Can You use Hand Sanitizer as Deodorant? (Yes, But…)

can you use hand sanitizer as deodorant

Have you ever realized that you’ve left your deodorant at home, but you have some hand sanitizer available? With how many people started carrying hand sanitizer during the pandemic, this is not an unusual state to find yourself in.

Hand sanitizer could work as a short-term replacement for deodorant, but be aware that it is not the same product and it won’t provide long-term protection. The smell from sweat is caused by bacteria, and the hand sanitizer will kill this off. You will find that you still sweat, but that it does not smell bad.

We’re going to look at the things that you can do if you don’t have access to deodorant, and explore why hand sanitizer works instead. We will also look at why body odor may remain even after showering in some situations.

Using Hand Sanitizer As Deodorant

If you are in a pinch, you might be both surprised and delighted to learn that you can use hand sanitizer instead of deodorant. If you’ve got a bottle of hand sanitizer, quickly swabbing a little bit in both of your armpits is a great way to get rid of an unpleasant body odor.

That is particularly good news in our post-pandemic world. A lot of places are now offering free hand sanitizer, and a lot of people are carrying their own stash – which makes it ideal if you’re stuck without deodorant and you don’t have any other options. You may be able to find some in a restroom, or you might even have some in your bag.

Apply a small amount to the underside of each arm and allow it to dry fully. You should find that all odor is gone. This works because the odor is produced by bacteria that live in your sweat. These bacteria cannot survive in the high-alcohol content of hand sanitizer (which is why the stuff works on germs too).

You should be aware that hand sanitizer might dry your skin out, and it’s not a good idea to use it repeatedly. The skin under your arms is more likely to be sensitive than the skin on your hands, and putting strong alcohol on it regularly could cause irritation and even a rash.

Deodorant Alternatives

There are a few things you can do if you don’t have deodorant, and hand sanitizer is just one of the solutions. You might want to try antibacterial hand wipes or alcohol wipes instead. Both of these will also kill off the bacteria that produce the odor, leaving you smelling fresher and cleaner.

If you don’t have access to either of these, it’s a good idea to find some soap and water and give your armpits a wash. This should remove some of the bacteria, leaving you smelling fresher. However, it won’t kill them, so you might need to rub a bit to get rid of them and actually combat the smell.

This isn’t always easy in a public restroom, but it may be an option sometimes. Even wetting a paper towel with soap and water and then cleaning up in a stall should help. Remember to let your arms dry before putting your shirt back on.

If you are at home and you don’t have any deodorant, you can use other antibacterial products, like apple cider vinegar or lemon juice. Both of these will create an acidic environment that will kill the odor-producing bacteria, leaving your armpits smelling fresh (and possibly citrusy). However, be aware that they may irritate your skin.

Effectiveness of Hand Sanitizer as Deodorant

Hand sanitizer should work as a deodorant, but there are concerns about how the fragrances and the benzophenones could affect your hormones. There is also a risk that the high alcohol content will irritate your skin.

If you wipe hand sanitizer under your arms, you will probably find that it works to keep you smelling clean and fresh all day – and possibly longer. The alcohol is strong enough to kill the bacteria completely, essentially sterilizing your skin, and many people do find that this is very effective.

However, you need to be cautious and remember that hand sanitizer is not designed to be used in this way. There are risks that it could be harmful, and you should be very careful about regularly applying it to your skin.

Why Do I Smell Bad Even After I Shower?

If you have ever stepped out of a shower and noticed that your skin still smells sweaty and unpleasant, this is likely due to a buildup of bacteria. It can be very disheartening to get out of a flow of hot, fresh water and discover that you don’t feel clean – but there are things you can do about this.

Firstly, make sure you are cleaning under your arms properly, especially if you have hair there. Hair can reduce the bad smell, but after a while, it may trap it and cause a buildup of bacteria that is harder to shift. A good scrub will help.

Check too for ingrown hairs, as an infection will cause an unpleasant smell. Clean the area thoroughly with warm or hot salt water, tease the hair out of the skin, and go to your doctor if the problem persists.

You should also make sure you are using the right products for you. Some people prefer to use an antiperspirant, and it’s recommended that you apply this at night, rather than during the day. It will stop you from sweating overnight, meaning you are fresher when you shower. You won’t need to reapply it after washing, but you can if you choose to.


Hand sanitizer may work as a deodorant in a pinch, because the high alcohol content will kill the bacteria growing under your arms and prevent them from producing the odor that is so unpleasant. However, you should be aware that hand sanitizer has not been formulated for this purpose, and using it in the long-term could have some undesirable results.

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