Does apple cider vinegar help with armpit odor?

Body odor, especially underarm odor, can be an embarrassing problem. The bacteria on our skin break down sweat from our apocrine glands and cause unpleasant smells. While antiperspirants and deodorants mask odors, some people look to home remedies like apple cider vinegar to solve the problem. But does apple cider vinegar really help control armpit odor? Let’s take a closer look.

What causes armpit odor?

Armpit odor is caused by bacteria on our skin breaking down the sweat secreted by our apocrine glands. These glands are found in areas like the armpits and groin. The sweat they produce contains things like fats and proteins which bacteria love to feed on.

When bacteria break down the compounds in apocrine sweat, they release substances that have strong, unpleasant odors. The main culprits are fatty acids, ammonia, and thioalcohols. Some of the specific smelly substances produced include:

– Isovaleric acid – smells like cheese
– Propionic acid – smells vinegary
– Cadaverine and putrescine – smell like rotting flesh

In addition to apocrine sweat, bacteria also feed on dead skin cells and sebum (oil) in our armpits. More bacteria growth means more smelly substances released.

Other factors like diet, stress levels, and health conditions can also affect how much and how badly someone sweats and smells. The armpit area stays warm and moist, making it the perfect home for odor-causing bacteria.

How apple cider vinegar could help

Apple cider vinegar is often touted as a cure-all home remedy. When it comes to neutralizing odors, there are a few ways that apple cider vinegar could potentially help:

– **It’s acidic** – The acetic acid in apple cider vinegar helps lower the pH of your armpits, making it harder for bacteria to grow and produce smelly substances.

– **Antimicrobial properties** – Apple cider vinegar is thought to have antimicrobial effects against certain types of bacteria and fungi. This could inhibit their growth and reduce odors.

– **Deodorizing ability** – Anecdotal reports say that apple cider vinegar’s acidic tang can help neutralize and mask unpleasant underarm smells.

– **Astringent effect** – Astringents cause the pores to constrict. This could limit sweat production, giving bacteria less sweat to feed on.

There isn’t a lot of research specifically on apple cider vinegar for armpit odor. However, its properties do suggest it could be helpful. The main ways people use it for body odor are:

1. Apple cider vinegar wipes

Make apple cider vinegar solution by diluting it in water. Apply it to the armpits with a cloth or cotton pad. This lets the vinegar make direct contact with the skin and into the pores. Doing this daily could reduce bacteria growth.

2. Apple cider vinegar bath

Add a cup or two of apple cider vinegar to your bathwater. Soak for at least 15 minutes to allow the acidic vinegar to inhibit bacteria over a larger surface area. Be aware it could dry out your skin with frequent use.

3. Apple cider vinegar deodorant

Mix apple cider vinegar with some baking soda and essential oils to make a simple deodorizing paste. The vinegar’s acidity helps neutralize odor while the baking soda absorbs sweat. Apply it under your arms like regular deodorant.

Evidence for apple cider vinegar and body odor

There isn’t a lot of direct scientific research specifically on apple cider vinegar for armpit odor. However, some studies provide evidence for its potential uses:

– A lab study found apple cider vinegar strongly inhibited the bacteria Staphylococcus epidermidis and Proteus mirabilis, both of which can contribute to body odor [1].

– In athletes prone to foot odor from sweaty feet, soaking feet in vinegar reduced odor by lowering pH and inhibiting bacteria [2]. This suggests vinegar baths could help other sweaty areas.

– Among vaginal health studies, vinegar douches were found to suppress the growth of vaginal odor-causing bacteria like Gardnerella vaginalis [3]. This provides some validation for using vinegar on the skin to control bacteria.

– An in vitro study showed apple cider vinegar has antimicrobial activity against several fungal species that can cause skin and nail infections [4]. This demonstrates its antimicrobial properties.

So while there’s no research specifically on armpits, evidence does suggest apple cider vinegar could help control bacteria growth and resulting odors on the skin. But more direct research is still needed.

Other ways to use apple cider vinegar for odor

In addition to helping with armpit odor, apple cider vinegar is said to help neutralize odors in other sweaty areas of the body:

– **Feet** – Soak feet to combat foot odor. Can also put in bath water.

– **Groin** – Dilute ACV and apply topically or use in a bath.

– **Hands** – Rubbing hands with diluted ACV may help with stubborn garlic, onion, fish etc. smells that linger after washing.

– **Scalp** – Add a tablespoon of ACV to shampoo or do an apple cider vinegar hair rinse to help with smell from a sweaty, oily scalp.

Apple cider vinegar is also popular as a remedy for bad breath. It’s thought the acetic acid inhibits odor-causing bacteria in the mouth and throat. Ways to use it for bad breath include gargling diluted ACV or drinking it before meals.

Risks and considerations

While using diluted apple cider vinegar topically comes with minimal risks, some things to keep in mind:

– Apple cider vinegar is highly acidic. Using it undiluted or too frequently could irritate skin.

– It may dry out skin with repeated use. Be sure to moisturize afterward.

– Allergies or sensitivities to apple cider vinegar are rare but possible. Discontinue use if any reactions occur.

