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Can your sweat smell like booze?

It is possible for your sweat to smell like alcohol, even if you haven’t been drinking. This phenomenon is caused by changes in your body’s metabolism when you consume alcohol regularly.

Why does sweat smell like alcohol?

When you drink alcohol, it is broken down by enzymes in your liver. As your liver metabolizes the alcohol, it produces intermediate breakdown products such as acetaldehyde. Some of these byproducts eventually get excreted in your sweat and urine, and they can produce an odor.

In particular, acetaldehyde is chemically similar to ethanol (drinking alcohol). It has a faint sweet smell reminiscent of alcohol. As acetaldehyde is excreted in your sweat, it can make your body odor smell boozy, almost like you’ve been drinking.

Who gets smelly sweat from alcohol?

Some people are more prone to having sweat that smells like alcohol, even when they are sober. Factors include:

  • Genetics – Some people naturally produce more acetaldehyde when they drink
  • Frequency of drinking – Daily and heavy drinkers tend to have more acetaldehyde accumulation
  • Race – People of Asian descent tend to flush more from acetaldehyde due to genetic differences
  • Medications – Antibiotics like metronidazole can cause a buildup of acetaldehyde

In most cases, the smell is more noticeable in frequent or heavy drinkers. Someone who rarely drinks would not have as much accumulation of intermediary metabolites like acetaldehyde.

How long does the smell last?

In an occasional drinker, the smell might linger up to 48 hours after drinking. For heavy drinkers, it can last much longer – even up to a week after the last drink. The smelly compounds build up in the body over time, so they take longer to clear out.

Drinking plenty of water and getting exercise to sweat out the acetaldehyde can help eliminate the odor faster. But in heavy drinkers, the smell may persist until alcohol consumption stops completely.

When to see a doctor

Having sweat that smells like alcohol can be concerning. See your doctor if:

  • The smell persists even when you are completely sober
  • You have other symptoms like skin flushing, fast heart rate or nausea when drinking
  • You are concerned about your alcohol intake or ability to control your consumption

These could be signs of an underlying health condition or alcohol use disorder. Your doctor can check for liver disease, hormone imbalances or genetic disorders that might explain the symptoms.

Tips for reducing the smell

Here are some tips to help minimize or eliminate that post-drinking booze smell:

  • Cut back on alcohol consumption – The less you drink, the less acetaldehyde buildup
  • Drink water – Hydration helps flush out metabolites faster
  • Shower and change clothes – Wash away sweat and odors on your skin and clothes
  • Use deodorant – Look for alcohol-free deodorants to mask any lingering smells
  • Consider supplements – Milk thistle and glutathione may help the liver clear acetaldehyde
  • Eat high-chlorophyll foods – Chlorophyll can help neutralize odors during metabolism
  • Don’t smoke – Smoking also releases acetaldehyde and makes the smell worse

When to see a doctor

Having body odor that smells like alcohol can be worrying, but in most cases it’s a temporary side effect of alcohol metabolism. Cutting back on drinking, staying hydrated and washing regularly can help reduce the smell.

See your doctor if the smell persists when sober, or if you’re concerned about your drinking habits. An underlying condition could be causing the smell. Getting an evaluation and treatment for alcohol misuse can also help eliminate the problem.


Sweat smelling of alcohol is fairly common, especially in those who drink regularly. Acetaldehyde, a byproduct of alcohol breakdown, is excreted in sweat and urine and has a distinct boozy smell. Cutting back on drinking and taking care of your body can help reduce the odor. See a doctor if you’re concerned about your drinking or have lasting smell issues.