Does Excessive Washing Increase Body Odor?

by Koko Hayashi

Yes, it can. You might think the more washing the better, right? However, excessive washing can actually cause more body odor!

Here is why: There is Staphylococcus epidermis, one of good bacteria's, located on your skin's surface. These guys prevent growth of bad bacteria and protect your skin's immunity. But by taking a shower or bath, 70% of our bad-bacteria fighting good guys can be rinsed off. Moreover, excessive washing with soap can rinse off as much as 95% of S. epidermis. In this environment, bad bacteria, including Staphylococcus aureus or fungus, increases to cause unpleasant body odor. (S. epidermis does come back over the next few hours, if you are healthy.)

It is important to rinse off dirt, sweat, and oxidized natural oils by taking showers or baths, but using too much soap can be a bad thing. It’s not always the best to be squeaky clean.

5 areas you should be washing with soap include:

  1. Behind the ears
  2. Behind the neck
  3. Under arms
  4. Groin Area
  5. Feet

    These areas tend to have oxidized natural oils that later lead to body odors.

    In other words, you don’t have to wash other areas like legs, arms or stomach, with soap. It’s perfectly fine to just rinse with water since sweat is water-soluble. Oxidized natural oils are water-INsoluble and require soap for rinsing away.


    1. Harvard Health
    2. Experimental Dermatology