Semi-Homemade Deodorant

I’ve tried lots of different Make Your Own type of recipes since starting this blog a couple years ago. Some things I’ve tried have turned out wonderfully, some have been disappointments, and some have just been, well . . . surprising.

Surprising is one of the best words I can come up with for my recent homemade deodorant experiment. Deodorant is one of those things you’re a little scared to be experimenting with. Who wants to go around stinking up the place if your little experiment is a failure? (not me) But after reading this article at the DIY Natural site, I decided what the heck. Let’s see if this works.

Their instructions were super duper simple. In fact I really think of this as a semi-homemade deodorant because we aren’t really mixing anything. So what are we doing?

We’re putting rubbing alcohol in a little spray bottle.Β  That’s it.

Semi-Homemade Deodorant using Rubbing Alcohol

The Difference between Antiperspirant and Deodorant

The first thing to remember in any discussion about homemade “deodorants” is that there’s a difference between an antiperspirant and a deodorant An antiperspirant is designed to block sweating and wetness under your arms. A deodorant is designed to stop odor. Most antiperspirants will also stop odor because if there’s no wetness, no bacteria grows, and therefore there is no odor.

What’s starting to worry some people about antiperspirants, however, is that they contain aluminum and parabens. Some studies have shown aluminum might contribute to Alzheimers and breast cancer (although there is debate on that subject) and parabens also are questionable as possible carcinogens. This has motivated some people to go in search of alternatives that don’t block the sweating and instead just stop odor.

And sweating is good! Sweating is a way the body removes toxins. The skin, after all, is our body’s largest organ. By constantly blocking our body’s ability to sweat, we can potentially allow toxins to build up in our bodies. Therefore a worthy goal is to simply find a natural way to stop odor rather to block the very natural and healthy process of sweating.

Homemade Alternatives To Stop Odor

I’ve read with some curiosity quite a few other homemade deodorant recipes on various blogs. Most of them use baking soda as a way to block odor. A good series on a homemade baking soda deodorant can be found here at the Kitchen Stewardship blog. Most of the baking soda recipes either have you dusting the baking soda on straight or combining it with some type of oil (like coconut oil) to make it into more of a paste. I had been avoiding these recipes because first of all, they sounded like kind of a hassle, and second, I read where there can be some staining of clothes from oil in the recipes. Dusting the baking soda on straight sounded kind of messy too.

If the goal was just to stop bacteria from growing in order to stop the odor, then the rubbing alcohol approach made sense to me. Although the original instructions I found said to use 99% Isopropyl rubbing alcohol, I simply used the 70% type I had on hand.

I suppose that rubbing alcohol doesn’t sound quite as friendly and natural as baking soda. However it’s used for medical purposes for cleaning and sterilizing so we know it certainly is not harmful to our skin. At worst, it could perhaps be a little drying.

The Inside Scoop On How It Works

So here’s the whole scoop on my semi-homemade deodorant experiment:

My Method:
I simply poured the rubbing alcohol into a travel sized mist bottle. Super Easy.

All it takes is two or three spritzs of the rubbing alcohol under each arm. There is a little smell of the alcohol but it evaporates away very quickly. The slight wetness after application also evaporates away quickly. The only time I noticed a slight stinging at application was if I had just shaved under my arms.

I really think it worked fine and in fact I think it was even a little better at stopping odor than my usual antiperspirant. I had no need to reapply it later in the day. A couple factors in my favor, though, are that I have a desk job that doesn’t require a lot of exertion, and we were not in the midst of the heat and humidity of summer either. Nevertheless, this seems to be a very effective way to combat any odor

OK, so this works on odor. Was I dripping in sweat? No, I wasn’t, but again, I don’t have a job that requires lots of physical exertion.

Safe for Clothing?
Yes. I had no stains on clothing. In fact one of the really nice benefits is that you don’t get any of those white streaky marks on the side of your t-shirts. Now, anytime I wear a dark colored shirt, I reach for the rubbing alcohol instead of my antiperspirant.

The price I paid for my rubbing alcohol breaks down to 5 cents per ounce. This means the rubbing alcohol I poured into my little 3 oz travel size mist bottle cost me 15 cents. I have been using this mixture off and on now for several weeks and as you can see in the picture above, I have only used about a fourth of the bottle yet. I’ve already gotten a lot of usage out of it for 15 cents and I would definitely say this is a cost saver over store bought antiperspirants and deodorants.

Final Thoughts on Rubbing Alcohol as DIY Deodorant

So far I like having this alternative method. It’s a cost saver, it’s simple, and doesn’t contain any unknown metals or chemicals.

There was just one time when it was kind of weird. I often do some yoga at home on the weekends and I popped into a downward dog position right after spraying on my alcohol. Whoa!!! Your head (and nose) are right by your armpits in a down dog position and boy oh boy did I get a nose full of rubbing alcohol smell.

Beware of Down Dogs and Rubbing Alcohol Deodorant!
Beware of Down Dogs and Rubbing Alcohol Deodorant!

