Natural home remedies: Foot odour

Do people turn up their noses when you slip off your shoes? Try these foot-friendly natural home remedies and give smelly feet the boot

Natural home remedies: Foot odour

Source: Adapted from 1,801 Home Remedies, Reader’s Digest

Natural home remedies for foot odour

Your feet are the natural habitat of millions of bacteria, which thrive on your sweat and skin cells. By-products produced by these bacteria are what give feet that stinky smell. When you seal your feet in a pair of shoes and they pour out sweat, you give the bacteria more food to feast on. Foot odour can also be caused by poorly controlled fungal infections, such as athlete’s foot. People with diabetes or heart disease, as well as elderly people in general, are often more apt to develop foot infections and foot odour due to less-than-adequate circulation.

What you can do

  • Wash your feet daily in warm water using a deodorant soap or antibacterial soap.
  • Especially if you 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.
  • Dust your feet with talcum powder or foot powder before you put on your shoes and socks. It will absorb odour-causing sweat.
  • Change your socks at least once a day, replacing them with a clean pair.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Check the care instructions on your athletic shoes. If they’re washable, toss them into the washing machine at least once a month.
  • Store your shoes in a place that’s bright and ventilated‘not in a dark closet, where bacteria thrive.
  • Each time you put your shoes away, insert a sachet filled with cedar chips into them. 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 to discharge the collected odours.
  • 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.

A natural boost

  • 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.
  • Make an odour-fighting foot soak by adding 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. (Off-limits if you have any open sores or broken skin.)
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Good foot powders to try are baking soda, which neutralizes odour, and cornstarch, which absorbs moisture.


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