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Top 15 Home Remedies for Foot Odor

Top 15 Home Remedies for Foot Odor

Did you know that our feet have 250,000 sweat glands! And that they produce about 250 ml of perspiration daily! Isn’t that much of sweat enough to give you foot odor? In fact, you may sweat more regardless of temperature or weather and if you are a teenager or a pregnant woman you have more reasons to get sweaty feet due to hormonal changes taking place in your body. Other people who are more likely to get smelly feet include those who keep standing all the time during the day, people who are under tremendous stress or those who suffer from hyperhidrosis which is a medical condition where a body sweats excessively which leads not only to foot odor but overall body odor. If you doesn’t fall in all these categories and still have foot odor, you may have fungal infections like athlete’s foot. Foot odor, medically known as bromodosis, can be embarrassing. In fact, keeping your feet freshly smelling can be counted as good personal hygiene. Here are some natural home remedies for you to keep your stinky feet fresh and odorless.

Top Remedies for Foot Odor

1. Baking Soda Foot Bath to Control Odor

Sweating is not the only reason for your foot odor. Its the bacteria which is on your skin that breaks down the sweat and produces a cheesy smell as the sweat decomposes. Baking soda creates an alkaline environment which is not at all bacteria friendly. Sodium bicarbonate, commonly known as baking soda, also neutralizes the pH of sweat which also helps in eliminating bacteria.

Get this:

  • Baking soda- ¼ cup
  • Foot bath basin
  • Warm water to fill the basin

Do this:

  • Fill your foot bath basin with enough warm water to soak your feet.
  • Add baking soda to this warm water.
  • Soak your feet in this for about 15-20 minutes.
  • Dry your feet completely with a towel.

2. Vinegar to Remove Foot Odor

Vinegar,as you know, is acidic. When you soak your feet in water mixed with vinegar, it creates an acidic environment which is unfriendly for bacteria as they cannot survive in such an environment. You can use the regular vinegar or apple cider vinegar for this home remedy to get rid of foot odor. However, there is one concern here as vinegar has its own smell and while you get rid of sweaty odor you may smell vinegary! You may thus use some essential oil in your vinegar foot soak to keep this smell away from you.

Get this:

  • Vinegar or Apple cider vinegar- ½ cup
  • Warm water- 7-8 cups
  • Thyme essential oil (optional)- 2-4 drops
  • Foot bath basin or a big bowl

Do this:

  • Fill the basin with warm water.
  • Add vinegar and thyme oil, if using, to this water.
  • Soak your feet for 15-20 minutes.
  • Dry your feet with a towel.

3. Epsom Salt for Foot Odor

Epsom salt is not a salt but a naturally occurring mineral compound of magnesium and sulfate having various beneficial effects for our bodies as both these minerals are easily absorbed by skin. If you also have aching or stressed legs along with smelly feet, this is the remedy for you. Magnesium in Epsom salt reduces inflammation and helps in proper muscles and nerve functioning. Sulfate, on the other hand, improves absorption of nutrients and flush out toxins from the body. It, through the process of reverse osmosis, pulls out the harmful toxins from the body which includes any fungus or bacteria as well as dead skin etc leaving your feet fresh without any smell.

Get this:

  • Epsom salt- ¼ – ½ cup
  • Warm water

Do this:

  • Take the warm water in a foot basin.
  • Add Epsom salt to this.
  • Soak your feet in this water for 10-15 minutes.
  • It’s better to do this before bedtime. It will not only soothe your aching feet and make it odor free but will also help you relax and have a better sleep.

4. Ginger to Get Rid of Foot Odor

Ginger has many health benefits, one of which is its detoxifying properties. It promotes healthy sweating which not only detoxifies but also fights germs. German researchers have found out that ginger has certain germ fighting agents that combat infections. There is a protein called dermicidin which is produced in sweat glands and is secreted into the sweat which is then transferred to the surface of the skin to provide protection against microorganisms including bacteria and fungi that cause infection as well as odor.

Ways to Use Ginger for Foot Odor

  1. Take a 2 inches piece of ginger and crush it to get its pulp. Place this pulp in a handkerchief or a gauze and tie it up. Now soak this handkerchief in ½ a cup of hot water for 5-10 minutes. Use this water to massage your feet daily at bedtime after taking shower.
  2. Grind some ginger to make a smooth paste. Apply this paste to your feet and leave for 10-15 minutes. Wash off with warm water.
  3. Make a foot soak by boiling some ginger pieces in water for 10-15 minutes. When the water becomes tolerably warm discard the ginger pieces and soak your feet in this water for 15-20 minutes.

