The Complete Guide to Treating & Preventing Sweaty Smelly Feet and Foot Odor – 2017 Edition (And 35 Best Home Remedies for Eliminating Stinky Feet)

We are relaxant to deal with the embarrassment of sweaty smelly feet or foot odor. In fact, for anyone hitched by this problem, the question comes up at some point, “What is causing my feet to stink?” While most individuals may have suffered from damp feet, foot odor, and foot perspiration at some point in their lives, for many, sweaty, smelly feet might be a relentless issue that results in much discomfort.

Sadly, it may affect your daily life, leading to no social life, especially if it is related to being outdoors in the heat, at a gym, or in other situations where shoes need to be taken off, like crowded airports. Luckily, if you have this problem, the good news is that with an effective hygiene habit, you will successfully eliminate sweaty smelly feet and rid yourself of the shame that it may cause.

Why Do Your Feet Smell?

According to a study carried out at the Skin & Care Foundation in Australia, sweaty feet often come with stinky feet or offensive odor, known as bromhidrosis. This condition often begins in adolescence or childhood and may lead to a negative effect on your education, social development, and career choices.

But what exactly makes your feet to smell? Think of a hot, sunny day when you have been walking around an enjoyment park all day. OMG! Your feet have been in those shoes a long time! On your way home, you decide to remove your shoes. It feels great but smells really bad. Actually, you might hear other passengers in the vehicle ask, “What is stinking?”

Don’t blame yourself. Blame the bacteria. These microscopic creatures usually inhabit your feet and love damp and dark spots like the inside of your sweaty shoes. They thrive and multiply in sweat, so if you hate socks, that really makes them love your feet.

In the perfect environment, bacteria will invest your feet. They will eat your dead skin cells as well as oils from your feet. Their numbers will multiply and begin to release waste in the form or macrobiotic acids. It is these acids that produce odor.

And for 10-15 percent of individuals, the smell really stinks. You may ask why? Because their feet are extremely sweaty and become a habitat for bacteria referred as Kytococcus sedentarius.

Not only do these bacteria produce stinky organic acids but they also produce stuff known as volatile sulfur elements. These elements are usually powerful and dreadful smelling. They smell like a rotten egg. Awful smell!

Treating Preventing Smelly Feet

Why Do Your Feet Smell? (Via : 123rf.com)

The general causes of sweaty, smelly feet may be outlined as:

  • Poor personal hygiene.
  • A stressed individual.
  • Putting on the same shoes daily.
  • Wearing the same socks daily.
  • Hormonal changes – especially in pregnant women or teenagers.
  • A condition called hyperhidrosis that makes your feet to sweat more.

The American Podiatric Medical Association argues that the most obvious sign of smelly foot is a foot that sweats heavily. Some individuals sweat so heavily that their feet might slip around inside their sneakers. Their feet might also have a wet appearance, foot infections, and whitish spots because of the ever-present wetness that breaks down their skin enabling infection to thrive.

How to Treat Sweaty Smelly Feet and Foot Odor

There are things that you might do to get rid of sweaty smelly feet and foot odor. They include the following:

1. Washing your feet correctly and regularly

You might assume that a simple shower rub will be enough to keep your feet clean. Sadly, this isn’t true. Pleasantly odorless feet begin with the right washing techniques, which the majority of us don’t follow.

Washing your feet correctly and regularly

Washing your feet correctly and regularly (Via : 123rf.com)

Dr. Mark A. Kosinski, FIDSA, DPM, and a professor at the New York College of Podiatric Medicine, recommends washing your feet carefully with an antibacterial soap every day. He continues to argue that you should ensure that you dry your feet thoroughly after washing them, paying more attention to the sections between your toes because that is where moisture accumulates.

And finally, for additional protection, the doctor recommends spraying both feet and shoes with a foot spray powder. This process will ensure that your feet start with a clean schedule every morning.

2. Use foot antiperspirant

Dr. Mark says that there are at-home treatments that may help you to get rid of excessive sweating (hyperhidrosis). These treatments may include antiperspirants that have aluminum chloride hexahydrate, an element found in most of the underarm antiperspirant spray as well as over-the-counter solutions that are specifically sold to reduce excessive sweating.

