweat wasn’t really the issue- I’ve never been a person who sweats a lot.

As a matter of fact, I hardly ever wore deodorant in my 20’s and 30’s because I didn’t sweat much and I didn’t smell then. Really. The smell issue started in my early 40’s.

I’ve spent the last few years trying every deodorant on the market, even the “clinical strength” varieties. I mean, most of the time I get them for free (the most I’ve paid for deodorant is .50, I think), so why would I make deodorant?

Isn’t using homemade deodorant and little “out there?”

But in the back of my mind was something I read a couple years ago on Passionate Homemaking’s popular homemade deodorant post: she said she had issues with smelling and after using the deodorant, she didn’t smell anymore.

After spending a nerve-wracking day in jury duty earlier this month (don’t ask- it was awful), the proverbial straw broke: I didn’t sweat, but I stunk. Again.

I came home that night and whipped up a batch according to Lindsay’s video. It’s just three ingredients:

1/2 c. coconut oil
1/4 c. baking soda
1/4 c. arrowroot powder (you can use cornstarch, which I’ve read will keep you drier, but some people can react to cornstarch, so arrowroot is recommended and since I did have some I used the arrowroot)

So it took less than five minutes to whip up in my food processor (much easier than doing it by hand, I found- no powder poofing up). My coconut oil was half melted (we were having one of our hotter days, surprisingly), but I didn’t worry about it and just poured it into the jar and stuck it in the refrigerator for about 10 minutes to harden up again.

Even though we’re not supposed to, I used refined coconut oil because it’s cheaper and I didn’t want the smell of coconut- it’s not my favorite smell and I was afraid people might think I was wearing coconut perfume.

I use just a little bit and use my fingers to rub it in (I found that Kitchen Stewardship has instructions if you want to fill an old deodorant container, though, plus more information on how to travel with it). It has not melted again, but our house stays pretty cool most of the time. It’s actually easier to apply if it’s a little softer.

So here’s the million dollar question: does it work for me?

Amazingly, yes!

In the month I’ve been using it, I haven’t smelled myself once. Seriously, I’m a little shocked that the simpler deodorant with the least ingredients works better than all the commercial deodorants I’ve tried. Wow.

Now there are other reasons why people want to use natural products, which are all good, but my overriding issue was smell. And it is gone. I’ve worked out, worked in the garden under the hot sun, traveled and laid on a sunny beach and done all the normal things I do that caused me to stink before. I’ve even worn sleeveless shirts.

I can’t believe it. But I am happy to share my secret with you and say (who am I kidding- shout!): IT WORKS!

Have you tried homemade deodorant? Did it work for you?


This is linked to Frugal Friday @ LifeAsMom and Everything But The Kitchen Sink.





  1. says

    I’ve been using homemade deo for a year or two, and I like it. I wanted to quit using anti-perspirant because of the links to breast cancer, so I tried this. I do sweat an awful lot, but it’s worth it to me. The main ingredients in mine are shea butter and cocoa butter. The recipe is from Amy’s Angry Chicken / A Sonoma Garden. I put it in an old deo container. It’s a little messy going on sometimes, and I dab with TP, but it’s all good. :)

  2. Mrs. Wilson says

    I have a question… My husband will not use anything that keeps him from sweating, because he says sweating gets rid of toxins in your body and a bunch of other stuff that I don’t remember. You mentioned the cornstarch will make you drier. Does the arrowroot powder keep you from sweating?

  3. Jami @An Oregon Cottage says

    Jo- You can buy virgin (unrefined) coconut oil in the natural section of most stores. I found the refined oil at Walmart, of all places. :-) It’s called Lou Ana’s.

    Lauren- I’ve seen some with shea butter, but I heard the coconut is anti-bacterial, which I thought might go towards helping the smell. 😉 Glad yours is working for you!