5. Have Zinc Rich Foods to Cure and Prevent Foot Odor

If foot odor is not the only problem with your feet and if they are also dry and scaly, there is a possibility that you suffer from zinc deficiency. There is enough substantial anecdotal evidence that having zinc-rich foods or even zinc supplements can cure smelly feet very quickly when most of the other remedies fail. When you lack in zinc, it affects your immune system and your ability to metabolize fats and vitamin A needed for healthy skin. Unhealthy skin means more bacteria and other microorganisms that lead to stinky feet. Therefore, having such foods that are rich in zinc may eliminate your foot odor problem.


Foods Rich in Zinc

These are some of the foods that are rich in zinc.

  • Oysters
  • Red Meat
  • Poultry
  • Crab and Lobster
  • Dairy Products
  • Wheat germ
  • Spinach
  • Pumpkin and Squash seeds
  • Nuts, especially cashews
  • Cocoa powder and chocolates too
  • Beans
  • Mushrooms

6. Radish for Foot Odor

Radish has been traditionally used for eliminating foot odor. It may be due to its skin friendly components like Vitamin-C, phosphorus, zinc and certain B vitamins. It is also considered to be a good disinfectant. Sweat, most of the times, doesn’t give out foul smell. It is the bacteria that thrive on skin and their waste products that are responsible for odor. Poor skin conditions may promote proliferation of bacteria and radish helps cure skin disorders, of your feet too.

Ways to Use Radish for Foot Odor

  1. Extract juice from 5-6 or more radishes and mix it with warm water to use for foot bath.
  2. Make a foot scrub by mixing ginger paste, radish paste and lemon juice. Apply this to your feet and leave for 5-10 minutes. Then gently rub this on your feet for about 5 minutes. Wash off with water. Repeat at least twice a week.
  3. You may also make a solution to spray on your feet. Take about 10-12 radishes and grate or grind them. Squeeze out the juice from this radish pulp. Add ¼ teaspoon of glycerin to this and store in a spray bottle. Use it on your feet to reduce smell.

7. Black Tea for Eliminating Foot Odor

Black tea not only refreshes you but your feet too. It contains tannic acid which has astringent properties. Astringents can contract body tissues which works on sweat glands too. Narrow glands perspire lesser. Make a refreshing foot soak with black tea.

Get this:

  • Black tea bags- 2-4
  • Warm water

Do this:

  • Fill a foot basin with enough warm water to soak your feet.
  • Add the black tea bags to it.
  • Let it steep for about 10 minutes.
  • Now soak your feet in the water for 20-30 minutes.

8. Lavender Essential Oil for Foot Odor

Lavender is not only pleasantly aromatic but it is also antibacterial. You can use lavender essential oil to eliminate the bacteria that produce odor and make you uncomfortable with the foot odor. What is good about this fragrant oil is that it can be used even on broken skin like blisters or cracked heels. Make a relaxing foot bath with this lavender oil.

Get this:

  • Lavender essential oil- 4-5 drops
  • Warm water

Do this:

  • Fill your foot basin with warm water.
  • Add few drops of lavender oil to this.
  • Soak your feet in this fragrant foot bath for 15-20 minutes.

9. Tea Tree Oil for Foot Odor due to Fungal Infections

Sometimes foot odor is caused by fungal infections like athlete’s foot. In such a case a strong essential oils like tea tree oil can be used neat or mixed with other oils beneficial for foot odor like lavender oil that we discussed in the previous remedy. A mixture of both these oils can be directly applied to skin.

Get this:

  • Tea tree oil- 3-6 drops
  • Sweet almond oil- 1 tsp
  • Warm water
  • Mild soap

Do this:

  • Make a foot bath with simple warm water in a foot basin.
  • Soak your feet in this warm water for 10-15 minutes.
  • Use a mild soap to wash your feet well. You may use a soft cloth to clean the space between toes with mild soap and warm water. Remember athlete’s foot is contagious and it needs careful and thorough washing for effective remedy.
  • Dry the feet with towel. Dry the space between toes well.
  • Now you have two options to apply oil:
  • Apply tea tree oil directly to your feet. Take 1 drop each for your toes. Rub the oil between toes.
  • You can dilute the tea tree oil with almond oil if you are not comfortable with the pure tea tree oil. Apply between toes the same way as you would do with plain tea tree oil.
  • Repeat thrice a day.

