11 Home Remedies for Stinky Feet that Are Surprisingly Effective

Updated: May 13, 2021

Struggling with stinky feet? These simple natural remedies can help kick foot odor to the curb.

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close up of young woman putting sneakers on before workout
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Stinky feet are a common problem

It’s not usually serious, but it’s rarely pleasant. Foot odor is a common condition, especially if you exercise often or sweat a lot. About 16 percent of adults in the U.S. have had smelly feet at one time or other, according to the Institute for Preventative Foot Health. It’s equally common in men and women. Foot odor is caused by a mixture of perspiration and bacteria. Once it arises, here’s how you can make it disappear.

dry black tea in wooden spoon close up
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Stinky feet solution: Soak in a black tea foot bath

“Soaking feet in tea can help dry them out so they’re not perspiring as much,” says Lori S. Weisenfeld, a sports podiatrist in New York City. That’s because the tannic acids in black tea kill odor-causing bacteria. To make a foot bath, boil two tea bags in a pint of water for 15 minutes. Remove the bags and dilute the tea with two quarts of water. Let the mixture cool, then soak your feet for 15 to 30 minutes. Repeat daily until odor is gone. Don’t miss these other ways to use tea to ease what ails you.

woman applying ointment cream to foot
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Stinky feet solution: Try an antibiotic ointment

Sweat, on its own, doesn’t have an odor. “It’s the bacteria that makes it smell,” says Dr. Weisenfeld. “The bacteria likes moisture. If you can get rid of the moisture and minimize bacteria, that’s how you mitigate the smell.” How do you do that? Before you go to bed, rub your feet and nails with a thin coating of antibacterial ointment like Neosporin, put on some socks, and get some rest. In the morning, the bacteria will be gone, and with it, likely your foot odor problems. Here are 6 sneaky reasons behind your body odor.

herbal lavender oil
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Stinky feet solution: Use a fragrant foot rub

Lavender oil not only smells good, but it helps kill bacteria as well, suggests a 2018 study published in Nanomaterials. Rub a few drops on your feet and massage it in before you go to bed. Cover your feet with socks for the most benefits. If you don’t always sleep with socks on, here’s why you should start tonight.

Foods High in Zinc as salmon, seafood-shrimps, beef, yellow cheese, spinach, mushrooms, cocoa, pumpkin seeds, garlic, bean and almonds. Top view
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Stinky feet solution: Zing ’em with zinc

Some experts say that adding zinc to your diet can help eliminate foot odor. Top pantry sources for this mineral include seafood, beef, spinach, beans, oatmeal, fortified breakfast cereals, mushrooms, almonds, and cashews. In a study published in 2014 in Dermatology Research and Practice 70 percent of the participants who completed the study eliminated foot odor with the help of a zinc solution. Here are 7 signs you’re not getting enough zinc.

Mirin on a Spoon
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Stinky feet solution: Neutralize odor with vinegar

Soak feet in a solution of about 1/3 cup of apple cider vinegar to a foot basin full of warm or cool water. Although the evidence isn’t ironclad that the solution will banish foot odor, a study published in 2018 in Scientific Reports suggests that apple cider vinegar has the antimicrobial potential to help kill bacteria and neutralize the odor. Here are 14 ways apple cider vinegar could benefit your health.

Close-up of tapioca starch or flour powder in wooden spoon with starch background
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Stinky feet solution: Dust on some starch

Cornstarch absorbs sweat, which keeps your feet feeling fresh, says Dr. Weisenfeld. Once or twice a day, sprinkle the starch liberally on your feet before putting on socks. You can also try dusting your feet and shoes with baking soda. Check out 10 more healthy uses for baking soda.

peppermint scrub in jar
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Stinky feet solution: Make a minty scrub

Peppermint cools and deodorizes the skin, while granulated sugar buffs away dead skin cells. To make this scrub, combine 1 tablespoon of oatmeal, 1 tablespoon of cornmeal, 1 tablespoon of sugar, and 2 teaspoons dried peppermint in a bowl. Add 1 tablespoon natural yogurt, the juice from one lemon, and 5 drops of peppermint essential oil. Mix to form a grainy paste. Massage the mixture into your feet (this can be messy, so sit over a bathtub or a large bowl). Learn more about how to bust foot odor using essential oils.

epsom salt foot bath
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Stinky feet solution: Salt your dogs

Epsom salts have many uses, including controlling bacteria, suggests a study published in The Journal of Applied Science Research. To make a foot soak, mix 2 cups of Epsom salts into 1 to 2 gallons of warm water in a bucket or basin. Soak your feet for 15 minutes, twice a day. Here are 11 surprising uses for Epsom salts you’ve probably never thought of.

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Stinky feet solution: Create a refreshing deodorizing spray

Pour 4 ounces of boiling water over 2 tablespoons dried sage. Research, including a review of studies published in 2014 in the Journal of Traditional and Complementary Medicine shows that sage has antibacterial and antifungal properties that will help reduce odor. Cover and steep for 15 minutes, then strain and cool. Add 4 tablespoons witch hazel and 10 drops lavender essential oil to the water and sage mixture. Pour into a 4-ounce spray bottle and refrigerate. Shake well before using. Spritz on feet after bathing or anytime you need a pick-me-up. Use within 10 days. Next, learn the 10 subtle signs of disease your feet can reveal. 

close up of gray socks on feet in white bed
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Stinky feet solution: Wear moisture-wicking socks

The secret to keeping feet dry? Wearing wicking socks, suggests Dr. Weisenfeld. The best ones are made of synthetic materials that help transfer moisture from the foot to the sock’s outer layers to keep feet dry. “If your feet perspire a lot, avoid wearing nylon socks and shoes that aren’t made of natural materials,” she adds. This is why wearing shoes without socks could make you sick.

deodorant antiperspirant on blue background
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Stinky feet solution: Apply antiperspirant

What works for the armpits also works on your feet, says Dr. Weisenfeld. If your feet sweat excessively, try using an antiperspirant. Drysol is a roll-on made specifically for the arms, hands, and feet. Here are 10 deodorant mistakes you need to stop making.