Homemade Deodorant Review

Non-toxic deodorant that actually works- It’s a quest I’ve been on for years. I’ve tried them all, seriously. Most of them just don’t work, or only work in the winter when you’re freezing and not sweating. There was even a point when I was paying $18 for one stick of “healthy” deodorant (hey, it worked).

LaVanilla is about $20 per stick, but it works pretty well. Alba is more like $6 per stick and worked okay.

Lavanilla is about $20 per stick, but it works pretty well. Alba is more like $6 per stick and worked okay, mostly because the strong lavender scent covered any smell. After years of trying natural deodorants, these were the two I ended up keeping on hand.

Fortunately, all that has changed. I now whip up a batch of deodorant using baking ingredients I always have in my kitchen, and it works better than any deodorant I’ve ever used, even normal (non-natural) brands. (Seriously, I love this homemade deodorant!)

Of Course, There’s a Backstory

When Bridger was a wee one and I was researching whether I really had to feed him rice cereal, I came across the blog of Mommypotamus, a traditional food blogger who healed from an autoimmune issue by switching to real foods. Her ebook, Nourished Baby, guided me through the early days of feeding Bridger real food. She researches everything, and only seems to post tried and true recipes, so when I saw her deodorant recipe- and her claim that it actually worked- I had to try it. I’m sure this came as quite a relief to the hubs, because I had all but stopped wearing any deodorant since Bridger’s birth.

When I was pregnant I was extremely sensitive to smells, so throughout the pregnancy I ended up eliminating everything scented from my life. When you smell nothing scented for an extended period of time, even the slightest scents become very noticeable. I was concerned that newborn Bridger,  who had never before smelled anything and who would have his little face in my armpits 24/7 as he nursed, would breathe in all the yucky chemicals scenting the deodorant.

Bridger on his first day home from the hospital (two days old). The end of my deodorant wearing days...

Bridger on his first day home from the hospital (two days old). The end of my deodorant wearing days…

I didn’t even think about the chemicals in deodorant possibly ending up in my breast milk (THANK GOD, that guaranteed freak out would have been the last thing I needed). But, of flippin’ course, I’ve since learned that deodorant contains nasty chemicals that can indeed end up in your breast milk. There’s a two part series on the scary chemicals in deodorants and how they can contribute to toxins in your breast milk at Spotless (a pretty awesome blog about natural cleaning and personal care):

“Some of the most dangerous chemicals are those known as persistent organic pollutants (POPs). These resist environmental degradation, and instead accumulate in the environment. They tend to bind easily to animal fat, and so concentrate in animal foods, in human fat, and in breast milk. An example is triclosan, one hazardous chemical commonly found in deodorants (and several other personal care products). POPs accumulate specifically in breast adipose tissue and in milk, and are passed to nursing babies at many times the levels of the mother’s exposure.

I know, it’s too terrible to even think about. Stink, or use legitimately scary chemicals in your armpits, right by all those lymph nodes and your breasts.

Here are the ingredients in my "emergency" Dove Powder scented antipersperant/deodorant. Antipersperants are regulated as a drug. Creepy.

Here are the ingredients in my “emergency” bar of Dove Powder scented antiperspirant/deodorant that I kept on hand for important occasions. (Note the active and inactive ingredients- chemicals galore. Antiperspirants are regulated as a drug. Creepy.) I was able to toss this out because my homemade deodorant NEVER fails me!

Fortunately, the solution is simple: coconut oil, baking soda, and arrowroot powder (or corn starch). You can buy all of these ingredients at a normal grocery store. Arrowroot powder is in the baking section, often with the gluten free or specialty foods by Bob’s Red Mill. It’s a thickening agent that can be used in place of cornstarch and is often used in gluten free cooking as well. Coconut oil is with the other cooking oils- look for organic, virgin, and unrefined and then use the rest for about a million different things (I use it for baking and in place of body lotion; my sister loves it for eye makeup remover).

Deodorant ingredients: arrowroot powder, coconut oil, and baking soda.

Deodorant ingredients: arrowroot powder, coconut oil, and baking soda.

Homemade Deodorant Recipe

And so without further adieu, combine equal parts baking soda and arrowroot powder, and mix in enough coconut oil to blend it all together. I use a tiny mason jar (baby food jar size) and use a table spoon as my “part”- mix two tablespoons baking soda with two tablespoons arrowroot powder. Stir. Then I melt some coconut oil on the stove and pour in enough to mix the powders into a thick, creamy paste (I believe it’s about two tablespoons as well, so pretty much equal parts of all ingredients). The end. Here’s the original recipe I followed, where she explains how to add essential oils if you want scented deodorant.

Tips and Concerns

After about six months of using this deodorant, here are five tips/concerns I’ve encountered:

1. When applying, put just enough on your finger tips to apply a thin film to your armpits. If you apply too much, white powder will rub off onto your clothes when you put them on (just like normal, non-clear deodorant).

2. The coconut oil will not leave oily marks on your clothes, unless you put on way too much. I normally apply the deodorant right after my shower, put on a t-shirt while I get ready, then change into my real clothes. This is an additional safeguard against the white marks and theoretical oil stains. The only time I have noticed an oil mark on the armpits of a shirt was when I applied the deodorant while wearing a sleeveless top and ended up applying the deodorant to the shirt. If you do happen to find yourself with oil marks, rub stains with dish soap and wash as normal- they will come right out.

