How to Prevent Foot Odor

Two Methods:Choosing the Right FootwearPreventing Sweating and Moisture Problems

Foot odor, or bromodosis, is caused by bacteria thriving in the moist environment of your feet and shoes.[1][2] In most cases, you can reduce or prevent this unpleasant problem with a few simple steps. Any treatment to prevent foot odor should concentrate on two things: wearing the right footwear, and controlling sweat and moisture.[3]

Method 1
Choosing the Right Footwear

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    Wear shoes made of materials that will deter foot odor. Plastic and nylon shoes make it hard for your feet to ventilate, and can worsen odor. Choosing footwear made of leather, canvas, mesh and other breathable materials will help prevent odor.[4][5]
    • Wearing open-toed shoes in the summer (when it can be especially hot and/or humid) and going barefoot when at home will also help prevent foot odor.
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    Try not to wear the same pair of shoes two days in a row. This will allow your shoes more time to dry out before wearing them again. [6][7] You can also remove the insoles from your shoes (if applicable) to speed the drying process.[8]
    • You can also try drying your shoes in the sun. Keeping your shoes dry helps to reduce odor-causing bacteria.Time spent in the sunshine and fresh air can speed the drying process and may deodorize your shoes.[9]
    • If you cannot rid your shoes of odor, discard them and replace them with fresh ones.
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    Wear clean socks. Wearing a fresh pair of clean socks every day will keep moisture, bacteria, and odor at bay. [10][11][12]
    • If you sweat excessively, changing your socks even more frequently will help reduce odor.
    • Wearing padded socks will provide additional material to wick moisture away from your foot, and thus control odor.
    • Cotton or wool socks are best, rather than nylon or other synthetic fibers.
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    Always wear socks when wearing close-toed shoes.[13] This will help to wick moisture away from your feet, but keep most of it from being absorbed by your shoes and eventually causing odor.
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    Try medicated insoles. These are made of various materials that have a deodorizing effect and which wick moisture away from the feet. Since the insoles of shoes normally absorb a lot of odor-causing sweat, these products are a great choice to control odor.[14]
    • Medicated insoles can be purchased over the counter at pharmacies and department stores.
    • Simply remove the standard insoles of your shoes and replace them with the medicated insoles.

Method 2
Preventing Sweating and Moisture Problems

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    Wash your feet frequently. Bathing your feet every day in warm water will help reduce foot odor.[15][16][17]
    • Use a mild soap.
    • Dry your feet thoroughly after washing. Don’t forget to dry between your toes.
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    Soak your feet. A variety of foot soaks can help reduce or prevent foot odors:[18]
    • Make a mixture of one part vinegar to two parts water.[19] Soak your feet in this for thirty minutes at a time as needed.
    • Soak your feet in strong black tea for thirty minutes a day.[20][21] Use two regular sized tea bags for each pint of water. Boil for fifteen minutes, and then add two quarts of water to make the tea cool enough to soak your feet in. Soak them for thirty minutes a day for a week. Because it is acidic, the tea will have an antibacterial effect that can reduce foot odor.
    • Dissolve a handful of kosher salt in warm water and soak your feet in the solution for thirty minutes as needed.[22] No scientific studies conclusively show that salt prevents foot odor. However, it can dry your skin, potentially reducing moisture and thereby odor.
    • Squeeze the juice of one lemon into a tub of water large enough to place your feet in and soak your feet in the solution.[23] Lemon juice has antibacterial properties, and can help remove dead skin cells. This may help reduce foot odor.
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    Use foot powders. A variety of medicated foot powders and simple home ingredients can help reduce or prevent foot odors. Take a small amount of your chosen powder and rub it all over your feet. Use a soft cloth to lightly dust off any that cakes up. Common powders used to control foot odor include:[24][25]
    • Corn starch
    • Baking soda
    • Baby powder
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    Apply an antibacterial cream.[26] Antibacterial creams designed for use on your feet may help prevent foot odor. These may be found at pharmacies. Carefully follow all instructions supplied with your cream.
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    Use a deodorant or antiperspirant. Spraying your feet with antiperspirant or deodorant will help prevent foot odor. There are specialized foot sprays, but regular underarm deodorant or antiperspirant sprays work just as well.[27]
    • Over-the-counter or prescription roll-on deodorants and antiperspirants may also be effective.
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    Change your diet. The foods and drinks you consume can contribute to body odor.[28][29] If you have a problem with foot odor, it is possible that eliminating certain foods and drinks from your diet can reduce the problem. Common foods, drinks, and spices thought to contribute to body odor include:[30]
    • Caffeinated beverages
    • Foods containing sulphur compounds, including onions, garlic, and cauliflower
    • Red meat
    • Alcohol
    • Strong-smelling spices, such as cumin or fenugreek


  • Persistent odor can be a sign of a low grade infection, or a hereditary condition of excessive sweating.[31] Your doctor can advise the appropriate treatment for your specific case.
  • Usually, foot odor is just embarrassing, and can be easily controlled. You should contact a doctor, however, if you see signs of fungal infection, redness, or dry, patchy skin.[32]

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Categories: Feet Knees and Legs