Armpit Detox: How It Works and Recipe - Dr. Axe

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Armpit Detox: How and Why to Do One


Armpit detox - Dr. Axe

As we learn more about the importance of ditching conventional antiperspirants and adopting natural deodorants instead, people are eager to find products that can both help keep body odor away and not pose a threat to their health. Enter the armpit detox.

Natural deodorants — made with products like baking soda and essential oils — are gaining more traction. However, a relatively common complaint is that they don’t work as well as commercial products to keep sweat and smells at bay.

This is where an armpit detox can come into play. It can potentially help naturally reduce body odor, making using gentler body care products a more attractive option.

What Is an Armpit Detox?

An armpit detox involves applying cleansing products, such as charcoals, bentonite clay and apple cider vinegar, to your armpits in order to draw out bacteria and residue that can contribute to odor.

People most often do this when switching to natural deodorants (which don’t block sweat but reduce bacteria growth) in order to help these products work better. When ditching antiperspirants, some people also temporarily experience excessive sweating as their sweat glands adjust, so cleansing the area can be a way to keep B.O. in check while this happens.


How to Do It

How do you detox your armpits naturally? Most often it’s performed by applying a mask to your armpits, letting it dry, and then removing it with soap and water.

This gives the ingredients time to “soak up” unwanted bacteria and other ingredients from your armpits, potentially leaving behind smoother, less odor-producing skin.

What type of armpit detox ingredients? They can include baking soda, which has the ability to absorb sweat and odors and help exfoliate the skin. Bentonite clay is another one. It can absorb bacteria and chemicals from the skin, plus contains minerals like calcium, iron and magnesium that can be absorbed through your pores. Activated charcoal soaks up unwanted particles from the skin and has natural detoxifying properties.

Lastly, apple cider vinegar can help contribute to a healthy skin microbiome (aka a healthy ratio of different bacteria that live on the skin), plus is useful for normalizing the skin’s pH.

Generally, you take some of these ingredients, along with some water, and blend them in a small bowl to make a paste. For example, one tablespoon bentonite clay, activated charcoal or baking soda, as each help detox the armpit — or one teaspoon of all three. Then add one to two teaspoons water and one teaspoon apple cider vinegar.

Mix all ingredients together into a paste, then apply the mask to your pits generously. Wait 10 to 20 minutes, then rinse with warm water and soap.

You can repeat this process every several days if you’d like, assuming you have no negative reactions.

How long does it take to detox your armpits? It really depends on the individual. Some people report that they smell and sweat more for several weeks after stopping to use antiperspirants, during which the body’s bacteria levels and pH are likely adjusting. For others, this transition might last only a few days.

Other Armpit Detox Tips

  • Shower daily with an antibacterial agent. This reduces the smelly bacteria count on your skin. Opt for organic products when possible, and consider even taking your own soaps using essential oils, which are natural bacteria-fighters, such as tea tree oil and lemongrass oil.
  • After showering, towel off and try to leave your skin as dry as possible. Wear natural fabrics that let your skin breath.
  • Damp, sweaty clothes are the most likely to smell, so make sure to wash your clothes thoroughly using antibacterial laundry soap. (Try this homemade laundry soap.)
  • Consider if your diet may be contributing to body odor, especially if you consume lots of sugar, meat and refined carbs.


What happens when you detox your armpits? Does it work? Here are some of the purposes and potential benefits:

1. Balanced Bacteria (Which Can Help Reduce Body Odor)

By applying products to your pits that naturally stick to smell-causing bacteria and then remove it, or kill bacteria on contact, you reduce unwanted odors.

As said above, apple cider vinegar can help reduce the presence of smelly bacteria, such as Actinobacteria and Micrococcus sedentarius, and support the skin’s natural pH balance in the process (which is slightly acidic).

This contributes to a healthy “skin microbiome” in your armpit area. Typically a healthier microbiome (including in your mouth) equals less offensive smells.

2. Can Help Improve Skin Health

Antiperspirants can be irritating to the skin in some cases, especially if someone has a fragrance sensitivity or generally sensitive skin, so opting for a detox and more natural products is a good alternative to keep skin happy.

Another downside to using antiperspirants is that they are drying, since they’re intended to reduce sweating. These leaves skin vulnerable to become chaffed, red and inflamed.

If your armpits tend to become irritated easily, the key to a safe detox is using the right gentle ingredients and nothing too harsh or drying.


3. Removes Residue From Antiperspirants

Commercial antiperspirants may leave behind trace amounts of chemicals that can become “stuck” inside the pores in the armpits.

There haven’t actually been studies proving that an armpit detox can do this, but it makes sense that by taking a break from using antiperspirants you give your body time to shed these ingredients (usually over the course of one to three days) and open up your pores for other helpful ones.

