Simple 3-Ingredient Deodorant Recipe That Works

Unlike my other recipes, you don’t actually eat this one. But because I make my deodorant (mostly) out of food ingredients and several people have asked me how I do it, I thought I would go ahead and post the recipe on this food blog.

This stuff works. When I first decided to attempt to live plastic-free, I had the most trouble replacing conventional shampoo and deodorant. I tried to solve these problems simultaneously. I was a mess. The bar shampoo I bought left my hair dull and matted to my head. I found Lush’s deodorant bar difficult to apply. Rock crystal deodorant did not work. Using no deodorant did not work. I looked bad and smelled worse.

Baking soda does the magic in this deodorant. You could just apply that to your underarms but I tend to get more on the bathroom counter than on my skin so I use coconut oil as the baking soda delivery vehicle.



  • 1/4 cup baking soda (purchased in bulk)
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch (purchased in bulk)
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil (I’ll reuse the jar and add it to my collection)
  • Optional: 10 drops of essential oil (I’ll reuse this little bottle for something… I rarely put this in)


dry ingredients in jar

1. Combine baking soda and cornstarch in a small, wide-mouth jar.

2. Stir in coconut oil and essential oil. If the coconut oil is solid, melt it over low heat for easier mixing.

3. Pat yourself on the back for your self-reliance.

A few notes

The jar. I prefer to use a shallow jar for this, preferably with a wide mouth. Because I apply this deodorant with my fingers, I need to easily retrieve it from the container.

The cornstarch. I have seen recipes that call for arrowroot powder instead of cornstarch, but I don’t have any of this on hand. At least, I don’t think I do. (The lesson: Label your jars from the bulk aisles!)

The coconut oil. I used two tablespoons. You can actually make this deodorant without the coconut oil, but I like the easy-to-apply cream that coconut oil renders. Adjust the amount of coconut oil you add to the dry ingredients until you have a consistency you like. I prefer mine very thick and creamy, not runny.

The essential oil. Apparently essential oils have antibacterial properties. Although I can’t find a reliable source to back up this claim, even if the essential oil does nothing to fight odor, it does make the deodorant smell nice. I have also used lavender oil and peppermint oil. I have also made deodorant without using any essential oil—it works well either way. For this batch, I used lemon (it’s what I had).

Warning. This deodorant may sting a little on freshly shaved underarms. I think that goes for many commercial deodorants too though. You may want to wait a little while before applying.

Update 01/18/20: Occasionally, someone will tell me the baking soda in this deodorant stings whether they have shaved recently or not. Stop using this if it stings. Several people have told me they use arrowroot powder instead of baking soda and that it works quite well but I haven’t tried it.

dap o deodorant

The application. Dip a finger in the jar, pull out a pea-size amount of deodorant and apply. You need only a very small amount.

I find this deodorant works well even on the second day, which makes me happy because I’m currently on a red-eye flight and don’t want to reek when I land. (I know flying is bad. I will have to stop. No flying in 2015.)

Of everything I make in my attempt to reduce my waste, homemade deodorant is one of my favorite recipes. It contains no crud, costs little to make and does not come packaged in a giant hunk of plastic. I hope you’ll try it! I think you’ll be impressed with how well it works.

95 Replies to “Simple 3-Ingredient Deodorant Recipe That Works”

  1. This is totally awesome. Thanks for the information!

    1. You’re welcome. It really works!

  2. That sounds much simpler than I would have imagined! Another thing that I definitely need to make time to try. I think I am going to need to jot down all of these cool recipes and suggestions that you post and keep them somewhere I won’t forget about them. Thanks for sharing 🙂

    1. You’re welcome. Thanks for checking it out. I’m happy you like all the tips 🙂 This deodorant works so well, I can’t believe I ever used the commercial stuff. It takes only a few minutes to make and I forgot to mention in the post that a batch lasts for a few months too. I hope you try it. I think you’ll like it.

  3. This looks so simple to make, can’t wait to give it a try! I’ve recently stopped using deodorant, and while it’s going ok so far I’d prefer to have an alternative to use before the weather heats up…thanks!

    1. You’re welcome. Thanks for the comment 🙂 It is very simple to make, much simpler than going to the store and handing over your hard earned cash and then dealing with the packaging waste after you’ve used it all up. If you find you need something in the hot weather, this works really well.