    Mrs. Wilson- I totally agree with your hubs! We are designed to sweat. :-) Yes, the arrowroot does NOT keep you from sweating- just helps thicken the mixture for easy application. It’s the baking soda and coconut oil that go to work on the smell.

    • Zoanna says

      If you were to only use coconut oil, baking soda, and essential oil, would the consistency be any creamier without the arrowroot?

  4. says

    I’ve wanted to try this for awhile now. I think you should do a follow-up check-in post to see if it’s still working in another month when it gets hotter in your area. I’d be interested in your results. I’m also thinking of making my own shampoo & body washes and all kinds of home care stuff like that.

  5. Sherri B. says

    I hope this works for me! I do not use antiprespirant, to be extra careful of breast health, so I am always on the lookout for new deoderants that might ‘work’. Thanks and I will let you know how it worked for me.

  6. Anonymous says

    WOW – thank you for this post. I appreciate this information and will definitely try it. Maybe it is an age thing. When I was young, no problems. Then, later on, there was odor from nervous sweating, but not exercise sweating. Now, I can take a shower and want another one four hours later, sweat or no. I tried the expensive Jason brand – no luck. I did have better luck with the mineral salt rock, though not a 24-hour fix.

    One thing though – the Jason contained tea tree oil. And I’m of the opinion that it pulls toxins out, kind of like bentonite clay does. It seems like a good thing to get those suckers out of you, though that’s little comfort when you need to be in close proximity to other folks.

    Here’s just one link with info on making bar soap, laundry soap, green cleaners, etc. I haven’t started yet, but I will as soon as I get low on the current inventory.
    Rhonda has tons of “from scratch” info. Hope you enjoy it.

    Brenda from Arkansas

  7. Jami @An Oregon Cottage says

    Ellen- I’ll try to remember to do that!

    Vinnie- Yes, I’ve gotten in on those deals from Amazon before! Thanks for the reminder. I usually use that really good coconut oil in food, and the cheaper, unrefined type in this deodorant. :-)

    Brenda- You and me both, then. :-) You can add any essential oil, so adding tea tree oil if you’d like would work. Thanks for the link to green cleaners! I use quite a few that I’m going to be posting on soon, too. :-)

  8. Anonymous says

    I tried this “recipe” last summer and LOVE it! I live in GA and it gets VERY hot in summer and it really works. However, I have to tell you, after you have used this for a while–maybe 6 months–you won’t need it anymore! I’m not sure why, but I can go without it now and still sweat and not have any odor. I’m thinking the OTC deodorants do something to our bodies that produces the smells and this homemade stuff brings everything back to normal. Anyone else notice this?


  9. says

    Oh my—I have this SAME problem, too! Once I entered my 40’s my regular deodorant stopped working. I switched brands. I switched brands again. I chalked it up to having a baby at 39 (right, blame it on the baby!). I tried the super duper varieties of Secret, Degree, Dove. It is barely working. I’m going to try this out. Thank you so much for sharing your personal stinky story, lol. =)

  10. Jill says

    I’ve been making and using homemade deodorant for about a year and a half and have found (as well as my teenage daughter) that it works much better than ANY over the counter deodorants we have used. My recipe is similar to yours except the base is cocoa butter, which is very solid/hard at room temperature. This allows us to pack it into old roll up deodorant containers and use it as a stick (convenient application). We also add in several drops of essential oils to give it the fragrances we like: my daughter likes peppermint, which combines with the cocoa butter to make a chocolate-mint fragrance. I like orange oil and sandalwood oil, which also goes nice with cocoa butter. The one problem I have had is that if I use it for too long I sort of “break out” in my armpits! I get sore red bumps. I’m not sure if it’s irritation from maybe too much baking soda (the active ingredient) or if it’s the cocoa butter, but I may try your recipe and just keep it in a jar (coconut oil is liquid at room temp here in the summer) and see if that helps.

  11. Anonymous says

    I just have to say that I started using coconut oil/baking soda/cornstarch deodorant in Jan, and I haven’t looked back. I can’t believe I didn’t try it earlier. It works so well that wearing it while wearing old shirts with slight BO smells fixed them too.

