Why Do Some Indian People Smell More of Body Odor?

Are you triggered yet?


Because you’re the problem if you’re treating personal hygiene like a stigma or something sensitive to talk about.

To be clear, I, Sanjay Manaktala am

  • Indian
  • used to be overweight (I still have a gut that will never go)
  • worn deodorant since I was 15 years old before Axe thought it was cool.
  • stink when I don’t wear deodorant, even more so after 30. Especially if I use a new brand for some reason.
  • Will happily tell my brother or mom or even wife if they stink, and vice versa
  • stand up comedian and host of one of India’s top podcasts, the Birdy Num Num podcast.

In this post, I’m going to answer some of our reader’s Instagram questions on body odor, grooming, and how hygiene will honestly fix your life.

If you’re also wondering why that dude in your office or tech team has a strange whiff, this should answer most of it too.

Why do Indians Smell?

I had a friend who had all the money in the world, worked at McKinsey, went to Harvard, yet couldn’t land a date if his life depended on it.

He was miserable, constantly wallowing in self-pity while driving his Mercedes.

Responses on twitter when I said I wanted to write this article.

To himself, he was confused beyond belief. Harvard MBA, decent looks, great career and family on paper…what the heck is going on?

But to the rest of us, even a stranger or a waiter could spend 10 seconds with him and figure out what lacking self-awareness had hidden from him.


Bad breath, bad body odor, and just unpleasant to be around.

So my other best friend and I did what good friends do.

We chickened out and wrote an anonymous email because we didn’t want to hurt his feelings (more so for our own selfish reasons but we wanted to help.)

“Hey, you don’t know me, but I worked with you or studied with you many years ago. I always saw you working so hard at life and succeeding but also saw you being frustrated with the personal front. I want to see you succeed there too, and it’s something so simple you just need to fix. Just please wear deodorant daily, and all your life problems will get fixed. You stink really bad and it’s a turn off for a lot of people.”

One of my first emails from my junk hotmail account.

6 months later I was crashing at his house, opened up his medicine cabinet and saw a million cologne bottles, mouth wash, deodorants, body sprays, the works.

A year later he was engaged.

Why Don’t Indians Wear Deodorant?

So why do some Indian dudes smell bad? Because growing up, deodorant was a western thing, and it’s still catching on.

We didn’t think it was important.

Some more thoughts from the public.

My own mom never told me about it, I just figured it out from TV commercials of being a teenager in America. The white kids in middle-school weren’t shy about letting me know “I smelled like sweaty curry”, and oddly enough as mean as teenagers are…I’m glad they did.

I mean, come on…deodorant sales in India are skyrocketing.

In fact, deodorants in India revenue are expected to grow 25% year on year. (Source.) It used to be a luxury item, but now it’s affordable for pretty much anyone and will take some time to adopt.

Everyone in our country loves a little spice, but that heat it brings means you gotta love some Old Spice as well.


Yes, you’re 100% right.

Every group of people has smelly stinkers.

My friend Joel at my baraat is American and Mexican, and yes he also stinks if he doesn’t apply deodorant before dancing in the heat.

But most of us in desi communities, myself included, never got it ingrained in our heads that deodorant should be like brushing your teeth. We tread lightly on the topic rather than confronting it head-on.

But why are we so sensitive about something so obvious, that in extreme weather and sweaty situations, you need to put on some deo bro.

Just like we have to find a way to let American people know that TOILET paper IS DISGUSTING, we need to encourage our South Asian brothers and sisters that deodorant is actually spot-on awesome.

In fact, I used to see guys in my IT company office spend 20 minutes after lunch combing their hair in the men’s washroom, but not realize that it didn’t matter because nobody wanted to sit within 5 feet of them.

And then those same guys start trolling people online because they have a frustrated sex life or who knows what.

You feel me?

India is about 5-10 years behind on the BO elimination wave, and the more we help our friends and family realize they’re adding some stank into the mix, the more we all benefit.

Personal hygiene and grooming are a $2 or an INR 150 investment.


It’s no longer a luxury item, but adoption for the masses will still take some time. So if someone in your gym or work or school or family is stinking it up, do your civic duty and clean it up.


We all know that guy or girl who stinks, and nobody tells them. Because they’re scared of hurting their feelings. But guess what continuous rejection and not knowing what they’re doing wrong is also doing?

It’s hurting them a lot more than you worrying about their feelings.

If you find a nice or anonymous way to tell them they smell, guess what?

  • They’ll likely do something about it.
  • They’ll build more confidence.
  • They’ll do better at work, life love, and more.
  • But most importantly…they’ll know.

How to Get Someone to Smell Better Politely?

