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Don’t Fret The Sweat: Teaching Kids To Use Deodorant



Driving 6, 12-year-old boys home from a week at scout camp should earn me a major award! They had spent the week in the mountains, 2.5 hours from civilization. There were no showers to clean the sweat off their bodies, and no washing machines to sanitize the clothes they both slept and played in. I’m no stranger to horrible smells. From the time my kids could wear socks, they’ve had super smelly feet. But the smell from these scouts went beyond stinky feet. The BO from the back seat was almost unbearable. I made the entire trip with the window down and my sleeve pulled over my hand and pressed to my nose.

As soon as we got home, I ordered my 12 year old to take a shower, put his clothes in the washing machine, and meet me in the kitchen for a talk. I didn’t realize this time had come. My kids are growing up faster than I realized. While he was in the shower, I ran to the store to purchase his first stick of deodorant.

The conversation went like this:

Me: “Nate, do you know what deodorant is?”

Nate: “Yeah.”

Me, “I need you to start wearing it.”

Nate: “K,” and he walked away.

This is typical of every conversation with my 12-year-old boy. He gives me one word replies and walks away. No big deal, as long as he complies. He turned 13 one week ago. We ask him often if he remembered to put deodorant on. He had been forgetting a lot, until the last few weeks, as he started Jr. High and apparently likes girls now. Lucky for the world, girls in Jr. High don’t like boys who smell. They have been more influential than I can ever hope to be.


Are you getting ready for this conversation? Unilever’s Don’t Fret The Sweat campaign has help for you! They’ve signed on a panel of experts to get your questions answered. The Don’t Fret The Sweat Facebook page, is an educational resource that can help you choose the right deodorant for your tween, as well as give you support and advice. Check out real life stories and tips, so you don’t have to drive 2.5 hours with a stinky 12-year-old boy.

Unilever’s Don’t Fret The Sweat campaign has launched at the perfect time for me. Their current products include:

  • Degree® Men
  • Degree® Women
  • Degree® Girl
  • Dove®  
  • Suave®

Natalie Monson

I'm a registered dietitian, mom of 4, avid lover of food and strong promoter of healthy habits. Here you will find lots of delicious recipes full of fruits and veggies, tips for getting your kids to eat better and become intuitive eaters and lots of resources for feeding your family.

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Hi how do feel about the whole aluminium in antiperspirants / deodorants. I have 2 teena ge boys that love to drown themselves in Lynx but I’m concerned about the cocktail of chemicals in these products. However here in Ireland it’s hard to get smellies that smell like Lynx and satisfy my concerns. Your thoughts?

funny–i was just wondering about this! my kids are only 8 and 5, so i guess it’s a while yet for me. i was in first grade when i started wearing deodorant. apparently, i smelled so bad, my mom said she could ‘tell which rooms i had been in.’ and no fun scents for me; it was maximum strength mitchum for me. (needless to say, i have some issues now 🙂 ). now i’m a big fan of dove products.

I’d be concerned about the aluminum and other very nasty chemicals in deodorant – given your focus is on ‘super healthy kids’! Anti-perspirants and spray on perfumes and deodorizing are a chemical cocktail not only do they get in through the skin but also they’re breathed in.

What perfect timing! My 11 year old son has had a stick of deoderant since he went to camp last year. We knew he was starting puberty and wanted to make sure he didnt stink up his cabin even though we had never smelled BO coming from him. Since we never smelled BO we didnt really check to see if he was using deoderant regularly. But…Just this last Saturday I was playing with our new pet on the floor. He came and sat down next to me and omg I caught my breath, he smelled so bad. Needless to say, I went out and bought deodorant as soon as I could and told him he needed to make sure he wore some EVERY DAY! Ha!

Hi Sarah: I’m not saying I shouldn’t be concerned.. I just haven’t taken the time to read the research on aluminum. Do you have any studies to recommend?