    I just have to be careful not to apply too soon after a really close shave, or there is some discomfort, but it is so worth it to me.

  12. says

    Oh, my! My first visit to your blog and you’re talking about stinking! I love it! And I love your blog. I need to spend awhile here and take a good look at everything you offer. Nancy

  13. Jami @An Oregon Cottage says

    Barbara- really??!! Now I will be looking to see if I will need it after 6 months. :-)

    Dorothy- I hope it does the same for you as it did for me!

    Jill- That’s good to know about the cocoa butter. I thought maybe the anti-fungal properties of coconut oil had something to do with it working, but it’s probably just the baking soda (which is amazing stuff, actually…).

    Nancy- Ha!! Glad to have you- I think you’ll discover I don’t always talk about stink. :-)

    Lisa and Robb- try it and see!

  14. Sam says

    My husband has the same problem and he is allergic to something in store bought deodorants/antiperspirants. I wanted to try the Sonoma Gardens recipe but I’ll try this one first because I don’t have to order anything special. I’m making this tonight!

    PS: I use Natures Way Organic Coconut Oil and the scent is very light. I use it throughout the day and night. I find that after a short while I can’t even smell it. Once my clothes goes on the scent is completely gone. If you wear perfumes I’m sure it would go away faster.

  15. says

    I have not heard that coconut oil is an anti-bacterial. I use cocoa and shea butter in my deodorant. After melting the ingredients, I add a few drops of tea trea oil and lavender. Both are anti-bacterial/anti-fungal. I also add some peppermint so when I am putting it on I get a burst of zing but the smell is not enough for anyone, even myself, to notice after it’s been rubbed in. Also, if your home gets warm, the coconut oil may melt but cocoa and shea butter don’t. I plan on trying the coconut oil deodorant in the winter, when the chance of it melting in my gym bag in the car is not so great.

  16. Jami @An Oregon Cottage says

    Catherine- Good idea to do a cool weather/hot weather deodorant. :-) I’ve thought about adding some essential oil, but am so happy with what I’ve got, I don’t want to mess with a good thing. :-)

    Here’s what I read about coconut oil:

    “These benefits of coconut oil can be attributed to the presence of lauric acid, capric acid and caprylic acid, and its properties such as antimicrobial, antioxidant, antifungal, antibacterial, soothing, etc.” (from

    Though I think it’s the baking soda that does the anti-smell work I’m so happy with. :-)

  17. Sam says

    Update: My husband has been using this recipe for close to 2 weeks and he absolutely loves it! It works great and he has been through some stressful moments and hot days working outside with no smelliness what-so-ever, even on the days he forgets to put it on! I just made a batch to mail to my brother and someone from hubby’s work asked me to make him up a batch too!

    This stuff is awesome!!!!!

  18. Jami @An Oregon Cottage says

    Sam- Yeah! I’m glad it’s working for your husband- now I know it’s not just me. 😉

    Since I posted this it’s warmed up here and on days when I just knew I’d smell- it’s still worked and I’m wearing sleeveless styles with no worries!

  19. Sam says

    Another update/question: I noticed on a couple of nicer shirts my husband wears that in the pit area there was a darkening to the material or somewhat of an oil stain but not oily looking like if it were grease… I can’t get it to wash out. Has anyone had this happen? Help!

  20. Jami @An Oregon Cottage says

    Sam- On Lindsay’s site (linked in my post) she addresses this in the FAQ’s:

    “3. Will this deodorant stain my clothes?

    Not likely or not any more than a standard deodorant or antiperspirant. I have only noticed slight staining on white garments, but this can be avoided by soaking with soap after wearing and before washing. Dishwashing soap and hot water are very effective stain removers.”

    I haven’t had that problem, so I hope this helps!

