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Smelly Feet? 7 Proven Remedies to Treat Them Immediately

Can you please leave your shoes at the door?

That simple request can be one of the most uncomfortable feelings when you have smelly feet and shoes.

Being that we are at the tail end of the summer months – chances are that your feet, and even more so your shoes likely stink.

But that’s completely ok?


Well in this post I am going to focus on a few things.  First off, how to treat your smelly feet with both home and OTC remedies.

But before I get into the good stuff, what exactly causes smelly feet and shoes to begin with?

Well first off, if you are wearing boat shoes, or simply any types of shoes without any socks, you are essentially creating a micro-climate that is a breeding ground for all of the horribly smelling bacteria to flourish.

I know that sounds gross.

So how do you go about making your feet and shoes smell better?

Is there a way?  Or is the only option left is to throw out your shoes?

You will also learn how to make everything smell a lot better.

Sure you might see there are some home remedies out there to make your shoes smell better by throwing them into the freezer, trust me I tried it and it doesn’t work at all.

Instead, I just had shoes that were really cold and still smelled regardless.

So without further ado, let’s first go over home remedies to get rid of smelly feet:

Related: How to Smell Great

5 Proven Home Remedies to Make Your Feet Smell Much Better

Below is a list of home remedies that are proven to knock out the odor from your smelly feet almost as good as the foot sprays at the store.

I say almost because simply put, the chemicals they use in the feet odor sprays by Dr. Scholls and such are great at completely eliminating odor after just one use.

Here’s the thing though:

It’s often better to try and solve the foot odor problem yourself first simply because it will save you a few extra bucks.

Without further ado, here are some great home remedies to make your feet smell much better:

Baking Soda – The Ultimate Home Cleaning Product

baking soda to cure smelly feet

Baking soda is by and far one the most widely used household products you can own.

From removing the odor in your fridge or freezer to rinsing the smell from your kitchen sink, baking soda is used everywhere – and your feet aren’t any different.

But why?

Here is a bit of the science behind it.

One of the active ingredients in baking soda is sodium bicarbonate.  Sodium bicarbonate itself acts as a neutralizer.  Therefore if a substance (in this case odor) has a strong acidic or strong base (on the PH level), it will work on bringing it back to center.

The odor that is emitting from your feet is a bit more acidic, and therefore when baking soda is applied, it simply nullifies it.

When the baking soda is applied, it will ultimately prevent the bacteria from growing.

Of course like everything – it’s not permanent, so don’t be surprised if your feet will begin to smell a few days down the road.

The best way to use baking soda to knock out foot odor is to use the following solution:

In a bowl (probably one you don’t eat out of often) – you will want to do the following:

Mix together about 32oz (equates to about 1 liter of water) with a couple of teaspoons of baking soda in warm water.  Then rest your feet in the bowl (both at the same time if you can fit them) for about 15 to 20 minutes.

It may take you a couple of tries to get the ratio to the optimal amount in order to eliminate the odors.

Personally, I would give it a day and then up the amount of baking soda every time by 1/2 a teaspoon.

Alum Powder – A Great Product To Have On Hand

alum power cures smelly feet

Alum is one of the best products to have in your medicine cabinet simply for its variety of uses.

I use the term alum broadly as you can find it at your drug store or online in different forms (powder vs block).

The alum block is what is commonly used in aftershave – alum powder form of the same ingredient with all the same properties.

The two most important properties in alum powder is that its an astringent and also an antiseptic.

So all this chatter about alum being an astringent and an antiseptic – but why is this important?

An astringent is a product that closes up your pores, where an antiseptic is one that flushes out the bacteria.

When using on your feet in a pail of warm water, the solution will simply rid your feet of all the horribly smelling bacteria that have been sticking around.

Better yet, the astringent property of the alum powder will close up the pores making sure that no further odor generating bacteria get back into the pores and start emanating that horrible smell.

To get started you will want to grab a bowl (just like in the baking soda one above – something preferably you don’t eat out of) and mix the following together:

For every 32oz (about a liter) of warm water, you will want to put in 4 teaspoons of alum powder.  Put in enough water so that your feet will be fully submerged.  Once you have it all mixed together you will then want to place your feet in the solution for about 20 minutes.

Don’t be alarmed if the skin around your feet feels a little bit tight as this is the astringent properties of the alum powder hard at work.

Once you have rested your feet in the solution for the suggested amount of time, you should notice that they no longer have that horrid smelly feet odor attached to them anymore!

Epsom Salt As A Back-Up

epsom salt to cure smelly feet - tools of men

Epsom salt has a variety of different home remedies tied to it.

Containing both magnesium and sulfate, Epsom salt a natural exfoliant and also anti-inflammatory.

While this might not be directly tied to fighting body odor – using Epsom salt will increase the moisture in your skin, heal sore muscles, and heal any sort of small wounds on your feet.

But of course, that’s not the purpose of why you want to use Epsom salt in the first place – you want to stamp that nasty smell emitting from your feet!

Well, guess what – just like baking soda, Epsom salt is great at neutralizing foot odor.

While its primary focus isn’t necessarily to kill the bacteria like the alum powder listed above, Epsom salt will indeed knock out the odor by simply leveling out the Ph levels of your feet.

In order to cure those smelly feet, you are going to want to whip up the following solution:

In a bowl that is large enough to submerge both of your feet (and like the other solutions – get a bowl that you probably won’t be eating out of), you will want to mix together 32oz (about 1 liter) of warm water for every one teaspoon or so of Epsom salt.  Once your solution is set, you will want to submerge your feet for about 15 to 20 minutes.

If you find that your feet still have a smell about them after the solution (i.e. they were not neutralized enough) you will want to add in a bit more Epsom salt to the mixture.

