Homemade deodorant that really works… is it even possible? Yes! With Bentonite clay for sensitive skin, this natural deodorant recipe fights body odor, absorbs excess moisture, and soothes irritation without toxic ingredients!
How does homemade deodorant compare to commercial products?
- It's frugal.
- It contains natural ingredients that you can know and trust.
- And, it's versatile! Tweak it to suit your family's unique needs.
When it comes to making homemade deodorant, the golden rule is: try, try again!
If you've ever tried natural deodorant, whether homemade or store-bought, you likely know that many simply don't work. This is incredibly frustrating when you've spent time and money on ingredients or shopping for store-bought versions.
However, it is possible to find a natural deodorant that works! It just takes some time.
And it is most definitely a worthwhile endeavor as conventional deodorant is full of harmful ingredients linked to Alzheimer's and other neurodegenerative diseases, as well as cancer (source, source, and source).
As with all personal care products, natural ingredients are of utmost importance. After all, what we put on our bodies is just as important as the food we eat.
When it comes to natural deodorant recipes, there are a few common ingredients you'll find in most recipes in varying amounts.
- Baking Soda
- Arrowroot Powder
- Coconut Oil
- Shea Butter
- Cocoa Butter
- Bentonite Clay
- Essential Oils
Let's take a look at each of them below and discuss why they are used.
A star ingredient in most recipes, baking soda is used to absorb and eliminate odor. Baking soda can be irritating to some and has been known to cause redness in the armpits of those with sensitive skin.
That said, it is often not the baking soda itself, but the amount of baking soda that is used. Many find that using less baking soda and balancing it with soothing ingredients puts an end to the problem.
Often hailed as the healthier version of cornstarch, arrowroot helps absorb excess moisture.
Coconut oil is solid at room temperature and aids in providing bulk to homemade deodorant. It also brings antibacterial properties, which may aid in warding off bacteria that causes odor.
Finally, coconut oil is nourishing, moisturizing to the skin, and helps create a spreadable formula.
This emollient butter is usually added for its moisturizing qualities. Shea butter melts on contact with the skin and is very effective is softening and soothing dry patches.
This butter aids in creating a creamy texture. In fact, coconut oil and shea butter are a winning combination for deodorant that is moisturizing and feels good on the skin.
Some natural deodorant recipes use cocoa butter, but it is a less common ingredient. Cocoa butter does bring a nice chocolate scent and can help provide a thicken and firmer consistency.
This natural wax is produced by honey bees and is most commonly used in homemade cosmetics as a thickener. The thickening qualities of beeswax are used in homemade deodorant recipes to hold the ingredients together and provide a semi-solid to solid consistency.
This powerful clay is detoxifying in nature and aids in absorbing odor, moisture, and toxins. It is also soothing to the skin.
Bentonite clay is helpful for combating any irritation caused by baking soda.
Essential oils provide scent and are a great way to customize homemade deodorant. If you want a deodorant that smells amazing, you'll need to include essential oils.
Besides making your deodorant smell great, essential oils also bring unique benefits and can help prevent odor and bacteria as well as soothe skin.
Some of the above ingredients could be considered optional, depending on your goals. In general, baking soda, arrowroot, coconut oil, and beeswax are necessary, but essential oils, butters, and clay are optional.
Even though clay may be considered optional, it is highly recommended for its ability to reduce moisture and combat toxins.
Butters, such as shea butter and cocoa butter, are added in smaller amounts and can often be omitted if desired. That said, leaving these out of any recipe will alter the consistency of the end product.
Essential oils can also be left out or substituted. Omitting them can be helpful if you are sensitive to scents, although they do bring some antibacterial benefits, which will be missed if not included.
However, not having essential oils on hand when you wish to make natural deodorant should not deter you from giving it a try.
My Quest To Find Natural Deodorant That Works
It took a while for me to find the deodorant that worked for my family. It may take some time for you to find the perfect match for your body chemistry and needs as well.
Because it can take some time, I wanted to show you the process of making and evaluating a number of different recipes to find a natural deodorant that would work well for my family.