Perfect timing for me as well. My 10 year old came home complaining that his bus smells like BO and that he wants to start wearing deoderant. I am also concerned about the safety of deoderant, I’ve had him powdering his pits on hot days for a while, but at some point that just dosent cut it. I’ve also noticed the boys love cologney smelling stuff. The stronger the better, but I also know that’s not really effective. I heard antipersperant is dangerous, I myself have used Mitchum faithfully, but I don’t have a lot of info about it all.

I think I was about 12 when I started wearing deodorant. With 2 sons, I worry when they get to that age that they have to keep their B.O. in check.

Aluminum or not, I’ll take the risk! I grew up in a house where personal hygiene wasn’t paid attention to as much as it should have been. Our weekly Saturday night baths were in a tub full of water previously used by my brothers (damn the seniority!). Luckily, just as with Nate, the peer pressure of Jr High was enough to prompt wearing deodorant (and a bra, though I didn’t need one). So, I hopped on my bike one afternoon and rode to Walmart to begin a new, cleaner, better smelling chapter of life.

Gosh, my 3 year old is a ways away from needing deoderant. And I honestly can’t remember when I started to use it. As another commenter wrote, wearing a bra when I didn’t need to was more memorable in junior high. I would also be interested in specific studies about aluminum content and it’s effects….

I honestly don’t remember probably 6th grade. Just growing up makes me nervous the world has sure changed since I was a kid, worries, technology…

We are a ways away from deotorant at 16 months, but one thing I have been doing from infancy is bathing my son every day. I have friends that only bathe there kids when they “need” it which is probably fine now, but I want to instill a bath a day habit in mine.

Yeah, since all mine are little, we don’t have to worry about this for a while yet. I remember wearing deodorant in Elementary school because that’s when my classmates started to stink!

I was in fifth grade when I first wore deodorant. That’s when our school made us start wearing gym uniforms and I guess deodorant comes along with the sports bra and polyester gym shorts. 🙂

LOL at all of the ladies and their first training bras! I don’t remember when I first started deodorant, but I’m certian that I didn’t need it. In fact, it wasn’t until after having my children that it became a necessity. And nothing but the clinical strength stuff works now – not even my husband’s manly stuff. Payback’s rough… I’m certain that hormones play a significant part in body smells such as this.

Aluminum is in anti-persperants. There are deodorants without it – Old Spice and Gillette both have them…and my friend’s son came home in the fifth grade with a letter from his teacher saying all boys need to start wearing deodorant!

You mean YOU don’t get the $100 gift card for driving six 12-year olds back from scout camp??? Sheesh, I’d say you had that one in the bag. I’d also say I’m glad it wasn’t me!

My six-year old came home from his 3-hour P.E. class today sporting an attitude and a stench that gave me some flash-forwards to the future. I think I’ll just buy some yellow tape to tape back and forth across his bedroom door so I don’t have to go in and smell it when he’s a teen.

I’m pretty sure that I started wearing deodorant at a normal age, BUT something crazy has changed in the last 5 years or so and I’ve had to change over to clinical strength to help me out!

Awesome! My fear is that I won’t survive 3 teenage boys and their stink! My 11 y/o isn’t stinky yet, but his 9 y/o brother about knocks me down after football practice and gives me a hard time about taking a shower after practice!

My parents weren’t good at talking to us about “puberty stuff”. So, I don’t really have a guide of how to talk to my kids about it. That is what scares me. How do I talk about it casually like it isn’t something to be scared of? I still have a few years to work on it I guess. 🙂

My daughter is only 8 and several times last year I was suprised at the stinky B.O. spell coming from her little hairless pits! I bought her some deoderant, but I usually only make her wear it when she is going to be playing basketball. I think I need to start encouraging it more now. I love Degree’s Womens plain Deodorant. It isn’t an antiperspirant, so I am going to plan for my daughter to use this as well. I think it is ok to sweat, but not to smell bad. The Aluminum isn’t good for you and it stains your clothes!

I worry about how quickly children seem to be maturing nowadays. Kids seem to be a lot older for their age. 13 years olds look like 18 year olgs & 18 year ols look like 27 year olds! While their bodies might look older their minds are not yet mature and they still have a lot to learn!

we have not run across this issue yet seeing how my son is only 2 but after he runs around from playing outside it is definitely bath time. when the time comes I prefer he wear Aluminum-free kind.

