The lime experiment: A single-ingredient natural deodorant?

the lime experiment

As I announced a couple of weeks on the Body Unburdened Facebook page, I recently embarked on a little week-long self-experiment: for a week straight, I applied lime juice to my underarms. Man oh man, this was a risky experiment to conduct in the mid-summer heat! Luckily, it worked out rather well. But we’ll get to all that in a bit.

While I am head-over-heels in love with the DIY all-natural detoxifying deodorant (it keeps me odor-free naturally and pulls toxins from my skin – what more could anyone ask for?), it has been said that lime juice can be used as a natural deodorant and I have been very curious about whether or not this was true.

So, I juiced a lime, strained the pulp and seeds, and put the juice in a little glass spray bottle. I kept the bottle in the fridge and sprayed it on my underarms every morning for a week.

The big conclusion: it worked! Not as well as my other deodorant (I was a little stinky by bedtime which is not usually the case for me) but it did work.

So will I be making the switch to lime juice? Nope. I’m still very committed to the DIY all-natural detoxifying deodorant. But this may be an option for others who have a sensitivity to baking soda, cornstarch or arrowroot, common ingredients in many natural deodorants (both DIY and store-bought).

A word of caution before giving it a go: 1) it can sting when applied immediately after shaving, and 2) lime juice and the sun react in such a way that can cause your skin to burn, so absolutely do not apply lime if you are planning on exposing this area of your body to the sun.

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Share Your Thoughts

  1. Deodorant is something I haven’t switched to natural/DIY yet. Lime juice is about as non-intimidating as it gets!

    July 8, 2013 • 8:10 pm •
  2. I did react to the baking soda in my coconut oil deodorant, so I switched to just coconut oil, voila! It works just as well.

    July 8, 2013 • 8:55 pm •
  3. Nadia

    That is awesome to hear!

    July 8, 2013 • 9:22 pm •
  4. Mikkaela

    Lime juice can cause burns on the skin when exposed to sunlight. Just a word of warning, so that anyone interested in doing this is extra cautious when applying. Just make sure that any area exposed to sunlight is rinsed off thoroughly (i.e. hands, arms, surrounding skin).

    July 8, 2013 • 10:07 pm •
  5. Sheila Daniel

    The baking soda/coconut oil formula burned my underarms too… the next day I put a layer of coconut oil on first and then the baking soda mix, worked like a charm! The next batch I might lessen the amount of baking soda.

    July 9, 2013 • 9:06 am •
  6. I just started using a lemon slice. So far, so good!

    July 9, 2013 • 10:30 pm •
  7. […] In this heat I love ways to keep us cool and of course smelling great- here is an easy way from Body Unburdened on how to use a simple product as a deodorant- […]

    July 15, 2013 • 9:29 pm •
  8. I read that if you have a reaction to the baking soda, your ph has been thrown outa whack and the best way to reset is use apple cider vinegar/water rinse first. I will give it a try.

    July 26, 2013 • 10:45 am •
  9. Jackie

    I’m in love with my one-ingredient Milk of Magnesia for a deodorant. I love it for several reasons:
    1) I can’t use the coconut oil & baking soda version because the baking soda seriously irritated my armpits
    2) The oil did cause some oily marks on my clothes
    3) Milk of Magnesia is incredibly cheap and readily available
    4) Just ONE ingredient! No mixing!
    5) Your body NEEDS magnesium and it’s more readily absorbed through the skin anyway
    6) It keeps me odor free all day (I live in hot, Cabo San Lucas, Mexico) and even into the next morning
    7) Doesn’t irritate my armpits at all, even after applying to freshly shaved armpits.

    July 26, 2013 • 12:59 pm •
  10. Nadia

    That’s awesome, Jackie! Maybe that will be my next experiment 🙂

    July 26, 2013 • 3:33 pm •
  11. Does it leave a chalky residue on your clothing?

    July 27, 2013 • 7:21 am •
  12. Saj

    Lavender essential oil works great for me.

    August 24, 2013 • 5:01 pm •
  13. Jaclyn

    Hi Nadia, appreciate the article! By any chance, have you experimented with Lavilin? My friend recently forwarded me a review of natural deodorants in NY Mag, and Lavilin was #1:

    Would love to hear your thoughts!

    March 11, 2014 • 5:07 am •
  14. Mag

    My odor was so bad, i would not raise my arm in public so i tried lavilin, i had high hopes due to reviews on amazon but it did not work for me. i tried different natural deodorants, they would work for like a week and stop working for some reason. i’m currently rubbing lime under my armpits twice a day. and i’m loving it so far. Hope it lasts cos it’s cheap lol:)

    March 18, 2014 • 11:30 am •
  15. Does the lime irritate freshly shaved skin?

    March 21, 2014 • 6:08 pm •
  16. Nadia

    Yes! (I wrote this in the post)

    March 21, 2014 • 6:42 pm •
  17. LP

    I’ll have to try Milk of Magnesia too! I had been using coconut oil/baking soda/arrowroot/teatree/lavender with success for months! And then all of a sudden I started getting in-grown hairs! So I tried lemon today (because we didn’t have lime in the fridge) and did a pretty risky first trial run at Bikram Yoga (a hot yoga) and it worked really well!

    April 9, 2014 • 7:05 pm •
  18. Lori

    She said it can irritate freshly shaved skin. Also remember about going into the sun. Some girls where I live we’re playing with fresh limes at the pool, having a tea party the juice dripped down their bodies and face and they were severely burned and made the national news. Don’t want that happening to your pits if you’re in a tank top or something! I might have to try this out. I just made your deodorant and am excited to try it! I used the Redmond Clay brand. I think I will check out your link for their prices and some arrowroot too. Thanks for all the great recipes and ideas.

