19 Simple Fixes for Smelly Feet

Do people turn up their noses when you slip off your shoes? Beat smelly feet with these simple fixes.

1. Give smelly feet the underarm treatment:
It shouldn’t come as a surprise that the same antiperspirant you use on your underarms can also keep feet less sweaty (and therefore less smelly). Simply spray or roll it on before putting on your shoes and socks.

2. Wash your feet daily:
Use warm water using a deodorant soap or antibacterial soap.

3. Turn up the heat:
If you have smelly feet and are prone to athlete’s foot or nail fungus, blow-dry your feet with a hair dryer that’s turned to the lowest temperature. This helps avoid infection and reduces moisture.

4. Try a black tea footbath:
Boil two tea bags in two cups of water for 15 minutes. Remove the bags and dilute the tea with two quarts of water. Let the mixture cool down if necessary, then soak your feet for 30 minutes. Repeat daily. The tannic acid in strong black tea kills bacteria and closes pores to help your feet sweat less.

5. Make an odour-fighting foot soak:
Add a cup of vinegar to a basin of warm water. For more odour-fighting force, add a few drops of thyme oil. The oil contains a strong antiseptic that kills odour-causing bacteria. Soak your feet for 15 to 20 minutes a day for a week. (Consider this treatment off-limits if you have any open sores or broken skin.)

6. Add a splash of mouthwash:
If you don’t have access to thyme oil, you can easily buy a product that contains it: Listerine. Try adding a splash to your footbath. (The same caution as with thyme oil applies.)

7. Treat yourself to a fragrant foot rub:
Lavender oil not only smells good, it helps kill bacteria. Rub a few drops onto your feet and massage it in before you go to bed at night. Cover your feet with socks. Before trying this remedy, check to make sure the oil won’t irritate your skin by putting one drop on a small area.

8. Break out the Epsom salt:
Mix two cups of Epsom salt into a basin half-full with warm water. Soak your feet for 15 minutes twice a day. The Epsom salt acts as an astringent to reduce sweating, and may kill bacteria.

9. Try an acne treatment:
Apply benzoyl peroxide 5 per cent or 10 per cent gel to the bottoms of your feet to fight bacteria. Why not? It works on your face.

10. Tap the power of powder:
Dust your feet with talcum powder or speciality foot powder before you put on your shoes and socks. It will absorb odour-causing sweat.

11 & 12. Find an alternative to powder-in the pantry:
Two other good foot powders to try are baking soda, which neutralizes odour, and cornstarch, which absorbs moisture.

13. Dress well for a better smell:
Change your socks at least once a day, replacing them with a clean pair.

14. Alternate between at least two pairs of shoes:
After you’ve worn one pair, set them aside and let them air out for at least 24 hours.

15. Keep your feet ventilated:
Wear shoes with open-mesh sides or sandals that allow your feet to “breathe.” Your feet will also breathe better if you wear cotton socks rather than polyester.

16. Treat Shoes with savvy:
Check the care instructions on your athletic shoes. If they’re washable, toss them into the washing machine at least once a month.

17. Don’t keep smelly shoes out of sight:
Store your shoes in a place that’s bright and ventilated-not in a dark closet, where bacteria thrive.

18. Freshen with cedar:
Each time you put your shoes away, insert a sachet filled with cedar chips. You can also try products that consist of mesh pouches filled with zeolite. Zeolite is a natural volcanic mineral that attracts odours and traps them. Expose the reusable pouch to the sun for six hours in between uses to discharge the collected odours.

19. Step into insoles:
Buy odour-absorbing insoles and cut them to fit. Replace them every three to six months. If your shoes have removable insoles, take them out to dry every time you remove your shoes. And toss them in the washer from time to time.

Originally Published in Reader's Digest Canada