I experimented with two recipes from other bloggers and then tried making my own natural homemade deodorant. After trying each of them (my husband used them too!), I evaluated each recipe in terms of its effectiveness, texture, and scent.
Also, we used them on warm, active days so we could really give each deodorant a run for its money. 😉
Natural Deodorant Attempt #1
The first recipe I tried is from Passionate Homemaking. It calls for coconut oil, baking soda, arrowroot powder, and optional tea tree essential oil.
Out of all the recipes I tried, it was the easiest to make. We also enjoyed the scent, as it works well for both men and women.
It had the thickest texture when finished. As the coconut oil changes states with the temperature, it gets a little lumpy and needs some stirring.
Unfortunately, it required two applications a day to be effective… which is why I went back to the drawing board!
Natural Deodorant Attempt #2
The second recipe came from Wellness Mama, differing only slightly from Passionate Homemaking's deodorant. It calls for coconut oil, shea butter, baking soda, arrowroot powder, and optional essential oils.
This made a lightly golden brown deodorant. I loved the added moisturizing effect from the shea butter!
It required only one application a day but wasn't quite as effective as I would have liked. It is a little thinner than the other recipes, so I ended up using a little more at a time.
This recipe did not even make 1 cup of deodorant, so in the future I would double this recipe.
Making My Own Natural Deodorant… Attempt #3
Finally, in an effort to find a homemade deodorant that truly met all of my family's needs, I made up on my own recipe. It took a few tries.
What was my problem? Baking soda.
On my first try, I combined equal amounts of baking soda and arrowroot powder (1/2 cup each).
While the deodorant worked like a charm, the baking soda irritated some family members. It created red painful welts with repeated use and arm movement.
So then I eliminated the baking soda completely and doubled the arrowroot powder to 1 cup. That deodorant didn't irritate at all, but it didn't work very well, either. (Think stink.)
Finally, I tried what you see below: 1/4 cup baking soda and 3/4 cup arrowroot powder (plus clay for absorbency and odor control).
Now we have a deodorant that works well and doesn't irritate anyone. It's a winner!
(Edit: I have now been using this deodorant for 3 years!)
Natural Homemade Deodorant Recipe
The ingredients in this deodorant recipe combine to create a deodorant that is antibacterial and soothing to skin. It includes tea tree and lemongrass essential oils which provide a refreshing scent that is well suited to men and women.
While it is not baking soda-free, this recipe uses much less baking soda than most. This helps prevent irritation, while still providing enough baking soda to eliminate odor.
Why This Recipe Works
We love this recipe! It's very effective — even after a very busy, active day in the heat, we still need only one application to prevent body odor.
I love the quality of the ingredients! Also, the healing benefits of the clay help avoid underarm bumps and rashes.
This homemade deodorant recipe works well for a number of reasons:
- Clay is soothing to skin and counteracts any possible irritation. It also helps absorb moisture and toxins which may cause odor.
- The amount of baking soda in this recipe is enough to be effective in warding off odor, but not so much that it causes redness or irritation.
- Arrowroot effectively absorbs excess moisture.
- Tea tree and lemongrass essential oils help fight odor-causing bacteria.
A Final Experiment: The Stain Test
I took a white cotton onesie and applied a liberal stripe of deodorant across it (more than most would typically apply under their arms).
After giving it about two hours to “set”, I washed and dried the onesie on the normal wash setting without using a stain remover.
There was only a very slight mark, likely due to the clay in the recipe. This most likely won't show up at all on light-colored clothing.
However, if you're concerned about staining, use a little less clay or more coconut oil to “thin” the mixture. Or, apply a small amount of natural stain remover prior to washing clothing.
The mark was so faint, though, that I wouldn't have noticed it without looking for it. Because most people usually wouldn't have such a high volume of deodorant on their shirt anyway, I wouldn’t “sweat” it at all (pun intended). 🙂
Homemade Deodorant Tips and Tricks
A few notes for successful DIY deodorant:
Summer weather. The deodorant is like soup in the summer, whether in a jar or in a tube. I tried doubling the beeswax and that does help if the temp is just warmer but not really hot.
Here's what you can do in very hot weather.
