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Whether it’s smelly armpits, a smelly gym bag, or sweaty shoes and clothes, these essential oils are some of the best home remedies for body odor.
How To Get Rid Of Body Odor Permanently
There are millions of web pages extolling the benefits and uses of essential oils. And when it comes to getting rid of body odor, everyone has a different opinion on which oils work best.
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There is certainly no shortage of anecdotal evidence. But, I wanted to know which oils really work like people say they do.
So after a lot of research, we’ve compiled a list of the best evidence-backed essential oils for eliminating body odor.
It turns out that some essential oils have been studied specifically for their effect on reducing bad sweat odors or for their activity against the bacteria that cause BO in the first place.
If you’re looking for a detailed breakdown of essential oils that can help control odors, you can find them below. Each oil would be an excellent choice to include in an air freshener or homemade deodorant.
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Sweat itself is odorless, but not until the bacteria in our skin has finished with it. Certain types of bacteria break down our sweat and turn it into odorous compounds called thioalcohols, which smell like sulfur, onions, and meat—the signature smell we know as BO1.
So how can essential oils help? Not because they have antiperspirant properties – no essential oil will stop you from sweating. However, essential oils can help kill the bacteria that cause body odor.
This is because essential oils are made up of various aromatic constituents called terpenes, many of which are antibacterial. For example, oregano and thyme oils are rich in carvacrol, one of the most powerful antibacterial terpenes.
Ideally, you’ll want to choose essential oils with long-lasting aromas. Citrus oils like lemon tend to dissipate quickly, but heavier oils like patchouli and sandalwood have particularly lingering scents.
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One of the best essential oil blends for body odor is called BO Be Gone. It is extremely long-lasting and contains specific essential oils that have been proven to kill odor-causing bacteria. Read more about this in my deodorant spray article.
However, the aromas of certain essential oils can help promote relaxation. This, in turn, can help reduce stress-related sweating and associated odor.
Consider wearing soothing essential oils like rose, lavender, or ylang-ylang somewhere on your body like a deodorant or essential oil roll-on. That way you can smell them throughout the day.
Fortunately, there are ways to change your skin microbiome so you stink less. And that’s exactly what essential oils can do!
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Tea tree oil is often touted as one of the best essential oils for sweat and body odor—and for good reason.
At low concentration12. Additionally, in a study comparing 8 antibacterial essential oils, tea tree oil killed odor-causing bacteria faster than rosemary, peppermint, and lavender oils.
In general, tea tree oil is an effective addition to any deodorant or air freshener spray, but only if you like its scent. Tea tree oil has a strong medicinal aroma that not everyone appreciates.
If you don’t like herbal scents, you may prefer to use another essential oil from this list. Fortunately, there are plenty of other options that work just as well as tea tree oil.
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Sandalwood essential oil can be expensive, but it is a powerful body odor prevention powerhouse and contributes significant antibacterial activity to essential oil blends.
But in addition to its impressive antiseptic qualities, sandalwood’s rich, earthy aroma makes it a fantastic oil to include in deodorants or air fresheners. It has a pleasant scent that blends well with a variety of other oils.
It is also incredibly durable. In perfumery, sandalwood is considered a base note. This means it has a lingering scent that lasts longer than most other essential oils. When used in a deodorant, its fragrance lasts all day.
The only caveat is that pure, high-quality sandalwood oil comes at a high price. Thus, you may want to opt for a sandalwood blend as it is much more affordable than buying the pure oil.
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You don’t usually find ylang-ylang oil on a list of antibacterial essential oils, but you should. In fact, it is one of the best essential oils for preventing a BO emergency.
Ylang-ylang fights body odor in two ways: by killing odor-causing bacteria and by masking odors with its strong, long-lasting scent.
Another study found that a mixture of lavender oil, clary sage oil, and ylang ylang oil was very effective against the bacteria that cause body odor17.
