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Home Remedies for Stinky Feet

Updated on February 3, 2017
Luke Holm profile image

Luke works as a middle school English, ELD, social justice, and mindfulness teacher in the sanctuary city, San Jose, CA.


Foul Feet

Like crusty barnacles

washed up on an old, arid shore

they crack apart

sprinkling the remnants of their tired life everywhere they travel

so that tracking my path

is not so much a challenge, but a chore.

They’re awful.

They smell like peas.

No matter how hard I scrub,

no soap in the world can eradicate

their pungent fragrance.

Their loathsome aroma

follows me everywhere I go.

It fills a room in a matter of moments

and pierces through even three layers of socks.


I’ve lost all my friends.
My loved ones won’t come near.
They tell me to sit outside.
Even the dog won’t look at me.

Perhaps I’ll just chop them off.

Causes of Stinky Feet

Everyone has encountered a foul-footed friend at one point or another. Whether it's from exercising, after a hard day's work, or just mucking around in some crud, when those socks come off, nose-pins clothespins go on.

Why do feet stink? The first answer is sweat and bacteria. The human body has two types of sweat glands, apocrine and eccrine. While apocrine sweat glands are usually the cause of body odor, there are no apocrine glands on feet. On the other hand, eccrine glands, located all over the body, do not incur a body odor.

Sweating is the body's natural cooling system. It is made up almost entirely of water; with trace amounts of other chemicals such as ammonia, urea, salts, and sugar. Even though sweat doesn't smell by itself, the warm, moist climate provides a choice environment for bacteria.

Staphylococcus epidermidis and bacillus subtilis are two types of bacteria that live on the feet. Growing on your sweaty skin, they feast on the amino acid, leucine, secreted from the eccrine glands. When the bacteria eat the leucine, they produce a smelly gas called isovaleric acid. This gas is the cheese, vinegar, rotten egg, or putrid smell many often associate with stinky feet.

Feet have approximately 250,000 sweat glands. Combined, on an average day, feet could perspire up to one cup of sweat per day. With so much sweat and such hungry bacteria, it's no wonder feet emit such rank odors.

Home Remedies for Stinky Feet

Now that you've identified the fact that you have stinky feet and understand the cause, what can you do about it?

1. Preventing Your Feet From Sweating: Sometimes prevention is the best medicine. The first thing you can do is keep your feet dry. If you aren't secreting the eccrine sweat, then the bacteria will have nothing to digest and transmute into a noxious odor. Consider wearing open toed sandals, changing your socks, and carefully drying your feet after bathing.

2. Cleaning Your Feet Well: This one may seem like a no brainer, but using antimicrobial soap and washing your feet regularly could fix a lot of your pungent problems. You could go out and buy natural Shea Butter Soap, but that's not a home remedy, is it? Something similar to antimicrobial and antiseptic soap is using baking soda. When mixed with water, baking soda takes on antiseptic properties, efficiently eradicating toxic smells from your body. Furthermore, baking soda rarely contracts allergic reactions, as the active ingredients are only sodium, hydrogen carbon and oxygen.

3. Baking Soda and Essential Oils: While we're on the topic of baking soda, it's oftentimes coupled with essential oils. Oils like tea tree, lemon, or eucalyptus are great additives to this concoction. Tea tree is most notable for being an antimicrobial freshener and an eradicator of mold. Mixing lemon oil with these ingredients creates a natural disinfectant. It is often used in cleaners and soaps meant for nourishing skin. Eucalyptus is often used as a cleaner that cuts through grime and odor remover. Using these ingredients will not only clean your feet, but make them smell pretty too.

4. Epsom Salt and Water: Mixing epsom salt with water has proven enormous health benefits for your skin, especially the feet. The water makes the minerals of the salt, especially magnesium, become more easily absorbed. Epsom salt is highly regarded as an odor reducer. Soak your feet for approximately thirty minutes and then dry thoroughly.

5. Apple Cider Vinegar: Apple cider vinegar has many internal and external health benefits. I suggest using Bragg's organic, raw vinegar with the mother still in it. This remedy is simple. Get a bucket or bowl, some warm water, and pour in a half cup of apple cider vinegar. Soak your feet for about twenty minutes and then dry thoroughly. Apple cider vinegar has antimicrobial properties. Although the aroma given off by this formula is strong, it is equally strong in destroying foot odor at its core.

Easy Natural Remedies for Food Odor

In Conclusion

If you have stinky feet, don't fret. You don't have to purchase expensive solvents and solutions. There are many anti-stench remedies to be found on the internet. Wash your socks often, sprinkle baking soda to absorb sweat, soak your feet in one of the many sweet smelling home remedies, and wear open-toed sandals whenever possible.

Even though smelly feet can be revolting, you don't have to let them control your life. Don't be like the person in the opening poem. Control your odor by becoming informed and taking action when necessary. Stay clean and always remember, prevention is the best medicine.



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