My daughter was 10 when she started puberty and started getting hair underarm and needed to start using deoderant.

The little girls I babysit are total tomboys, In the dirt, running all day long, and its hard to get them to stop and eat let alone keep up with the whole hygiene thing. I am not looking forward to when they join school sports and I have to haul around dirty girls wet with sweat! Puberty is hard enough without staining the car seats!

I don’t remember how old but I remember it was Teen Spirit deodorant, which they don’t even make anymore (it did get a song named after it, though!)

I remember practically having to FORCE my little sister to wear deodorant -_- bleh, i just didn’t understand why anyone was okay with walking around smelling like onions and garlic.

oh! and around 5th to 6th grade when everyone was starting puberty and those days when the bus would smell like PURE armpits due to the lack of communication between parent and child… bleh, I will never forget that. I became a car rider/walker because of that. lol.

OH, and you cant forget the guys who completely over do it with the spray on deodorant. BLEH, horrible.

I think I started wearing deodorant in 6th or 7th grade … I just had a my first child and getting through late nights is on my mind I can’t even think about puberty yet, 😉

I think I started wearing deodorant at my early teens. I was always sweaty and no kidding, it wasn’t fun to be able to smell my own sweat. 🙂 I better don’t go too much into details here! LOL

amy [at] utry [dot] it

I’m not looking forward to my son hitting puberty at all! But he’s a sweaty little kid, so I know the deodorant talk will be coming early. My biggest fear is just knowing that he’ll be getting older and more independent.

I worry about their choice in friends, as tht influences their decisions in life

artisticbaker (at) gmail (dot) com

I worry about them getting sick. Cancer is everywhere, and there’s nothing I can do to protect them from disease.

mjharvey26 at yahoo dot com


I began wearing deodorant when I was around ten years of age. I fear my children resenting me when they are older, especially during those teenage years. I really love the bond we share, and hope to always have that.
zelpuz77 at yahoo dot com

I have to remind my 11 year old to put on deodorant all the time. She gets mad, but she sure smells nice afterwards!

Unfortunately (although I have read it is healthy) I am a huge sweater so my mom had to introduce deodorant to me at about age 8–but I thought it was cool at the time because it was a “big girl” thing.

I had to start wearing it when I was about 12, my daughter is only 4 so I haven’t really considered when she is going to need it, although she always asks to wear it b/c she watches me put it on.

My kids are 9 and 7, and I recently started having them wear deodorant – had to, or the smell would have made me pass out !! :-). I usually have them wear it on days I know they will be more active – gym days or in the summer …

Our older two children started using deodorant around puberty, and it still requires ongoing reminders for them to use it. I’m seriously considering starting it for my 1st grade son this year also. His school doesn’t have great cooling and I think it might help him be more comfortable in those stuffy classrooms. Thank goodness fall is here.

I am so nervous about puberty…well my kids reaching puberty. I have started the girls with training bras. I don’t think I am ready for them to start growing up….but unfortunately time doesn’t stand still.

I believe I was around 11 when I started wearing deodorant. If I recall it was more or less for the fact that we received gym lockers and it was just something you did rather than out of necessity.

My son is a ways a way from needing to wear deodorant. I started wearing deodorant in 6th grade, mostly because the other girls in PE had it – don’t think most of us really needed it then.

I think I started wearing deodorant in 5th grade. Just thinking about my kids going threw puberty makes me wanna crawl in a corner and suck my thumb. Lol

I remember when my mom first told me to start wearing deodorant. I was 9 and didnt really understand the concept of wearing deodorant I was too much of a tomboy and i hated the extra effort added to my daily schedule

I started wearing deodorant around the age of 13. My daughters are 4 and 6 years old, so I still have a couple of more years before having the conversation with them.