Use foot antiperspirant

Use foot antiperspirant (Via: amazon.com)

For example brands such as SweatBlocksell and Klima are made for sweaty feet. Something to remember: beware of using these products and walking on slippery surfaces; there is a potential for falling and getting injured.

3. Using proven home solutions

Dr. Schwartz, a Foot Doctor specializing in ankle and foot reconstruction, says that home remedies such as tea soaks, vinegar, and salt baths are unlikely to get rid of your feet odor if you continue to wear damp or dirty shoes/socks but they might reduce the odor at the moment you use them. With that in mind, there are things that you may attempt for permanent and temporary relief:

  • Salt washes – Pour half a cup of kosher salt into four cups of water, soak for about 10 minutes, and then dry thoroughly. You may also use Epsom salts.
  • Powders – Baby powder, talcum powder, corn starch, and baking soda are known to absorb extra moisture. They also make your feet to smell really nice.

Note: other forms of soaks will be looked later.

4. Buying good shoes and socks

Once you have eliminated foot odor, it is only right to move to the next gear.

To prevent smelly feet from occurring in the first place, buy socks made of breathable fabrics. Dr. Schwartz says that synthetic fabrics provide less aeration than natural fabrics, and so nylon and polyester socks might boost the amount of perspiration when compared to cotton. Due to more ventilation, natural material limits the thriving of bacteria.

Buying good shoes and socks

Buying good shoes and socks (Via: 123rf.com)

The same case goes for shoes. Wear sneakers that are made of a breathable fabric like canvas and leather. Dr. Mart says that these materials allow perspiration to take place. He also recommends trying over-the-counter insoles which are made of activated charcoal as they might help to absorb sweat and odor.

In addition, never, ever wear your shoes without socks. Dr. Schwartz argues that wearing sneakers without socks often lead to sweat accumulation, facilitating bacteria to multiple over time. There might also be dirt, dead skin cells, mold, fungus, and oils thriving there.

5. Washing and rotating shoes and socks

Do I need to tell you that you should change your sock every day to avert the buildup of dead skin and moisture? In fact, you need to consider changing your socks several times a day if you are very sweaty or it is really a hot day. Additionally, to ensure that your socks are thoroughly clean, turn them inside-out before dumping them in your washing machine.

Washing and rotating shoes and socks

Washing and rotating shoes and socks (Via: 123rf.com)

Sneakers are a bit different. Some pairs may be washed regularly without doing any notable damage to the fabrics – just read the care manual and ensure that they dry completely – but some might not. Either way, it is advisable to rotate your shoes every day, and air out used ones. Dr. Mark recommends wearing a pair a day and keeping your shoes in a well-lit and ventilated place.

Furthermore, dry your shoes as soon as they get damp or wet.

6. Looking for odor-killing shoe elements

Some individuals use sprays, some use cedar chips, and other use powders to keep their sneakers smelling fresh. Dr. Schwartz says that all these people are correct. In fact, you should use an antibacterial odor absorbing foot spray or powder within your shoes. Some of the most effective products are baby powder, corn starch, talcum powder, baking powder, Kiwi Select Fresh Force, and Dr. Scholl’s Odor Destroyer Deodorant Spray.

Mini Moso Natural Air Purifying Bags, Shoe Deodorizer and Odor Eliminator

Mini Moso Natural Air Purifying Bags, Shoe Deodorizer and Odor Eliminator (Via: Amazon.com)

Footwear Tips for “Why do my Feet Smell?”

During the winter, consider wearing leather or canvas shoes so your feet may breathe via the fabrics. Avoid sneakers made of plastic or rubber, which “imprison” your foot and make it sweat excessively.

In the summer, wear sandals or other shoes to enable your feet to breathe. Through this, any sweat that occurs will evaporate easily because of better air circulation.