Overall, ylang-ylang is an excellent choice to include in any deodorizing essential oil blend. Its soothing scent can also promote relaxation and reduce stress-induced sweating.
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Patchouli essential oil has a divisive scent that many either love or hate. No matter where you are, you may want to consider giving it a shot as it has some unique advantages.
Patchouli oil has been shown to inhibit a wide variety of body odor-causing bacteria, including some of the worst offenders:
Additionally, in a study of antibacterial essential oil blends, patchouli and sandalwood contributed the most antibacterial activity.
So even if you don’t like the scent of patchouli on its own, you can still take advantage of its odor-fighting properties by using it in an essential oil blend like BO Be Gone. A little goes a long way and can help the whole mix last longer.
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Patchouli is a base note and is also the most well-known fixing essential oil. Fixers have a very long shelf life. In fact, the patchouli scent can last for weeks! You can read more about fixatives in this article on homemade gel air fresheners.
In general, oregano is often considered one of the most antibacterial essential oils. This is not surprising since it is very rich in carvacrol and thymol, the most active antibacterial terpenes19.
Oregano oil has also been specifically studied for its activity against the bacteria responsible for unpleasant odors in sweat and performs very well. A group of researchers concluded that it would be useful as a natural antimicrobial in personal care products22.
However, as with all potent essential oils, oregano should be used in a very low concentration. A few drops work well in a deodorant or home air freshener, but too much can irritate the skin.
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Thyme is an extremely powerful antibacterial essential oil. Due to the high concentration of carvacrol and thymol, it can inhibit a wide range of bacteria at very low levels.
Although thyme can be very helpful for body odor, care must be taken. Its potency also comes with a high potential for skin irritation.
The maximum dermal concentration for thyme oil is around 1%, so keep that in mind if you’re going to use it in your deodorant.
The fresh, clean scent of lemon essential oil makes it a classic favorite for cleaning products. But its antiseptic and deodorizing properties also make it useful for eliminating body odor.
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There are many anecdotal accounts of using lemon oil as a deodorant. However, it is important to be careful. You should never apply undiluted lemon oil to your armpits.
It is also important to choose the right type of lemon oil for topical use. Cold-pressed lemon essential oil is phototoxic, meaning it sensitizes your skin to the sun. However, steam distilled lemon oil is not.
If you want to use the oil on your skin or in a deodorant, you can opt for a steam-distilled oil.
But for other non-dermal uses, such as deodorizing sprays for smelly shoes or gym clothes, you can use any type of lemon oil.
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Cedarwood oil has strong antiseptic activity against a wide range of bacteria. These include, but are not limited to, gram-positive bacteria such as
, a bacterium responsible for bromodosis (foot odor)24. Thus, it can be helpful to incorporate it into a homemade foot deodorant.
Cedarwood is a great addition to any air freshener blend, especially those where a more masculine scent is preferred.
But that doesn’t mean cedar wood can’t be used in women’s deodorants, as it pairs well with pink grapefruit or ylang-ylang oils.
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It’s no secret that lavender essential oil is extremely popular. Commonly used in deodorant, its strong floral scent is very effective in masking unpleasant odors.
But lavender can also reduce body odor at the source because it inhibits many odor-producing bacteria on our skin.
Species11. However, its effects are not as strong as some other oils. So, for optimal effects, lavender should be incorporated into a mixture.
In my experience, a blend of lavender, ylang-ylang, sandalwood, sweet orange, and patchouli is very effective in reducing body odor. This special blend of oils is found in BO Be Gone.
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Additionally, one study found that mixing lavender with clary sage and ylang-ylang oil was highly effective against the bacteria that cause body odor. So you can also try this mixture.
Amyris essential oil has a pleasant vanilla aroma, so you would never guess that it was so effective for body odor. In fact, amyris oil is so powerful that it has even been studied as a potential treatment for microbial infections.
In general, Amyris is a
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