  • You can talk to another coworker (in front of the smelly one) and discuss how some other, made up person didn’t wear deodorant at a restaurant you were at over the weekend and it ruined your date or whatever. The second person can also say “Wow, who doesn’t wear deodorant!?” and drop a massive hint to the stinker.
  • You can gift everyone (including them) a $10-20 bottle of cologne and also use it yourself at work.
  • You can send them an anonymous email like I did.
  • In India…and I’ve heard this many times…bosses and coworkers just tell their employees outright. In fact, in some tech companies, they’ve sent colleagues home to go shower!

Body Odor Shouldn’t Be Taboo or Hygiene Products Thought of as a WESTERN thing

Yes, I know that we use talcum powder, saffron, and we have whatever other natural remedies for fragrance and all that stuff.

I’m all for it.

You want to spend an hour with coconut oil and lotions every evening, be my guest.

But you and I use Google and Chinese goods every day, so please cut the crap that you don’t buy into that western stuff.

Proctor and Gamble aren’t evil, although sure, big bad corporations have their issues.

We modernize every single fact of our lives, so let’s recognize we need to modernize our approach to hygiene.

Two swipes of two pits will save you a lifetime of despair.


The simple issue is a lot of us know that person who stinks, probably ARE that person who stinks, and we have a hard time dealing with it in this country or in our international desi communities.

I’ve heard stories from the IT world of managers who had to tell an employee to leave the room and go back and shower or spray some cologne.

I’m 100% serious.

Does it need to get to that?

Deodorant technology has come a long way, trust me. One dab in the morning will keep you going until 10 PM, even in that crazy Chennai or Mumbai summers.

As you smell less and trust me, nobody can really smell themselves…all the other things in life will fall into place.

That will increase your money, career, dating, love life and probably personal happiness.

Although no guarantees on the last one. Happiness is still super elusive to most of us.

Happy Spraying!

Sanjay Manaktala is one of the top stand up comedians in India who started building the comedy community in the country back in 2010. Since then his stand up comedy videos and podcasts have helped millions laugh or get motivated. His latest effort is the Birdy Num Num podcast, helping you learn creativity in life after engineering. You can learn about Sanjay here or check out his YouTube channel here.


  1. Just sharing my thoughts here upon reading this article.
    Deodorant is a quick fix to a bad body odor. However, it does not solve the problem in the long run.
    Perhaps, healthy food habits helps in eliminating bad body odor in the long run.
    I think a bad body odor is a sign that some aspect of the person’s lifestyle isn’t suiting his/her body type, and that he/she needs to address it and change and improve the quality of living.
    This is my understanding.

    1. That’s a good point, I never really thought of diet because I eat super unhealthy and spicy stuff, but I have stayed away from dairy the last two years. Either way lets hope people start discussing it more openly and find ways to share with random people a nice way of saying “hey put some deo.”

  2. So all the time I was thinking that I’m being racist, cause I thought an indian person next to me is smelling really bad, was like a real thing? Don’t wanna be offensive, but I do still think indian people smell very different than all other race people.

    1. I don’t think it’s racist…but sure, I’m sure a lot of Indian engineers who are working in America probably put coconut oil in their hair or have certain fragrances/spices they use/eat. But body odor was the point of this…I hope none of us emit it 🙂

  3. No this sounds different then what I know. It’s not curry smell. It’s stinks worst then any smell. As m a Mongolian we don’t have such gene n secretion from body but Indian people stays in hot country that let them secret more hormones or grow more hair. In some Indian who has less hair growth from body doesn’t stink like us. When Indian got a little sweat it’s start to stink(sorry for bad complement). I stay in India n lots of Indian friends. In south some South Indian people apply coconut oil so there is no probs.

  4. Addition to it: Indian people eats more spice, onions, less water take up, less hygienic food, sweats a lot, no deodorant on cloths after washing cloths. Still don’t know the reason but we need to check this problems genetically or with medically approach. May be different body hormone composition.

  5. I stay in a multicultural / multi ethnic country just north of the equator. Some Indians have a stronger body odour than others. So there could be 1. genetic component. 2. type of food intake.
    There are also some indians who have minmal/nil BO; possibly either from deodorants, which i dont smell any, or food intake, or are furtunate enough not to sweat from home to work…
    But those that have bad BO, can be really bad… SOutherners seem to smell more than northerners; again ?genes.
    Some westerners also have a different body odour too, but not as bad, possibly food related ??milk and lamb/mutton?

  6. I’m so glad I read this. My best friends were Sri Lankan and Indian when I lived in Hong Kong as a kid and I first noticed this with their parents. I always thought it was a cultural thing. I’m sure the root of the smell is onions and garlic because I smell that distinctly . My white female business partner refused to wear aluminium based anti-perspirants because they can be unhealthy and she smelt terrible! of course I never had the courage to tell her. My husband successfully switched to using a Salt stick for daily life as the anti-perspiration gave him painful blocked plots. He uses anti-perspirant just for sports.
    We are very perfume obsessed in the west thanks to marketing. I find a lot of chemical perfume just as hard to deal with as body odour in a confined space like on public transport and those perfumed air diffuser things make me gag!