Other tips includes

1. Change your socks

You should change your socks every 24 hours. The primary purpose of a sock is to soak up the sweat while it is on your foot. When you remove it, it dries out, retaining all sweat of the day. When you wear a sock that you have already worn without washing it, you are simply heating dried sweat – the best condition for a stinking sock.

If you want to prevent foot odor, always have a pair of sock on. In addition, consider wearing two pairs if your feet sweat a lot.

Change your socks

Change your socks (Via : 123rf.com)

Finally, remember the tips looked on how to wash your sock and the kind of material that you should look for.

2. Things to put in your sneakers

You may sprinkle a layer of baking soda onto the inner part of your shoes. Repeat this process every 24 hours, shaking out the remains from the previous day before you sprinkle a fresh coat. You may also want to consider using cedar wood or cloves to freshen up your sneakers. You may put wood shavings in your sneakers for a few days when you aren’t wearing them.

Things to put in your sneakers

Things to put in your sneakers

Additionally, cedar wood insoles are great things to consider for your inner shoe. These woods contain essential oils that prevent bacteria and fungus. They might also cure and prevent athlete’s foot and nail fungus.

3. Shoes caring tips

Always rotate the sneakers that you wear so that they may dry out thoroughly before your wear them again. It takes at least 24 hours for a pair of sneaker to totally dry out. In addition, frequently wash your shoes by tossing them into your washing machine and then drying them in your drying machine.

Shoes caring tips

Shoes caring tips

Another great tip is to always take off your shoes whenever it’s possible. This helps your shoes and feet to remain drier.

4. Replace insoles

Insert replaceable insoles in your sneakers. Specialized odor consumer insoles are made of charcoal which is also used in various filtration systems. In addition to filtering the stinking smell, these soles are quite comfortable. They also help to save time for people who don’t want to waste it treating their feet.

Other great insoles are the cedar soles (which we have looked above). They help to prevent bacteria because of their natural, antibacterial, and antifungal action.

5. Wear cotton socks and leather shoes

Cotton sports socks have thicker fabric than other socks so they often absorb more moisture. When buying your socks, ensure that you look at the label to ascertain that your pair is made of 70 percent cotton or more.

Wear cotton socks and leather shoes

Wear cotton socks and leather shoes (Via : 123rf.com)

Note: follow the other tips we looked for shoes and socks.

Correcting Common problems

Here, we are going to look at some of the key questions that deal with sweaty and smelly feet.

1. What Causes Smelly Feet?

Some of the major causes of smelly feet and their solutions are:

  • Certain fabrics from your socks and shoes – if the fabric of your socks or shoes isn’t breathable, this smell will have nowhere to escape and be trapped in your shoes. Get breathable material.
  • Hormonal changes – times like puberty and menopause make you sweat excessively, so this might also lead to foot odors. Shower regularly.
  • Poor hygiene – cleaning your feet every day is critical to prevent odor.
  • Stress – just like the way your hands sweat when you are anxious, stressful times may also result in sweating in your feet, thus odors. Avoid stressing situations.
  • Excess bacteria development – some natural elements effectively eliminate bacteria that cause shoe and foot odor.
  • Alcohol – alcohol often raises your body temperature and may lead to excessive sweating; even affect your feet. Avoid alcohol.
  • Side effects of drugs and medications–inform your doctor about your foot odors to ensure that he/she recommends an alternative solution.
  • Infections – visit your doctor if you suspect that your foot has an infection which might be causing the unwelcomed smell.
  • Hyperhidrosis – this is a condition that is accompanied by excessive sweating. Visit your doctor to get treatment.
  • Poor diet – a poor diet may also make you sweat a lot. Eat a balanced diet.

2. How do you Eliminate Odor from Smelly Shoes and Boots?

The best ways to eliminate odor from smelly shoes and boots are:

  • Keeping a sock full of baking soda and kitty litter that has been tired at the top in your boots overnight, every night.
  • Placing your shoes in a sipper-lock plastic material and putting them in your freezer overnight. This temperature will remove most of the odor.
  • Placing a sheet of dryer material softener into your sneakers after wearing them.
  • Breaking some charcoal into tiny pieces and placing them inside a worn out tights and then putting them into your boots or shoes overnight.