I started wearing deodorant in the 6th grade even though I didn’t really need it–I just wanted to smell nice 🙂

I’m 80 now and I sure don’t remember how old I was when I started wearing deodorant, but my daughter started around puberty

One thing about parenting that made me sweat was all their teen years! I used more deodorant those years than any other!

gmissycat at yahoo dot com

I think I was probably 11 when I started wearing it, and to this day I couldnt imagine not wearing deodorant, its become a habit now after showering every morning, my kids kinda picked it up on their own and luckily for me we never encountered any stinky teens when they were growing up
Thanks for the great giveaway

HaHa, my sister was sitting next to me when I was about 14 years old and said “you stink”…I’ve worn deoderant every day since!!!

I started wearing deodorant around the 4th grade I think. I always like buying the ones with the flower scents.

I was a late bloomer and I didn’t actually start “needing” it until about 14, but a lot of my classmates used it at 11 and 12.

I was a bout 11 or 12 when I first stared using deodorant. I don’t think it was quite necessary but I wanted never to be stinky.

My daughter’s only 4 so I’m sure by the time she starts getting smelly they’ll be some app for getting rid of body odor. 🙂

My son could never remember if he had already put some deoderant on yet or not….so my words of advice were “it’s better to apply it twice than not at all and then stink!”

I was about 10 or 11 and couldn’t wait to do all the grown-up things my mom was doing, including shaving my legs and wearing makeup. So I was thrilled that I was getting to wear deodorant!

Thank heavens for deodorant! Kids can start smelling in first grade and you want them to have friends and not be known as a stinky kid.

I think I was 10 or 11 when I started using antiperspirant. My daughter was about the same age when I bought her her first deodorant.

My kids driving I’m dreading the most. Right now, we’re starting to deal with our oldest son, who just turned 14 and is starting to date. He’s been going out with this girl for about 4 months now and we’re sweating that they don’t get themselves into trouble.
Thanks os much.

I don’t remember exactly how old my son was but I do remember I had to remind him about it a few times before it stuck!

My sons have gone through puberty but I’m more concerned about my granddaughters going through it . I think I was 12 when I started using deodorant.

On thing about parenting that makes me sweat is the chance that my child may have an accident. Thanks for the giveaway!

I have boys so I have a lot of fear of the unknown when it comes to them and puberty. I am really hoping my husband will be the light in the dark lol.

I started wearing deodorant when I was 14. Even then I really didn’t need it since I was very thin and just didn’t sweat.

I was 12 or 13 when i first wore deoderant and my children were about the same age nupa123atgmaildotcom

I started wearing deodorant in 5th grade. I’m due with boy number three soon, so I’m sure I will know all too well those sweaty boy smells when they hit teenage-hood!

I have two sons so I definitely am nervous about puberty but I still have a way to go – like ten years till my oldest turns 13 but that doesn’t stop me from thinking “holy crap” when I think about it. 😉

I have to remind my oldest daughter (11) daily to put it on. My youngest daughter who is 7 has already started to stink, I thought it was really early but I just read another post about their seven year old being stinky so I guess it’s not. I’m not ready to deal with it with her just yet. lol Thank you!

It’s such an embarressing story, but my aunt asked me if I wore deoderant yet and I said “No, I don’t need that yet” and she answered “Oh yes you do” and sent me up to my cousins room to borrow deoderant. baha Looking back now, I can’t help but laugh. kids are just kids.

You know, I have absolutely no idea when I had to start wearing deodorant. I guess that wasn’t a milestone in my life:)

I was pretty young when I started wearing deodorant, or as my friend called it, “deo for the BO.” No kids here yet though!

I started wearing deodorant around 13. I have two teenage boys, and they both started wearing deodorant at about 12. I’d really like to find out more about some anti-perspirants that don’t contain any aluminum.

Fears of my kids hitting pueberty? Plenty of them! I was very wild as a kid so I was worried my kids might be, too! So I encouraged good clean fun things-sports, science, etc…..

I started to wear deodorant at 13. That is when I started to notice I stunk!

I was 16 and playing on the tennis team when I first started wearing deodorant. But even then I didn’t wear it regularly until I was about 20, which was when I started to sweat more regularly.