  21. Anonymous says

    i live in GA and it is still 89* here.. i sweat which causes the smell.. i usually wear a tank top under everything just to catch the sweat so it isn’t so noticeable.. I find that i have to use a paper towel and dry off several times a day and re-apply deoderant.. which gets old.. i would love to be able to control both but either would be a start… will have to try this and see if it works
    Do you have any problem applying it right after you shave?

  22. Jami @An Oregon Cottage says

    GA Anonymous- A few times I’ve had an irritation after shaving, but not often. Don’t know why the difference. Try using the cornstarch to see if it helps with the sweating. I know the soda-oil combo helps with the smell! :-)

  23. Stephanie says

    I’m definitely going to try this! I’ve used the Jason brand and liked it, but it’s so expensive! Not to mention that while it’s aluminum-free, it still has a ton of stuff I can’t pronounce.

    I have not tried it, but I’ve heard of using milk of magnesia as a deodorant/anti-perspirant. I used to use it as a facial scrub to control my oily face and blackheads that I dealt with in my teens. Worked great for that, and didn’t dry out my skin in the process. Used it for years! Maybe milk of magnesia could be added to this recipe for those needing an anti-perspirant, but are sensitive to corn starch.

    As easy and inexpensive as this recipe is, there’s lots of room for playing and experimenting. So glad I found this!

  24. Jami @An Oregon Cottage says

    Stephanie- Wow, what a great tip about Milk of Magnesia — I didn’t know that! If you try this, I hope you’ll come back and tell us if it works!


  25. Sara Lipski says

    I’m extremely happy to have stumbled across this site. I’m going to try this recipe ASAP. For this entire past year I’ve really struggled with finding a deoderant that works for me. I’m 25, but all last year I started breaking out terrbly under my underarms. I would get boils so large that if I put my purse on my should and it hit my armpit I would literally SCREAM out with pain, I was going to the doctors constantly to have them lanced, and they were putting me on perscriptions left and right. I decided to stop using regular deoderants and switched to the organic Crystal Stick and that REALLY helped a lot, almost immediately, and I was really impressed the smell was great too, I was clean and fresh. However, another issue has arose since then, and now I’ve been getting yeast infections under my arms now instead because I don’t have a working anti-perspirant to keep me dry. I haven’t discovered what to do yet to cure this problem. I try washing, and reapplying the cyrstal stick to remove bacteria but it doesn’t help, as well as using powder, I’ve also tried using tea-tree oil as that kills the bacteria and although that has helped very little it has helped some, but I can’t stand the way I smell with tea tree on so strongly under my arms. I’m really hoping and praying that this may be my perfect find now!

    • Anonymous says

      I struggled with horrible rashes in my armpits for about 4 months- I tried about every deodorant/antiperspirant on the market and nothing helped. I finally resorted to going to the doctor and got a prescription, which only helped a little. I decided to try making my own deodorant after getting fed up that I had to use a prescription steroid cream just to tolerate deodorant! I use a recipe similar to this one, however mine includes two tablespoons vitamin E oil and cornstarch rather than arrowroot powder. I also put about 10 drops each of tea tree essential oil and lavender essential oil in mine, for their anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties. I don’t like the smell of tea tree oil by itself, but when combined with the lavender essential oil I like it. Good luck!

  26. Anonymous says

    So excited to try this. I’ve always had the smell- just in my genes. I also have the deodorant stick to my shirts and I HATE IT!! (Hence the reason I’m looking for ANYTHING else). I just tried a mixture today for getting stains out of clothing and it was a miracle so I’ll give this a try as well as my cleaning solution (equal parts hydrogen peroxide and Dawn). Thank you!

  27. Jami @An Oregon Cottage says

    Goodness, Sara – so sorry you’re having such a hard time with your underarms! That must be frustrating. I do hope this works for you, too. Maybe the antifungal properties of coconut oil will do something for you.