Note: We have already looked at other effective ways that you may try to remove odor from your boots or shoes.

3. Do Essential oils Cure Sweaty Smelly Feet?

One way of eliminating foot smells is to establish a treatment formula that uses essential oils. There are several essential oils that you may use to eliminate these odors.

Studies About Essential Oils and Odors

  • PubMed Aromatherapy and Essential Oils says that topical use of aromatic oils may apply anti-inflammatory, analgesic, and antibacterial effects to help cure feet sweating as well as foot odor.
  • Another study showed that the application of an “oil-powder solution” consisting of baking soda, clove oil, sage oil, tea tree oil, and basil oil reduce fungal and bacterial growth in socks and shoes.

Actually, various types of essential oils might be effective in the elimination of foot odors. They include:

  • Eucalyptus oil - uses antiseptic properties to retard the development of bacterial and is a freshening element that eliminates the smell.
  • Lavender oil – it has anti-microbial properties on a skin and has a sweet natural aroma that may help mask stinking odors.
  • Peppermint oil – it has flavonoids which offer an anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial element and terpenoids which add peppermint’s aromatic properties.
  • Tea tree oil– it boasts of a fresh, camphor-like odor and has antifungal and anti-bacterial properties.
  • Thyme oil – it features 24-50 percent thymol, an element that provides its odor and flavor and also boasts of very strong antifungal and anti-bacterial properties.
  • Sage oil –this element has been used to prevent excessive sweating.

4. Is Baking Soda an Effective Way to Freshen Up Stinky Shoes?

This fine white powder is regularly used for baking purposes or as a kitchen sink’s cleaner as well as a mouthwash. It is also used for other oral hygiene elements and as a substitute for commercial antiperspirants and deodorants containing parabens and aluminum.

Baking Soda smelly feet

Via: wikiHow.com

This is the main reason why it is common to sprinkle this element in smelly shoes. It usually accomplishes 2 things:

  • It kills germ from your shoe
  • It deodorizes your shoe

It achieves this by neutralizing the bacterial acid and thus getting rid of the odor. It also acts as a fungicide and is known to cure athlete’s foot.

5. Why Do Our Feet Smell Worse in the Winter?

Summer is all exposed and sweaty toes, so you might think that your feet would smell worse during this season. But this isn’t true. As the weather gets cooler, your feet often get smellier; at least, that is what anecdotal finding shows.

Blame socks and shoes. According to Robert Kornfeld, a doctor of podiatric medicine, Enclosing your feet increase heat and retain sweat. He continues to state that if your feet are allowed to air out, you won’t build up a breeding surface for bacteria; thus no odor.

Top Ways to Get Rid of Foot Odor or Smelly Feet

7 Soaks to Remove Foot Odor

There are different types of soaks that you may use to eliminate foot odor. They include the following 7 soaks.

1. Epsom Salt Foot Soak

This soak neutralizes smell and also happens to be quite soothing on an aching foot.

You will require:

  • 8 cups of warm water
  • ½ cups of Epsom salt
  • A basin

Dissolve the Epsom salt in the warm water inside a basin and soak your feet for about half an hour 2 times a day. Dry completely afterward.

2. Sage and Rosemary Soak

Sage boasts of antiviral, antifungal, and antibacterial properties and is an astringent. On the other hand, rosemary is an antifungal/antibacterial as well as an astringent. Thus, they both minimize production of sweat

You will require

  • A teaspoon of dried sage
  • A teaspoon of dried rosemary
  • A basin

Fill a small basin with boiling water and then add the elements. Let it cool and then put your feet in. Soak for about half an hour 2 times a day.

3. Bubbly Baking Soda and Lemon Soak

Lemon is an astringent that helps control excessive sweating and has a fresh scent.

baking soda smelly feet

baking soda smelly feet

You will require

  • 8 cups of water
  • Juice of one lemon
  • ¼ cup of baking soda
  • A basin

Put baking soda in a basin, add warm water and then squeeze in the lemon juice. Soak your feet for about 20 minutes and then dry thoroughly.