My kids are grown but by biggest fear when they were going through puberty was that they would get involved with drugs. But we go through their teen with lots of communication and love.
[email protected]

I started wearing deodorant at around 12-13–I taught my son to use deodorant at around 11. I used to call what he and his friends had when they came in from riding bikes “BS” (boy sweat) and actually talked to all of them about deodorant.

I was in 7th grade. The PE teacher sent home a note to all parents saying “your child MUST have a can of deodorant in her locker”. Oh the 70’s !

I have 2 boys, ages 12 & 10. And they are in need of deodorant !! Every day I have to remind them. They were both excited to get there first stick of deodorant. Thanks for the contest!

I am a firm believer in deoderant and kids are teased enough without the fear of smelling. On top of deoderant it is parents responsibility to get their child/adolescent to bathe daily especially after puberty hits.

I think I started wearing it when I was about 9. I remember I had Tickle, because it looked fun. Does anyone remember that?

I think I was around 12 or 13 when I started using deodorant. If we weren’t already using it our PE teacher made sure we started.

My daughter is only 8 but I know that time is coming soon. I think I was 13 or so when I started to use deodorant.

thisisme79 @ gmail dot com

I was about 11 when I started wearing deodorant and I am not looking forward to my daughter hitting those years, although she does wear deodorant now. sweepmorey at gmail dot com

I have a son who is a teenager and is special needs and I have been trying to reach him the importance of using deodorant. I also work for a school with students who are autistic and getting them to understand this is very difficult.

I remember being about 9 years old. It was 4th grade I think. We had just come in from recess, all hot and sweaty. Our teacher actually sat in front of the class and gave a lecture on the fact that we hadn’t learned proper hygiene (apparently the classroom stunk!), and how we needed to go home and talk to our parents about deodorant. hahaha I didn’t think it was very funny at the time, but it gave us a quick heads up, without having to single anyone out and embarrass them. I went right home and got some deodorant from my mom! rofl

coriwestphal at msn dot com

I began wearing deodorant when I was thirteen. But I had to teach my daughter to wear it at the age of ten.


I don’t remember when I started wearing deodorant, but I remember the awkward conversation about shaving. My mom just got tired of seeing the hair on my legs, even though it hadn’t bothered me yet…what an awkward time!

As a babysitter I can say nothing worse than older kids who haven’t learned of deodorant yet. Thanks for the contest!

My three boys started having to wear deodorant when they were around 12. They were pretty easy to get through puberty. I don’t remember any problems. I had no girls so I would not know the first thing about helping one through puberty.
Thanks for the giveaway!
eswright18 at gmail dot com

I remember one day in Junior High everyone in homeroom got a hygiene bag. Deodorant, soap, and for the girls, tampons. I think that’s when I started wearing it regularly, around 7th grade.

[email protected]

Wow, I don’t remember when I started wearing deodorant… I guess 10 or 11. Us girls get smelly a little sooner than the boys 😉

I’m not looking forward to the day where my daughter starts being interested in boys and go boy crazy. hah

My kids must get a stinky gene from their dad. They both had to start wearing deodorant around 2nd grade. I think I was probably closer to 11 or so when I had to regularly wear it.

I honestly can’t remember for myself, however, my 10 year old is needing extra care (or deoderant) now and it’s getting difficult to get him to add this to his routine!

I was always a girly girl who didn’t like to stink so when I had a daughter years later, I assumed she would be like me. But alas she can smelly like a sweaty kid but 6th grade in Middle School was great for her…she found boys and deodorant….yeah!!!

I started wearing deodorant when I was 12 because my mother to me it was about time to start wearing it and I hadn’t started questioning her authority yet.

I don’t worry about the kids because we are honest with them about everything. I think I started using deoderent about 5th or 6 th grade

brich22 at earthlink dot net

I started to sweat the first time I let my son walk to school with his friends without me. It was long overdue, but I was so nervous.

runningmatey at hotmail dot com

I was 11 yrs old and used my Mom’s Ban i believe it was called. My kids, I was scared of them hitting puberty, but to be honest I’m more scared of my only girl hitting that period.

My kids are so close in age that I guess I’m afraid that they’ll all hit puberty at the same time! Although right now my girls (2 and 3 years old) always want me to pretend to put deodorant on them already so they smell nice. Guess I should worry more about my boys!