  4. Definitely doing this!

    1. Great! I think you’ll like it. I’ve been using it for at least a couple of years and I’ll never go back.

  5. Man you awesome!! I run a DIY Tuesday series and your posts are inspiring more!

    1. Thanks so much. I’m glad you like my posts. I’ll have to check out your DIY series. I love all things DIY. Have a great weekend.

  6. Great post. And have a good weekend, although I know you’ll be busy.

    1. Thank you. You have a good weekend too and enjoy the nice weather up here 🙂

  7. You’re right about this deodorant working well. I have been using mine for about a month now and have been progressively ‘testing’ it out doing different levels of physical activity, and am constantly in awe about the fact that I never smell! Which is different of course from saying I never sweat, because I do still sweat, but there is NO odour, unlike my previous commercial deodorants! I have mowed the lawns on a sunny day (45 mins worth), gone to the dentist (big sweat), and hiked for 2hrs in hilly terrain with marvellous results. I have even not showered for a day, reapplied deo the second day and hiked all day, still with no smell at days end! I hope I have helped ‘sell’ your product, cause I love it so much! 🙂

    1. Thanks so much for the plug! You did a better job than I did 🙂 I love this deodorant too. I never would have guessed that it could work so well. Using it has really opened my eyes to how unnecessary a lot of consumer products are. My daughter and I now make many of our personal care and household cleaning products.

      1. Oh, and I forgot to mention the fact that you don’t have to stand with your arms outstretched for 2-3 minutes after you’ve applied it, like you do when you use the commercial wet roll-on’s! No more cold, wet winter armpits! 🙂 That’s a huge bonus!

      2. Oh yes, that’s another benefit. I don’t think I said much about the price either, but I would guess this costs about 50 cents to make a jar that lasts three months or so. I was in a beautiful, yet very overpriced eco store yesterday and I found a tiny glass jar of deodorant like this, made with baking soda and cornstarch. It looked similar but cost 11 dollars for a quarter of the amount! Even the commercial junk is three or four dollars. And I refuse to use that and be a guinea pig, applying all sorts of chemicals to my skin, which absorb into my body. Thank you for posting all of your praises of this stuff 🙂

  8. Awesome:-)learning a lot from you

    1. Thank you! Have a nice weekend.

  9. Looks great, I look forward to trying it : )

    1. Great! Let me know how you like it. I’m really happy with how well it works.

  10. DIY deodorants- oh your just genius- lot to learn from you friend….👍

    1. Thanks so much. So nice of you to say. I’ll learn to cook better from your blog 🙂

  11. You know…I might try this! How long does it stay good? How much should I make at one time?

    1. Everyone I know who has tried it has liked it. If you’re not sure you will use it, you can always cut the recipe in half. The amount I made lasts a few months and I’ve never had a batch go bad. I don’t think it does. Kerry said she’s going to make some too 🙂

  12. This is brilliant, going to give it a try, thank you for sharing.

    1. You’re welcome. I think you’ll like it.

  13. Wow, Anne!
    I am going to make this today! The tropical weather really makes us sweaty and smelly and Deos hardly work. Thanks a lot! Hope you are back and well.

    1. Thanks Jasmin. Let me know how it works. California gets hot but not humid, so you will be a good test 🙂 I leave Canada tonight. Thanks for the well wishes.

      1. I made it today. Very glad that I did! It WORKS! Though it is a bit runny, but I don’t mind. I had Rose oil, so smelling great! Thanks a lot. Would like to know more about how you wash your hair with baking soda.

      2. I’m so happy you like it! Of everyone I know who has tried it, everyone likes it and can’t believe how well it works. To wash my hair, I put a couple of teaspoons of baking soda in a jar, fill it with about 1/2 cup of water, pour that over my wet hair, scrub my scalp with my fingernails and then run my fingers through my hair to distribute the solution. Rinse as usual, then add a small amount of cider vinegar to the jar (around 1 teaspoon), fill with water again, pour over your hair and work it through. I dunk my head under the running water for a millisecond after this. I don’t know if that’s necessary, but it works. My daughter told me to do it this way. Let me know if you try it. Oh, another thing, I don’t wash my hair every day. That would be too hard. Every three or four days. If it’s dry or flyaway, I rub in a minuscule amount of coconut oil. Let me know if you try it!