- Keep your tube of deodorant in the fridge. While it's firm but just a little softened from rubbing it on your body, twist the deodorant up to the level you'll need it next time, then put it back in the fridge. (Right out of the fridge it's hard to twist up.)
- Or, keep your deodorant in a jar and apply with fingers. You might notice a little separation of coconut oil settling on top; just stir that in with your fingers, then scoop some out and apply to the underarms. I actually prefer applying with my fingers rather than a stick — because I can rub it in well and I find better odor and moisture benefits.
So just play with it and don't let summer weather prevent you from using and loving natural deodorant.
Reusing store-bought deodorant tubes. It's not the easiest thing to get chemical deodorant out of containers — that junk definitely repels moisture and doesn't want to come out!
However, a basin of soapy water for soaking and an old toothbrush does a pretty good job. Once you've got clean containers you can reuse them again and again. And again.
An old toothbrush can be helpful in removing leftover reside in cracks and crevices, too. Use a little lemon essential oil to help remove stickers or residue on the outside of the container.
Big batches. You can triple or quadruple this batch. Store what you don't use in a jar in a cool, dark cupboard.
Remelt over a simmering water bath and refill tubes as needed. It's a big time saver!
Homemade Deodorant FAQs
I'm allergic to coconut oil, what can I use instead? Can I make deodorant without coconut oil?
If you are allergic to coconut oil, give babassu oil a try. It has a very similar consistency to coconut oil and works well as a 1:1 swap in most homemade personal care recipes.
Homemade deodorant gives me a rash. What should I do?
If you are getting a rash, it's likely due to using too much baking soda, and in some cases, essential oil. Try reducing the amount of baking soda and see how it goes.
If you have not tried homemade deodorant with clay, definitely give that a try. Most people will not get a rash using the recipe above, unless allergic or sensitive to one of the ingredients.
To avoid irritation, it's also important not to apply directly after shaving. The baking soda and essential oils could sting and lead to a rash when applied to the armpits right after a shave.
Homemade deodorant doesn't work! I still smell! Help!
There is an adjustment period when switching to natural deodorant. When coming off chemical deodorants, you might find natural doesn't work for you right away.
Give your body time to adjust. It can take few weeks.
You can help this along by applying a Bentonite clay mask to the armpits a few times each week to aid in detoxification.
My deodorant gets too soft in the summer. How do I prevent this?
Coconut oil-based deodorants can get soft in summer months due to the fact that coconut oil melts at 78 degrees Fahrenheit. Keep it in a cool location to avoid this issue and/or experiment with increasing the amount of beeswax in the recipe.
Wardee's Natural Homemade Deodorant
With Bentonite clay for sensitive skin, this homemade deodorant fights body odor, absorbs excess moisture & soothes irritation naturally! Makes about 3 tubes of deodorant (depending on tube size).
- 1-1/3 cups coconut oil
- 1-1/2 tablespoons beeswax pastilles increase during summer or in hot climates
- 1/4 cup baking soda
- 3/4 cup arrowroot powder
- 2 tablespoons Bentonite clay
- 25 drops tea tree essential oil optional
- 5 drops lemongrass essential oil optional
Melt coconut oil and beeswax together over low heat until just barely melted.
Remove from heat.
Add remaining ingredients except essential oils.
Let cool, stirring every 5 minutes or so, until it hardens to a pudding consistency.
Put in the fridge to speed this up, checking and stirring frequently.
Add essential oils and mix well. Spoon into empty deodorant containers.
Let harden overnight in a cool location. You can speed this up by putting in the fridge to harden.
Don’t have an empty deodorant container? Use a pint or half pint jar. Use about 1/8 teaspoon for each arm.
Or, use muffin tins to create a “cake” of deodorant. Keep wrapped in tissue paper when not in use. Rub the cake under arms to apply.
The texture is quite hard after sitting in a cool location, and quite "soupy" during the middle of a warm day. To keep it the right consistency, I recommend storing it in a cool location and/or doubling the amount of beeswax.
Have you ever experimented with coconut oil deodorant recipes? What were your results? Which essential oils do you like to add to your favorite homemade deodorant recipe?
This post was originally published and written by Andrea Sabean on 8/27/13. It was updated and republished on 9/21/20.
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