    1. thanks for sharing! yes it definitely is a big mash up of culture, diet and upbringing. regardless of personal tastes in scent I hope we all learn just to be more hygienic with time. my wife is from Hong Kong too though so I’ll ask her about this 🙂

  7. We are talking about body odour and you’re bringing up deodorant. So you want to smell of BO and deodorant mixed together? You do know we can still smell the BO even if you put on deodorant. You should have a shower everyday. But here’s the thing, I think even the Indians or south Asians who shower everyday, SOME of them will naturally start smelling quickly. I really do believe from my personal experience and what I hear from most people here in the UK, that yes Indian people do smell more than other race.

    I’m not Indian and I can’t remember the last time I sprayed some deodorant. I just shower almost everyday and I don’t smell. Even after exercise, I won’t be as fresh as before but i definitely won’t be smelling of BO. I had a Pakistani friend who didn’t smell but after playing football (soccer) with them he was stinking sooo bad of BO.

    Also I don’t think it’s the food. I’m a Nepali, our foods are very similar and we don’t smell like other South Asian Indo Aryan people. Im sorry but I do think it’s the truth. Indo Aryan people smell more quickly in general (but not all) than other races. I think it’s genetics.

    Last quick note, what prompted me to search this topic was I went out last night. Some Indian clubbing event. And when i would walk from one side of the club to other, It was like almost guaranteed I would smell multiple people stinking of BO. Like hot BO. I was getting pissed as well because I was tipsy.

    1. I’m Indian (at least my body is I mean) even though I was raised in the USA and I think deodorant is at least something to help people get into a habit of smelling decent. Most Indians (especially the ones who’s parents didn’t teach them about talcum powder or morning showers) have gotten so used to their habits they forget that others are around.

      Funny story about the club though, I can understand that. Thanks for sharing your experience, hopefully we all smell great going forward and you don’t need fancy products, just basics to make it happen.

  8. Ok i understand. Please note, i also said not all Indo Aryan people because from my experience it’s definitely not all.

  9. Hey Sanjay!

    Everything you mentioned was probably correct but are you not missing one thing? What about the Indian diet? Most indians are vegetarians I am assuming? I know some white dudes (the hippy kind) who are vegetarians or even vegans and they also smell pretty bad. I wonder if you or someone out there has any data on the BO profile of someone who is a vegetarian/vegan vs non-vegan? I would bet that the stink is going to be stronger for the vegetarian/vegan group as I read somewhere that the BO causing bacteria do better on a person with a vegetable based diet as they are easier to breakdown vs someone who eats meats – protein or meat is much harder to break down in the body.

    This does not undermine what you already said about using deo and paying attention to your personal hygiene of course, but it may be a missing piece of the puzzle.

    Stay excellent!


    1. Hey Solomon! Yeah, very valid point. The challenge is that I’m not qualified to talk about the diet stuff and also is it the milk, or the meat, or the types of veggies? I know eggs and onions both stink. I’m more focused on regardless of diet and the fact that we sweat (I probably smell worse after the gym than a veggie who might have natural BO if that were the cause). The strange thing is most people who read this post are actually from the US and Canada, not India itself. I just hope we can all find natural easy ways to tell people about this simple life hacks (e.g smell good) that are 5 minute jobs that will take a long way.

  10. Im indonesian and my husband is indian.. in the second we met in airport when we was friend i found him have body odor and i told him why you smell like curry.. and he said : i didnt shower since yesterday..

    It’s so awkward and after few times we found we are dating after that he told me that it caused he tried to made surprise after back from work he go to mall to buy me some gifts (it’s so precious for me) and got traffic jam so he decided it to go directly to airport and tell his friend to bring his luggage to airport and flight for 10 hours to Indonesia..
    it’s so sweet for me maybe if i can turn the time i would never said like that

    but after married he never have body odor.. always smells good, use deodorant, parfum and i love him very much.

    For sure body odor it caused about sweat + bacteria. And it is not only indian, indonesia, western also aftican also maybe someone from another planet can get that problems.

    When i was in flight doha- indonesia some african men oh my god smelled so so bad i cant sleep for 8 hours flight. Im done !!

    It’s not about the country it is about how we care about hygiene.. if we care about it i believe it will disappear. I collected many parfums from cheap to expensive one but that parfum will never work if you not care about hygine like maybe u shower every 3 days or never changes your clothes. For me deodorant is so important.