  14. I’m definitely going to give this a go. I worry about using antiperspirant with aluminium chloride in it, but nothing else works for me. I’ve tried all the others available. This will also ease my conscience about plastic too. Thanks. 🙂

    1. Great! I don’t like using deodorant with aluminum either, but couldn’t find anything effective until I made this. Let me know how it works 🙂

      1. I’ve finally got round to trying this out and it’s brilliant. Works just as well, if not better, than shop bought and I’m very happy about reducing the amount of plastic I’m buying. Okay, so it’s only a tub of deodorant a few times a year, but every little helps. I’m going to re-blog it if you don’t mind. 🙂

      2. I’ll never go back to the store-bought stuff! This works so well. So many people have told me they love it. It is just a small thing, but these small things add up and I think the act of making one’s deodorant makes one more aware of what is possible. We don’t need all of these consumer products we buy without thinking. Thanks so much for the reblog! I really appreciate it. I’m happy you like the deodorant 🙂

  15. Hi, I found your blog through Lindsay’s (Treading my own path). You have some great resources on your site, thanks very much for sharing. I have been using the small essential oil bottles for seed saving after a thorough wash. Cheers,

    1. Hi Chamali, that’s a great idea for these small bottles. Thank you for the tip. Linsday is awesome. I’m happy you found my blog through her’s and that you find it useful 🙂
      -Anne Marie

  16. […] See @zerowastechef’s recipe for a minimal waste natural […]

  17. Reblogged this on The Earthling's Handbook and commented:
    I am reblogging this because the iPad makes it much easier than pinning it on Pinterest, and I realized I have never “reblogged” anything and don’t know how it will look….

    I have never tried making deodorant or using homemade deodorant, but I keep thinking it’s something I will try someday. Let’s see if putting the recipe on my own site motivates me!

    1. I did make a batch a few weeks after seeing your recipe, but I wasn’t able to give it a fair trial until spring. In a frugally-heated house in Pennsylvania, this stuff is rock-solid all winter! I guess it works better in your climate? Here’s my post about it:

  18. Thanks for the DIY shampoo, I will try this too. I am allergic to PPD in hair dyes, so use henna to colour my hair, and shampoos wear off the colour fast. Hope your tip will let the colour stay longer. BTW, I teach dentistry to medical doctors, and I shared your DIY Deo with 20 doctors, don’t know if they will follow, but one of the lady doctors sniffed my arms to know better…;)…and for a change, I was confident and knew that I smell great. Thanks!

    1. You’re welcome Jasmin. I hope the DIY shampoo helps retain the henna. Please let me know. Thank you for sharing the deodorant with your students! I hope they will try it. You can tell them my sister is also a doctor and she uses it 🙂

  19. Wow, say Hi to your sister! I am telling all my friends about this deo, but I know too that most people are too lazy for DIY and it is difficult to break old habits. But I will keep spreading the word. And guess, the clothes don’t smell of sweat, another plus point. Yes, I will let you know about the shampoo effect on sleep time, already midnight..good night!

  20. Great recipe, my one last piece of resistance is that I wear merino wool tees and wool shirts so I am concerned about oil stains. If you know what wool is like you will understand that these tops have helped me to become a more mindful eater 🙂
    Is oil staining likely to be an issue? I also still wear my favourite 30yr old silk shirts, especiallywhen ttravelling and hate to ruin them.
    Thanks for all your great tips 🙂

    1. Thank you! So my daughter claims this deodorant does stain her clothes a bit. (She has also mentioned something about sheep and wool and that I have to be careful about which wool I buy–she keeps me up to date.) The coconut oil is really just a delivery vehicle for the baking soda and corn starch. As far as I know, it does not add any deodorizing power. If you mix baking powder and corn starch together to make a powder, it will still work. I find it’s just a little harder to put on. That shouldn’t stain anything. I would hate for you to ruin your silk shirts and wool sweaters 🙂 Thanks for the comment!

  21. […] See @zerowastechef’s recipe for a minimal waste natural […]

  22. The deodorant recipe is wonderful, definitely have to try it out! However, I’d recommend you to be careful with the way you wash your hair. Baking soda and apple cider vinegar are way too alkaline for the scalp which is a bit acidic. Just do some research about it before you ruin your hair for good!

