8 Natural DIY Deodorant Alternatives and How to Make Them

flat lay of ingredients needed to DIY deodorant

Treehugger / Michaela Blaire

Conventional deodorants are packed with a wealth of chemicals, including parabens, formaldehyde, triclosan, and the ubiquitous antiperspirant aluminum. The problem with these ingredients is that they're supremely bad for the planet, from the mining of aluminum to the discharge of parabens into streams and rivers. All this in mind, it might just be time to try DIY deodorant.

Making your own deodorant means you can use only natural ingredients and cater the fragrance profile to your personal liking. It can be as complicated as mixing up a custom brew of essential oils or as simple as rubbing lemon juice right onto your pits. However, it's important to manage your expectations when transitioning from traditional deodorants.

Aluminum being the only known ingredient capable of blocking sweat ducts, natural deodorants don't prevent you from sweating. But certain ingredients can absorb wetness and mask the smell. Here are eight home remedies and natural deodorant recipes you can whip up with hardly any effort.

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Baking Soda Deodorant

tight shot of corn starch and baking soda in jars

Treehugger / Michaela Blaire

Using baking soda as a deodorant is a simple and chemical-free way to combat body odor. The common kitchen ingredient also helps absorb moisture, but too much of it can irritate skin. To make a gentle baking soda deodorant at home, mix 1/8 of a teaspoon of baking soda with a little bit of water. Without dissolving the baking soda in the water, rub the mixture onto your armpits.

Cornstarch is another natural sweat-absorbing ingredient. Use both for double the absorption power by mixing one part baking soda with six parts cornstarch—no water—and dusting a little on your underarms.

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Lemon Juice

Lemon slice floating in glass surrounded by whole lemons

Treehugger / Michaela Blaire

While it won't necessarily soak up your sweat, lemon juice is rich in citric acid that kills odor-causing bacteria. Some swear by swiping a plain old sliced lemon under their arms every morning. And a lemon fresh from the fridge? Even more soothing.

Two caveats, though: Do not apply lemon juice to just-shaven skin or before exposing underarms to sun. Lemons are phototoxic, making skin more susceptible to burning when exposed to UV light.

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Rubbing Alcohol

essential oils and rubbing alcohol in refillable bottles

Treehugger / Michaela Blaire

Rubbing alcohol is another inexpensive and easy deodorant that kills the bacteria causing unfavorable fragrance. Simply fill a spray bottle with alcohol and spritz your underarms with it. You can even add a few drops of your favorite essential oil to give it a scent. Witch hazel is one that absorbs oil and is mildly astringent, and tea tree oil can help stave off body odor with its antibacterial and antifungal properties.

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Coconut Oil Deodorant

whipped coconut oil in jar with lavender and lemons

Treehugger / Michaela Blaire

If you're attached to the creaminess of traditional deodorants, you can replicate that feeling with coconut oil, a mild antibacterial. The only problem with coconut oil is that it melts into a liquid when heated above 80 degrees—which, under your pits, is likely to be the case. The solution: Mix it with master absorbers cornstarch and baking soda.

Combine 1/4 cup baking soda with 1/4 cup arrowroot powder or cornstarch in a bowl and mix with a fork. Add in coconut oil gradually, starting with a few tablespoons, until it becomes a thick paste. Store the mixture in an airtight container or put it into an empty deodorant dispenser.

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Shea and Cocoa Butter Deodorant

Natural deodorant made of shea butter and oils in jar.

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  • 3 tablespoons shea butter
  • 3 tablespoons baking soda
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 2 tablespoons cocoa butter
  • Oil from 2 vitamin E gel caps
  • Essential oil (optional)

Another way to replicate the creaminess of conventional deodorants is with shea and cocoa butter. They smoothen skin with high concentrations of vitamins and fatty acids, especially when mixed with the powerhouse nutrient vitamin E. The addition of baking soda and cornstarch will help keep you dry.

First, melt all the ingredients except the vitamin E oil and stir. Once melted, add in the oil and essential oils of your choice to improve the smell. Pour the mixture into a container and place in the fridge to set. This recipe yields a 1/4 pint.

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DIY Solid Deodorant

Homemade deodorant in generic dispenser and crystal on a cloth
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  • 1/4 cup candelilla wax
  • 1/2 cup jojoba oil
  • 1/3 cup arrowroot powder
  • 1/8 cup baking soda
  • 1/2 cup shea butter
  • Essential oils (optional)

For those who don't like the slimy feeling of a cream deodorant, candelilla wax is the solution. With a consistency similar to beeswax, candelilla wax helps to hold all the active ingredients together in a totally glide-able stick that's especially beneficial for traveling. It'll also help dilute some of the stronger ingredients so as not to overwhelm your skin.

Mix together jojoba oil, arrowroot powder, and baking soda in a bowl. Using a double boiler or similar setup, melt the candelilla wax. Once melted, pour in jojoba oil, arrowroot powder, and baking soda mixture. Once everything is liquified, stir in your shea butter. Allow the mixture to cool, pouring into deodorant tubes before it's fully set.

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Apple Cider Vinegar

Apples and apple cider vinegar on a tray

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Apple cider vinegar is a multitasking ingredient commonly used in natural skincare. It's anti-inflammatory, rich in exfoliating acids (acetic acid and alpha hydroxy acid), pH-restoring, antibacterial, and antifungal. Its antibacterial properties are especially helpful in staving off body odor, as body odor is caused by bacterial processes in sweat (rather than the sweat itself).

Simply soak a cloth in apple cider vinegar and swipe it on your armpits for a natural deodorant. It will have a strong vinegar smell at first, but it's virtually odorless once it's dry.

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Detoxifying Bentonite Clay Deodorant

Bowl of bentonite clay surrounded by beauty ingredients and tools

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  • 1 1/2 tablespoon bentonite clay
  • 1 tablespoon arrowroot powder
  • 1 teaspoon kaolin clay
  • 1 1/5 tablespoon coconut oil
  • 1 teaspoon candelilla wax
  • Essential oils (optional)

Bentonite clay is formed by aged volcanic ash. An ancient home remedy, it's most commonly used today as a face mask. Bentonite clay is rich in detoxifying iron, calcium, copper, and zinc. It also has strong moisture-absorbing properties and is thought to be gentler on skin than baking soda.

To make bentonite clay deodorant, first combine both clays with arrowroot powder. Using a double boiler, heat the candelilla wax, stirring in the coconut oil when it's almost melted. Gradually add in the clay and arrowroot powder mixture, constantly stirring to get rid of clumps, and continue to stir while removing from heat and allowing to cool. Add in your essential oils before it's set, then transfer to an airtight container and wait an hour before using.