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How to Get Rid of Foot Odor

Three Methods:Cleaning Your FeetFreshening Your FootwearUsing Home Remedies

Are you suffering from a raging case of stinky feet? Do people wince when you walk by? Do your dogs avoid chewing on your shoes? Here are some suggestions that may help tame that fearsome foot odor.

Method 1
Cleaning Your Feet

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    Scrub your feet. It sounds obvious, but a quick rub with soapy water in the shower isn't enough. The objective here is to get rid of any bacteria and dead skin cells that bacteria like to feed on. So when you wash your feet, exfoliate the entire surface of your foot with a washcloth, brush, or any other abrasive mechanism and use anti-bacterial soap. Don't forget to scrub between your toes, either.
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    Dry your feet. When you dry your feet, dry them completely. Moisture, whether it's water or sweat, is what creates a fertile breeding ground for bacteria, Take the time to dry your feet thoroughly and don't neglect the space between your toes.
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    Use hand sanitizer. It may sound weird, but a good hand sanitizer can kill germs on your feet and inhibit bacterial growth.
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    Use antiperspirant. The same type of antiperspirant you apply under your arms could also be used for your feet. Just make sure to get a separate stick for each area. Apply it to clean, dry feet at night, then put your socks and shoes on as usual in the morning.[1] It will help keep your feet dry and fresh during the day.
    • Antiperspirant actually reacts with the electrolytes in sweat to form "gel plugs" that block off your sweat ducts. Since each one of your feet has over 250,000 sweat glands[2] (more sweat glands per inch than any other part of your body) a little antiperspirant can go a long way.
    • Don't apply it right before going out, or you'll be slipping and sliding in your shoes.
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    Keep a mixture of 1/2 regular vinegar and 1/2 isopropyl alcohol. Dribble this daily (use a medicine dropper) over and between your toes and irritated skin on the feet and spread it. Both products are harmless to your skin, but the vinegar kills fungus and the alcohol inhibits or kills bacteria. It also helps get rid of toe fungus on contact.
    • You can soak your feet in a solution of 1/2 vinegar, 1/2 water as a way to stave off bad odors. Add a few scoops of baking soda and thyme oil drops, both of which also help get rid of stinky smells.[3]
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    Rub your feet with one or more of the following powders. Do this between your toes as well. This is what most foot powders and sprays contain to combat foot odor:
    • Talcum powder. It's an astringent, so it'll dry out your feet.
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    • Baking soda. This creates an alkaline environment that's not bacteria-friendly.
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    • Corn starch. This helps absorb sweat.
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Method 2
Freshening Your Footwear

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    Wear sandals or open-toed shoes. Wearing open shoes lets the air flow around your feet, keeping them cool and keeping you from producing as much sweat. When you do sweat, it will evaporate quickly due to air circulation.
    • During colder months, wear leather or canvas shoes that allow your feet to "breathe." Steer clear of rubber and plastic shoes.
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    Change your socks daily. Socks absorb your sweat when you wear them, and it dries when you take them off. Putting on a dirty pair of socks for the second day in a row is essentially going to reheat that sweat, leading to a foul smell. Change your socks every day, especially if your feet tend to get sweaty.
    • Unless you're wearing open shoes; you should always wear socks. Try two pairs of socks to help with the wicking of moisture away from the foot.
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    • When you wash your socks, turn them inside out in the washer, so the dead flakes of skin have a better chance of being washed away.
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    • Go for absorbent socks made of cotton or wool. Non-absorbent socks (like nylon) trap moisture around your foot, making a cozy little nook for bacteria.
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    Lightly powder shoes and socks daily with baking soda. Dust out yesterday's baking soda before adding the fresh amount. Baking soda absorbs moisture and odors.
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    Use cedar wood or cloves to freshen shoes. Put cedar wood shavings or whole cloves inside your shoes for a few days when you don't need to wear them. The odor will disappear after a few days.
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    Use cedar wood insoles. In addition to cedar wood shavings you can also use cedar wood insoles. The natural cedar wood essential oils have antibacterial and antifungal properties, which fight bacteria and help to cure and prevent foot odor, athlete's foot, and nail fungus. It is also a convenient way without the need for daily routines like powdering or creaming.
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    Rotate your shoes. Let your shoes dry out completely so that bacteria don't set up camp in there. It takes at least 24 hours for a shoe to dry out completely.
    • Take out the insoles to help the drying process along. Otherwise, wearing the same pair day after day is a recipe for stinky feet. Crumple newspaper inside wet shoes so it will dry them overnight.
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    Wash your shoes regularly. Many shoes can be thrown in the washing machine. Just make sure they dry thoroughly before you put them on.
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    Remove your shoes often. Whenever you can take a break, and no one is looking, remove your shoes. This helps the shoes and your feet stay drier.
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    Use a shoe dryer. There are several great, low-wattage shoe and boot dryers that use convection air currents to slowly and completely dry wet, sweaty shoes. Place your footwear on them at the end of the day or workout and put on dry, warm and comfortable shoes about eight hours later. Dryers eliminate the moisture that odor-causing bacteria need to grow and help your shoes to last longer.