    April 20, 2014 • 1:54 pm •
  19. janny

    Lime does work, but unfortunately for me when it dries out my armpits smell like something along the lines of stale maple syrup. I prefer my body odor to that, but it was worth a try.

    May 29, 2014 • 9:31 pm •
  20. Courtney

    Mag – how long did you try Lavilin for? Usually there is an adjustment period (I heard up to 3 weeks for some people). I almost gave up on it, but persevered and it’s been amazing. Wouldn’t ever think of switching!

    June 26, 2014 • 2:28 am •
  21. carolina

    The lime has definitely worked for me, no odor what-so-ever. Deodorants have never been effective, at least not for me. I’ve tried Toms which is a natural deodorant and I would immediately smell. I’ve also made the my own deodorant with baking soda which definitely works but and it has turned my armpits dark and then it starts to peel and itch. The lime is great

    July 25, 2014 • 12:30 pm •
  22. Nadia

    Glad to hear the lime works for you!

    August 7, 2014 • 9:07 am •
  23. You might try adding lime EO to your recipe for extra de-odorizing power. 😉

    February 19, 2015 • 2:44 pm •
  24. Nadia

    Oh true! Never even thought of that…

    February 23, 2015 • 8:15 pm •
  25. ervin

    I am a man and have been using lemon juice or lime juice for over a year now. It is absolutely the best natural deodorant I have ever tried hand down. Both my daughters and my wife use it as well. I don’t understand this concern about exposure to sun light we have never had any problems. Just apply 3 or 4 drops of juice (its not the oil) to each arm pit let it dry and you are ready to go. If you shave it can sting slightly but you wont die. We just keep a cut lemon in the fridge and all of us use it.

    March 5, 2015 • 5:12 pm •
  26. Bee

    My mother and I use lemon and lime juice as deodorants as well! It’s the best! Thanks for sharing!

    March 29, 2015 • 5:58 pm •
  27. Nadia


    March 31, 2015 • 10:01 am •
  28. Jessica

    I have used lime juice from time to time, my grandmother told me about this natural deodorant. I mainly have used it because I can not for the life of me find a deodorant that will clear my arm pit stains. Over the summer its so embarrassing to use any color other than black or white because I stain my arm pit with any other color shirt. Any suggestions other than lime juice?

    July 28, 2015 • 8:28 pm •
  29. Nadia

    By “stains” do you mean your sweat? No natural deodorant will prevent you from sweating because antiperspirant is unnatural and very unhealthy. Sweat is natural! People need to embrace it. I’m sweaty. Whatever.

    July 29, 2015 • 8:51 am •
  30. Karen Scheb

    I haven’t tried line but I have been using lemon for the last month and it works great. Just slice a piece, rub under your arms, and move alone. Works like a charm.

    August 7, 2015 • 1:35 am •
  31. Nakai

    So I’ve been doing the lime thing for about a week and am so glad…
    I’d got to the point where mens deodorant didn’t work for me, I’m a dancer and I just couldn’t interact with anyone once I’d danced coz the sweat was unreal. . .I figured I’ve nothing to lose…I’ve danced quit intensely on a couple of occasions and no problems…fresh and clean!!! I keep half a lime in the bathroom to top up as the day goes if need be but first thing and laSt thing at night is working well..

    January 1, 2016 • 11:18 pm •
  32. Nadia

    That’s so great to hear, Nakai!! Thanks for sharing 🙂

    January 2, 2016 • 4:46 am •
  33. Sandra

    There is no deodorant, not even a prescription strength that works on me! My armpits literally smell bad after a couple hours even after reapplying no matter what deodorant :/ I’ve been using lime for about half a year and it works great for me! I have found that its not as effective if i use it from a spray bottle, it works best if you cut lime in half & rub it directly on your pits! Last summer i went to Disney world and it kept me from not smelling bad. If you sweat more, it sonetimes may be necessary to reapply! It does sting for a bit after shaving but it’s well worth it! 🙂

    March 17, 2016 • 11:47 pm •
  34. Lana

    FWIW: So, I use the lime whole. Personally, I think the peel has something to do with its overall effectiveness. I cut off the top, and use the fresh cut side and keep the rest of it in my fridge, marked so it does not get confused as edible. I store it cut side down, and slice a bit off as it gets dry/less than fresh. If you wipe the juice off your pits with a damp washcloth about a minute or two after applying, the sun irritation is non existent, and it still works for 24 hours for me. The lime can be used for almost a month, if it’s a big and juicy one.
    The citric acid acts as an astringent on the pores and even seems to keep me from sweating as much.

    May 14, 2016 • 4:10 pm •
  35. laoye wuraola

    pls, can using of lime as a deodorant cause cancer?

    June 29, 2016 • 6:49 am •
  36. Mari

    Lime juice works better for me than most deodorants! I love it and have been using it for almost 2 years now

    October 5, 2016 • 2:17 pm •
  37. Eva

    I use corn starch baby powder with zinc. It helps keep me dry and the zinc keeps the order away. I use it all over my body.

    November 3, 2016 • 4:57 am •
  38. Piper

    I am currently using lime now as my deodorant. After I shower in the morning, I rub half of the lime directly to my armpits. Works best for me however, after a couple of days my armpits would start itching. How can I stop the itching without having to discontinue using the lime as deodorant? Any thoughts?

    November 15, 2016 • 11:39 am •