    1. wow thanks so much for sharing. I totally agree, everybody smells but all we can hope for is that hygiene continues to improve. not just aluminum or organic deodorant but anything which permits good smell in any culture, to each their own. thanks for sharing 🙂 i’m happy as long as everybody showers and everybody puts whichever fragrance or soap they like, we only have one body lets take care of it!

  11. Hi Sanjay,

    Thank you for this post – I live in Amsterdam and I usually drive to work. However, today I decided to use public transportation. I picked a window seat and was enjoying my podcasts when an Indian gentleman entered the bus and sat beside me. The immediate ‘curry’ smell from the gentleman was so overpowering that I felt choked. I couldn’t breathe and I felt nauseated. As the weather was quite cold, all the bus windows were closed so it made the smell more pungent. The gentleman was well dressed and from his backpack, it was quite obvious that he worked for an IT company in the Zuidoost area of Amsterdam which made it more confusing that the smell was coming from him.

    I debated whether to get off the bus at the next stop but I was almost late for my early morning meeting so I had to endure it. When I finally got to my bus stop, it was all I could do not to rush out of the bus.

    I have experienced the same odor while in college in Canada with some Indian students but it was the first time that I felt overpowered by it. I felt ashamed about my feelings of revulsion and decided to call up my Indian (ex) girlfriend for absolution – She of course only laughed at me and in her Californian singsong voice said… Dude, some Indians smell, and some don’t… be grateful I am one of the later 🙁

    Wanting more information, I came online to read about it and found your page – thank you for explaining the issue while also sharing some comic relief.

    Question to you… in the event that I see this gentleman again, how do I help without getting a slap in the face?



    1. Hey, thank for such a nice comment and sharing your story. I personally wouldn’t find it offensive, but in the future maybe you could pass them a note once you get off the bus (and they keep going). Or simply say like I said in the post “Hey, you’re an attractive healthy person, (e.g. open with a compliment), but maybe nobody has told you but you smell. If you wear a $4 deodorant perhaps things will go better. I mean no insult, just help.”

      Anybody who gets mad at that will at least remember and if they tried to hit you take them to the Amsterdam police!

  12. I really don’t think this answered the question. Deodorant is actually not the real solution.
    Indian need to study and investigate the reason why there are more body odor of Indian than say Japanese and Chinese (who actually also don’t wear deodorant), and even more than any western countries. Find the cure, not just resort to deodorant.

    1. Japanese and Chinese smell as well if they’re not wearing deodorant also. But you also have body hair, spices, diet, climate, fashion and soaps that all play a part. But at it’s most basic level if deo was more widespread we’d see this, just like somebody way overweight would naturally apply more than somebody who doesn’t sweat as much in similar conditions. either way thank you.

  13. Actually I think that they smell due to their diet. I’m Italian, I had a friend who went crazy about Tumeric, he started using it everywhere, after a while his skin began to smell quite bad.
    Remember? We are what we eat.
    Tumeric is quite pungent, as many other Indian spices. If you use them regularly, it will inevitably affect your odor.

    Anyway, I think it comes only out if you don’t have a correct hygiene, or if you maybe sweat due to physical effort or heat.

    I’m curious, why you say toilet paper is disgusting? What should we use in your opinion?
    In Italy we wipe, then we use a thing called “bidet” to wash our intimate parts, ofc only when we’re home, otherwise we just wipe and wash ourselves once we get back.

    1. Agreed, diet plays a part but I couldn’t find a definitive study regarding the causes with regards to odor so I just left it open ended. Also I meant ONLY using toilet paper. By itself I find it gross (after growing up in America)…with a bidet to wash and then toilet paper to dry off, I’m all for 🙂 In America for example only using toilet paper is like a bird pooping on your arm and just wiping it off with a napkin…wash and then wipe!

  14. I’m Japanese and I just started seeing an Indian guy I met from a dating app. The first time we met, he didn’t have body odor, but he smelled a little weird like a mix of cologne and some exotic spices(?). The second time I met him, I realized he smells bad, but I ignored it for the sake of being polite. After some time my sense went numb, we then watched Netflix and cuddled for a few hours at his place. Then I got home, showered but didn’t wash my hair because I just washed it right before meeting him, then I went to bed. In bed I could smell him, but I thought it was my imagination because I just saw him. Then I turned my body around and my face accidentally landed on my hair, turned out MY HAIR SMELLED LIKE HIS BODY ODOR. The smell was so vivid, it was awful. I wonder how to tell him because I really like his personality. I dont have his email or any friend I can perform the fake deodorant dialogue with.