3. Coconut oil solidifies in cold weather and liquefies in hot weather. What this means is that your deodorant will be rock hard in the winter time. There are three solutions: (a) Stick your jar in the shower with you and by the time your shower is over, the oil will have softened. (b) Alternately, you can run some warm/hot water into the sink and set your jar in there while you put on lotion/dry your hair. The deodorant will soften quickly. (c) The third option is to dump the entire mixture into an old deodorant tube right after you mix it up, and let it harden into the shape of regular deodorant. (The Organic Momma taught me this.) Then rub it right onto your armpits like regular deodorant, but apply it much more gently than normal, because it’s much softer than store bought. If you go this route during the summer or live in Florida, you might have to store it in the refrigerator.

4. Gently apply to armpits- do not grind it in. It’s not necessary, and the baking soda can be a bit abrasive on your armpits if you get crazy. If you find the baking soda is irritating your armpits, you can use the same ingredients but decrease the baking soda and increase the arrowroot. Here’s a recipe (at the end of the post).

5. It is important to realize this is NOT an anti-perspirant. You will still sweat, as you are meant to do. But you will not stink, you will not accumulate chemicals in your body, and you will not pass said chemicals on to your nursing kiddos. For me, that’s a trade off I am willing to deal with.

I poured my homemade deodorant into the empty Alba tube. After a day or so it hardens into shape and you're ready to roll.

I poured my homemade deodorant into the empty Alba tube. After a day or so it hardens into shape and you’re ready to roll.

Deodorant was a gateway cosmetic for me… Once I realized I could make my own deodorant that actually worked, I started reading the ingredients of my other hair and skin care products- shampoo, lotion, perfume (yikes!)- all full of ingredients I am no longer interested in using. Courtney from The Polivka Family has a fun “Junk Your Bathroom” challenge, where she does a great job explaining what the various product ingredients are how to replace them with healthy alternatives.

Have you ever made your own deodorant, and if so, did you like it and which recipe did you use? Please share in the comments!

– Ashley

PAID ENDORSEMENT DISCLOSURE: To support my blogging activities, I may receive monetary compensation or other types of remuneration for my endorsement, recommendation, testimonial and/or link to any products or services from this blog. Thank you for supporting our efforts at Whistle Pig Hollow!


  1. I used this deodorant today on my 3 mile run and it worked great! I just thawed it in a little in hot water and applied. It smelled quite nice and I didn’t notice any perspiration, which I’m guessing was due to the mild temperatures today. Looking forward to trying this out in warmer weather. I think Brandon is going to take some of mine back to Jen to try!

  2. I’ve been using this same recipe for homemade deodorant for about a month and I love it! I also add some grapefruit essential oil, which makes it smell even better and I read that the essential oil is a natural bacteria killer which is part of what causes the smell when you sweat.

  3. Karen Johnson says:

    I am so excited to try this. When my mom was diagnosed with breast cancer, her dr told her to stop using deodorant. I did too and have had a hard time finding anything that worked for me. Thanks for sharing!

    • This will work! It’s magic- I don’t understand why they even bother to sell chemical deodorant in stores since something as simple as this works so well. Good luck!

  4. I’ve been meaning to try this! I saw it on Pinterest and it sounded like such a no-brainer. I’m glad someone I actually know has tried it and reported back. 🙂 Regular deodorant is expensive as it is.

    I’m interested to hear more about your homemade hair product trials. I wish so much I had a few months off to go no-poo. There’s just no way I can go to work with greasy hair until things even out. But eggs, apple cider vinegar, and such sound promising.

    • Willow, I love this deodorant! I am going to make the version with less baking soda next time (for sensitive skin) to see if it still works. I have switched to a shampoo bar made from minimal ingredients (castor oil, essential oils, possibly castile soap but I can’t remember) and then I use a vinegar/water mix for conditioner and I am really happy. My hair looked a little funky there for a bit, but it still looked normal in a ponytail. I’m going to try the baking soda thing at some point, although I’m happy with my shampoo bar. Let me know if you find something that works!

  5. Heather-Lin says:

    Hi Ashley!

    Wonderful post!!! I have been tampering with this recipe for about a year now, but my alkaline sensitivity sure made it a bit discouraging at times. I always kept a deodorant crystal on hand in between experiments while I healed:) Then I was researching atopic dermatitis, and stumbled upon a snippet of info detailing how normal healthy skin has an “acid mantle”. This helped me find the combo that really works for me: vinegar and coconut oil! I keep a spray bottle of vinegar for cleaning the shower, and a jar of CO in the bathroom anyway, so this is all very convenient for me. I spray a little vinegar on my fingertips, apply. Then scoop out a pea sized amount of the oil and apply. Smooth it around and I’m done. I sweat very heavily in the summer when I’m gardening, but this keeps me smelling a whole lot fresher than I would otherwise!

  6. Hello, I live in Queensland, Australia and its sub-tropical here in summer and all our coconut oil goes liquid here unless you keep it in the fridge.
    I was wondering if I could substitute it for either shea butter and a small amount of beeswax or olive oil and a bit of beeswax?
    Great idea though, equal parts of the baking soda and corn starch. Have also read Arrowroot is good for absorbing sweat.


  1. […] on my skin or in my body. You can learn more about the yucky stuff in store-bought deodorants here or here. Even if the information about deodorant is grossly exaggerated, I have decided that it is […]

  2. […] Ashley’s two posts about her deodorant journey here and here. And Eva’s recipe including cornstarch can be read […]

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