    Anonymous- Hope it works for you- it never sticks on my clothes. 😉


  28. Ann says

    I’ve tried this recipe, and versions of it, and it works fabulously. Unfortunately, the baking soda also gives me a horrid rash. I’ve since moved on to Weleda diaper cream for my pits. I wish I could tolerate the baking soda – if I could have, I would totally have stuck with this recipe.

  29. Jami @An Oregon Cottage says

    Bummer, Ann! Good to know about the diaper cream, though, for others who can’t use the baking soda.


  30. Stephanie says

    Sara, coconut oil is used to fight internal candida (yeast) infections, so it is definitely worth trying for external yeast. You may also want to look into the possibility of having an internal candida infection. You mentioned being on various prescriptions. If they included antibiotics, chances are high for candida infection. Candida can be very hard to get rid of, but taking coconut oil is effective, healthy, and tastes good! It’s great to use in your cooking, too. I’m not a doctor, so please do your own research. I’ve just dealt with my own candida issues as well as seen them in friends and family.

    Back to the deodorant, another additive to try is bentonite clay. NOW brand sells a bentonite powder that is silky smooth with no grittiness. Bentonite draws out toxins and is very soothing to the skin. I don’t know if it would control sweat or not, but maybe it would help with sensitivities to the baking soda or cornstarch. In fact, I think I’m going to try this recipe using bentonite clay instead of arrowroot or cornstarch first, since arrowroot is the one ingredient I’m missing. Bentonite also swells, so it should act as a good substitute. I’ll write back and tell everyone how it goes.

    I love how basic this recipe is! It allows for all kinds of variations. I only wish I had a dozen or so empty deodorant containers to fill. ;^) The best part is that I can get a big jar of extra virgin coconut oil for about the price of two of the Jason deodorants, and I looooove saving money!

  31. Jami @An Oregon Cottage says

    Stephanie, these are such GOOD suggestions- so glad you took the time to write them up! I’ve heard that, too, about coconut oil. Yes! Please remember to let us know how it works for you with the b. clay. 😉


  32. Anonymous says

    Sam I use a bar soap called Hog Wash on all stains and it is amazing. I’ve not had anything yet that it wouldn’t take out. You can purchase it from This is a family run company that started making homemade soap due to there son’s allergies.

  33. says

    just made this and I love it! Added sweet orange essential oil for fragrance but the coconut is still really strong. I also had to use an extra 2/3 cup of arrowroot powder to change the consistency to be what it should be. I ran out though and it could still use more! Stuck in the fridge and now it’s perfect. I hope I can keep it cool. Thanks for the inspiration!

  34. Stephanie says

    Sorry I took so long to get back. I KNOW I have a bottle of tea tree oil somewhere in this house, but I just can’t find it. I just finished making it using bentonite clay instead of arrowroot, and used patchouli oil for fragrance. I melted the coconut oil and poured it over the dry ingredients to minimize powder while mixing and to achieve an even product. One thing about the clay is to not let it get in contact with metal. Use plastic or wood to stir it. (I used a plastic fork) Now it’s in the fridge to cool. Coconut oil does have a very low melting point, so you may have to keep your deodorant in the fridge if your house isn’t cool enough.

    I’ll let you know how it works!

  35. Stephanie says

    Ok, so I made it with the bentonite clay. After letting it harden in the fridge, I ended up remelting it and adding 2 Tbs or cornstarch (I didn’t have arrowroot) as it was just sooooo oily. It hardened just fine in the fridge, but melted the instant you touched it. After adding the cornstarch, it still did this, but not quite so bad. I probably could have added more cornstarch, but didn’t want to overdo it in case I found myself sensitive to it. Considering this is the first batch I’ve made, I don’t have anything to compare it to, so I don’t know if this oiliness is normal.

