Natural Remedies to Get Rid of Smelly Feet

Updated on March 5th, 2020
natural remedies for smelly feet

Do you feel embarrassed to take out your socks in social gatherings? Do you feel scared that your smelly feet might induce nausea in those around you? Well, if you are nodding your head, then there are chances that you are suffering from smelly feet syndrome. You can follow natural remedies for smelly feet to treat at home.

Smelly feet or Bromodosis as it is medically known is a common ailment. The bacterial formation on the feet due to excess sweat leads to bad odor. It can affect anyone and more often than not, it is caused by poor physical hygiene.

As per the National Foot Health Assessment conducted in 2012 by the NPD Group for Preventive Foot Health, it was observed that 16% of adults (above 21 years) suffer from foot odor. That is almost 36 million smelly feet (1)

What Causes Smelly Feet?

The main culprit behind, causing feet odor is sweat. Excessive sweat leads to the formation of bacteria, and that produces the foul-smelling odour. It is similar to underarm odor and is preventable.

Some amount of sweat and bacteria on the feet is normal as it is the mechanism through which the body cools itself. A few people suffer from a medical condition called Hyperhidrosis, where they tend to perspire more than normal, and it leads to foot odor.

It is also studied that pregnant women and teenagers tend to sweat more due to hormonal changes. Even stress at work can cause you to sweat more and lead to smelly feet. It is recommended that socks should be changed after every use and shoes should be allowed to fully dry before wearing them again to avoid bad feet odor.

Natural Remedies for Smelly Feet

Smelly feet might seem like a small problem, but if ignored or left untreated, it can cause social embarrassment and adversely affect relationships. The good part is that they are completely curable and you can treat them easily at home.

Let us look at some of the natural remedies and learn what to do for smelly feet, which can help us get rid of smelly feet.

CURE 1: Essential Oils

Essential Oils are known to soothe and provide a sense of calm. Their long-lasting fragrance is commonly used in air fresheners, candles, soaps, bath bombs, and perfumes. What is relatively unknown is that essential oils are effective in treating feet odor as well (2).

1. Tea Tree Oil

Tea Tree Oil

Why does it work?

Tea Tree oil is known to cure a lot of skincare issues like inflammation, infection, etc. It contains antibacterial properties which are effective in reducing bacterial formation on the feet.

How to use?

Tea tree essential oil can be used as a foot soak or can be massaged on to the feet. If using as a foot soak, it will help stop smelly feet, a few drops of the oil should be dropped in warm water with Epsom salt, and the feet should be allowed to soak in it for 15-20 mins.

This helps in fighting bacterial infection on the feet and reduce the odor. Alternatively, tea tree oil can also be rubbed on to the feet, preferably before going to bed and is said to reduce the smell caused by bacteria on the feet considerably.

How much to use?

A few drops of tea tree oil in a foot soak or massage should do the trick though it is recommended that you test the oil on a small patch of the skin before using it for treating smelly feet. This will confirm if you have any allergic reaction to Tea tree oil.

2. Lavender Oil

Why does it work?

Lavender essential oil is not just a soothing fragrance; it is also loaded with anti-bacterial properties. Lavender oil is one of the most popular natural remedies to cure smelly feet.

How to use?

A few drops of Lavender essential oil should be rubbed on the feet before sleeping at night. Then, the feet should be covered by socks. This not only helps to keep the feet fragrant, but it also kills any bacterial infection in the feet. Lavender oil treatment is often used to cure athlete’s foot condition where the feet get highly infected due to bacterial formation.

How much to use?

With essential oils, a few drops are enough to cure the problem. Thus, just 2-3 drops of lavender essential oil should be applied on the feet. As with all essential oils, it is recommended that a small skin test is conducted before using it on the feet.

Don’t: People with low blood pressure should avoid using lavender essential oil.

[Also Read: Essential Oils for Foot Pain]

3. Eucalyptus Oil

Why does this work?

Eucalyptus essential oil has a very strong peppermint fragrance and is ideal for fighting stinky feet. Its strong fragrance helps in masking the feet odor and attack the bacteria at the same time. Thus, it helps to prevent smelly feet.

How to use?

Eucalyptus essential oil can be added to a foot soak, or it can be rubbed on the feet for reducing bacterial infection. The fragrant essential oil can also be sprayed on to the shoes and socks for keeping them fragrant as well and reducing the chances of getting stinky feet.

How much to use?

Using eucalyptus essential oil is a natural remedy, and thus only a few drops of the oil in the foot soak or on the feet is required. Do not forget to do a skin irritation test before using large amounts of oil on the feet. It is recommended that you avoid using this essential oil if you are uncomfortable with strong fragrances.

Besides the above three essential oils, one can also use lemon essential oil and peppermint essential oil for curing smelly feet as both have antibacterial properties and leave behind a lovely fragrance.

Back To TOC

CURE 2: Home Remedies

To cure smelly feet, we first need to reduce the amount of sweat and bacterial infection on the feet. To do this, you do not need any expensive creams and medicines; it can be done using ingredients from your own kitchen! Let us read about some inexpensive and easy ways to cure stinky feet using home remedies.

1. Feet Exfoliation

Feet Exfoliation

Why does this work?

