Top 6 Best Foot Soaks For Foot Odor

A popular type of foot odor home remedies are foot soaks. Claims on which soak works best are almost as abundant as the bacteria feeding on sweat on your feet.

Truth is that not all soaks are equal in terms of efficacy.  Although lots of prescription medications work wonders, inexpensive home remedies such as soaks can be just as effective.

Here are the 23 most effective soaks along with some info about their efficacy. If available either from studies, anecdotal reports, or personal experiences.

What you should know,

Foot soaks commonly have three types of action:

  1. astringent
  2. antibacterial
  3. deodorizing

Some odor-killing foot soaks only have one method of action. This does not automatically mean that the more types of action one foot soaks offers, the better it is in getting rid of foot  odor.

The synergistic effect may play a role in the efficacy of a cure however this is no set rule. This because a remedy may employ only one of the three actions but a really powerful one thus it can still be superior over others with more methods of action.

For example a really strong astringent may help cure sweaty feet better than a substance that’s mildly both astringent, antibacterial and deodorizing.

Top 6 Best Odor-Fighting Foot Soaks:


#6. Vodka soak  / wipe

On the Mythbusters TV show (episode 41) Adam and Jamie did a comparison of a foot powder wash vs. wiping a foot with vodka. Their experiment showed that foot odor was eliminated by both treatments.

Soaking your feet in vodka may work even better.

Won’t I get drunk?

Don’t worry (or get your hopes up), the Danish urban legend that you can get drunk by submerging your feet in alcohol is just that, a myth. Three doctors put this claim to the test. Read more about it on Discover Magazine.

How to use?

Wipe your feet down with a vodka-soaked washcloth. This will kill bacteria and thus reduce foul odor.

Or submerge your stinky tootsies in a moderate sized foot basin with water and vodka. Don’t fill it up too much as this will become a costly habit (the more water the more vodka you need). Not to mention a waste. Vodka has other great uses too right?



#5. Potassium permanganate foot bath

Does it work?

This old-school method is one of the more potent foot soaks. Potassium permanganate, (KMn04) (Permanganate of Potash) is a powerful chemical known to effectively kill fungi and bacteria.

How to use?

Add a few crystals or a table spoon potassium permanganate to  a quart of water. a quart of water.  The foot soak needs to color dark purple (see instructions on the package for more detailed dilution rates)

Soak for about 30 minutes. Don’t be surprised if your toenails and calluses start turning brown. It’s harmless.

Caution: topical use is safe in weak dilutions containing no more than 0.04 percent of potassium permanganate only. More about potassium permanganate foot soaks.




#4. Apple cider vinegar soak

If you have to believe many health gurus apple cider vinegar is close to a divine panacea, an all-natural medicine descended straight from Heaven.

The hailed liquid is said to help with weight loss, digestive problems, to sinusitis and allergies. Skeptics may be inclined to waive apple cider vinegar‘s ability to cure foot odor to that same category of old wives tales but it’s actually doctor-approved.

Does it work?

“Apple cider vinegar kills bacteria and dries excess sweat, the two main causes of foot odor,”

says New York City-based podiatrist Johanna Youner, DPM.

“It’s a really good, effective and cheap cure,”

The popular cure-all has antibacterial properties, partially due to its abundant levels of phenolics and acetic acid. Its acidity helps get rid of the foul odor and reduces the build up of sweat.

How to use?

Add a ½ cup of apple cider vinegar to a quart of lukewarm water and soak your feet for 20 minutes. Soak twice a week or more often if necessary.



White vinegar

White vinegar is a more affordable alternative to apple cider vinegar. White vinegar is a popular green, non-toxic household cleaner for a reason;  it’s a natural disinfectant and deodorizer.

Does it work?


How to use?

Mix about 1 part vinegar to 4 parts water. Soak your feet in the diluted foot bath.


#3. Mouth wash / Listerine soak

Who would have though that the same refreshing liquid you rinse your mouth with can also be used to fight foot odor? There’s even more, mouth wash also helps cure foot Athlete’s foot and other forms of fungus.