    I have it in the fridge in a used-up Jasons container and this works quite nicely. I did pat myself with tissue after having it on for a minute in order to blot excess oil. Again, I don’t know how my batch compares to the original recipe, but I have no problem doing this for now while I use this batch up. To be honest, a refrigerated deodorant feels kind of nice. ;^)

    So to conclude, I would only add 1 or 2 tsps of bentonite clay as an additive. I’ll definitely get arrowroot to make the next batch, which may be soon since hubby wants his own natural deodorant now. I’ll be sure to note any differences.

    • Jami @ An Oregon Cottage says

      Thanks so much for updating us on the clay, Stephanie. It must not be as good a thickener for the oil as the arrowroot or cornstarch. Good to know!

      On a side note- it’s nice that your husband WANTS to try it- I’m still bringing mine around to the idea. :-)

  36. Anonymous says

    I made this deodorant a couple of weeks ago and I love it!
    But I reduced the baking soda. The skin of my armpits, is so soft,that even shaving is fun now.

    Mir from the Netherlands.

  37. Anonymous says

    The first time I used coconut oil as deoderant, I didn’t have arrowroot powder or cornstartch, so I applied just the plain extra virgin coconut oil after showering. At the end of the day, I had forgotten that I had put it on and was amazed that there was literally NO smell at all! It worked so much better than my usual deoderant. I was so excited that I made my husband try it the next day. He worked all day outside in the heat, and guess what? NO smell at all. I can hardly believe it! We’ll never use regular deoderant again.

  38. Tiffany S says

    Thank you for sharing this so that more people can know about such a wonderful product these things mixed together can make. I was the same way when I first started making this. I loved it. Still do but it is more love hate relationship now. I love it because it works to keep the stink away, but I hate it because I have recently started getting pimples from using it, and getting slightly raw from it. Well, last evening my right arm pit was bothering me and I ignored it shoved my shirt up in there to try to keep it from rubbing thinking that maybe I had another pimple starting. Was getting ready for bed and saw that it wasn’t a pimple, but I was literally raw. Sore enough that I had to clean it, put peroxide on it and put some ointment on it and a bandaid. Any thoughts or ideas are definitely welcome. I use the organic coconut oil, arrowroot powder, and baking soda. Another one I was making before that I added tee tree oil. I thought it was the tee tree oil so I made a new batch without it. It just got worse. I know you guys aren’t doctors, but figured anyone out there that may know won’t hurt to ask :).

    • says

      Sorry to hear that, Tiffany! I’ve never had a problem, but then again, I don’t use it everyday, and hardly at all in the winter. Hopefully someone can give you some information about that. Did you read the comments from the original blog I link to for the recipe? Maybe there’s something there you could use.

  39. Tiffany S says

    Thanks Jami! I went back to the original blog and got to the first one. “Baking soda can be an irritant.” It suggests to try decreasing the amount of baking soda due to itching if it doesn’t go away. I know it isn’t the same thing, but it did start out itching before. I will be trying that as soon as my armpit heals up. If anyone else still has ideas, I am always open for more.

  40. Gary P says

    I’m a bit late to this party but…I’ve been using this for years. It works amazingly well and as others have said, you don’t even need it every day after awhile. It’s all about the coconut oil – antibacterial, antifungal, antiviral. I’ve always used the baking soda/cornstarch (50/50) with enough oil to get the right consistency. I’ve found that I have to add more oil to the batch as it ages to bring the consistency back where it spreads well. YMMV depending on your climate – mine is tropical. Coconut oil also works for athlete’s foot type problems and any groin fungal type problems, not to mention wonderful for dry skin.
    I remember seeing somewhere somebody opining that since your skin is your largest organ, and all sorts of meds can be introduced trans-dermally (think nicotine patch) you would be nuts to smear anything on your skin that you would be afraid to eat.

    • says

      This is good to have reiterated, Gary, and I plan to republish this in the future to get new eyes on it again, since I still use it and it remains the only thing that takes away the smell for me. Do you think the cornstarch (vs. arrowroot) helps with perspiration as well as smell? That’s been my husbands biggest problem as he’s been used to antiperspirants.

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