Clean Up Your Act!

After completing a lecture on business social skills, Hadiyah Dansby Davis graciously stepped down from the podium and approached the chair of the next presenter, an impeccably dressed woman. As the woman rose from her seat, a horrendous body odor engulfed the room with a vengeance! Dansby Davis, a senior residential adviser and social skills trainer with a Kansas employment-training institute, was stunned. She quickly moved to the next seat, knowing that she couldn’t tolerate the fumes of her colleague.

Poor personal hygiene is obvious. However, few are comfortable discussing it. It might sound like a silly topic of discussion, but landing your dream job or even gaining new friends can be influenced by good personal hygiene — or lack thereof.

An offensive odor emanating from your person is the result of what’s inside your body as well as how you care for it on the outside. Even some prescription drugs may cause a change in your body’s natural odor. Check with your doctor if you think that’s the case. “It’s hard to recognize your own smells because you’re used to them,” says Dr. Stanley Bass, a natural hygiene doctor who has been researching the topic for more than 40 years. “But if the foods you eat are dead [such as processed and sugar-based foods and drinks], then it’s going to be bad for your body.” One thing you can do is try new habits like eating foods from nature such as fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. It might take some getting used to, so start slow. Also, try sites like and for more tips and hygiene habits.

Poor hygiene affects more than an individual’s self-esteem and attitude. In a business or office, it can also impact the morale and performance of others. “It decreases productivity if a person working for you has an offensive body odor because those affected spend work time talking about it,” says Dansby Davis. Hopefully, a friend or manager will take you aside to discuss such a sensitive topic (a manager should document the conversation). But if co-workers are cowering away from you, do a self check. If you find your odor out of the ordinary, keep soap, a washcloth, deodorant, as well as a toothbrush and paste, handy to handle it. Don’t forget to drink at least eight glasses of water each day. Take The Personal Hygiene Test on to gauge your habits.


  • SHOWER OR BATHE REGULARLY with an antibacterial soap.
  • USE A DEODORANT WITH ALUMINUM OR ZINC, which should kill odor-causing bacteria.
  • Always brush before you go to bed, especially if you have a sweet tooth (this will help reduce tooth decay).
  • WASH AND CONDITION YOUR HAIR and scalp at least once a week.
  • FRESHEN UP in the bathroom with a moist towelette or apply hydrogen peroxide or witchhazel to the “strong” areas.
  • WASH YOUR HANDS AND FACE FREQUENTLY; wash and dry clean your clothes regularly.
  • HAVE REGULAR CHECKUPS with your doctor and dentist. — K.J.H.W.