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Alcohol and Health

Does Drinking Alcohol Make Me Smell Bad?

Published:
April 16, 2024
·
10 min read
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Written by
Reframe Content Team
A team of researchers and psychologists who specialize in behavioral health and neuroscience. This group collaborates to produce insightful and evidence-based content.
April 16, 2024
·
10 min read
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Certified recovery coach specialized in helping everyone redefine their relationship with alcohol. His approach in coaching focuses on habit formation and addressing the stress in our lives.
April 16, 2024
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10 min read
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Recognized by Fortune and Fast Company as a top innovator shaping the future of health and known for his pivotal role in helping individuals change their relationship with alcohol.
April 16, 2024
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10 min read
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Reframe Content Team
April 16, 2024
·
10 min read

Drinking and Smelling Bad

  • Drinking alcohol can make us smell bad or smell like the alcohol we’ve been consuming.
  • Thankfully, we can reduce our risks of having the “booze smell” by adopting some lifestyle changes.
  • Reframe is here to help you make healthier choices around alcohol.

If you’ve ever been to a hot yoga class on a Sunday morning and are overwhelmed by the smell of tequila emanating from the room once people start sweating, then you’re no stranger to the phenomenon of the “alcohol smell” that can linger on us after we’ve been drinking. Or perhaps a friend kindly recommended a shower because they could smell it on you. Eek! No one wants to hear that! But props to having good friends to tell us things like this.

So does drinking alcohol actually make us smell bad? And can we do anything to prevent it from happening? If you’ve ever wondered about this, read on.

The Science Behind Body Odor and Alcohol

Woman with hands over mouth, reacting to alcohol smell

There isn’t a specific term for the smell of alcohol on us when we’re drinking or after we’ve been drinking, but the odor we produce when we’ve been drinking is typically referred to as “alcohol breath” or “booze breath.” The smell of alcohol itself can range from sweet and fruity to sharp and pungent, depending on the type of alcohol we’ve been drinking. And it’s not always on our breath; it can be released in our sweat and through the pores of our skin.

Here’s a breakdown of how the process works. When we drink alcohol, our body undergoes a process known as alcohol metabolism. With the help of our digestive enzymes, our liver breaks down ethanol, the primary component in alcoholic drinks. One of these enzymes — alcohol dehydrogenase — converts ethanol into acetaldehyde, which is then further metabolized into acetic acid before being excreted or released from our bodies.

Think about it this way: our body needs to process everything we consume. In other words, the alcohol has to go somewhere. So, when our liver is already working overtime to process the alcohol we’ve consumed, what’s left over gets released throughout the rest of our body — most prominently through our skin, pores, and breath. 

For heavy drinkers or those of us who have been drinkers for many years, we may have developed a serious buildup of toxins in our bodies from repeated use over time. Detoxing from some substances, particularly alcohol, is associated with a significant odor that does, indeed, make us stink. Speaking of detoxification, why do we seem to sweat more after we drink? We’ll explain that, too.

Why Do I Sweat After Drinking Alcohol?

Alcohol consumption can lead to increased sweating for some of us. When alcohol enters our bloodstream, it affects our central nervous system and disrupts our body's normal regulatory mechanisms, including those that regulate our temperature control. Alcohol causes blood vessels near the skin to dilate, leading to a sensation of warmth and potentially triggering our body's cooling mechanisms, including sweating. Alcohol consumption can also stimulate our sympathetic nervous system, which is responsible for the body's fight-or-flight response. This stimulation can lead to an increase in sweat production as our body responds to the perceived “stress” that alcohol causes. Drinking alcohol can also cause us to experience night sweats.

How Do I Stop Smelling Like Alcohol 

How Do I Stop Smelling Like Alcohol? 

So, how do we stop this from happening and avoid the booze smell? Of course, the best way to avoid smelling like alcohol is to abstain from it altogether or practice moderation, which is typically defined as one drink per day for women and two drinks a day for men.