Does it work?

You bet it does. Here’s why.

Listerine (or other brands) is an antiseptic (kills bacteria) and an astringent as well so it reduces the amount you sweat after soaking. Listerine contains ethanol, which kills bacteria, fungi, and germs that can cause athlete’s foot.

Not to forget it’s a deodorizer too. Contrary to some other popular foot soaks mouth wash brings triple action to the table.

Bonus: mouthwashes also soften hard parts of skin on your feet. This is an added benefit because when feet sweat these parts become soggy and can harbor even more bacteria.

How to use?

Wet a wash cloth with mouthwash and treat your feet with it after a shower. Make sure to rub it in well. Thorough contact makes that the skins crevices and cracks in your foot soles are treated too.

Or, mix one part Listerine with two parts warm water in a tub and soak your feet for about 20 minutes.

Podiatrist Eric Reynolds, DPM on WebMD, recommends to apply a moisturizer such as Eucerin Plus Intensive Repair Foot Creme when your ready with soaking. The cream contains hydrating urea making this treatment even more effective.

“Both types of mouthwash—with and without alcohol— contain antimicrobial properties that reduce the number of bacteria in the mouth,”



#2. Epsom salt foot soaks

Epsom salt soaks fall in the category ‘Granny knows best’. My father always told me to use this cure as it worked wonders for him.

Epsom salt is a versatile beast. The popular mineral is used by Hollywood celebrities and the less-famous alike to cure tummy bloating, to detox, exfoliate skin, to slim waistlines, and de-puff skin.

Gwyneth Palthrow swears by an Epsom salt bath as an effective hangover cure. On top of that it’s praised for its use as a jet-lag remedy.

Does it work?

Epsom salt works great as a foot soak for stinky feet too since it is rich in magnesium sulphate. This substance not only neutralizes foot odor, it softens skin (be gone thy nasty hard skin patches!), reduces inflammation and even soothes aching feet.

Mouth wash and vodka work too but Epsom salt is more affordable .

How to use?

Dissolve ½ cup of Epsom salt in about 10 cups of warm water and soak your feet for 30 minutes. For best results do this two times per day.

Remove the loosened dead skin, calluses and corns with a foot file or pumice stone.



#1. Baking soda and Tea Tree oil soak

Baking soda is the apogee of household products in terms of versatility. What can’t you do with the household powerhouse? Also when it comes to curing foot odor, baking soda is a true workhorse. Tea tree oil, on the other hand, is no less of a Jack-of-all-trades.

Does it work?

The salt also called sodium bicarbonate, bread soda, cooking soda, and bicarbonate of soda is praised for its potent odor control abilities.

It kills bacteria and fungus *, and, if that’s not enough, softens your feet like Cleopatra’s honey and milk baths did for the Egyptian queen.

  • * It helps prevent and cure toenail fungus but existing, persisting toenail fungus may require 100% tea tree oil application.

The reason we proclaim the Epsom salt & Tea Tree oil foot soak as the number one best soak you can get is because it combines the best of both worlds.

Tea tree oil is known worldwide for its antimicrobial action. The clinically proven odor-fighter helps you get rid of bacteria, fungi, spores, and other unwanted critters.

Besides neutralizing foul odors, the amazing essential oil has antiseptic, antibiotic and antifungal activity as well as anti-inflammatory effects.

Renowned sources such as WebMD state that Melaleuca Oil (as it’s called as well) not only removes foul odors but relieves common foot problems such as itching, scaling, burning, and inflammation.   

The combination of ingredients is why this soak does it all.

It removes odors like, is an astringent thus reduces sweating, smells good, soothes skin, softens hard skin patches, takes care of nail problems, and relieves pain.

How to use?

Add 1 ounce of foot soak, approximately 1 ½ tablespoons to a foot basin with warm water. Mix with hands until dissolved.

Soak your feet for about 15 minutes. Insert more salts for a more stringent or aromatic foot bath.

Go get this popular Tea Tree oil and Epsom salt foot soak now. Your feet will thank you. As will your family members.