Risks and Side Effects

Some of the ingredients used in the DIY recipes above may dry out your skin or alter your skin’s pH, so use caution when first beginning to apply these products to your skin. It’s a good idea to perform a patch test to make sure you don’t have any negative reactions, such as allergies, redness or irritation.

If you experience signs of an allergic reaction or sensitivity when applying these products, such as redness, itching or hives, discontinue use, and simply avoid applying any products to your skin for a period of time.

Remember, an armpit detox is usually done when someone is transitioning from using traditional antiperspirants to natural deodorants. During the first several days or weeks when quitting antiperspirants, some people find that they smell and sweat more than usual, so a detox might help to fix this problem.

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Armpit detox - Dr. Axe

DIY Armpit Detox Recipe

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  • Author: Jill Levy
  • Total Time: 5 minutes
  • Yield: 1 application 1x


This armpit detox recipe uses ingredients that “soak up” unwanted bacteria and other ingredients from your armpits, leaving behind smoother, less odor-producing skin.


  • 1 tablespoon bentonite clay, activated charcoal or baking soda (or 1 teaspoon each)
  • 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons water


  1. Combine the ingredients to make a paste.
  2. Mix all ingredients together, then apply the mask to your pits generously.
  3. Wait 10 to 20 minutes, then rinse with warm water and soap.
  4. You can repeat this process every several days if you’d like, assuming you have no negative reactions.
  • Prep Time: 5 min
  • Cook Time: 0 min
  • Category: Detoxifying
  • Method: Mixing

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  1. Jennifer on

    The recipe card appears to be incorrect. The title says it’s an armpit detox recipe, but the ingredients suggest it’s deodorant.

  2. Angela Davis on

    I rub regular rubbing alcohol on my armpits during non work days and it keeps me from smelling. I rub coconut oil on my armpits first, then apply commercial deodorant during work days. The oil is a protective barrier.

  3. Elaine (bunny) Abraham on

    I was disappointed not to be able to print this article without all the pictures and ads. It’s not that easy for me to read off the computer and certainly not off my phone at all.
    I do receive your emails although right now I can not read the content on my desk top. They come in with unreadable numbers and letters. I can read them on my phone tho.
    Been using the collagen with the MCT Oil and CBD Oil I’m on my 3rd can and can’t say I’ve noticed any difference. Would appreciate advice. thanks Bunny

  4. Sondra on

    I wish I knew about this detox when I started using magnesium chloride oil about four years ago at the beginning of the summer. I still had BO for a few days so I stopped because I thought it was because of the heat. I started it again in late October and didn’t have as much BO the first week. Other than using the detox, what other natural deodorants are out there?

    • Diane on

      Sondra, the best I have found is milk of magnesia with essential oils. I put it in glass bottles with roller tops.
      My favorite is Jasmine with lime. You can make it to your liking, with more or less of your choice of essential oils. I personally have never had a problem with irritation.
      I do rub it in after application.

  5. Jen on

    As a Bromhidrosis sufferer who starts to smell in as little as half an hour after a shower, any advice helps! I stopped using anti-perspirants a few years ago, and it improved things for me a little, but I still smell pretty bad most of the time. Honey, which is anti-fungal and anti-bacterial, makes a goos pre-shower body mask. I’ll try this detox, too!

  6. Cat on

    I stopped using deodorant years ago. For a while I used a Himalayan sea salt bar but eventually I stopped using that too. Now, even when I sweat, there is no odor.

  7. sue on

    I quit using deo. years ago and started doing underarm detox and I also do groin, I do belly button to not sure if that’s ok but so far no problem. I use bentonite, raw apple cider vinegar and distilled water. I don’t have a problem with odor, I do it once a month, because there’s a lot of toxins out there.

  8. Norma on

    Thanks for sharing this. I am living with ILC (metastatic breast cancer) I was given a terminal diagnosis in January 2020 and was suppose to be gone in a few months.. I am still here over a year later. No surgery, no nothing from Allopathic medicine. Many brilliant people out there and Dr. Axe is one of them. I am going on 4 years from being diagnosed!!
    So good to give options from the crappy deodorants they have. I have been natural and make all my own.. So many things we can do NATURALLY! I am actually healthier than ever!!! Our creator knew what he was doing as he gave us all we need to survive, long before pHARMa!..

  9. Amy on

    Can’t wait to try the detox and deodorant. I react to absolutely every kind of deodorant so I don’t use any. Hoping my sensitive armpits find something they finally like. Thanks for sharing this!

  10. Theresa L Greene on

    Thanks so much for the recipe. I had been using either coconut oil or Milk of Magnesia! The MoM is great at preventing odor, bit it can be messy and not practical to use with dark clothes.


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