Stinky feet can be embarrassing, and for some, they are the trigger of considerable social anxiety. The official term for stinky feet is bromodosis, and the condition is most commonly caused by a combination of sweat and bacteria.
Luckily, there’s a lot you can do to prevent this pesky problem. Here are 19 ways to keep foot odors at bay.
Wash and exfoliate your feet
It sounds obvious, but many people just let soapy water run down over their feet in the shower, and do not take the time to thoroughly scrub them. However, if you want truly clean feet, you’ve got to put in the effort!
Be sure to wash every part of your feet, including in between your toes, with soap and water. Exfoliating with a washcloth, loofah, or pumice stone can help a lot too, as this helps to slough off dead skin and open up pores, allowing your skin to breathe.
Give your feet time to dry
Sometimes we’re in such a hurry to get out the door that we don’t give our feet enough time to dry before we throw on our socks and shoes. Not a good idea! Moisture can lead to the growth of fungus and bacteria, resulting in those nasty smells. So, let ’em dry!
Blow-dry your feet
If you’re really pressed for time, one quick way to get your feet dry in no time is to use a blow-dryer. You may feel a little silly, but it’s better than putting socks on wet feet.
Cut your toenails
The spaces under your toenails are perfect areas for bacteria to thrive. Keeping your toenails trimmed and clean may go far in preventing bacterial growth.
Go barefoot whenever possible
Your feet need air! If they’re trapped inside shoes all day long, they’re much more likely to get sweaty, and that sweat can cause a stink. Whenever the situation, and the weather, permit, go barefoot! When you can’t go barefoot, at least go for sandals or open-toed shoes whenever you can.
Choose shoes that breathe
There are, of course, times when you can’t go barefoot or wear open-toed shoes. For running shoes, tennis shoes, and the like, try to get ones made of breathable fabric. These will help keep your feet cooler and dryer.
Wash and air out your shoes
It’s important to wash your shoes on a regular basis, lest they get funky. Many types of shoes are machine washable. For those that aren’t, you can always hand-wash them.
Let your shoes dry in a ventilated, preferably sunny, area so that they do not become musty.
Change your insoles
In between washings, make sure that you have a clean pair of insoles inside your shoes. This is especially important for shoes that get really sweaty, like workout shoes.
Switch between shoes
One pair of shoes isn’t enough. Be sure to have a second (and even third) pair on hand to wear while the others are getting washed and dried.
Switch to 100 percent cotton socks
A lot of synthetic fabrics aren’t breathable, and may trap moisture inside. When sock-shopping, go for 100 percent cotton. Thick, moisture absorbing cotton socks help prevent smelly feet.
Turn your socks inside out when you wash them
To get the maximum amount of dirt, sweat, and bacteria out of your socks, turn them inside out before throwing them in the wash — a simple trick that may yield significant results.
Cut down on sugar and processed foods
Sugar, as well as the array of additives found in processed foods, can cause your body to exude weird smells. That includes your feet! Sugar and other yeasty foods encourage the growth of fungus in the body.
Embrace baking soda
Simple, natural baking soda makes a great foot powder. Simply rub a bit on clean, dry feet before slipping into your socks. You can also sprinkle a bit into your shoes to keep them odor-free.
Cornstarch works, too
Cornstarch is great for sprinkling into shoes, as well, because it absorbs moisture. This can minimize the amount of foot sweat that can cause a stink.
Soak your feet in black tea
It may sound strange, but black tea makes a great foot soak. The tannins found in this tea help to kill bacteria, and may also mitigate excessive sweating.
Apple cider vinegar to the rescue!
Apple cider vinegar contains a wealth of antibacterial and antifungal properties. Simply combine half a cup of apple cider vinegar with eight cups of warm water, and soak your feet.
Epsom salts can help
Adding three-quarters of a cup of Epsom salts to about 10 cups of warm water and soaking your feet can also go far in destroying odor-causing bacteria.
Try essential oils
To keep your feet smelling great all day, combine a few drops of essential oil, such as peppermint, lavender, or cedarwood, with a dollop of a base oil, such as organic coconut oil, and rub onto clean, dry feet before you put on your socks. Along with being fragrant, these oils can help fight bacteria.
If all else fails, see a doctor
If you’ve tried everything, and are still experiencing strong foot odor, it may be time to see a doctor, to make sure you don’t have a fungal or bacterial foot infection, such as athlete’s foot.
Take good care of your feet — they get you where you need to go!
Tanya is a writer at The Alternative Daily with a passion for meditation, music, poetry, and overall creative and active living. She has a special interest in exploring traditional Eastern remedies and superfoods from around the globe, and enjoys spending time immersed in nature.