10. Alum to Eliminate Foot Odor

Alum has long been used for pickling and for various other properties. You can find it in crystal or powder form. Alum powder has astringent as well as antiseptic properties. It thus not only inhibits growth of bacteria but also helps contract your sweat glands so that you perspire less. Alum is one of the components of deodorants too due to its antiperspirant properties.

Get this:

  • Alum powder- 1 tsp
  • Warm water- 1-2 cups

Do this:

  • Add alum powder to warm water and mix well.
  • Wash your feet thoroughly with this water.
  • Do not initially dry your feet and let the alum work on your skin.
  • After about 10 minutes dry your feet well.
  • You may also sprinkle some alum powder on your feet.

11. Boric Acid to Cure Foot Odor

Boric acid derived from the mineral boron, sodium salts and oxygen can also be found naturally in many foods. It is used in manufacturing of antiseptics, soaps, pesticides, wood preservatives etc. Due to its antiseptic properties, it is also used in contact lens solutions and many cosmetics as well as products meant to cure athlete’s foot disease and foot odor. As boric acid is mildly toxic and acidic (as the name itself suggests), it can eliminate bacteria and molds. You can get borax which contains boric acid to treat your shoes in order to combat odor.

Get this:

  • Borax- ½ cup
  • Vinegar- ½ cup
  • Water- 2 cups

Do this:

  • Add borax and vinegar to water.
  • Wash or soak your shoes with this solutions.
  • If your shoe is non washable, fill this solution in a spray bottle and spray a fine mist in your shoes.
  • Allow the shoes to dry out completely before you wear them.

Precaution: If your skin is sensitive, think twice before using borax.

12. Sage Leaves to Get Rid of Foot Odor

Sage herb has many medicinal properties one of which is its ability to reduce sweating. Sage has been traditionally use an effective remedy for excessive sweating or hyperhidrosis. Sage leaves have tannic acid in them which is highly astringent that makes the blood vessels of your skin contract. The blood vessels in sweat glands also shrink temporarily due to astringent properties of sage. It thus reduces amount of sweat that you produce. Sage is also an antibacterial and thus inhibits the growth of bacteria that causes odor.

Get this:

  • Sage leaves (large)- 8-10 Or Dried sage- 1 tsp
  • Hot water- 6-8 cups

Do this:

  • Fill your foot bath basin with hot water.
  • Add sage leaves or dried sage to this water.
  • Let it steep for 10-15 minutes.
  • When the water is tolerably warm, soak your feet in this herbal water for 15-20 minutes.

You may also have a cup of sage tea before you go to bed. This will help you reduce your overall production of bodily sweat.

13. Keep Dead Skin Off Your Feet

Dead skin and even calluses on your feet are the food for bacteria and they thrive on it. Keeping your feet clean is the per-requisite to keep your feet odorless. Cleanliness includes keeping dead skin off your feet. Use a pumice stone daily while bathing to clean off these dead skin. Regular pedicure, once in a week or 15 days, also is a good habit as this cleans your feet thoroughly. You may also use scrubs to clean off the dead skin. Make a salt scrub to treat your feet having dead skin.
Get this:

  • Epsom Salt or Table salt- 2-3 tablespoons
  • Any essential oil (preferably sage/ lavender/ rosemary)- few drops
  • Olive or jojoba oil- 1-2 tsp

Do this:

  • Mix epsom salt, essential oil and the other oil.
  • Before applying the scrub, you should soak your feet in warm water for 5-10 minutes.
  • Dry your feet.
  • Apply the salt scrub to your feet.
  • Leave for about 5 minutes.
  • Now rub your feet gently for 5-10 minutes.
  • Wash off with warm water and dry the feet completely.
  • Repeat this 2-3 times a week.