    1. Thanks Mari. The deodorant works really well, better than anything I’ve ever tried. And the jar from the post is not quite empty, so it lasted five months! I have heard that some people find the baking soda/vinegar combo harsh. Last week, Lindsay at Treading My Own Path suggested washing with rye flour in the same way. I’ll have to give it a go. I always have rye flour on hand. Have you tried that? Thanks for the comment 🙂

  23. […] the best deodorant I’ve made in the past year. I got the recipe from a trusted source, the Zero Waste Chef, and tweaked it a bit to fit my likes and needs. Please do the same at […]

  24. On a coconut oil roll I am today! Made my first batch of DIY toothpaste this morning and was quite impressed. Just made a batch of this deodorant and will try it this afternoon! Finally found baking soda in bulk. 🙂

    1. What recipe did you use for the toothpaste? Is it on your blog? My daughter used to make that for us and it worked well. Right now I’m using tooth powder. I was ecstatic when I found baking soda in bulk! You must have been too 🙂

  25. Hi 🙂 can men use this as well and it work just as good? I’ve been researching natural deos and reviews state doesn’t last long enough .. Would love to try this!

    1. I don’t see why not. When I first started using it a few years ago I think the guy I was dating tried it and liked it. I vaguely remember as I’ve tried to block much of that relationship out of my memory :p

  26. What do you recommend for someone who cannot stand the smell of coconut oil?

    1. Someone on Facebook said she tried this with almond oil and it worked. I think she also disliked the smell of coconut oil. You use such a small amount of this stuff that I don’t really notice the scent of the oil, just the essential oil, which is also faint.

  27. Reblogged this on Musings From A Northern Village and commented:
    I discovered this recipe for home-made deodorant last year and I’ve only just got round to trying it. It’s brilliant and I don’t think I’ll be going back to shop bought now.

  28. This looks really interesting – I would definitely like to try it 🙂

    1. Thank you! It works so well. I have converted many people to it 😉

  29. […] September, I reblogged The Zero-Waste Chef’s post about how to make your own deodorant and hoped that having it on my own site would motivate me to try this handy do-it-yourself […]

  30. Hi! Should this rub in and disappear like a cream? My mix is quite creamy but I’ve got clumps of it sitting on my skin! Did I make it wrong?

    1. Hi Rachel. This doesn’t disappear like a cream. It leaves a thin layer of the deodorant on your underarms. How big are the clumps? Can you smooth them out a bit onto your skin? If the clumps are big, you may want to slowly melt everything again and mix it up. Or you could add a bit more coconut oil if it’s still too clumpy. My bathroom right now is warm because it’s summer, so the deodorant is very creamy. In winter, it is much harder but when I scoop out a small bit, it softens between my warm fingers to a spreadable consistency. I hope this helps. Thanks for trying it out! 🙂

  31. […] Deodorant = Make your own at home using baking soda, coconut oil, corn starch, and lemon extract […]

  32. I have just made my first batch. I have been using pure magnesium oil as a base and then tapped a mix of corn starch and baking soda with a cotton pad and that worked well. Now I made your recipe and included magnesium oil as well. I am very curious how it will work.

    1. Oh wow. I don’t know anything about magnesium oil. Where do you buy it and what do people generally use it for? It sounds like it should work if your cotton pad with corn starch and baking soda worked. Please let me know how it goes Lenka 🙂

  33. I enjoy the knowledge on your web sites. Thnx.|

  34. Hello, since I can’t find organic cornstarch at the moment, would it be possible to use arrowroot instead?

    1. I haven’t tried that myself but at least a couple of people have tried it and told me it works.

  35. […] I have wonderful genes (thanks mom!) and really don’t sweat much. I’ve literally been using the same stick of deodorant for 6 years and there’s no end in sight.  I haven’t tried them, but I’ve heard good things about Lauren Singer’s recipe on Trash is for Tossers, Kathryn K’s recipe on Going Zero Waste, and Anne Marie’s recipe on Zero Waste Chef. […]

  36. […] DIY Deodorant | Zero Waste Chef […]

  37. Hi,
    Thanks for the recipe! Do you know if it can work without the arrowroot powder/cornstarch? I can’t find arrowroot where I live and also don´t have cornstarch handy.

