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Foot Odor – Causes, How to Stop, Home Remedies, Foot Spray

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Do you suffer from extremely bad foot odor? It can be very embarrassing. However, you can save your face by ensuring you know how to stop such an awful odor. We will explore the various foot odor causes and discuss several cures and treatments to give you an idea on how to stop or prevent foot odor. Read on to learn more.

What Causes Foot Odor

Foot odor is a common concern among millions of people worldwide. The main causes of foot odor are excessive perspiration and growth of bacteria on the feet.

Each foot has over 250,000 eccrine sweat glands out of the total of 2 to 5 million sweat glands found in our body. Each foot produces about a pint (approximately 500 ml) of sweat everyday. This means that the feet have high concentration of sweat, but fortunately, the sweat produced by eccrine glands is usually, watery, thin, and evaporates easily.

Sweat is naturally odorless but when it comes into contact with the bacteria that usually thrive on your skin, it can start to get stinky. These bacteria usually feed on dead, dry skin cells found on your feet and sweat provides a favorable environment for their growth.

Foot Odor - Causes, How to Stop, Home Remedies, Foot Spray
Foot Odor – I can’t stand it!

Some bacteria such as Brevibacterium linens break down amino acid into methanethiol gas which has a characteristic smell similar to that of rotten cabbage or eggs. Others such as Staphylococcus epidermis break down amino acids and in the process release isovaleric acid which smell somewhat like vinegar.

Wearing shoes and socks with little ventilation for a long time provides a perfect environment (warm and moist) for growth of bacteria since it limits the evaporation of sweat produced by your feet.

In addition to wearing shoes with not enough ventilation, the following factors can cause foot odor:

  • Hyperhidrosis (sweaty feet)
  • Poor hygiene
  • Certain medications
  • Alcohol and drugs
  • Stress

Not that you know what causes foot odor, let’s take a look at some of the ways in which you can stop it

How to Stop Foot Odor – Foot Odor Sprays and Treatment

To stop foot odor, you have to deal with two related issues, namely, sweat and bacteria. While it is okay to have some bacteria on our skin especially on the feet, we can reduce their numbers by washing our feet with an antibacterial soap or cleanser.

Using a pumice stone to slough off the dead skin cells typically found on your feet can also help stop foot odor since bacteria usually feed on them.  You can as well use a brush or a washcloth to exfoliate the skin on your feet. After washing your feet, you should then dry it properly with a towel, especially in the areas between the toes.

To stop excessive sweating, you should consider wearing wear open shoes and sandals as frequent as possible in order to allow free flow of air and evaporation of sweat produced by your feet. In cold months when open shoes might not be an ideal choice, consider wearing canvas or leather shoes as these allow your feet to breathe better.

You should also consider wearing socks made of thick, absorbent materials such as cotton and changing them daily. Rotating your shoes is also a great option to stop foot odor.

Foot Odor Spray

Foot Odor Spray
Foot Odor Spray

These days, there are numerous anti-bacterial foot odor sprays that you can use to stop foot odor and give your feet a fresh smell. Also referred to as odor-eater sprays, these products typically help by absorbing any sweat in your feet and preventing further sweating. This helps to prevent build up of bacteria which are the main cause of foot odor.

Most also have a deodorant to mask the smell in your feet. These products can easily be bought at pharmacies and grocery stores.

One of the most popular foot odor sprays is Dr. Scholl’s Odor-X Odor Fighting Spray Powder.

Others you may consider are:

  • Gold Bond Medicated Foot Spray
  • Avon Foot Works Healthy Deodorizing Foot Powder

How to Prevent Foot Odor

You can prevent foot odor by adopting the following practices:

  • Wear “breathable” socks, preferably made of mainly cotton or wool
  • Keep your toenails short
  • Wash your feet with water and soap every day
  • Use a disinfecting spray such as the ones usually used at a bowling alley
  • Keep your feet as dry as you can
  • Change your shoes to footwear with enough ventilation as soon as you get home
  • Don’t put on the same pair of shoe every day
  • Wash your shoes regularly
  • Use a shoe dryer to rid your shoes of moisture
  • Turn your socks inside out before washing to remove the flaky skin trapped in them

Foot Odor Treatment

Prevention is the best treatment for foot odor. Most of the prevention methods that we have looked at above will, as well, work great for foot odor treatment.  Treatment is all about at removing dead skin from the feet and reducing the level of sweating, thus creating an unfavorable environment for growth of bacteria.

If however the foul odor doesn’t seem to be clearing even with the above measures, you should consider seeing a doctor.

Now let’s take a look at some home remedies for foot odor.

Foot Odor Remedies – Home Foot Odor Remedy

There are various home remedies that you can use to get rid of foot odor. These remedies work by creating an unfavorable environmental for bacterial growth e.g. by drying your feet out. Here are 5 foot odor remedies that you may consider using at home:


Tea is rich in tannic acid which has a drying effect. To use this remedy, simply soak your feet in a warm tea bath for about 30 minutes every day for one week.

Foot Odor Remedies - Sodium bicarbonate
Foot Odor Remedies – Sodium bicarbonate

(baking soda)

This is yet another common home remedy for foot odor. Baking soda creates an alkaline environment on your feet that is unfavorable for bacterial growth. It also has a drying effect.

To use this remedy, add baking soda to water in the ratio of 1 tbsp to one quart respectively and rub it on your feet with a washcloth.

Salty water

This is perhaps the easiest to use of all home remedies for foot odor. Simply add ½ a cup of Epsom salt to water in a quart of water and soak your feet in the resulting solution for 15-20 minutes everyday for one week. Once done, dry your feet thoroughly with a towel but don’t rinse them.

Household bleach

Household bleach is also a great remedy for foot odor. To use it, simply add a couple tablespoons of bleach to a bucket of warm water and soak your feet in the solution for 5 to 10 minutes everyday for one week. If your feet feels or looks extremely dry after using this remedy, consider adding a little bay oil or almond oil to the solution before soaking your feet in it.


Any type of vinegar is okay to use for this remedy with the exception of apple cider vinegar. To use this remedy, mix about half a cup of vinegar with a bucket of hot water before soaking your feet in the solution for 5 to 10 minutes. Finish by rinsing your feet thoroughly with soap and water.

There you have it! We have seen some of the causes of foot odor, how you can prevent and treat the problem and lastly looked at some home foot odor remedies that you can prepare at the comfort of your home to get rid of smelly feet and shoes.

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