Smelly feet are annoying and, in some cases, embarrassing. You don’t want to take your shoes off because of the stench that comes from them, especially when you’re visiting someone else’s home. Whether it’s because of an illness or just due to the amount of sweat you produce in your shoes, you want to find ways to eliminate the smell.
The good news is there are options. You can take steps to prevent the smell, while also taking steps to rectify the smell as a side effect of a condition. These seven ways have all been proven through studies and research.
You’ll Need to Know the Reason First
Before we do get into the methods, it’s important to understand more about your smelly feet. You need to know exactly why you suffer from them. After all, a symptom of illness will require very different treatments to just a side effect of sweaty feet. When your smelly feet are due to an illness or health condition, you’ll need to get that health condition under control to truly eliminate smelly feet.
However, you can take steps to minimize the smell and the side effect. Know that if your smelly feet are a symptom, you won’t completely get rid of the reason until you treat the condition. You’re just covering up the symptom for the time being.
So, without further adieux, here are seven proven ways to eliminate smelly feet.
Start Wearing Socks
Quite honestly, the main reason for smelly feet is the sweat. The smell comes from the bacteria and fungi that have the chance to accumulate when your feet sweat—the moist, damp area is a breeding ground for the bacteria and fungi.
Think about it carefully. When you get a funky smell from other parts of your body, you know that it’s a bad thing. This is a sign of some infection. A foul smell in your vagina is a hint that there’s a fungal infection and weird smells from that wound on your arm is a hint of a bacteria growth in there. So, why are feet any different? The smell coming from your feet is a sign that there’s bacteria or fungi growing that you need to take care of.
The best thing you can do is start wearing socks. You’ll prevent the sweat getting into the lining of your shoes and slow down (and halt) the production of the bacteria and fungi. With socks, you will find the socks gather the sweat instead; absorbing the liquid, so the shoes don’t have to. This helps to eliminate the reason for the bacteria growth in your shoes.
You may notice that your socks smell at the end of the day. That’s fine; that’s normal. You’ll wash your socks and get rid of the bacteria or fungi. Your shoes don’t have them, and you don’t transfer them back to your feet, causing stinky feet.
Are your feet still stinky? What about when you wear flip flops, boat shoes and other shoes that are designed to be worn without socks? Well, that’s when you’ll need to move onto the next six options.
Start Using Baking Soda
Baking soda is one of the most powerful household ingredients you can get. It’s not just perfect for baking but will also help to clean and eliminate odors throughout your house and body. If you look at most household cleaning tips, you’ll find baking soda is on most them. Your feet benefit too.
Research shows that the power is in the sodium bicarbonate, the active ingredient in baking soda. This is a neutralizer and helps to balance out a strong pH balance. It doesn’t matter if it’s acidic or alkaline, the neutralizer will bring your pH balance back to around 6-8.
The odor from your feet will be acidic, so when you apply baking soda directly to your feet or in your shoes, you’ll pull the balance back to the middle ground. You eliminate the power of the smell.
On top of that, you eliminate the reason for the smell. Baking soda is a natural cleanser and will kill off bacteria. It prevents another bacterium from growing, so there’s no reason for the smell to start growing. Plus, you end up with healthier feet.
The downside is that the baking soda trick is only temporary. You’ll need to use it on a regular basis if you want to see consistent results. You can do this by creating a foot bath everyone couple of days, using warm water and the baking soda. This can be excellent for easing the pain in the feet and adding more moisture to the cracked and hard heels.
Opt for Epsom Salt Baths
Another popular option is to add Epsom salts to your bath water. Instead of doing the baking soda baths mentioned above, opt for Epsom salt baths.
Contrary to the name, Epsom salts aren’t salts. They don’t dry your feet or seep the moisture from you. Instead, they add minerals to your skin. The term “salts” comes from the fact that they’re mineral salts.
They’re naturally cleansing and exfoliating, packed with sulfate and magnesium. Both minerals help to reduce inflammation and manage the levels of bacteria and fungi growing. You can eliminate the reason for the smell, helping to prevent your sticky feet for the future.
The salts will also help to heal wounds on your feet. These wounds can become infected with the bacteria or fungi, leading to a smell that can go unnoticed for a while. You can get into the nail beds, reversing infections there to help reduce odors coming from your feet. This is a more permanent option, as you get rid of the medical reason for stinky feet.
Epsom salts also act as a neutralizer. They’ll help to improve your pH balance, so it’s neutral and no longer at the level that causes the acidic smell. Again, this part of the benefits is a temporary fix, and you’ll need to use the soak on a regular basis. The great news is your feet will be moisturized and feel healed after a long day at work, giving you plenty of reason to follow through every couple of nights.
Getting the right amount of the Epsom salts will take time. You shouldn’t be able to smell anything but the salts afterward. If you do, then it’s a sign that you didn’t use enough, and you’ll want to add more the next time.
If you have a bath with Epsom salts, you won’t need to do a foot bath for the night or the next night. The full bath will leave you relaxed and healed.
Add Black Tea to Your Feet
This can sound a little strange but bear with me right now. Tea is packed with antioxidants; and natural antioxidants. It’s been linked to reducing cholesterol levels, improving kidney function, reducing diabetes risk, and aiding in symptoms linked to Parkinson’s disease. This is a natural healer that you want to add to your diet.
