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How to get rid of foot odor

Which items to get rid of foot odor are best?

Foot odor is something no one wants, but it's an all-too-common concern for many people. One of the worst things about suffering from foot odor is the problems it can cause you socially. People sometimes forgo going to dinner parties, meeting up with friends or trying a new sport out of the terror that when they take their shoes off, their feet will stink.

What's more, if foot odor goes untreated, it can cause nasty bacterial and fungal infections that not only cause skin damage but may impact your overall immune system and ability to fight flu, colds and infections.

How to banish foot odor fast

No one wants or asks for smelly feet, but it happens from time to time. Most people don't realize that yeast infections and stress can cause the feet to sweat more, which can cause bacteria to grow and multiply in and around the feet, leaving them smelly.

Damp socks, feet and even exercise can lead to a build-up in bacteria that smells so bad that the odor can affect your confidence. However, there are some tried and tested remedies to eradicate foot odor quickly.

Remove bacteria breeding grounds

Most of the bacteria that cause feet to smell bad live under the nails and the hard skin area of the feet. To keep bacteria away, clip your toenails with nail clippers once per week, ensuring you leave no rough edges bacteria can infiltrate.

On at least an every-other-day basis, clean your soles with pumice when washing your feet in the shower. According to the Mayo Clinic, it’s important you dry your feet thoroughly after washing. This includes between the toes. If you don't thoroughly dry your feet, you can leave yourself open to developing a nasty fungal infection.

Give your feet a tea bath

Research suggests the tannins contained within tea leaves can kill bacteria. To start the process, make yourself a cup of tea. Add a tea bag and some warm water to a footbath and soak your feet in it for 15 to 30 minutes. Doing this makes sure your feet stay free of bacteria and healthy. The number one safety tip is to not add boiling water to the foot bath, resulting in burns or abrasions to the feet.

Bathe your feet in apple cider vinegar

Apple cider vinegar is a great organic product that will help you banish foot odor. The acidic qualities of both the apple and vinegar will kill the bacteria under the feet and nails.

Add 2 cups of vinegar to warm water. Use gauze to absorb the fluid and pat it onto your feet. After that, let the vinegar do its job and air-dry. The patting of your feet with the solution should continue for around 20 minutes per foot, making sure you cover all areas.

Use lavender oil

Lavender oil is perfect for concealing foul foot odor in the short term. It does this by overpowering the scents created by the bacteria. What’s more, lavender oil has a bactericidal effect. This means that as well as killing foot odor, it kills the bacteria that creates it.

Massage your feet with four drops of the oil for around five minutes each foot. It’s essential to get up and under the nails and between the toes while getting the lavender into the hard skin at the base of the feet. Alternatively, you can make yourself a footbath by dropping four to eight drops of lavender into warm water and resting your feet for one to two hours. For more information on essential oils, check out the full buying guide from BestReviews.

Wash your socks

Skin cells and bacteria, in general, gather in socks. This means that even when you wash your socks, you may not be getting rid of all the skin cells and bacteria making your feet stink. A solution to this problem is to wash your socks both inside and out.

This may mean you need to do more washing, but it may be the single best way to reduce flare-ups of nasty foot odor. To be even more environmentally friendly, however, opt to hand-wash.

Walk around barefoot

Walking barefoot may seem counterintuitive to most. However, remember that foot odor comes from bacteria multiplying in a moist environment. That humid environment is in your socks. By walking around barefoot at home, you can keep your feet at room temperature and allow them to breathe and air out, which means there will be no enclosed space in which bacteria can multiply. 

Carry an extra dry pair of socks with you. If there’s a sudden downpour of rain and you accidentally step in a puddle, you won’t create the moist environment bacteria needs to multiply.

Disinfect your footwear

To disinfect footwear, thoroughly wash the outside of the shoe. Next, soak the insoles and shoelaces in an antiseptic solution. Wipe the insole of the shoe with an antibacterial wipe. Repeat this process once or twice a month. 

What you need to buy for foot odor

Arm & Hammer Foot Powder

Great for an invisible way to target existing odor and prevent further odor from occurring, this powder keeps feet dry and smelling fresh. It can be applied directly to the feet or right into your shoes.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon and Bed Bath & Beyond

Dr. Scholl's Probiotic Foot Spray

This foot spray is ideal for those who suffer from foot odor due to recurring fungal infections in the skin and nails. It’s easy to use and fast acting to eliminate and prevent odor.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon


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Lauren Farrell writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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