4. Very Vinegar Soak

This solution forms an acidic environment which kills all the bacteria on your feet.

Organic Raw Apple Cider Vinegar

Image source: amazon.com

You will require

  • 8 cups of warm water
  • ½ cup of apple cider vinegar
  • A basin

Fill your basin with warm water and add apple cider or white distilled vinegar. Soak your feet for about 20 minutes. Rinse in cold water and dry completely.

5. Black Tea Foot Soak

This solution is effective due to high levels of tannic or tannins acid. The acid kills all the bacteria.

You will require

  • 4 cups of hot water
  • 5 bags of black tea
  • A basin

Pour boiling water into the basin and add the bags of black tea. Let them cool for about 10 minutes and then put in your feet for 30 minutes. Do this every day and dry your feet.

6. CedarWood and Coconut Oil Blend

Cedarwood contains anti-infectious and anti-fungal oil which eliminate odor while coconut oil boats of lauric acid which eliminate bacteria that results in foot odor.

You will require

  • 5 drops of cedar wood essential oil
  • A tablespoon of coconut oil

Add cedar wood oil to the coconut oil. Mix them and apply to your feet.

7. Alum Powder

It removes moisture from your foot and eradicates odor.

alum powder

You will require

  • Alum powder
  • Empty spice jar

Put the powder in an empty spice jar and sprinkle on your dry feet. Then rub in.

35 Home Remedies for Eliminating Stinky Feet

In addition, there are 35 home remedies that you may try to eradicate stinky feet:

  • Cleaning your feet – involves scrubbing your feet for about 5 minutes.
  • Applying alcohol and vinegar – involves mixing ½ cup of isopropyl alcohol with ½ cup of vinegar and them applying on your feet to kill bacteria.
  • Applying talcum powder – this is simply applying the powder on your feet to prevent sweating.
  • Using baking soda – involves rubbing a small amount of baking soda on your feet to kill bacteria
  • Applying cornstarch – simply apply cornstarch on your feet to prevent sweating.
  • Using bleach – involves adding lukewarm water in a basin and then adding a few drops of bleach. Soak your legs for 20 minutes.
  • Using green tea – simply add green tea in warm water and soak your leg to kill bacteria.
  • Applying salt – involves mixing salt with warm water and then soaking your feet.
  • Using vinegar – just soak your feet in a solution of water and vinegar.
  • Applying baby powder – sprinkling baby powder on your shoes.
  • Consuming zinc – eating zinc-containing food such as apple.
  • Soaking in foot relaxer – mix ½ cup of baking soda, ½ cup of peroxide, and your preferred body wash. Soak your feet for 15 minutes.
  • Soaking in Listerine mouthwash – put a few drops of this element in warm water and soak your feet.
  • Using lavender oil – soak your feet in warm water and then add a few drops of this essential oil.
  • Rubbing ginger ointment – make a ginger puree and then add to hot water. Leave it to cool and then apply the thick ointment to your feet.
  • Putting cloves – put these elements in your shoes.
  • Soaking in sugar – mix water, sugar, and alcohol and then soak your feet for about 10 minutes.
  • Rubbing Vicks – rub Vicks on a tub or basis and then add hot water in it. Soak your legs for about 10 minutes.
  • Applying hand sanitizer to your feet.
  • Rubbing Neosporin – rub it on your feet as a moisturizer.
  • Using deodorant – place them in your shoes and socks.
  • Rubbing pumice stone – rub it when taking a shower to remove dead skin.
  • Rubbing tea tree oil – rub a few drops of this product every morning and every night and then wear your socks.
  • Soaking in lemon tea bag solution – soak your feet in a lemon tea bags and water solution.
  • Soaking in oatmeal – soak your feet in water and oatmeal solution.
  • Using Epsom salt – mix it with warm water and then soak your feet.
  • Sprinkling borax solution – sprinkle this solution in your sneakers.
  • Using sage – put these leaves in your boots.
  • Applying apple cider vinegar – mix your vinegar with warm water and then soak your feet.
  • Using vodka – soak your foot in vodka.
  • Appling Jell-O – mix water and lemon Jell-O and then soak your feet for about 10 minutes.
  • Rubbing vegetable oil – rub this oil on your sock and feet.
  • Applying Vaseline – rub Vaseline on your feet.
  • Use alum – wash your feet with a mixture of alum and water.

