Your feet have over 250,000 sweat glands producing about one cup (500ml) of sweat per day. That is some serious moisture! There are also individuals with an abundance of sweat glands worsening the problem as well as the smells that come with it. The cheesy feet theory isn’t all myth either because the gases that the bacteria on the soles of your feet produce are similar to those that bacteria used in producing cheese gives off.
In essence, sweat on its own is actually odorless. It is when it comes into contact with bacteria that things go south and start getting smelly. In severe cases, some strains of bacteria can even begin to eat away at the top layers of your skin. Add to the mix a combo of stuffy shoes, socks, and sweat on your feet, and you have the perfect environment for bacteria to thrive in.
Feet Odor Causes
Stinky feet are caused by a mix of sweat, bacteria, and dead skin. Simply put, wearing socks that leave no room for breathing or evaporation of sweat causes bacteria to grow due to the trapped moisture inside.
Although in the early stages, the bacteria might stick to the shoes and socks alone; eventually it causes your entire foot to smell horrible. But, your shoes aren’t’ the only problem.
Other contributing factors for stinky feet include:
● Certain Medications
● Alcohol and Drug abuse
● Changes in your hormone levels
● Bad hygiene
Out of all these causes, perhaps the most common is hyperhidrosis or excessive sweating. As mentioned before, sweat and bacteria make the perfect recipe for stinky feet, so learning how to limit the effects of hyperhidrosis is winning half the battle.
What is Hyperhidrosis?
You might just call it excessively sweaty feet, but hyperhidrosis is actually a much more common problem than you might have thought.
While some might have the issue in their underarms, others battle with excessive sweating in their palms, and others suffer from excessive sweating of the feet. Feet that sweat excessively is the condition also known as Palmoplantar Hyperhidrosis.
The Cause of Hyperhidrosis
In some cases, heat and emotions trigger hyperhidrosis; but generally speaking, people who suffer from this condition have to put up with it all the time regardless of their emotions or the weather conditions. It’s something that you’re born with or develops at a certain stage in your life. Hyperhidrosis also doesn’t appear just in sickly people. In fact, most hyperhidrosis sufferers are otherwise healthy.
How to Get Rid of Stinky Feet at Home?
Your main focus should be to keep the feet dry and cool which you can achieve by using DIY natural treatments for foot odor like soaks made with tree tea oil.
Use our great tips and tricks and finally break free from the evil stink that tends to emit from your feet every now and then. Here are our seven top foot soaks that help fight smelly feet:
1. The Vodka Soak
You can actually just wipe your feet with this mix too because both wiping and soaking have the same effect and potency in getting rid of stinky feet.
For wiping, simply wipe your feet down with a washcloth that has been soaked in vodka, which helps to kill bacteria and gets rid of any foul odor.
For soaking, mix equal parts of water and vodka and let your tootsies soak in that solution for a good 10 minutes.
2. The Potassium Permanganate Foot Bath
This is probably one of the most potent foot soaks out there. Permanganate of Potash, also known as KMn04 or Potassium Permanganate packs potent fungi and bacteria-killing chemicals to help get rid of smelly feet.
For soaking, add a tablespoon of potassium permanganate to one quart of water. The mix turns dark purple, and then just kick back and soak for about 30 minutes.
Important side note: Potassium permanganate foot soaks can make your toenails and calluses turn brown, this, however, is totally harmless and will fade away soon.
3. The Apple Cider Vinegar Soak
Apple Cider Vinegar seems to be heaven-sent and cures just about anything, from aiding in weight loss, relieving allergies, and clearing up sinusitis, this golden liquid also tackles stinky feet. Apple cider vinegar helps kill bacteria and dries up excessive sweat, the leading causes of smelly feet. But, we also love it because it’s cheap and super effective.
For soaking, add ½ a cup of apple cider vinegar to a quart of lukewarm water and soak up for around 20 minutes. Doing this twice-weekly will get the best results.
4. The White Vinegar Soak
More affordable and a great alternative to apple cider vinegar, white vinegar is widely popular due to its natural disinfecting and deodorizing abilities.
For soaking, mix up one part white vinegar with 4 parts water and soak your feet in the mix for about 30 minutes to help get rid of stinky feet.
5. The Listerine Soak
So who would have guessed that Listerine isn’t only good for killing oral bacteria? Listerine not only helps to kill foot bacteria but can also be used to treat Athlete’s foot and all other nasty foot fungus. Mouth wash, with its antiseptic properties, is also good for reducing the amount of sweat your feet produce after soaking, as well as deodorizing your feet.
For wiping, dab some Listerine (or other mouthwash) on a washcloth and give your feet a good rubdown after showering.
For soaking, mix one-part mouthwash with two parts of warm water and let your feet soak in the solution for about 20 minutes.
6. Epsom Salt and Essential Oil Foot Soak
Epsom salt is super versatile and aids with loads of different issues such as bloating, detox, skin exfoliation, slimming and of course, getting rid of stinky feet. Rich in magnesium sulfate, Epsom salt neutralizes foot odor, softens the skin, reduces inflammation, and soothes aching feet.
For soaking, use a cap full of Gold Mountain Beauty's Foot Soak and a bucket of warm water. Soak your feet for 10-15 minutes. You can do this multiple times a day for maximum results.