Black Tea Kills The Bacteria That Generates Foot Odor

Got some extra teabags sitting around?  Great – are they black tea bags?

If you weren’t aware, black tea is a natural antioxidant.  Not only that, but actually ingesting the stuff will help lower your risk for diabetes, high cholesterol, kidney functions, and Parkinson’s disease.

Black tea naturally has tannins in it (not tannic acid which is oftentimes is-referenced) – this isn’t what fights the foot odor.

In fact, the science behind it is that the polyphenols are the key plant-based molecules that are helping to eliminate the unwanted odor from smelly feet.

When you end up soaking your feet into a solution that contains black tea – the antioxidants will be hard at work preventing the odor-causing bacteria.

In order to set your solution correctly you are going to want and mix together the following:

First off you will want to bring about 24oz (about 3/4 of a liter) of water to a boil.  Once boiling, remove from heat and add a couple of the black tea bags to the water.  After you place the tea bags into the water, you will want to have it steep for about 4 minutes.

After your tea as steeped, in a large bowl that both of your feet can submerge into, you will want and add your brewed tea along with about 12oz (just over 1/4 liter) of room temperature water (this is so you don’t burn your feet).  Add in colder water if necessary to level out the temperature (or let it rest for a few minutes).

Once the solution is set, you will then want to submerge your feet for about 15 minutes.  Being that there are tannins in tea, don’t be alarmed if you have some residue of the tea on your feet.

Once the time is up, you may want to hop in the shower in order to wash your feet off of any black tea remnants.

Drown The Bacteria In Apple Cider Vinegar

One of the more likely products that you will have lying around your house will be apple cider vinegar.

If you don’t have it already on hand, you definitely should as it can be used for all sorts of uses (i.e. kills weeds, a great natural cleaning solution, and hell even kill the bacteria in your mouth).

Apple cider vinegar is a great and not too terribly acidic environment that will effectively kill the bacteria that causes your feet to smell.

This is not to be confused with white vinegar which on the other hand – should never be used for prolonged periods of time on your skin (remember how potent it was in chemistry class when mixed with baking soda?) as it is a bit more acidic.

When making your solution for your feet, you will want to keep with a ratio of 1oz apple cider vinegar to 8oz of warm water.  Of course, you will want to mix these together in a large bowl.

Since the acidic level of apple cider vinegar is a bit on the higher side, you will want to first soak your feet for no more than 10 minutes.  Any longer and it may cause some skin irritation.

A Couple Of Over the Counter Methods That Work To Knock Out Foot Odor

Above I went over all the home remedies that you can do in order to completely knock out the smelly odor from your feet.

However, sometimes you might not have all of the ingredients listed above and will have to go to the store (or Amazon) regardless.

If you are making the trip, I would highly recommend to a spray that is specifically for foot odor.

You can skip the soaking part that is required in the home remedies and has your feet odor-free in as little as a minute.

Seriously it’s that quick:

One of the products I would recommend checking out would be the Dr. Scholl’s Odor Destroyer Deodorant Spray.

This stuff is like magic.

I recently used some myself and after applying it, literally within seconds, the odor was gone.

Other great solutions that are used to give that smelly foot odor the one-two punch is the Rocket Pure foot spray.

It’s an all-natural solution that is made right here in the USA.

People have been raving about this on Amazon stating that it is ‘probably the only foot spray that actually works!’ to ‘highly recommend it to gym buffs and runners’.

With over 900 reviews and an average rating of 4.4 out of 5, its definitely worth checking out.

How To Eliminate Odor From Your Shoes

eliminate odor from your shoes - tools of men

So far we have largely focused on the ways to get rid of the smelly odors from your feet but haven’t touched on your actual shoes!

Here’s the deal:

Even if you do all of the prescribed home or store-bought remedies above to knock out foot odor the fact remains that once you put on your shoes, your feet will stink again.

All of that effort would be for nothing.

Thing is that when you put on your shoes without socks, your warm and sweaty feet create an environment for the bacteria to thrive and cause this putrid foot odor.

But not to worry, all of that is about to change.

Before I get to that, there are a few things to note.

First off, you need to make sure that you do both the prescribed methods above to clean your feet properly in order for them not to smell, but secondly, you have to do both of these steps at the same time.

Home Remedies To Make Your Shoes Smell Better

On the home remedy front, your options are pretty limited to eliminate the odor from your shoes.

The best solution that I have found to date has been using baking soda.

Simply put about a teaspoon or so of baking soda in each one of your shoes and leave them overnight.  As we learned above on the baking soda solution section, this will help naturalize the smelly bacteria that is causing this odor.

Just be sure that before you head out the door you empty out the baking soda into the trash can or else it will be terribly annoying the rest of the day (like having sand in your shoes)!

The other borderline passable all-natural solution is to get the cedar inserts that you can slip into your shoes over night.

The cedar will help dry up the shoes cutting down a proper environment for the odor-causing bacteria to grow and mask the scent a bit with the rich smell of cedar.

Chemical Formulas To Rescue Your Smelly Shoes

What is great about chemical formulas is that they were designed specifically for the purpose at hand – eliminate odors.

From my experience, they seem to do a terrific job at that.

Same as the products listed above for the cures of smelly feet section, you should recommend checking out the Dr. Scholl’s Odor Destroyer Deodorant Spray or Rocket Pure foot spray.

In order to eliminate the odor coming from your shoes simply just give a spray or two into each shoe and you should be set to go on your way.

About Adam

As the lead editor of Tools of Men, Adam is an expert in all things men's grooming and style. When you don't find him reading up on the latest style trends, he likes to go jogging, attempt to distinguish the differences between IPAs, and play sports with his kids.

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