Wellness Matters

How You Can De-feet Odors

September 22, 2015

With the end of hot weather drawing near, many folks are hopeful that the season of smelly feet is also drawing to a close. During warmer weather, the human body sweats with greater frequency, including fee. Teenagers and pregnant women may be more prone to odorous feet because of hormonal changes in their bodies that increases sweating. However, the foot will perspire at any time of year as long as the body remains active.

Many people require closed toed shoes at work, for exercise or for protection. Closed toed shoes combined with an active lifestyle can create foot odor from sweat. This odor, and often infections, are due to bacteria and fungi. These little creatures thrive in moist, warm and dark places The insides of shoes are an ideal home for this bacteria because they get 
sustenance from eating sweat. This meal produces an acid byproduct that 
smells bad.

How can you stop the smell?

  • Soaking your feet – This requires more than a quick shower. Soak your feet in a mixture of Epsom salts and water, or vinegar and water. 
    • With Epsom salts, combine half a cup in a tub of warm water and soak your feet for 15 minutes. The salts will pull the moisture out of your skin, which makes for a less than ideal environment for the bacteria. 
    • Using vinegar, combine two-parts water to one-part vinegar and soak for 15 minutes. The bacteria are repulsed by vinegar. Do not use vinegar if you have open wounds, cuts or sores on your feet.
  • Keeping your feet dry – Always dry the feet well after a shower or a swim. The bad smell happens as a result of moisture. Change socks during the day if you find your feet are damp. 
    • Wear socks made of natural material, such as cotton, to allow the moisture on the feet to evaporate. 
    • Natural material shoes, such as canvas, leather or mesh will provide moisture evaporation for those individuals who choose not to wear socks.
  • Disinfect your shoes – A general-purpose disinfectant spray will help remove odor from the shoe. Use a spray that contains ethanol, which kills bacteria. Remove the insole from the shoe and spray it. Let the insole dry for 24 hours before returning it to the footwear.
  • Use a powder – If you have an abundance of foot sweat, an over-the-counter foot antiperspirant may do the trick. A popular home remedy is to sprinkle some corn starch in your shoe. These powders will absorb moisture and help keep your feet dry.


If stinky feet, along with itching and cracking skin, are a recurring problem, it may be time to pay a visit to your doctor.

About the Author


Dr. Matthew Wagoner, DPM is a podiatrist at Triad Foot Center, a Cone Health Medical Group practice.

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