I started puberty early. I started at 9 years old. My daughter is doing the same thing. Poor kid, lol,

itsjustme62613 at gmail.com

I’m pretty sure I was wearing deodorant through middle school years but I can’t quite remember when I started. Thanks for the chance to win this awesome giveaway!!!

My fear about my children going through Puberty would definitely be them being teased while they are in transition or even them being uncomfortable with themselves, Especially my daughter when she gets her first visit from Mother Nature. I was horrified when mine came

I fear having the talk, I know its inevitable but its just… you know they’re all grown up and scary. I started wearing deodorant in 7th grade, i dont think i necessarily had to, but all the ‘cool kids’ were and we had just had that ‘health assembly’ for the girls.

i have no idea how old i was when i started wearing it.. but my kids will start earlier because i worry about things like that. i don’t want other kids to make fun of them and thats something i sweat about

I was 13 when my parents first prompted me to use deodorant..and quite frankly they were really late to do this..I took quite a ribbing at school for years before that..I was shy and awkward & ashamed…

I don’t remember how old I was. But I’ve had a few situations in the classroom when I’ve had to counsel the ‘more mature’ 5th grade boys about using deodorant. Very awkward!

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These are {really|actually|in fact|truly|genuinely} {great|enormous|impressive|wonderful|fantastic} ideas in {regarding|concerning|about|on the topic of} blogging.
Yoou havbe touched some {nice|pleasant|good|fastidious} {points|factors|things} here.

Anyy way keep up wrinting.|
{I love|I really like|I enjoy|I like|Everyone loves} what you guyys {are|are usually|tend to be} up too.
{This sort of|This type of|Such|This kind of}
cleever work and {exposure|coverage|reporting}!

Keep up the {superb|terrific|very good|great|good|awesome|fantastic|excellent|amazing|wonderful} wrks
guys I’ve {incorporated||added|included} you guys to {|my|our||my personal|my own} blogroll.|
{Howdy|Hi there|Hey there|Hi|Hello|Hey}! Someone in my {Myspace|Facebook} group shared this {site|website} with us
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{I love|I really like|I enjoy|I like|Everyone loves} what you guys {are|are usually|tend to be} up too.
{This sort of|This type of|Such|This kind of} clever work and {exposure|coverage|reporting}!
Keep up the {superb|terrific|very good|great|good|awesome|fantastic|excellent|amazing|wonderful} works guys I’ve {incorporated|added|included} you guys to {|my|our|my personal|my own} blogroll.|
{Howdy|Hi there|Hey there|Hi|Hello|Hey} would yoou
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blogs and I’m looking for something {completely unique|unique}.

P.S {My apologies|Apologies|Sorry} for {getting|being} off-topic but I had to ask!|
{Howdy|Hi there|Hi|Hey there|Hello|Hey} would youu mind letting
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Can you {suggest|recommend} a good {internet hosting|webhosting|hosting} provider at a
{honest|reasonable|fair} price? {Thanks a lot|Kudos|Cheers|Thank you|Many thanks|Thanks}, I appreciate it!|
{I love|I really like|I like|Everyone loves} it {when people|when individuals|when folks|whenever people} {come
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Great {blog|website|site}, {keep it up|continue the
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{can|could} we communicate?|
{Howdy|Hi there|Hey there|Hello|Hey} just wated tto give
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{Kudos|Cheers|Many thanks|Thanks}|
This iis a topic {that is|that’s|which is} {close to|near to} my heart…
{Cheers|Many thanks|Best wishes|Take care|Thank you}! {Where|Exactly where} are your contact
details though?|
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{Hola|Hey there|Hi|Hello|Greetings}! I’ve been {following|reading} your {site|web
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{It is the|It’s the} little changes {that make|which will make|that produce|that will
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{Thanks a lot|Thanks|Many thanks} for sharing!|
{I really|I truly|I seriously|I absolutely} love {your blog|your site|your website}..

{Very nice|Excellent|Pleasant|Great} colors & theme.
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