How to Prevent Foot Odor

The best and the most scientific ways to prevent foot odors are as follows:

get rip of smelly feet

Get rip of smelly feet

1. Cleaning your feet

It all begins with washing your toes, toe webs, and feet. Don’t just rinse them in the water, wash them thoroughly. In addition, use the right soap when washing your feet. Ordinary deodorants soap won’t work.

Here is what will work:

Clean your feet with a good surgical-quality antibacterial soap such as Betadine or Hibiscrub. These soaps will eliminate those smelly bacteria from your feet.

In addition to cleaning your feet, use hand sanitizer for a fast cleansing. Sanitizers will fight off all the bacteria from your feet.

2. Scrub like a professional

Scrubbing your feet aids because the bacteria that results in foot odor feed on sweat and dead skin cells. Remove their food and they will not release the stinky smell.

Pumice stones are perfect for scrubbing your feet. You may even use acid-based exfoliation creams to remove the dead skin.

3. Dry and keep your feet calm

This is important as bacteria live on moist surfaces. Therefore, ensure that you dry your feet well and don’t forget your toe webs.

4. Prevent bacteria from entering your feet

Follow the following tips:

  • Keep your toenails short
  • Eliminate hair from your feet
  • Apply benzoyl peroxide gel
  • Dab or wipe your toes, webs, and feet with dip cotton wool in spirit or rubbing alcohol

5. Other ways to prevent foot odor includes:

Soaking your feet in different solutions, applying powder to your shoes and feet, applying creams, getting the right footwear, wearing the right socks, skipping the sockless trend, walking barefoot, rotating your shoes, freshening your shoes, taking the right diet, avoiding stress, curing feet conditions, and spraying your feet.

Story “Why Do My Feet Smell 10 Times Worse After Wearing Flats?”


I thought I was the only person who was affected by 10 times smelling feet when I wear flats but I was wrong. Let me give you some of my friends’ stories to realize that this is a general problem with most people who wears flats, especially women.

But first, let me give you my story:

I recently began to wear flat because they are more professional and grown up than wearing boots to the job. I purchased some extreme zero-show socks (I even don’t know the brand). They have made my sweet feet to smell like dead rats. I seriously though I was carrying a dead rate inside my handbag, but when the smell followed me long after I had kept my bag, I noticed it was my feet.

I have always tried to rotate my shoes, and I have come to realize that the smell is more obvious when I am wearing flats. I made I decision to be wiping them after every use, but the smell just appears whenever I use them. I have also kept them outside for a whole night which I think aids for a few minutes, but they stink again after a few hours of use.

Now I am considering applying baby powder to see the results.

And here is my friend story:

My friend has this issue, too. She has owned about 3 pairs of boots and they don’t smell and purchased 2 pairs of flats to try them out. One pair is ok but the other stinks in our house whenever she wears it. She has tried everything but they don’t seem to stop smelling (you might think that she smokes).

My other friend used to have stinky feet until she decided to sprinkle some powder on her feet. Although this has seems to work when on most shoes, it doesn’t seem to be effective in flat shoes (she still smells like rotten eggs).

When to See a Doctor

Awful smelling feet aren’t a serious medical problem as the smell often clears up. However, sometimes it may be a sign of hidden medical conditions. You need to visit your doctor if simple methods to eliminate feet odor don’t help or if you are worried that you are sweating heavily.

Your doctor may provide you a better prescription antibacterial/antiperspirant or recommend you for a treatment referred as iontophoresis, which provides a mild electric current via water to your feet for reversing excessive sweating.

Resources and Further Reading

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Megan Ann
 

I’m Megan Ann, mama to 2 and wife to James F. Core. I love meeting new people and hearing their stories. In this blog, I try to write useful and informative articles to help you as much as I can with my knowledge.

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