14. Select, Clean and Treat your Shoes to Combat Food Odor

When you wear your shoes, it blocks all the air outside from getting into your shoes. Now when your feet sweat, it makes the inside of your shoes moist. As there is no air, the moisture gets trapped into the shoes and give rise to the odor-causing bacteria. Bacteria grow fast in a moist environment. Now if you don’t open your shoes frequently or clean them before wearing them again, you will never get rid of foot odor. Along with taking care of your feet, you need to care for your shoes too. Also, you need to select the right shoes and clean them properly to keep foot odor at bay. Here are some tips for you about how to take care of your shoes.


Tips to Take Care of Shoes to Eliminate Foot Odor

  1. As far as possible, select open shoes like sandals to wear as they allow air onto your feet. Air will help evaporate sweat combat the growth of odor-causing bacteria.
  2. If you can not wear sandals, like in office, you may select such shoes that are breathable meaning that can let air pass into the shoes and to your feet. Leather or canvas shoes are somewhat breathable. Avoid shoes made of rubber or other synthetic material or those that having lining made with solid rubber or synthetic materials.
  3. Wash your shoes frequently. Your sneakers and canvas shoes can be washed in the washing machine. However, let them air dry and avoid using dryer.
  4. It is better not to wear a shoe for two consecutive days. This gives time for shoes to breathe. You may at least use two shoes and wear them on alternate days. The resting shoe can be allowed to air dry for a day before you wear it next day. If possible, keep them in sun.
  5. When air drying your shoes, take out the insoles. You may also use a crumpled newspaper inside your moist shoes overnight. This helps them dry out as the paper will absorb the moisture.
  6. When in office and when you sit for a long tine, try to remove your shoes for a while. This not only lets air inside your shoes but also keeps your feet stay drier.
  7. You may also use a shoe dryer. These driers use convection air currents to dry wet, sweaty shoes completely. You can place your shoes on them at the end of your day. After about eight hours later, you’ll get dry shoes to wear.
  8. Sprinkle some cornstarch inside your shoes. This helps absorb moisture. Your feet too will keep dry.
  9. You may also sprinkle baby powder or baking soda in your shoes. Baking soda will inhibit growth of bacteria and will also keep your feet dry.
  10. You can even make fragrant anti bacterial deodorants for your shoes at home. Mix 3 tbsp baking soda with 3 tbsp dried sage leaves and store it in an airtight glass container. When you remove your shoes at the end of the day, sprinkle some of this mixture into your shoes. Shake the shoes little to let the thing cover whole of it. Leave overnight and if possible for the whole of the next day. In the evening, remove the excess mixture from the shoes and its ready to wear.
  11. If you are not going to use your shoes for some days, you may keep some cedar wood shavings or whole cloves inside them. The odor from the shoes will go away when you take out the shoes to wear after few days.

15. Mind your Socks too and Keep Foot Odor Away

Not only shoes, even your socks need care for the same reasons. They too absorb moisture from your sweaty feet and become breeding grounds for bacteria. If you keep your feet as well as shoes clean and yet are unable to get rid of foot odor, you need to check your socks! Here are some tips to keep your socks from giving you foot odor.

  1. Change your socks daily. Wear a fresh clean pair of socks everyday. You can easily wash your socks and don’t have to put much efforts, like when you clean your shoes. Its even hygienic. Whether your feet tend to sweat or not, wear a washes pair of socks everyday.
  2. While washing your socks, keep their inside out. This helps the dead skin flakes to be washed away properly.
  3. Buy socks that are made up of absorbent material like cotton or wool. Nylon or other synthetic socks trap moisture in them giving chance to bacteria to grow and cause odor.
  4. While open shoes like sandals doesn’t require you to wear socks as your feet get ample air, you must wear socks with closed shoes. The socks wick away moisture from the skin.

If you take proper care of your shoes and socks along with your feet with these home remedies for foot odor, there are hundred percent chances that you will get rid of foot odor. However, after taking all such measures, if your foot odor just doesn’t go away, you need to see your doctor as it may be a symptom of some other medical condition that might need proper diagnosis and treatment.

About Sara

Sara is a Boston-based registered dietitian who works with clients to improve their health by optimizing nutrition. You can find her running, sweating in hot yoga, cooking in the kitchen, dining out, or exploring. Eating Food-Mostly Plants, and improving our relationship with food, is the secret to lifelong health in her eyes.

3 comments

  1. Good simple information for the pervention and treatment of foot s odords thanks

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