    1. I haven’t tried that but I think it should work at eliminating odors. It might be a bit harsh. Baking soda doesn’t irritate my skin but other people have told me it irritates theirs. So I would make a small batch in case you don’t like it. I hope it works. Please let me know if you try it so I can pass on the info. Thanks ~ Anne Marie

  38. […] comunidad cero residuos, así que encontrar recetas no es difícil. La que más me gustó fue la de Zero Waste Chef, (un súper blog que lo re contra recomiendo) porque ya tenía todos los ingredientes, incluido el […]

  39. I go through deodorant so quickly and every time I buy a new bottle, I cringe at the plastic. I’m almost at the end of my current bottle and have all the ingredients for your recipe in the cupboard, so I’m going to make this right now! Thanks for the recipe 🙂

    1. The Zero-Waste Chef says: Reply

      Hi Lisa. That’s great. I hope you like it! ~ Anne Marie

      1. Update – I have been using the deodorant for a month now and love it! Thanks again for the recipe, Anne Marie. I’ve just posted a review of it on my blog 😀

      2. The Zero-Waste Chef says:

        Hi Lisa. I’m glad you like the deodorant. I will go check out your review 🙂 ~ Anne Marie

  40. […] non troppo estrema allo shampoo e provare a fare il mio deodorante fatto in casa (una, due, tre […]

  41. […] of my own creation but one from Anne Marie over at The Zero-Waste Chef. You can find the recipe here, but in a nutshell it’s made of bicarb soda, coconut oil, cornstarch and essential oil. […]

  42. Do you find it leaves white marks on dark clothing? I made a batch of this and ending up not using it as it left white marks on my black tops, such a bugger as it is so great otherwise.

  43. Thanks for the recipe, do you think I’d be able to replace coconut oil with olive oil?

  44. Thanks for the post. I am definitely going to try this. Does it stain? if yes, how to avoid it staining clothes? Thank you.

  45. […] found this recipe for deodorant. I thought I would give it a […]

  46. […] Trying this DIY deoderant recipe again. […]

  47. I will definitely try this. I’ve been using home made face cleanser with my hand made crocheted wipes for some time now. I make up a wide necked jar with the cleanser, (boiled water, witchhazel, almond oil and essential oils), and put the wipes into the jar 7 at a time, then put them in the wash after use.

  48. Hey, thanks for this recipe. I’m definitely going to try it as, like you mentioned in another comment, the store bought natural products are super expensive!
    I thought you might like to know that coconut oil has been known since the 1960’s to have antibacterial and antifungal properties and can inactivate years, so this might also contribute to why your recipe works.
    Also, someone mentioned that theirs clumped when they applied it – this may have happened if their cornstarch contained wheat, which will be on the label, and sourcing pure cornstarch should stop that problem.

  49. Just made my 2nd batch and shared the recipe with everyone I know. The first one lasted 4 months (January-April) and withstood a trip to India and many work events. If it clumps I just heat up the clumps between my fingers until it becomes a paste again.

    Thank you for the easy recipe! I won’t go back to store bought 🙂

  50. I made this on Friday and have been asking my husband to smell my armpits all weekend just to make sure I’m not crazy and that this is working. I love it! He said I smell clean and believe me when I tell you I can smell like an old onion in a heartbeat normally, without strong deodorant. I am so excited to have this alternative that I made in an old glass moisturizer container that I saved. No more plastic deodorant bottles for me. One more waste stream annihilated in our household.

    Thank you!

  51. Hi Anne Marie,
    I just made this brilliant deodorant (which is more solid than yours looks, which could be the weather and could be the fact that I am pretty approximate at measuring…) and my daughter is worried about the coconut oil staining her clothes at the armpits. You know how oily residues leave permanent stains on some types of fabrics? Might this happen? We could experiment with silk and coconut oil but I don’t really want to do that. I thought you might know??
    This is not something that worries me in my old age, but, though my daughter’s clothes all come from thrift shops, she wants them unmarred by her own interventions. And she says this is why “normal” deodorants are alcohol and not fat based (but I don’t know about stick deodorants).
    Any wisdom to share on this? Any experience with armpits (is that too personal of a question?)?

    1. Hi Jacqui,
      I would avoid silk. I don’t know if it will stain but that would be awful if it did. The baking soda is the active ingredient. Your daughter could mix that with the cornstarch (or arrowroot powder) and apply a very small amount directly to her underarms. Baking soda can be a little harsh and I think the coconut oil helps with that but I have tried applying just the dry ingredients when I’ve run out of this and have been in a rush. That does work. I hope that helps.
      ~ Anne-Marie

  52. Thank-you for this recipe, another one I was given for just baking soda and peppermint essential oil did not cut it, I think coconut oil will help. I don’t think I have cornstarch so maybe I will try without this weekend. So much cheaper than those plastic-free brands at the refillery store.

    1. My pleasure. I hope you like it. You can also just apply a small amount of baking soda directly on your underarms but I find it a bit messy. The creamy version with coconut oil is really convenient. And it is very inexpensive!

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