So there’s my one word of caution. Don’t bust out a yoga move without letting your alcohol deodorant evaporate a bit first. πŸ™‚

How about you? Have you been adventurous and tried a homemade deodorant? How did it work for you?

Need a few more bright ideas?
Sign up for the monthly email newsletter to learn about my latest content and tips for frugal homemade living.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


  1. I make my own deodorant with just rubbing alcohol and a few drops of the scent of my choice. Spray it on, wipe it off with a tissue. Follow with my homemade powder which is cornstarch and arrowroot. For scent on that, I just add a cotton ball I’ve put a few drops of scented oil on. I am finished putting weird chemicals under my arms when making my own is so much better, cheaper, and works as well.

  2. Please don’t use rubbing alcohol, it can be toxic when used for long periods of time. A grain ethyl alcohol can be used instead.

    With a drop or two of essential oil, it makes the perfect deodorant.

      1. Look into the health issues the people in rubbing alcohol factories have. Don’t be so quick to judge.

  3. Awesome idea! I might add some glycerin… To avoid dryness… And give it a “softer feel”. How about that idea. πŸ™‚

  4. Thanks for sharing this simple recipe!!! For a couple months now, I’ve been trying different recipes for deodorant for my husband. He can’t use any store brand deodorant because it causes these cysts to form in his armpits and are painful to him. He has seen a specialist about the cysts. They removed a cyst from his pit, dissected it and still it’s a mystery to them as to why they form. My educated guess would be the aluminum found in most deodorants. (But what do I know… I’m not a doctor.) Anyway, I made a solid type deodorant for him using shea butter, natural beeswax to bind it with tea tree and lemon essential oil. The cysts stayed away but he complained of the odor of the tea tree. Yea, it stinks. So, I made another batch, same ingredients but used lavender and lemon essential oils. He has reported that he smells like Trix cereal! Oh geez! lol I’m going to try your simple recipe and see how it goes over with Mr. Picky. lol Again, thanks for sharing!!

    1. Well lets hope this might be a solution for your husband. The rubbing alcohol smell fades quickly and he certainly won’t smell like Trix cereal! πŸ™‚

  5. I have used every method of odor control ever suggested. Even, ordinary deos and antiperspirants were never truly satisfying. Then one day I used Rubbing Alcohol. I loved it! Nothing has ever worked as well at keeping me dry and odor free. I was so amazed. It has been my answer to odor control. Only briefly did I try Lemon juice. It also worked well, although, I still had an occasional hint of mustiness and had to re-apply more often. I also felt wetter. Although, I would use lemon in a pinch. I still love the fresh clean sanitary feeling alcohol leaves with me!! It still has to be better than the conventional choices!! Try it!!

    1. Thanks for sharing your story. Very interesting! I have been pleasantly surprised how well this works too since I first wrote this post. On most days I will use it although some days I still use regular deodorant. The only time it’s not a good choice is immediately after you’ve shaved your armpits. Then it will sting.

    1. The only time this stings a little bit is if you use it immediately after shaving. Otherwise it works just fine. I have been using this method consistently for several months now and there really is no burning. Truly!

  6. I will be interested to read your post. It sounds like you've found a mixture that's working well for you and that's a good thing!

  7. Essential oils sound like a great way to add something special to the rubbing alcohol. And – I am finding the more I use this, it really does work! So glad you're liking it too πŸ™‚

  8. Hi there, I didn't want to use alcohol because it is sooo drying and too strong. I've been using a powder blend with essential oils but it is a powder. Just this past week I tried one that used coconut oil which I too didn't want to try because of oil…isn't that what we don't want? HOWEVER! It is not at all what I thought. I made it after watching a dozen women make it, love it, and their mates use it too, and they all said no stain, no oil marks, it absorbs well and works. Well I made it and I cannot tell you how surprising it was not to have an oil consistency. When mixed it changes. I have it in a jar and I used an essential oil blend and it smells wonderful, absorbs quickly into invisibility and works. I don't even need it every day. Equal parts Non aluminum baking soda, cornstarch, coconut oil and pure essential oil…into a thick paste and I use my fingers to scoop out a bit and rub in….I love doing this! I'm going to make a post about this one any day now. blessings, Lady

  9. I just found your post,gave this a try with what I had on hand which was 50% rubbing alcohol. I poured that into a small mist bottle, then I added some essential oils. 3 drops of tea tree oil(sanitizing,antibacterial properties),3 drops of lemon oil (also a sanitizer but nicer smell) and 3 drops of orange oil (again, nicer smell and somewhat of a sanitizer although I used it for the calming, uplifting effects and the smell more so.) I have tried it today and so far I really love this option of a spray instead of the stick. It's cool, refreshing, and it works! IF you should have any drying effects from daily use of the alcohol, my advice would be to add a few drops of lavender essential oil to the mix. It can be used to sanitize, but it would also moisturize and has a nice fragrance to boot. Thanks for sharing your recipe!! =)- Bridget