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Why Does My Night Sweat Smell Like Vinegar?

Why Does My Night Sweat Smell Like Vinegar

My partner keeps complaining about my night sweat odor. She claims that the pungent vinegar-like smell is strong and unbearable to her. Not only that, my sweat gets all over the bed covers, and cleaning the sheets every day is another hassle for her.

Of course, I can not defend myself as she is right. But why does my night sweat smell like vinegar? As a physician, I already know the answer.

Sweating like a pig is more than a common issue, but unfortunately, we do not share enough knowledge about it. So, here you go. Read through the article to determine the exact reason why your sweat smells and how to get rid of the pungent odor.

Why Do We Sweat?

Why does my night sweat smell like vinegar? Before getting into that, let’s go through the sweating or perspiration mechanism and purpose in brief.

Basically, we sweat to keep our body cool by transferring the heat to the sweaty water and eliminating it via sweat glands. We feel a chill when the sweat evaporates due to the heat.

We have perspiration glands throughout our bodies. These glands fall into 3 categories depending on their location and work. Such as,

  1. Eccrine
  2. Apocrine
  3. Apocrine

Many of us think sweating is disgusting. Well, I am sorry to say, but you are absolutely wrong. Sweating helps us moisturize the skin naturally and, at the same time, protects us against any external bacterial infection.

Sweat contains water and salt. However, a small fraction of ammonia, calcium, potassium, lactate, ethanol, and urea might also be present.

You might not believe it, but pure sweat is odorless. But different factors, for example, food habits, bacteria on the skin, hormones, etc., might be responsible for the pungent smell of the sweat. The slight change in the containing content might also lead to smelly perspiration.

Why Does My Night Sweat Smell Like Vinegar?

Honestly, there are more than one reasons why night sweat might smell like vinegar. It can be because of your unhealthy lifestyle or an underlying medical condition.

Let’s discover both possibilities.

Night Sweat Smells Like Vinegar: The Less Severe Issues

1. Hormones

Fluctuation of hormones often leads to excessive sweating and foul odor. This factor holds mostly for females. Here are the hormonal change phases for both gender,


Kids hitting puberty might notice a difference in their body odor. Experts suggest that during this age, boys and girls sweat excessively. The perspiration produces a foul smell when mixed with bacteria.


Your estrogen and progesterone level are heavily affected during the menstrual period. Scientist Jan Haveelik suggests that women give off a strong body odor during their menstruation days. As per the biological point of view, you may call it the fertility signal.


Pregnant ladies sweat a lot, even after the delivery. Do you know why?

Generally, the female body requires fluid to support the baby. Once the baby is out, the body balances the fluid naturally by fluctuating hormones. The act leads to excessive and unpleasant sweating.


Well, women do not look forward to their menstruation. Do they?

However, when they finally get over their menstruation and hit menopause, it is not a pleasant experience either. The female body goes through a lot of changes during this period.

Hot flashes and night sweat, you experience everything for the first time. Unfortunately, the night sweat is pungent and smells like vinegar. You can not blame the women for all these. The changes are meant to happen because of the fluctuation of hormones.

2. Stress

Have you ever noticed a rise in your body temperature when stressed? Yes, hormones rush through your body when you panic or have anxiety and activate apocrine sweat glands.

Generally, the stress-induced perspiration is milkier, odorless, and does not evaporate quickly. When the sweat mixes with the bacteria, it produces a pungent vinegar-like smell. International Hyperhidrosis Society claims that the anxiety-induced sweat smells more pathetic and stinkier than usual.

3. Spice And Seasoning

Who doesn’t like spicy food? Eat all the sizzlers you want but get ready for the stinky sweat afterward.

When you consume spicy and seasoning food, your body breaks them down in a sulfur-like compound. Your body releases this undesired component via the sweat glands. When the sweat and the sulfur-like compound mix, they give off a pungent smell.

4. Meat

If you live on meat, there is a high chance that your sweat is stinky. A study conducted in 2000 suggested that digesting animal protein requires more energy. It might increase the body heat resulting in excessive perspiration.