Method 3
Using Home Remedies

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    Use bleach. Add about two tablespoons (1 ounce) of bleach to a gallon of warm water. Soak your feet in this solution for 5 to 10 minutes a day for a week. If you find this soak to be drying to your skin, you may apply a baby oil.
    • Bleach your white socks in the laundry. If your shoes can withstand it, add the same solution to the insides of your shoes and soak them down. Wait 1/2 hour and then just rinse them out in the sink. Dry them thoroughly before wearing them again.
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    Do a tea soak. Soak your feet in tea 30 minutes a day for one week. The tannic acid in the tea will dry out your skin.[4]
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    Use salt water. Apply half a cup of kosher salt for every quart of water. After soaking, don't rinse your feet and just dry thoroughly.[5]
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    Apply aluminum acetate. This will dry out your feet. Mix 1 packet Domeboro powder or 2 tablespoons Burow's Solution (both available over-the-counter) in 1 pint of water. Soak for 10 to 20 minutes at a time.
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    Make a baking soda mixture. Apply one tablespoon baking soda for every quart of water. This makes skin more alkaline, which inhibits bacterial growth.
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    Mix vinegar in water. This makes skin more acidic. Add a 1/2 cup vinegar for every 1 quart of water.
    • Keep in mind that some people's foot odor can be described as "vinegary" so if this is you, this soak might make things worse.

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    Put baby powder in your shoes. Applying baby powder or baking soda in your shoes and socks will help dry out any future odors.
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    Clean your feet with a pumice stone on a daily basis. This will remove the dead skin and prevent the bacteria from forming.


  • Stress can stimulate sweating. That's why you might notice that your life and your feet stink at the same time.
  • Do not walk with only your socks on. They pick up lots of bacteria this way. Then, when you put your shoes back on, the bacteria population explodes in the moist, warm environment.
  • Wash your feet at least once a day.
  • If you're in a pinch, you can scrub your feet with an anti-bacterial wipe or a paper towel soaked in rubbing alcohol.
  • You can use baking soda on your feet and in your shoes.
  • Make sure you are getting the USDA recommended daily allowance (RDA) of zinc. A zinc deficiency can lead to foot odor, as well as general body odor AND bad breath. Make sure zinc is included in your multi- vitamin or get a separate zinc supplement.
  • Powder your shoes outside, where there is good ventilation, e.g., on the porch
  • Clipping and brushing your toenails will probably help as well.
  • Try a natural deodorant that is crystal based. These sprays work by making the skin inhospitable for bacteria
  • Use foot powders that are mostly made of cornstarch or other non-talc ingredients.
  • Make sure you have one shower a day. Wash your feet every time.
  • Wear open shoes to let air in and to stop sweaty feet that cause odor.
  • Change your socks every time you wear your shoes, and use some athletes foot spray.
  • You can go to your local shoe store (or wherever) look for balls that say fresh scent or something like that.
  • If at all possible carry extra socks and change them at least once throughout the day.
  • Never wear shoes without socks.
  • Wear open shoes to let your feet breathe.
  • Put a dryer sheet in the sole of your shoes when you don't wear them, so good smell stays with them.
  • If your shoes get particularly damp, try packing balls of old newspaper into them. This will absorb excess moisture. Follow up with cornstarch or talcum powder to finish off the drying process.
  • Wear open-toed shoes to dry and air out your feet.
  • Dry your shoes out then put clean cat litter in them (for a day). Tip it out then hoover your shoes.


  • Never dry your shoes with a hair dryer, in an oven, or in the rear window of a hot vehicle. Excessive heat ruins leather, loosens glue and melts plastic. Shoes should be dried slowly and gently to retain shape, suppleness and strength.
  • Foot odor is just that--foot odor. If there are any other symptoms, it could be athlete's foot or ringworm or an infection. Get it checked out by a doctor. Look out for pus, recurring blisters persistent dry and flaky skin, itchiness or signs of skin cancer.
  • Avoid shaking up foot powder in your bedroom or car to reduce chances of inhalation.
  • Talc, a common additive in foot powders, can cause lung damage if inhaled often.
  • Shake the foot powder container gently and directly into your shoes to avoid producing a cloud of foot powder.
  • Consult with your podiatrist or physician if you have diabetes, peripheral vascular disease(PVD), peripheral artery disease(PAD), peripheral neuropathy, or peripheral edema (i.e. venous insufficiency). The soaking treatments described may be ill-advised and needs to be evaluated on a case by case basis. Play it safe and consult with your podiatrist or physician.
  • If you wash your feet while in the shower, be careful because your feet will be more slippery with soap on them.

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