Your feet are the natural habitat of millions of bacteria, which thrive on your sweat and skin cells. By-products produced by these bacteria are what give feet that stinky smell. When you seal your feet in a pair of shoes and they pour out sweat, you give the bacteria more food to feast on.
Foot odor can also be caused by poorly controlled fungal infections, such as athlete’s foot. People with diabetes or heart disease, as well as elderly people in general, are often more apt to develop foot infections and foot odor due to less-than-adequate circulation.
Fortunately, these simple natural remedies can help kick foot odor to the curb:
Soak in a black tea foot bath
Tannic acids in strong black tea kill odor-causing bacteria and close pores, which helps your feet to sweat less. 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 15-30 minutes. Repeat daily until odor is gone.
Try an antibiotic ointment
Sweat, on its own, doesn’t smell. It’s when it interacts with bacteria that it begins to stink. So how do you kill bacteria? 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, your foot odor problems.
Use a fragrant foot rub
Lavender oil not only smells good, but it helps kill bacteria as well. Rub a few drops on your feet and massage it in before you go to bed. Cover your feet with socks for full benefit.
Zing it with zinc
Some experts suggest 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. Another great source of zinc—dark chocolate!
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. The acid in the vinegar will neutralize the odor and help kill bacteria.
Dust on some starch
Cornstarch absorbs sweat, which keeps your feet feeling fresh. 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, which is known to kill bacteria and fungus.
Make a minty scrub
This scrub will leave your feet smelling wonderful and feeling like new. Peppermint cools and deodorizes the skin, while sugar buffs away dead skin cells. To make, 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, juice of 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).
Create a refreshing deodorizing spray
Pour 4 ounces of boiling water over 2 tablespoons dried sage. Sage has anti-bacterial and anti-fungal 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 use. Spritz on feet after bathing or anytime you need a pick-me-up. Use within 10 days.