In order to combat smelly feet and shoes we have to fight the source.
Both the growth of bacteria and the sweating need to be reduced.
There are several ways to do this. Here’s an overview of the best ways to deal with smelly feet.
Maintaining good foot and shoe hygiene is the best way to prevent smelly feet.
The best way for fresh, non-stinky feet is fivefold:
- Proper shoe hygiene
- Proper foot hygiene: Fight the bacteria on your feet
- Reduce sweating
- Clear your shoes of these bacteria
- Use odor and sweat absorbing sole inserts and related products
1. Shoe hygiene
Shoes are bad. Not just 10 inch heeled pumps or or non-breathing work boots, all shoes are hurting our feet.
Feet smell and hands don’t because sweat gets trapped in our shoes. Feet also have more sweat glands than hands but the main reason is that by wearing shoes we create an ideal living environment for bacteria that live on our skin.
These bacteria eat our dead skin cells and our sweat. While doing so they produce a foul odor, the typical smelly feet scent.
Some people sweat so profusely that they slip in their shoes. But even if you don’t, even if you don’t really notice you’re sweating in your shoes this causes a problem.
Mankind has been wearing shoes for roughly a thousand years. They change how you walk, cause caluses and skin conditions. As well as the dreaded foot odor. The bane of ‘homo calceus’, shoe wearing man.
Simply put, we’re made for walking barefoot and wearing footwear obviously has its merits but it causes trouble too.
In order to counteract these negative side effects of wearing shoes we need to take some precautions regarding our footwear.
Air out your feet as much as possible
This means take off your shoes a lot. I take them off when at work, when at home, during shopping when at a restaurant I put my feet on top of my shoes, and so on. Every time you let your feet ‘breathe’ you are diminishing the effects bacteria are causing while wearing shoes.
Go barefoot when you can
Not talking about earthing kumbayah and its purported electrical grounding benefits here, just saying that walking without shoes is good for your feet, your posture and helps reduce foot odor.
Let your shoes dry in between wearing
This commonly requires rotating a pair of shoes each other day. Or you can use shoe dryers to hasten the process. The dryer your footwear, the less chance for bacteria to survive.
Wear leather or cotton shoes
Avoid footwear made of synthetic materials at all costs. These don’t allow for any breathability and are a surefire way of making your feet sweat.
Clear your shoes of the bacteria
Common ways to remove odor causing bacteria are with sunlight, heat, cold, ozone, UV, pure alcohol, tea tree oil, chemical. Some of these remedies are more effective than others. Some take more time than others.
The best way to rid your shoes of the dreaded bacteria is by using On Your Toes Foot Bactericide Powder.
- Just check out the reviews to see how positive others are
- Follow instructions on the package
2. Foot hygiene
The battle against those cheesy bacteria Brevibacteria are naturally part of our skin flora. Excess sweat and dead skin cells will increase their numbers and result in the typical cheese-like smell.
No wonder, since the same bacteria also give cheeses such as Munster their typical aroma.
These bacteria live on our skin but after a while they will reside in your shoes too. That’s why the best remedy is to treat both your feet and shoes.
Get rid of the smell causing bacteria living on your feet
Wash your feet well
Wash your feet with a strong antibacterial soap. Yes, it’s true that in fact all soaps are antibacterial but in order to have an effect normal soaps have to be in contact with skin for about two minutes.
Let’s face it, in our busy lives, most of us don’t have or take the time for this. That’s why a soap that fights the bacteria right away is recommended.
Another reason, often the bacteria not only live on our skin but inside the deeper skin layers as well.
The best soap for this purpose: Hibiscrub.
- Wash your feet daily with this soap
- Make sure to dry your feet really well afterwards (the bacteria thrive on moist environments)
More info on Hibiscrub for smelly feet.
Take regular foot baths
A quick rinse under the shower is far less efficient than taking a 10 minute long foot bath. Your feet are emersed in water instead of merely splashed upon. Add a good foot soak and you are increasing the efficiency of your bacteria-killing effort. From black tea to chlorine, from epsom salt to tea tree oil, soaks can help fight smelly feet.
Dry your feet well
For the same reason you need to keep your feet and shoes dry, you also need to dry your feet thoroughly after washing. This means drying well in between toes too.
3. Reduce how much your feet are sweating
Our feet are the body part with the most sweat glands. About 250,000 on both your feet. There’s an effective way to reduce the amount of sweating though (besides airing out and wearing the right shoes).
Doctors prescribe it to people with hyperhidrosis (excessive sweating) but it is available over the counter too.
Various anti-perspirants exist but the best one to combat sweaty feet is SweatBlock Antiperspirant.
It’s main active ingredient is aluminum chloride. It works by blocking the sweat-producing cells in your feet. This effect is temporary and therefore it should be applied about twice a week.
Many other brands are available but most are rollers which makes them not suitable for application on feet. What’s more, SweatBlock is the best reviewed antiperspirant on Amazon.
Use odor and sweat absorbing insoles
In general inserts that fight foot odor come in two types.
- Aromatic deodorants that neutralize the odor by their own smell
- and absorbers that absorb the foul scent itself.
Here’s more about insoles for smelly feet.
4 Clear your shoes of bacteria
Many popular remedies roam the internet. Freezing your shoes overnight, sprinkling with rubbing alcohol or baking soda, and other methods vary in efficacy. They generally work for shoes that haven’t yet reached a mega-stink status.
- Don’t wear the same pair every day
- Wear leather, canvas, or suede shoes
- Keep them clear of bacteria
- Store them light and dry
- Wear cotton (minimal 75%) or wool socks
- Change them as often as possible (at least every day)
- Don’t go barefoot in your shoes
- Walk on socks at home or the office
For a more comprehensive overview check out this list of Top Foot Odor Control Products.