7. The Baking Soda and Tea Tree Oil Soak
Versatile and cheap, baking soda is an all-star and really works hard at fighting stinky feet. Mix that magic up with some Tea Tree Oil, and you’ve got a winning solution. Baking soda helps control odor and kills bacteria and fungi. Tea Tree Oil is known for its antimicrobial action, as it has been clinically proven to fight odor and kill bacteria. It’s also an antiseptic, antibiotic, and antifungal and has anti-inflammatory effects. This soak does it all.
For soaking, add about 20 drops of tea tree oil and ½ a cup of baking soda to a foot basin with warm water. Soak your feet for about 15 minutes, twice a day for best results.
Treating Stinky and Sweaty Feet Professionally
If at-home treatments for hyperhidrosis are not effective, you can seek professional help from doctors who may prescribe medication or recommend some form of therapy. Here are a few ways in which hyperhidrosis can be treated with medications or professional treatments:
1. Over-the-counter Antiperspirants
Readily available and usually not very expensive, these use-at-home remedies are usually the first resort when it comes to treating excessively sweaty feet (and other parts of the body for that matter). Studies show that antiperspirants that contain aluminum chloride are the most effective and fight of wetness the best.
2. Prescription Antiperspirants
These aren’t available over the counter, and you’ll need a prescription from either a podiatrist or your health care provider to get your hands on them. Prescription antiperspirants like Drysol and Odaban are formulated with aluminum chloride hexahydrate and are prescribed in severe cases of excessive sweating.
These steps in when O.T.C antiperspirants just don’t work anymore. You apply them just before bedtime for about a week and then use it once a week as a preventative measure. They work by means of aluminum salts collecting sweat and blocking the sweat glands. It CAN work to help control excessively sweaty feet but rarely helps in the long run.
This is a treatment for excessive sweating where a device passes direct electricity through the skin with the use of tap water. You’ll need a physician’s prescription for this 10-20 minute treatment. It works very well for excessively sweaty feet.
4. Microwave Destruction
This is a method that destroys sweat glands. It helps to decrease the amount of sweat that can be passed through the body. The treatment is done in the doctor’s office and can be accompanied by swelling and irritation after treatment.
5. Oral Medications
These groups of medications, called Anticholinergics, help reduce excessive sweating and can be an effective treatment for sweaty feet.
If you’re afraid of needles, this isn’t your thing, but Botox can be very effective in controlling the amount of sweat, although it’s only recommended for the treatment of axillary (underarm) sweating.
This is the last resort in the battle to combat wetness. This is where doctors surgically interrupt specific nerve pathways to control excessive levels of sweating. The procedure is called Endoscopic Thoracic Sympathectomy and helps to stop excessive sweating dead in its tracks.
Deodorizing Your Shoes
That wraps it up for our recommended treatments for foot odor and is about as many preventative measures you can take into ensuring the stench steers clear. But, what can you do for your kicks?
You know it’s about time to start de-stinking your feet and shoes when you can smell a foul odor ascending from your shoes while they are still ON your feet. It’s an embarrassing problem and the thousands of sufferers out there have one thing in common - they all want to get rid of the stink as soon as possible!
The good news is that getting rid of the smell is relatively simple and hassle-free with some methods being much more effective than others.
How to Eliminate Shoe Odor
There are many ways that you can deodorize your shoes. Here’s a pick of the most effective and fast working methods.
1. Cat Litter
Okay, so this one seems a little quirky, but it’s effective. All you have to do is fill an old sock with cat litter, seal it and let it sleep in your shoe for the night. It’s a great idea to store your shoes this way and then just remove the sock whenever you want to wear them and put the sock back in when it goes into the cupboard.
Commonly used in air filters because it has such amazing deodorizing properties, Coconut activated charcoal can really work wonders in getting rid of odor in your shoes. To use it, fill a cloth bag (old socks will work fine too) and then let the bag sleep in your shoe overnight to get rid of any nasty smells.
3. Tea Tree Oil Based Deodorizer Spray
Tea tree oil is natural and can be used on both your feet as well as in your shoes. A great tea tree oil deodorizer also packs the great smelling punch of mint, eucalyptus, and thyme. You can spray our all Natural Tea Tree Foot Spray in your shoes and directly on your feet.
4. Deodorizing Insoles
These shoe inserts are made from cedar wood, bamboo or have charcoal in the mix that easily helps get rid of any stench. Not only does the insert help to eliminate the stench, but they also help to soak up moisture and keep your shoe's shape.
The only problem with shoe inserts is that they don’t tackle the real problem but rather just mask any weird smells.
5. Shoe Deodorizing Balls
An integral, (and expensive) part of your wardrobe, shoes have to be taken great care of and kept odor-free if you want to ensure their longevity. This is where “odor eating shoe balls” or shoe deodorizing balls really come in handy. They’re not that expensive and can be tossed into your shoes and do all the work for you.
You can even make your own shoe deodorizer balls. All you need is one briquette of plain charcoal and two old socks. To make your own deodorizer balls:
- Crush the charcoal and put it into the old socks
- Now tie them up and insert into your shoes
- Take them out whenever you want to wear the shoes and just put them back in once you’re done with your shoes for the day
So What’s the Best Method to Stop Foot and Shoe Odor?
Now you know how to get rid of stinky feet successfully.
Remember, what works for one, might not work for all, which is why we’ve provided you with a variety of different ideas to try out. The main problems you need to combat to rid your feet of foul odor is bacteria and excessive sweat.
So, before you go out and spend tons of money on remedies that may or may not work, try out our D.I.Y solutions. Our tips and tricks come in very handy and are all well worth trying.