    1. You should tell him a story about a guy at your office who smelled and you were so surprised he doens’t wear deoderant. Than ask him which brand he wears. I doubt he’ll admit “i don’t wear it.” Or just keep dropping hints that smell is a thing that is important to you. My wife now tells me I smell all the time lol and she’s right sometimes, I forget to dab it on.

  15. Hi Sanjay,
    Thank you for this article. I stumbled across this in a Google search about a specific issue regarding Indian people and smells, but this doesn’t pertain to my initial inquiry.

    I live in an area with a huge Indian population, and my family is actually the only caucasian family in our community. My 7 year old has only Indian friends at home, she has grown up with them, and we live like a village, where all of the kids are in and out if each other’s homes all day every day. We love it. All of the families look out for each other, and they trust us with their kids, just as we trust them with ours.
    My daughter eats food at her friends houses too. Sometimes she’ll come home and her hair smells strong. We love Indian food, but her hair doesn’t smell like food. It smells sour.

    Also, when her friends come to our house, sometimes they smell very bad. Some more than others. And not all the time. It’s not consistent. These are all 7 year old girls. There are 6 of them who come over at any given time They’re too young for body odor. But sometimes it’s so strong, it is intolerable, and we subtly go and open all the windows in the house.

    So my question is, why the kids? Why would the kids smell so bad?

    1. Hello,

      I don’t know in particular, but if I had to guess it’s possible in the Indian house there is a strong smell of either incense, or the spices from the cooking in the kitchen. Most Indian houses have strong smells linger throughout the day, which can be alarming to some. Many South Indian (Bangalore, Chennai, Hyderabad) also put oil in their hair in the morning (coconut usually) which also has a unique smell. Other than that not sure why kids would come home with a strong smell in the hair but maybe I’m also used to it from growing up 🙂

  16. Well, in India, I have seen many people saying that white tourists smell horrible if they don’t put some deo or fragrance. Nevertheless the point is, its racist to say all Indians or any particular race stinks. I am Indian and married to European. I never found in my or my husbands family or friends saying that one of us smell better or worse. In any case, please don’t encourage people to use deodorants. They are toxic and have been related with diseases such as cancers. And BTW, everyone has right to use or not use fragrance, you can’t impose it to them for sake of politeness. And even doctors would agree that unless you sweat a lot, even having a shower on alternate day is healthier. Depends on where you meet Indians also matter. In India, people sweat a lot due to hot weather and hard work most of them do, Every race will smell the same in such condition. So, if you see an Indian approaching you, the best you can do is practice meditation and stop your brain from creating false signals of stink. If you are able to do so, most of your complain will go away. If it still doesn’t works, better keep some room fresheners around you or spray a strong fragrance directly into your nose rather than gifting them one. Trust me, if they have a healthy hygiene, using deodorants will only do worse for them. Its backed up by science. Inform yourself with facts rather than seeking for approval on online communities.

    1. I think you’re taking this a bit personally. It would be helpful if you included links with the claims. But I think we have a unique smell and I’ve lived here for 10 years. Your experience is different so that’s fine. Although I’d be curious how you ended up on this post then?

  17. Hi Sanjay,

    Like many others, I stumbled on this post by looking in Google for answers about Indian people with pungent body odor.

    I live in The Netherlands and I have a colleague from India. She’s sitting opposite of my desk, so very close to me for several hours every day. It used to be just fine, but lately I really find the odor a nuisance.

    Since it’s not similar to any other old sweat scent, I thought it might be Indian specific. And apparently it is.

    The human body caries around 8 or 9 different bacterial “families”. And they are important for the human immune system to function. It’s part of the human microbiome. However, under certain influences some bacteria will proliferate or die off. Heat, moist, oxygen and surface material are all affecting the livelihood of these bacteria.

    Some of these bacteria come directly from the mother at birth. And this is where I think the investigation should start. What type of bacteria is dominant with the mother of babies from Indian origin?

    It could be that diet influences the atmosphere of the armpits to let certain odor creating bacteria proliferate better than other less smelly bacteria. For example, polyester clothing is very bad. It can’t get clean enough for bacteria to go away. This is why the moment your polyester shirt is on in the gym, it starts to smell really quickly. The bacteria from the last time are still in your shirt. Even when it’s washed and clean. We wash on 30 to 40 degrees nowadays, temperatures at which bacteria will not die easily. Some of them even like this warmth.

    Want a basic easy, cheap and natural deodorant? Take baking soda and some essential oil (any you prefer). You can premix it, or do it every day in the routine: teaspoon baking soda, 3 drops of essential oils on top of the powder, few drops of water. Spread on the palm of your hands and rub it on the armpits.

    Depending on the circumstances, this can even last a few days. Premixing it with coconut oil will even be better in the routine since it will be very easy to apply.