Here are several other ways to avoid smelling like alcohol: 

  • Maintain good hygiene. Maintaining good personal hygiene is key to avoiding smelling like alcohol. Shower often, wash our hair, and practice good oral hygiene. Brush, floss, and carry some mints or gum!
  • Drink plenty of water to stay hydrated. Staying hydrated is key to avoiding smelling like alcohol. Water helps flush out our systems and keeps us feeling good overall. The more water we drink, the less booze there is flowing through us.
  • Break a sweat. The best way to kick-start our metabolism is to get moving! Exercising speeds up the metabolism process so we can detoxify alcohol, and everything else from our bodies more quickly. When in doubt, sweat it out! 
  • Drink less. Reducing our drinking or drinking in moderation are two surefire ways to avoid smelling like alcohol. If it’s not there in the first place, we never have to worry about this problem and can smell fresh and clean without worrying about the booze smell.

What we put into our body must come out, so not drinking alcohol is the most obvious way to avoid smelling like it.

Health Benefits of Drinking Less

In addition to avoiding the alcohol smell, there are many health benefits associated with drinking less: 

  • Better sleep quality
  • Smelling better 🙂
  • Better mental health
  • Improved clarity/focus
  • Better overall physical health

Read more about the many positive effects we experience when we stop drinking or cut back on drinking.

The Bottom Line of Booze and Body Odor

When it comes to drinking and smelling bad, it’s simply a reality that comes with the territory. If we want to avoid this risk altogether, the answer is easy: eliminate alcohol from the equation. Practicing good personal hygiene, moderation, and exercise are great ways to reduce the risks of smelling bad if we choose to partake in alcohol. 

Summary FAQs

1. Does drinking alcohol make us smell bad?

Yes, drinking alcohol can make us smell bad due to our body’s need to process the toxins from the drinks we consume.

2. How can I avoid smelling bad after drinking?

We can avoid smelling bad by practicing good hygiene, exercising often, staying hydrated, and eliminating or cutting back on alcohol.

3. Why do I smell like alcohol after I drink?

Our bodies detoxify alcohol, and it’s released throughout our bodies through our pores, sweat, and skin.

4. What does alcohol sweat smell like?

Typically, it can smell like whatever type of alcohol we drink.

Want To Get Started on Your Cutback Journey?

You came to the right place! Although it isn’t a treatment for alcohol use disorder (AUD), the Reframe app can help you cut back on drinking gradually, with the science-backed knowledge to empower you 100% of the way. Our proven program has helped millions of people around the world drink less and live more. And we want to help you get there, too!

The Reframe app equips you with the knowledge and skills you need to not only survive drinking less, but to thrive while you navigate the journey. Our daily research-backed readings teach you the neuroscience of alcohol, and our in-app Toolkit provides the resources and activities you need to navigate each challenge.

You’ll meet millions of fellow Reframers in our 24/7 Forum chat and daily Zoom check-in meetings. Receive encouragement from people worldwide who know exactly what you’re going through! You’ll also have the opportunity to connect with our licensed Reframe coaches for more personalized guidance.

Plus, we’re always introducing new features to optimize your in-app experience. We recently launched our in-app chatbot, Melody, powered by the world’s most powerful AI technology. Melody is here to help as you adjust to a life with less (or no) alcohol. 

And that’s not all! Every month, we launch fun challenges, like Dry/Damp January, Mental Health May, and Outdoorsy June. You won’t want to miss out on the chance to participate alongside fellow Reframers (or solo if that’s more your thing!).

The Reframe app is free for 7 days, so you don’t have anything to lose by trying it. Are you ready to feel empowered and discover life beyond alcohol? Then download our app through the App Store or Google Play today! 

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At Reframe, we do science, not stigma. We base our articles on the latest peer-reviewed research in psychology, neuroscience, and behavioral science. We follow the Reframe Content Creation Guidelines, to ensure that we share accurate and actionable information with our readers. This aids them in making informed decisions on their wellness journey.
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