It’s a problem we’ve all had, but for some it’s worse – nonstop foot odour can be unpleasant, unhealthy, and embarrassing. It stinks up your shoes and socks, and when you need to take your shoes and socks off, you and the people around you are struck by a nasty smell.
When you’re at school or in the workplace, especially, it can get embarrassing when people ask “What on earth is that smell?” Sometimes you don’t even need to take off your shoes – it can leak through and follow you around for the whole day.
Constant wearing of running shoes and work boots in particular can give way to foot odours that are unappealing and sometimes difficult to get rid of. There are a number of solutions, for both temporary and ongoing foot odours, that should be able to help you get rid of that foot smell once and for all.
Remember – it is not the sweat that is causing the odour, it’s the bacteria in the fabric of your shoes and deep in your feet. If your foot odour persists, even after trying these tips and others, it may be a good idea to consult a doctor regarding your sweat glands.
To do this, there are many effective soaking methods, so it really comes down to what works best for you. Also, some are more relaxing and better smelling than others, so you may want to factor that in when relaxing in a soak at the end of the day.
1. Soak your feet in Epsom salts.
A simple basin full of Epsom salt (which is also known as bath salt) is a sure-fire way to both clean out your feet, as well as relax a bit while doing it.
To follow this approach, mix a ½ cup of Epsom salt in about 6-8 cups of water and let your feet soak for about 30 minutes once or twice a day, drying well afterward. This is more of a step to quickly neutralizing foot odour rather than getting to the root of the bacterial problem, so other steps here are better for the long term.
2. Soak in a sage and rosemary mixture.
Sage and rosemary both have astringent in them, which helps minimize the production of sweat from sweat glands. They also have anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties.
To make a natural and relaxing mixture to soak your feet in, add boiling water to a foot basin with two teaspoons of both sage and rosemary, and let steep until it is warm enough for your feet to go in. Soak for 30 minutes once or twice daily.
This mixture also gives you the lovely smells of the herbs, so think about doing this after a long day’s work.
3. Soak in a baking soda and lemon blend.
Baking soda also has excellent antibacterial properties, and mixed with lemon, which is also an astringent, it makes for a great smelling and soft bath for your feet.
Place a ¼ cup of baking soda into the foot basin, fill with 8 cups of warm water, then squeeze the juice of one whole lemon into the water. Soak for about 15-20 minutes and dry thoroughly afterwards.
4. Soak in apple cider vinegar.
Apple cider vinegar is very acidic, and bacteria cannot grow in acid, so this is perhaps the speediest method of deep-cleaning the bacteria on your feet.
In a foot basin, pour 5-8 cups of warm water as well as ½ a cup of apple cider vinegar. Soak your feet for about 15 minutes two times a day. You may also want to rinse your feet off with cold water afterwards – the smell of the vinegar should be particularly strong.
Your feet aren’t the only breeding ground for bacteria – together with how wet the fabric of your shoes gets from sweat, your shoes are an ideal place for bacteria to live and thrive.
You can use a handful of remedies at home to get the stink out of your shoes. Mixed with the outlined soaking methods, this should make both your feet and shoes smell much better overall.
5. Spray Lysol disinfectant on your shoes and socks.
Soaking your shoes in a disinfectant spray, like Lysol, works to kill bacteria due to its high level of ethanol. You will want to open your shoe completely, removing the laces or straps, and soak your shoes toe to heel with a disinfectant spray, leaving it open overnight.
It is even more effective to soak a sock with the same spray and leave it in the shoe, so that the spray is fully soaked up by the shoe.
6. Apply cornstarch to your shoes.
Leaving some cornstarch in your shoes overnight will help absorb both the smell and the moisture in your shoes. Remember that moisture is a breeding ground for the bacteria coming off of your feet.
Using cornstarch is the simplest way for a temporary fix for the smell – you don’t need to wait for anything to work.
7. Wear the right socks.
Wearing breathable, well-fitting socks is the best way to minimize the sweat building up in your socks and shoes. Cotton socks in particular are the best, especially during the hot summer months. Nylon socks are no good for the summer, as they trap heat and moisture.
Many factors count when getting rid of foot odour – sometimes your sweat glands overproduce sweat because of your family genetics, or perhaps you have an ongoing health problem. Sometimes you’re just not wearing the right socks, is all!
To get to the root of the problem, you need to effectively kill the bacteria growing on your feet, as well as control the sweat glands from producing too much sweat. Again, the sweat is odourless, but the moisture produced makes your shoes an ideal place for the smelly bacteria to grow and thrive.
Regardless, it is important to regularly clean the bacteria from your feet, shoes, and socks, so that the odour problem will not stay around. Sure, it can be embarrassing, but don’t fret – there are many things you can do, often without even leaving the house, to get rid of foot odours, bacteria, and embarrassment. Good luck!