The primary culprit behind smelly feet is sweat, since it provides a warm, moist environment in which bacteria thrive. Since sweating is a natural bodily function, what can you do to make foot odor a thing of the past?
Below are a few little-known (and some common) but proven solutions that may give your nose and toes some relief.
Bye, Bye, Foot Odor
Without the presence of bacteria, sweat is just sweat – odorless and pretty harmless. Combine the two, however, and you’ll have a smelly mess on your toes. Use one or more of these cool remedies to see what works best for you.
Grapefruit Seed Extract – Applying this oil to your feet two times a day can cut down on the amount of bacteria or fungus present, but expect to repeat this process for a couple months before everything clears up.
Vinegar Splash – One way you can stop bacteria from growing or spreading on your feet is to apply a vinegar solution directly to your problem areas – between toes and covering the entire sole of your feet. Essentially, what vinegar does is neutralize your skin’s pH factor so that bacteria won’t feel welcome anymore. You might find it handy to pour vinegar into an empty spray bottle for easier application, and using apple cider vinegar will give your feet more of a pleasant smell. Vinegar itself is strong and some people find the scent offensive.
Tea Soak – Some people find that soaking the feet in tea after it has cooled also works well to neutralize foot odor. This apparently can be attributed to the tannic acids that teas contain, which help to keep pores tighter and feet dry. Regularly rubbing your feet down in tea tree oil also helps to get rid of foot fungus and bacteria.
Alum and Alcohol – Just like tea and vinegar, the herb alum mixed with a little rubbing alcohol can be used to spray on the feet periodically to keep them dry and add a fresh scent.
Cotton is Better – Wearing cotton socks instead of nylon, silk or polyester socks can also be helpful. Cotton absorbs moisture and, again, with less perspiration or moisture, any bacteria that are present won’t be stirred up and emit those pungent fumes.
Comfortable Shoes – To also cut back on foot perspiration, make sure your shoes aren’t too tight so that your little peepers can breathe. Tight shoes not only hurt the feet and give rise to other foot problems; they also don’t allow your feet the chance to dry out. Furthermore, as often as you can, you should give your feet a rest from your shoes anyway, provided they are able to rest on a cool, clean, dry surface. This way they are dryer longer and less prone to bacteria.
Lemon Oil – It just smells great and refreshing. Lemon can also keep your feet and shoes fresher longer. Soak your feet for about 20 minutes in a lemon oil solution before going to bed or drop a few cotton balls dabbed with lemon oil into your shoes at night to air them out by morning. You’ll be pleasantly surprised how well this works.
Foot Powder (Homemade or Store-Bought) – Should you have to wear shoes for long periods, it’s a good idea to sprinkle your feet and your shoes’ insoles with foot powder, which will also help to absorb any moisture and keep bacteria at bay. Alternatively, save some money and use cornstarch for sprinkling instead.