    1. wow this is a very thoughtful and detailed post. My wife is a doctor (and also Indian) and I’ll run this by her but very valuable and I hope more people read this comment. Unfortunately many people get defensive or shout racism when I discuss this topic but a great thoughtful writeup like this should hopefully ease the tension. Thanks kindly.

  18. I find the over use of perfumes and scents by some cultures to be personally intolerable. If someone wears enough scented stuff so that being 50 feet downwind makes me feel ill, chances are it’s too much. When the cologne sticks to the insides of my nose I get really frustrated. Doctors’ offices and hospitals are scent free and request people reframe from wearing scents. It’s bad enough that some people are addicted to fabrics “softeners” etc. Companies are not required to list ingredients and one common one, used to extend the scent-life (if you will) of products is, believe it or not, formaldehyde. It’s also used to keep fabrics deodorized. I can’t link proof here as I’ve no energy (chemo), but please people, perfumes don’t replace the basics of washing and anti-persperant, which, by the way, is different from “deodorant”. It’s better cuz it prevents the cause as opposed to covering up the resulting stink. Cheers!

  19. Body Odor has a bacterial component. Just take regular baths, and shower after after sweating all day, with germicidal soap. That will lessen the stink, and you won’t really need to use much deodorant.

  20. Thanks for the great article. A gas station employees BO was getting trapped inside my mask today. It was awful. I believe the BO ,besides being emitted ,also stays stuck in certain cloths. Like if there is BO in my husbands shirt, and I wash it not very well, so the smell lingers in the armpits, than heater dry it. Game over for that shirt. The smell has now set and it will be hell to get it out…. I have a hippie friend whose the same. Her cloths are literally baked with BO. Nothing like everybody knowing you entered a room by your smell. I agree some people’s BO is even more offensive. It’s really an issue for me since I’m sensitive to horrible smells. I wish I wasn’t. I’m weak.

  21. I’m sorry Surya but I find your message too defensive. While people were not imposed to use BO, please do not suppress us with pungent odour as well. We do not like it. Do not take this personally.

    The smell hits hard, like really. I work in an IT company whereas most Indians work. For their first month, they smell horribly bad. But as the environment they have to adapt to, they change their hygiene and eventually smelled better.

  22. What you eat comes out through your pores. My sister always complained how we stank after going out to eat Korean food. They eat lots of garlic and don’t use deodorant or cologne, they can stink pretty bad. Whenever I visited a Vietnamese friend, their homes had a pungent odor, it’s from the fried fish dishes they would make, they also had a funk from fermented fish dishes they ate. In the Middle East, cumin really comes through your pores in addition to the garlic, being on a crowded bus was brutal. But they wore deodorant. How can this be? Not all deodorants are created equal as the deodorants found in the Middle East didn’t contain antiperspirant.

    Antiperspirant is what keeps people from stinking like BO. Deodorant is the smell good part and if it doesn’t contain antiperspirant you’ll stink like BO and fragrance. Now people sensitive to fragrance, you can buy antiperspirant with no deodorant. It’s called certain dry. You put it on after you shower before bed, so it can be obsorbed before you sweat it off by being stationary. And you only need to use it every 3 days. You don’t stink and you’ll sweat less.

    A good way to drop a hint someone stinks is to get them a gift basket with a variety of soaps and deodorant. It’s a subtle way to send a message without being offensive or hurting feelings.

  23. Sometimes I drive for Uber/Lyft. Every time I get an Indian passenger is a DISASTER. I don’t care about their accent, or missing tips, but their smell is disgusting, “sweaty curry” describes it the best.

    I tight face mask straps, blow a/c air to my face, and still, after each Indian pax I need to fully open 4 windows plus sunroof and let the stink out of my car for a few minutes. Of course, everyone can be stinky due to poor hygiene/work conditions/being drunk, but no other race/ethnicity has this issue as a cultural thing.

  24. I think there’s genetic components to the BO issue here. Yes one can get bad breath by eating raw garlic and fermented food, spicy food etc. but when it comes to actual body odour especially armpit smell, there’s little that anti perspirants or deodorants can do. I know one northeast Chinese (Manchurian plus ethnic Korean mix) women who does get sweaty underarms but yet don’t have the slightest body odour. So perspiration doesn’t explain everything there is about body odour.

  25. Body smell is for every human being and it’s normal
    But it’s still real issue in social environment regarding how that smell could “harm” yourself and anyone. My point is don’t make anyone uncomfortable with that smell and make sure it treated properly so it doesn’t make any trouble.

  26. I like to know what you think Chinese smells like? I’m a home nurse and have a client who requires 24/7 care. We have several Nepalese staff. Everytime I went there, not only did they smell, the whole house smells like them. I couldn’t help but wonder if my scent lingers in the house like theirs did. And what would I smell like?