Another study from 2006 claims that non-vegetarians sweat badly and have a disgusting odor. On the other hand, vegetarians or vegans sweat less, and of course, their perspiration barely not stinks.

5. Dairy Products

How could daily products cause pungent body odor? Well, there is a link between these two.

A study suggests that people who have a metabolic disorder often fail to break down the trimethylamine. As a result, they experience smelly sweat after consuming dairy products.

Generally, the digested milk or yogurt contains lipid, which leaves your body via sweat. While on the skin, the existing bacteria feast on the lipid and release an odorous byproduct. Your body smells like vinegar.

6. Bacterial Infection

Sometimes, a bacterial infection results in a pungent-smelling sweat. Generally, men sweat more than females because of their large sweat glands. Corynebacterium spp. might take shelter in those larger glands and produce odor perspiration. The bacteria replace the vinegar-like smell with intensified chess-like odor in several cases.

Night Sweat Smells Like Vinegar: The Severe Issues

Why does my night sweat smell like vinegar? What if I am suffering from something more complicated?

Why Does My Night Sweat Smell Like Vinegar?

Trust me. I get many patients who think this way, and I appreciate their concerns. A foul odor and excessive sweating often indicate severe health conditions. Here are the possible risks,

1. Kidney Stone

A sick kidney can not break down urea. Hence, the unprocessed release of this compound might cause a vinegar-like smelly sweat. The pungent perspiration might indicate other complex health conditions like cancer, cystic fibrous, etc.

2. Diabetes

Diabetes often causes excessive sweating and change in body odor. Why? Here is why,

  • Low Blood Sugar: Diabetes medications might lead to hypoglycemia or low sugar level. Your body sweats a lot to balance out the inconsistencies in the system.
  • Elevated Blood Sugar: When you fail to treat diabetes properly, more than the usual amount of glucose takes shelter in your bloodstream instead of cells. Your body releases metabolic-like acetone in the form of sweat as it burns fat. The acetone is mainly responsible for the pungent body odor.

3. Hyperthyroidism

The overactivation of the thyroid gland leads to an overproduction of thyroid hormone. Suspected patients experience weight fluctuation, trembling fingers, tiredness, excessive sweating, depression, etc. This condition is called hyperthyroidism.

4. Hyperhidrosis

A hyperhidrosis patient experiences excessive and smelly sweating. The disease has two forms, primary and secondary.

The primary hyperhidrosis causes sweating on a localized spot or multiple areas. On the other hand, secondary hyperhidrosis is a sign of an underlying disease.

5. Trichomycosis

Trichomycosis is a bacterial skin infection that affects the underarm or pubic hair. In the majority of the cases, a person with trichomycosis experiences vinegar smelling or dark color sweat.

6. Trimethylaminuria

Trimethylaminuria is a rare disorder in which the body fails to break down chemical trimethylamine. The formula has a fish-like smell and is produced during the digestion process. When the body can not break the trimethylamine down, it releases the chemical via sweat, vaginal fluid, breath, etc.

How To Treat Sweat That Smells Like Vinegar

Well, there are both home remedies and proper medical treatments that can help you get rid of that pungent-smelling sweat. I am enlisting all the possible ways below,

  • Home remedies
    • Bathe daily with an antibacterial soap
    • Use deodorants
    • Change your clothes more frequently
    • Drink enough water
    • Follow a healthy diet
    • Do not stress over life
  • Medicine
    • Botox
    • Antibiotics
    • Microwave thermolysis
    • Antiperspirant cream

Night Sweat Smells Like Ammonia

Does your night sweat smell like ammonia? It might be because you are not drinking enough water or having heavy-meaty meals. These factors often lead to ammonia buildup in the system and smelly sweat.

Ammonia is the main byproduct of protein metabolism. Even though your kidney eliminates most of this waste, your sweat glands are happy to help sometimes.

Night Sweat Smells Like Onion

Do you know your body releases sulfur-like compounds via perspiration? These compounds get mixed with the bacteria quickly. Eventually, the mixing creates a chemical called thiol, which has a similar smell to an onion.


Why does my night sweat smell like vinegar? Well, you know all the possible answers by now. But for a specific solution, you can either bring changes in your lifestyle or visit a doctor.

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