Feet exfoliation helps in removing dead skin cells. Bacteria thrive on dead skin cells, and by removing them, you are essentially reducing bacterial infection.

How to use?

Feet exfoliation can be done either by using a pumice stone or by using natural scrubs like a loofah, walnut shell dust, etc. The idea behind exfoliation is to remove dead skin cells from the feet.

How much to use?

Feet exfoliation is advised one to two times a week and can be increased to two to three times in extreme cases of smelly feet. It is recommended that exfoliation is done gently so that only the dead skin cells are removed and the feet are not left bruised. A good pedicure would also result in effective foot exfoliation.

2. Salt Soak

 Why does this work?

Salt soak is a fast and effective way of treating feet odor. The salt used in the soak is Epsom salt which disinfects the feet as well as prepares the skin for exfoliation.

How to use?

Around half a cup of Epsom salt should be added to a tub of warm water and let the feet soak in for about 15-20 mins.

Post this, either the feet can be further exfoliated using a pumice stone or scrub, or they can simply be pat dry. It is important to note that the feet should be made completely dry as any moisture which is left behind will encourage bacterial and fungal infections.

How much to use?

Half a cup of Epsom salt with one tub of water is the ideal ratio, but it can be increased or decreased as per your preference.

Essential oils can also be added with Epsom salts for giving your feet the much-needed fragrance. A salt soak should ideally be done once or twice a week. If you feel any irritation or discomfort after using Epsom salt, it is advised that you discontinue the treatment immediately.

3. Apple Cider Vinegar

Why does this work?

Apple Cider Vinegar is an effective way to control bacterial infection on the feet. The vinegar contains acid which kills bacteria and reduces the odor.

How to use?

Apple cider vinegar is usually used in foot soaks. If the feet are soaked in warm water to which a few drops of vinegar are added, it greatly helps in reducing odor and disinfecting the feet.

How much to use?

A few drops of apple cider vinegar are enough to tackle even the worst cases of smelly feet.

Besides the above home remedies, rubbing cornstarch on your feet is also said to help in alleviating feet odor as it reduces the formation of sweat on the feet. This helps to keep feet dry. Baking soda can also be sprinkled on the feet and the shoes to keep them dry and devoid of moisture.

The above treatment methods can help you effectively reduce the presence of smelly feet, but it is important to know when to visit a doctor if the condition aggravates. It is advised that you visit a doctor if alternative therapies like essential oils, foot soaks, and scrubs do not provide any relief from smelly feet. Also, if there is excessive sweating on the feet, then it is essential to take medical treatment.

Now that we know how we can easily cure smelly feet at home, it is time to understand how we can prevent it from occurring in the first place. Below we have listed some easy prevention tips which ensure that your feet never smell again.

Tips for Preventing Smelly Feet

It is quite simple to prevent the feet from emanating a foul odor by following some easy tips.

1. Good Foot Hygiene

The first step in treating foot odor is to maintain healthy feet hygiene. The feet should be washed regularly with soap, especially between the toes. Nails should be cut to prevent the bacterial formation and to walk barefoot should be avoided.

2. Reducing sweat and excess moisture on the feet

By reducing sweat on the feet, we ensure that there is less bacterial formation which leads to fresh and healthy feet. It is advised that cotton or woolen socks are worn with shoes so that they absorb excess sweat and prevents it from seeping inside the shoe. One can also rub powder or starch on the feet to keep them dry. In case the feet get wet; it is important to dry them and the shoes completely before wearing them again.

3. Antifungal sprays and deodorants

Antifungal sprays are available at all medicine stores which help in curing fungal and bacterial infection on the feet. Spraying the feet and shoes with deodorant also works well in masking any bad odor.

4. Wearing proper footwear

Proper footwear is the first step in preventing smelly feet. The footwear should allow air ventilation, which aids in keeping the moisture out. Wearing foul-smelling shoes can also attribute to stinky feet, and thus it is advisable to alternate between the shoes which will help it completely dry out.

By following these easy steps, one can fight against smelly feet and will never have to be conscious again when taking out the shoes.

Bottom Line

Smelly feet condition is often ignored and brushed aside by people thinking that it will go away on its own. If you are lucky, it might, but if not, then it can cause a series of problems. Prevention is better than cure, and thus, we should always make an effort to keep our feet dry and clean. But in case of smelly feet still resurfaces, then we should follow the natural remedies explained above to cure this seemingly harmless condition. It is time to come out of those socks without feeling scared or embarrassed.


1. What should I do if my shoes also stink?

It is common for shoes to stink if the sweat from the feet seeps into them or they get wet in the rain etc. The best way to treat stinky shoes is to let them dry completely under the sun. Alternatively, you can also spray some cornstarch or baking soda in them to help them dry faster. Spraying a deodorant can definitely help in masking the foul odour in the shoes.

2. What food should be avoided to cure smelly feet?

Consumption of alcohol, spicy and pungent food should be avoided if you suffer from smelly feet.

3. What medical conditions cause feet to sweat?

Hyperhidrosis is a medical condition which increases sweating in the body. Besides this, diabetes, high blood pressure, kidney issues, and thyroid is also observed to cause excessive sweating.

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