  27. At first, I thought it’s because of food habits but that’s not true, I am Indian belonging to an Asian race(mongoloid) I do not have any sort of body odor nor any of my family members, hot or cold, sweating or not, shower or no shower it doesn’t matter there isn’t any body odor, we never needed to use any deodorant or perfumes. And I eat all types of Indian dish foods, worked and lived in many different Indian cities, so food and climate didn’t make any changes. And I have a cousin sister who has body odor, but surprisingly none of her siblings or parents has any sort of body odor. They all live together eat and drink the same food living in the same climate environment. So food isn’t the main cause.
    I once had a slight body odor when I was in a hostel during my school life and that happened because one of my friend who has a body odor used my jacket and after that without washing that jacket I used it and from next day even I started having some sort of body odor, I got panic and started doing some research and got to know that applying lime paste and keeping it for sometime removes the body odor and after doing that the body odor is gone and I even stopped using that jacket .
    And also as per my experience mainland Indians living in plain areas tend to have more body odor comparing to Indians living in hilly areas they rarely have body odor issues, and as food and climate isn’t the case for me I am still confused about what could be the cause.

  28. All humans deserve respect and courtesy. HOWEVER, let’s be honest: the smell is nauseating and NOT related to food.

    I had an Indian colleague who smelled of FEET + ARMPITS + HORRID BREATH + GREASY HAIR.


    When confronted via anonymous letter, he turned angry and began belittling non-Indians.

    Bad personal hygiene!!! All humans deserve respect. That smell is unacceptable.

  29. Not true, a portion of Pakistanis aren’t Indo Aryans and 90% of Indians aren’t Indo Aryans but hybrid dravidians. The smell is seen way more in South Indians than Punjabis. Even Kashmiris don’t smell bad either. In the UK, Pakistanis are involved in MMA and sports all the time in the northern towns. They don’t smell bad. You can do roadside interviews. Also Pakistanis don’t put really strong spices in their food like Indians either. Pashtuns, Baloch and Mirpuris don’t smell. Afghans and Pashtuns in Pakistan eat the same food.

    Indo Aryans are genetically related to Iranic and other central asian races. Afghans, Persians don’t smell bad.

  30. As a Pakistani, I live in the UK and Indians with Nepalis smell bad.

    All that spice and no deodorant gets to you.

    I know bunches of Pakistani guys who do MMA but don’t smell at all in Britain

    An Indian protester I saw smelled horrific when they started chanting at a protest

    Indians need to fix up

  31. Sorry but that toilet paper thing is just a cope to ease the blow for Indians who are offended. I have never gotten Delhi Belly in the west because we ensure that our hands never make physical contact with our waste. There are countless horror stories I have heard (even a chef in the UK from India getting a huge fine) that could have easily been prevented by using toilet paper.

  32. It always amuses me how Indians will so often target white people when getting defensive, the author of this article is not white, and there is nothing in the comments to suggest that all those in agreement with the author are all white yet you chose to to cope by mentioning white tourists.
    I have seen this on a ted talk about open defecation in India, and many Indians will talk about white people and guns or calling us school shooters (which strikes me as odd since guns are illegal on every white majority country on the planet apart from the USA).
    Why is that? Is it because white people are fair game, Chinese, Black people etc are not?

  33. I confess that I did intentionally Google this re: Punjabis. My daughter has experienced their body odour from men at work & later, from a woman sent here to clean while I was in hospital. She said that the smell almost made her gag. I had looked this up to see if it was part of a religious practice but it seems that that is not the answer.
    Thank you very much for addressing this awkward topic!
    Birdy Num Nums? Are you a fan of that Peter Sellers movie? Our Siamese cat recognizes the word “treats”;so, when we want to mention them without her hearing ( and going nuts) we call them “num nums” taken directly from that hilarious old movie.
    I’m sorry that I haven’t heard of you before but wish you best of luck with all of your endeavours.

  34. Pakistani, Sri Lankan I’m going to keep saying Indian. I am still referring to the other “brown” people who are known for bad odor. Also, “Indian” is the word many people use when referring to “brown people”, because you can not always tell where they are from just by looking. Not a good thing, just a fact.

    Okay, so why do Indians smell bad? Besides spices. I add this, because the “curry smell” ISN’T body odor. If you smell curry, it isn’t from the sweat seeping from their pores. Would be in their hair, their clothes, even on their skin, because it is how the home smells, but on their skin, because it is “in the air” where they live, not, because it came from inside of their body. If being stinky or and smelling like curry was due to curry-scented sweat, all of the Jamaican kids would also be made fun of at school for reeking of curry. WEST Indian kids ate the same amount if not, MORE curry when I was growing up and they did NOT smell funky.