Tea Tree Oil Foot Soak With Epsom Salt


5 Other popular foot soaks


If you just need a mild soak that may help rid the slightest whiff, the following soaks may help.  But trust me, if you suffer from serious foot stink you will want to use one of the top 5 above, those are just may more potent.

Black tea foot soak

Recommended by Dr. Oz and other well-known sources. Also called the tea bag soak, this very popular remedy’s method of action has to do with the tannins present in tea.

Tannins are plant polyphenols with astringent properties. Astringents temporarily close up the pores in your feet thus reducing the amount you sweat. This home remedy may stain your feet so keep that in mind before you put on your white socks.

How to use?

Cook water, place a few black tea bags in it. Let it cool off and soak your feet for at least 20 minutes. Repeat this a few times a week and see how it turns out for you.

Does it work?

It didn’t help me much. It’s not potent enough. There are stronger astringents out there (as well as substances that also kill bacteria and deodorize). Read my review here.

soaking your feet in black tea is a common home remedy for foot odor


Sage Soak

Sage, with its camphor-like scent, is a tonic herb. It contains oils and tannins that have astringent properties.
Does it work?

Sage leaves have antifungal and antibacterial properties, and a pleasant smell to help mask foot odors. The tannic acid in sage helps retard bacterial growth and close pores to reduce sweating.

How to use?

Make a tea mixture with sage leaves and soak the feet in it for 15 minutes.

Lemon water soak

Lemon is an astringent too. In theory lemon will help with excessive sweating because of the same principle as black tea. It’s supposed to shrink pores and the citric acid present in lemon also kills bacteria and because of its fresh scent it’s often used as a natural deodorant.

How to use? / Does it work?

Haven’t used it myself. People are known to mix lemon juice with baking soda making a paste that’s applied to the feet.

For example before going to bed. To me this seems more effective than just bathing in lemon juice diluted in water. Soaking your feet in pure lemon juice may be more potent but will be costly in practice.


Bleach foot bath

Common household bleach isn’t just a popular liquid among doomsday preppers to disinfect water for drinking purposes.

How to use?

Some people soak their feet in household bleach diluted with water. About a cup of bleach would be appropriate in a bath of water ( about a quart cup in a tub).

Does it work?

Just think about it, 8 tiny drops are used by disaster preppers to purify a gallon of water so bathing your feet in a stronger solution will definitely kill bacteria living on your feet.


Despite its popularity it’s commonly advised not to use bleach (sodium hypochlorite) on the skin. It can cause irritation, blisters and burns.

This soak may be too harsh to do regularly and detergents present in the bleach may be detrimental to your health. Not for the faint-of-skin and organic-minded among us.

Sea water, an ancient smelly feet cure

Salty sea water works wonders as a toenail fungus cure but if it works as a cure for your stinky feet?

Does it work?

Sea water, because of its salt content may help eliminate bacteria but it’s not an astringent.

Since it has not the multiple action other remedies do have this may probably not be the most effective cure. It’s likely to be a nice addition to a cure involving more thorough ways to prevent foot odor.

How to use?

If you frequent the beach anyway, make sure to get those feet in the water but don’t count on curing your condition over night.




Wrapping it up

Although the chemistry of these foot baths is given, every individual is different and what works for some may not work for another.

Generally speaking, these 6 foot baths are your most powerful options in getting rid of foot odor.

Depending on if you have additional goals such as curing dry or dead skin, warts, toenail fungus you may want to opt for another treatment but even then, the allround remedies we listed are your best bet.

Don’t forget to use a good antiperspirant on your feet for optimal effectiveness.


Which foot soaks did you try?

Did they work?


Image credits: sea water: Christina Xu , foot powder: Pixabay, vodka:  Villamon, feet, Pixabay, lemon water: Sam Fox, apple cider vinegar: Wisegeek 





3 thoughts on “Top 6 Best Foot Soaks For Foot Odor

  1. I’m trying listerene with water solution. It’s pretty strong and breath taking to Breath. I hope that it works. I have 4 min to soak. Going to put my jap flaps( flip flops) in after.

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