9 Home Remedies for Foot Odor & Treating Smelly Feet
Inside This Post: Home remedies for foot odor and natural ways to treat stinky feet. Reduce smell and bacteria and foot odor by treating your feet and socks and shoes.
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As a Mom to three little kids who are very active, along with their 15K steps a day, splashing in puddles and running through the mud, comes some very smelly feet. The minute they slip off their shoes in the car or in the house, I can smell it and try my best not to gag.
Right now they may think it’s something to laugh about, but I know as they get older, they won’t feel this way.
I’ll also admit there are times when I slip off my own shoes and the smell isn’t pleasant.
The good news about foot odor, is that there are many easy and natural remedies to reduce smell and bacteria which causes it.
The Facts on Foot Odor
There are several reasons why your feet smell.
- The underlying reason for most smelly feet is the combination of bacteria and a warm, moisture environment.
- People naturally have bacteria that live on their feet but certainly footwear that doesn’t allow the foot to properly breathe, exacerbates the bacteria.
- When the bacteria on a person’s foot tries to naturally rid itself, the moist environment in shoes causes the bacteria waste breaks down oils and dead skin cells, resulting in bad smelling feet.
- Smelly feet are not generally a medical concern, but they do affect a person’s confidence and can make them feel very self-conscious.
“The feet have about half a million sweat glands, and this can lead to a whole lot of sweat,” says Dr. Erika M. Schwartz, DPM, FACFAS, of the American Podiatric Medical Association. “When you wear socks and shoes, the sweat gets trapped inside. Bacteria and fungus can thrive in this type of warm, moist environment, and can produce odor.”
To eliminate that funky foot smell once and for all, you have to attack it on two fronts – treating your feet themselves, and treating your socks and shoes.
Footwear Factors into Smelly Feet
Wearing socks with shoes can help stinky feet. Socks, work to absorb sweat and when the bacteria is also absorbed, it reduces the incident of foot odor.
Synthetic materials provide less ventilation for your feet, than natural materials. Socks made of polyester or nylon socks which may be labeled, “keep your feet cool” or “moisture wicking” aren’t actually good for your feet because they increase the amount of perspiration compared to cotton. Natural materials like cotton and wool provide better ventilation and can therefore limit the growth of bacteria.
- After a workout, going on a walk or doing yard work, change you socks so the sweat and bacteria doesn’t linger in your shoes all day long.
- Keep an extra pair of socks on hand to switch them mid-day if your feet tend to sweat a lot.
- When you’re inside, remove shoes all together to avoid bringing outside pollutants into your home.
9 Natural Cures for Smelly Feet & Getting Rid of Foot Odor
1. Wash Feet with Antibacterial Soap
You might think stepping into the shower will be enough to keep your feet clean, you thought wrong.
Good smelling piggies start with proper washing and that includes using antibacterial soap on your feet. Moisture collects between the toes, so make you not only wash this area, but dry it thoroughly when you get out of the shower or tub.
2. Use a Foot Detox Bath
Mix two cups of Epsom salt into a foot bath half-full with warm water. Let the salts dissolve and soak your feet for 15 – 20 minutes twice a day.
The Epsom salt acts as an astringent to reduce food sweat, and can kill bacteria.
3. Exfoliate Feet
When bacteria on the feet is trapped by moisture and dead skin cells, foot odor is sure to follow.
When you use a pumice stone, you can help remove dead skin cells so bacteria doesn’t have anything to feed on. Using a pumice stone two or three times a week, helps dead skin cells from building up.
4. Vinegar Foot Soak
Neutralize foot odor with vinegar – the acid in the vinegar will neutralize the odor and help kill bacteria.
Soak your feet in a foot bath with 1/3 cup apple cider vinegar (or you can use white vinegar) and soak your feet for 15-20 minutes twice a day, until the odor is gone. Rule of thumb is one part vinegar, two parts water for measuring purposes.
Don’t do a vinegar soak if you have any open cuts, or sores, because the vinegar can not only burn, but potentially irritate open areas of skin.
5. Black Tea Foot Bath
Tannic acids in strong black tea kills odor-causing bacteria and closes your pores, which helps your feet to sweat less.
Try a black tea foot bath. Boil 4-5 tea bags in two cups of water for 10 minutes. Remove the tea bags and add the tea to your foot bath (about two quarts of water.)
Soak your feet for 20 – 30 minutes and repeat daily for a week, or under the odor is gone. The tannic acid in strong black tea kills bacteria and closes pores to help your feet sweat less.
6. Peppermint Scrub
I love this peppermint scrub, because my feet smell delicious but they also feel revitalized!
Peppermint cools and deodorizes the skin, while sugar buffs away dead skin cells. To make your peppermint scrub, in a bowl combine
- 1 tablespoon of oatmeal
- 1 tablespoon of cornmeal
- 1 tablespoon of sugar
- 2 teaspoons dried peppermint
- Add 1 tablespoon natural yogurt
- juice of one lemon
- 5 drops of peppermint essential oil
Mix all the ingredients together to form a grainy paste like scrub. Gently massage the mixture into your feet and because this can be messy, I’d suggest you sit over the bathtub or a towel.
7. Odor Removers
You can also use mesh pouches filled with zeolite. Zeolite is a natural volcanic mineral that attracts odors and traps them. Meaning, it hits odors at a molecular level and completely eliminating funky shoe smells. Expose the reusable pouch to the sun for six hours to discharge the collected odors.
When to See a Doctor About Smelly Feet
In some cases, foul foot odor can be so persistent that it may warrant a visit to the podiatrist or dermatologist. They can address the underlying cause for the excessive sweating. They can provide guidance on the next level of care.
Occasionally, the funky smell can be a sign of a larger medical problem. Cuts or wounds on the feet, skin or between the toes can lead to a severe bacterial infection of the skin or soft tissue will usually produce a terrible odor.
Diabetics should be on particular lookout for foot odor as it’s a sign of a more serious problem, and fungal and bacterial infections can progress quickly in people with diabetes.