But research shows that it can also help to eliminate stinky feet. This is in the tannins within the black tea specifically, which fights against the actual odor that comes from your body, especially your feet. Tannins are polyphenols, a plant-based molecule that studies show naturally eliminate odor.
On top of that, the antioxidants fight against bacteria; the reason for the stinky feet. If you get rid of the reason, you get rid of the side effect. It is that simple.
But like the previous two options, you’ll need to make sure you follow a routine of black tea baths. You’ll want to use boiling water to help steep the tea first and then allow the water a chance to cool down, so you can place your feet into it. Try to do it when the water is still warm. You can add cold water after you’ve steeped the tea if you don’t want to wait.
Sit with your feet in the tea for about 15 minutes. You may see a little bit of tanning on your feet, but you can rinse this off afterward.
While you can get some of the benefits from drinking tea, they’re not as good as by using the tea directly onto your feet. You also need to make sure it’s black tea. Other types of tea aren’t as effective.
Use Apple Cider Vinegar on Your Feet
Vinegar may be acidic, but it’s not going to add to the pH level on your stinky feet. Instead, it’s going to get rid of the direct reason for the stench: the bacteria.
Apple cider vinegar is like baking soda. You want it in the house, even if you don’t cook with it regularly. It’s good for all types of household needs. You can clean it, kill weeds, cure acne, and do so much more. It’s even good for killing the bacteria in your mouth, helping to improve your oral hygiene. With that in mind, it shouldn’t be surprising that it will help to kill the bacteria around your feet.
The apple cider vinegar isn’t that acidic. It’s excellent for those with sensitive skin because it’s slightly more neutral than other types of vinegar. It still kills the bacteria. However, there is still an acidic quality, and you’ll want to use this in moderation. This is something to add once a month or so, while you use the other options to treat your feet.
You only need to soak your feet for 10 minutes in a bath of water and apple cider vinegar. Because of its slightly more acidic nature than the other options already mentioned, it works quicker and more effectively. Any longer than 10 minutes and you may experience some burning sensations due to the acids.
If you have fungal infections, you can apply a diluted mixture directly to them. Leave on for about 10 minutes and then rinse off in full. This helps to directly attack the fungal infection that is going to cause the smell and eliminate the reason. You’ll also have healthier and less itchy feet!
Stop Wearing the Same Shoes All the Time
Honestly, one of the best things you can do is eliminate some of the shoes that you wear. If you reduce the amount of wear time, you reduce the number of bacteria that can grow in them. This is especially the case in the winter or wet months when you’re likely to wear closed shoes that make your feet sweat.
Give your shoes time to dry out before you wear them again. This means having two or three pairs on the go always.
By rotating your shoes, you’ll also be able to prevent a condition known as pitted keratolysis. This is a type of skin disorder that sees crateriform pitting within the skin, usually on the pressure points in the feet. Sometimes it can affect the palms of the hands, too, but it’s mostly your feet that suffer from it.
When you choose shoes for the weather, look at those that will allow your feet to breathe. While your feet don’t actually “breathe,” your shoes will allow the air to circulate. This prevents the buildup of bacteria within the shoes and can minimize the growth that causes stinky feet.
Open-toed shoes are also highly effective. During the summer, opt for more sandals and flip flops to help prevent the sweat building up.
If you do need to use closed-toe shoes, consider those with removable insoles. You can take them out, wash them and replacement frequently to protect your feet.
You can also minimize the amount you wear socks in the house and eliminate the use of slippers as much as possible. Bare feet will allow the air to circulate around your feet constantly, so they breathe better and don’t constantly meet bacteria.
Improve Your Regular Hygiene
As well as not wearing socks with your shoes, your hygiene will have a direct affect on the smell. After all, poor hygiene will lead to a buildup of bacteria and fungi. You want to eliminate as many reasons for the build ups as possible.
This means showering daily. Use an antibacterial soap for your feet, especially if you do have a problem with bacteria build up. You can also use a foot scrub to help eliminate the buildup of dry skin, which will reduce the blocking of pores and the bacteria buildup.
It’s also important to dry your feet effectively, eliminating the moist conditions for bacterial and fungal growth. Opt for a paper down for between your feet, so the bacteria and fungi don’t transfer to your towel. Cotton wool can also help, especially if dipped in apple cider vinegar or a witch hazel mixture.
Antibacterial foot scrubs can be beneficial but aren’t for everyone. They’re no good if you have infections, eczema or broken skin.
You’ll also want to reduce the chance of a nail fungus growing, which means keeping your toenails clean and trimmed. If you do have a fungal infection growing, use a treatment to get rid of it or speak to your doctor (depending on the severity).
You Don’t Need to Put Up with Stinky Feet
Many people assume that stinky feet are just a normal part of life. It’s almost been accepted by TV shows and literature, especially for men or those who exercise a lot. That isn’t the case. A bad smell means that there’s a problem with bacteria and you need to solve that problem. Eliminate the cause, and you will get rid of the side effect.
The above seven tips have been proven by science to eliminate stinky feet. Which one will you try first?