– Don’t use on broken skin as the acidity could cause a burning sensation and interrupt healing.

– ACV has a very strong, vinegary scent. The smell may linger for a while after use.

– Results will vary by individual. Body chemistry, diet, and other factors affect bacteria growth and sweat production.

– It should not replace medical treatment if excessive sweating or odor is due to an underlying condition.

The verdict

Based on its antibacterial and pH-lowering abilities, apple cider vinegar shows promise for combatting armpit odor. However, current evidence is limited. More direct studies on using ACV in the armpit area are needed to prove its effectiveness.

Anecdotally, many people do report success with using apple cider vinegar on armpit odor. It’s very accessible and affordable, making it easy to experiment with as a home remedy. Apple cider vinegar is generally safe to try in moderation if diluted and rinsed off well. As with any home remedy, results will vary individually. It may provide a helpful complementary option alongside good hygiene habits and medical treatment if odor is excessive.

Tips for using apple cider vinegar for armpit odor

If you want to give apple cider vinegar a try for armpit odor, some tips:

– Always dilute apple cider vinegar before applying it directly to skin. 1 part vinegar to 3-4 parts water is a common ratio.

– Rinse skin well after 15-20 minutes to avoid irritation. Moisturize afterward if needed.

– Use a spray bottle to easily dispense diluted vinegar and to reach all areas of your armpit.

– Repeat daily for best results in reducing bacteria overgrowth.

– If using for swampy armpits before an event, apply ACV 2-3 times that day and prior days.

– Consider adding essential oils like lavender or tea tree for additional antibacterial and deodorizing power.

– Use baking soda instead of soap when washing armpits to help neutralize odors.

– Check that it doesn’t interact with prescription medicines you take as ACV can affect how some medications are absorbed.

– Make sure to also maintain good hygiene habits like showering daily, using antiperspirant, wearing clean clothes etc.

– See a doctor if excessive sweating or smell persists despite home remedies. You may need prescription strength treatment.

Other home remedies for armpit odor

Apple cider vinegar isn’t the only home remedy people try for smelly armpits. Some other DIY options include:

Baking soda – Helps absorb sweat and neutralize odors. Use it as a deodorant or add to baths.

Tea tree oil – Has antimicrobial effects to inhibit bacteria growth. Add a few drops to vinegar or baking soda paste.

Coconut oil – Contains lauric acid which kills odor-causing germs. Make into a natural deodorant.

Lemon juice – The citric acid helps lower pH and control bacteria overgrowth. Apply diluted juice under arms.

Apple cider vinegar – Has antibacterial properties and balances pH levels in armpits. Use in various ways topically.

Tomato juice – Apply under arms to control odor. The acids in tomatoes help inhibit bacteria growth.

Witch hazel – An astringent that helps reduce sweat production. Use witch hazel wipes or add to DIY deodorant.

Hydrogen peroxide – Kills odor-causing bacteria. Dilute and apply to armpits before showering. Rinse well.

Rubbing alcohol – Discourages bacteria growth on skin. Wipe underarms with rubbing alcohol before bed. Make sure to rinse in the morning.

Rose water – A mild natural antimicrobial that leaves a pleasant aroma. Spritz or wipe diluted rose water under arms.

Sage – Helps control excessive sweating. Make a strong sage tea and wipe armpits with the cooled liquid.

Be aware many natural ingredients can irritate skin when used at too high a concentration. Test small areas first and always dilute in water before applying directly.

When to see a doctor

Home remedies and good hygiene habits can go a long way towards controlling normal body odor. However, if you’ve tried various natural deodorants and antiperspirants without success, see your doctor if you:

– Sweat excessively throughout the day
– Sweat heavily at night while sleeping
– Noticeably smell shortly after showering or deodorizing
– Have underarm odor accompanied by yellow stains on clothes
– Have excessive odor in specific areas like the groin or feet
– Have bad breath that persists after brushing

Excessive sweating and body odor can occasionally be signs of an underlying medical condition like:

– Hyperhidrosis – Excessive, uncontrollable sweating
– Bromhidrosis – Body odor not relieved by washing with soap
– Diabetes and high blood sugar
– Thyroid disorder
– Menopause
– Infections like tuberculosis, cancer, gout
– Liver or kidney disease
– Hormonal imbalance

See your doctor to pinpoint the cause. Prescription strength antiperspirants and other treatments are available for conditions like hyperhidrosis. It’s also important to rule out potentially concerning conditions like diabetes or infections.


Apple cider vinegar is a popular home remedy for smelly armpits thanks to its antibacterial properties and ability to balance pH levels. There’s some scientific evidence that validates its use on the skin for body odor, however more direct research is still needed.

Anecdotally, many find success with using diluted ACV as wipes, in baths, and as a deodorant for armpits and other smelly areas. It’s very accessible as a DIY remedy. However, results vary individually and it’s no guarantee. Proper hygiene and antiperspirant use are still key. See a doctor if odor persists despite home treatments.

Overall, apple cider vinegar is generally safe to experiment with as a complementary option alongside good hygiene habits. But be sure to dilute it and rinse it off well. While not proven, ACV does have potential to help control armpit odor in moderation based on its properties.

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