How to get rid of foot odor?

So your feet don’t smell so nice, some might even say they are downright stinky. You may even a case of extremely sweaty feet. There are many homemade solutions to this problem and I have tried and experimented with most of them. The truth is they only work for the mildest of odors. They are not a long term solution. The only to eliminate the smell permanently is to get rid of the nasty micro-organisms on your feet and reduce the amount of sweat on your them.

The first step is to use a shoe deodorizer to eliminate as much as possible the bacteria that live in your shoes. We are not trying to mask the odor here but simply trying to eliminate most of current funk from your shoes. For the first four weeks, you are going to apply it twice a week and afterwards whenever you feel you need a refresh.

In this step, you can either use a powder or a spray whichever one suits you better.

Natural Foot Spray

Bactericide Powder

The second step is use an antibacterial soap on your feet when you taking your shower. You can use any soap that you have but I’ve found Black Soap to be incredibly effective in this step.

The next step is the most critical step. You will take all the socks that you own and wash them with regular laundry detergent and laundry bleach. You can also invest in some odor-resistant socks:

At the most it should take 4 weeks to get rid of the foot odor and we are talking about neutralizing the sort of smell that could knock out somebody. It should be about 2.5 weeks for most people to smell a significant difference.

You can take it one step further by buying new shoes and using these to create a rotation of different shoes so that you never wear the same shoes in  a row. This is not as critical as using clean, new socks.

The other optional thing you can do is to use a shoe dryer after each use. This works especially well if your feet sweat a lot but it is not strictly needed. As the name suggests, it dries out your shoes to remove the excess sweat and water to minimize the breeding ground for bateria. They cost about $50 and can be found online or at specialty shoe stores. I have used the one from PEET and MaxxDry for my winter boots which in Canada is 8 months out of the year. I use it less during the summer and mostly with my running shoes.

Additional Tips

Get a pedicure

It is an inexpensive solution to jump start the process of curing smelly feet and getting rid of odours. This post explains what to expect at a pedicure appointment.

Cedar insoles

Cedar helps to keep your shoes dry and also has anti-microbial properties. If you remember from What causes smelly shoes, sweaty feet mixed with bacteria equals stinky shoes. Cedar works against both of these causes which makes it an excellent tool for odor control. I found cedar insoles to be very comfortable to wear daily even though it’s made out of wood.

Odor-control insoles

I have only used the Dr Scholl’s Odor-x. I found it to be more comfortable than the cedar insoles. It wicks away moisture and uses activated carbon to neutralize odors. They are pretty easy to use. You simply need to cut the insoles to fit your shoes and they are on the inexpensive side. You will generally need to change the insoles once every 3-4 months.

Silver shoe lining

This lining is again a great product to wear with flats. They are anti-microbial and work in a similar fashion to the cedar insoles and the odor-control soles. It works exceptionally well when combined with foot powder.


6 Homemade Solutions for smelly feet

If you want to try some homemade solutions, you can use the following popular one. Keep in mind that they are not the most effective and work work on very mild odors.

Baking Soda

The most popular and least expensive option is to deodorize with good old baking soda. Sprinkle a small amount of baking soda on the insole before you go to bed. In the morning, tap the shoes together a few times to remove the powder.  A small amount of powder remaining is totally fine. Try this method for a few nights and you should have some sweet smelling shoes.

Leather shoes: Wrap the baking soda in a piece of cloth first.


You can remove the laces and put your shoes in a Ziploc. Freeze them overnight. The theory is that the freezing process should kill off any bacteria. I don’t personally recommend this situation as I found the smell returns pretty quickly. Use more as a temporary measure.

Multi-purpose disinfecting wipes

This method works really well for ballet flats or other open-toed shoes made of synthetic material.IMG_2484 Simply wipe the inside of the shoe with a household disinfecting wipe. If the insole can be removed, take them out and wipe thoroughly.



Dryer sheet

Stuff a dryer sheet in your shoe overnight. Keep in mind that your shoes will give off a floral scent. Something to keep in mind for men.

Machine Wash

This method is only to be used with your cheap sneakers to give them a second life or if the instructions on your sneakers says machine-washable. Take off the laces and chuck them in with IMG_2475some laundry detergent. I’d recommend getting new laces from any shoe store or online as they are dirt-cheap and will make your shoe look that much better. The preferable method to dry them is to leave them outside in the sun. If it’s winter, you can still use the dryer, with a fabric sheet stuffed in each shoe.


Throw the shoes out

This is obviously the most extreme measure but sometimes it has to be said. Some shoes are beyond hope and all the above steps will just not work. At this point chuck them out, and get yourself a new pair of shoe. Make sure to follow the steps in I just got new shoes. If you keep wearing those shoes, you could potentially have all your other shoes smell the same. Better to cut your losses.


If you want to know why you feet stink, visit this health page or you read about it on wikipedia.