    Here’s a dumb, racists, inaccurate joke that isn’t even a joke: “4 guys walk out of the gym after a work out. 1 Korean, 1 black, 1 white and 1 Indian. Which one smells bad?! NO, NOT the Indian one, the one who didn’t apply deodorant, duh! It’s just that the Indian one may be the one who didn’t!

    You know who may NOT smell bad though? the Korean man! Unless you have a literal disorder, it isn’t genetics and it’s NEVER race that makes you smellier, BUT race can account for NOT being smelly. Fun fact, Indian people are SOUTH Asian, but it is simpler to differentiae when you call them Indian, not Asian or south Asian. EAST Asians have a gene called the ABCC11 gene. It makes them not stink! Most EAST Asians and 99% of Koreans, yet, only 2% of Europeans have this! Alters the composition of sweat. Doesn’t mean they sweat less, means there is less smelly bacteria in it. It is actually a mutation. Also meaning, it is NORMAL to sweat and smell bad (without perfumes or/and chemicals to mask or/and block the smell or/and sweat).

    Another thing. Hygiene isn’t just about “smelling good”. The definition on hygiene isn’t “the practice the habit of smelling good and appealing to others”. You can shower daily, brush daily, wear clean clothes etc. Isn’t that good hygiene? Yet, you can smell bad. You can even use deodorant, yet still smell bad. So smelling bad does not mean you have bad hygiene, Some of these stinky people take 2 showers a day, which some “nice smelling” ones skip 2 days! Things like that are due to daily activities or/and possibly a medical odor disorder.

    Fun Fact: deodorant was invented in the late 1800s, so I’m sure everyone KNOWS about it by now. They just simply CHOOSE not to use it. If people do not use it due to culture, THAT’S the reason, it is not that they have no idea it exists.

    All of the Indian kids smelled back in jr. high, BUT so did the other race kids who DIDN’T wear deodorant! In other words, the only kids that smelled bad weren’t the Indian kids, the real fact is, the only kids who smelled bad were the ones who didn’t wear deodorant, it just happened to be that none of the Indian kids wore it! I learned some do not wear it, because they just don’t have any, but why not? BUT…why SHOULD they? Is it really hygiene to “smell good” or is it good hygiene that their parents always made sure they showered daily and felt there was no need to put on perfumes after. Just he sure to shower as you are supposed to. That’s good hygiene, no?

    My classmate told me being an Indian Muslim girl meant they couldn’t wear deodorant. She said it is purposely trying to attract attention and that is not allowed. I understand that, BUT deodorant or antiperspirants can be UNSCENTED. So deodorant doesn’t always have to be “wear deodorant to smell nice, if you want people to like you.” It can be a “wear UNSCENTED deodorant, so after you shower, you don’t’ have to spend all day smelling like you DIDN’T”. Anyway, she said when it comes to not wearing it, the goal is not to smell bad and have people make fun of you, but it is a good thing if boys are not attracted to them at this time in life. so she wasn’t saying “we purposely smell bad, because we are supposed to try to make boys be unattracted to us”. she was saying, “Applying scents that are appealing is like an invitation for attention from the opposite sex in particular”. But again, unscented deodorant is available..so you don’t smell like a pretty flower, saying HEY BOYS, I’M PRETTY. LOOK AT ME” But you also do not have to smell so bad. You can smell like… NOTHING.

    In short.. Indian people don’t simply, generally, culturally, naturally, genetically, on average “smell stinky”. The ones who DO 1. don’t wear deodorant, 2. have a medical body odor issue (even WITH deodorant, they may smell) or 3. BOTH.


  35. Hello,

    I loved this. I am lebanese and I do not have a body odor issue at all multiple people have even said they have never smelled me.. huge compliment. I felt this was insanely well written I dated an indian man he didnt smell, but today my god did I experience this. I injected botox into this indian womans face….. she left a permanent smell on my hands I was disgusted. She also was pretty not well taken care of and would never lets say hug she was not nice, and the only person no one was speaking too. I wish she would read this amazing article thank you

  36. Get yourselves at least one stick of crystal natural alum. Natural alum not only prevents body odour, but also helps whiten the armpit skin. Another benefit is that natural alum does not smell so it is good for those who are allergic to perfume.

  37. It’s not deodorant that you need to use to avoid BO. It’s antiperspirant. Lots of people say “deodorant” when they really mean antiperspirant, but they are two different things. Deodorants are usually scented and cover up the stink, with the result that you smell like BO mixed with the scent of the product. Antiperspirants, however, stop your pits from sweating. BO is caused by the bacteria that grows in your pits after you sweat. So antiperspirant stops the stink before it even starts. It’s true for people of all races.
    TL;DR: Don’t use deodorant. Use antiperspirant.

Let me know if this helped you or any comments?