Yikes! Why Do My Feet Smell? Here’s How To Prevent It

Have you ever wondered why some people’s feet smell so bad? Or maybe it’s you who has the smelly feet, and are asking yourself “why do my feet smell?”. If you are trying to get to the bottom of why feet can smell so terribly, you’ve come to the right place: feet start to smell bad when they sweat.

Why do My Feet Smell

The fact that your feet sweat a lot (one cup of sweat a day, more than any other body part if you look at it per square inch) is no shocker when you consider the anatomy of a human foot.

Your two feet have 250,000 sweat glands! Feet that are sweating excessively can certainly be uncomfortable, but when they mix with bacteria, that’s when things start to get smelly.

Bacteria naturally live on the skin, which doesn't typically cause problems for us. But there are two particular types of bacteria living on the skin of a foot. The bacteria flourish in the socks warm, wet environment, and they live on a sweaty foot as well.

The many sweat glands on our feet produce something called leucine (an amino acid), which the bacteria proceed to eat. After these two types of bacteria eat the leucine they produce a discharge which causes the unpleasant smell of foot odor.

Why do Your Feet Smell? (And What to Do About It)

How to Prevent Foot Smell?

Now that we know why feet smell what can we do about it? There are a couple of preventative measures you can take to ward off smelly feet:

  • You can use deodorant to curb the smell of your feet if this is an issue for you. The way to apply is at night after you have washed your feet and toes. Apply it just as you would apply deodorant to your underarms. The next morning you can put your socks and shoes on as usual. The deodorant works to keep you fresh and dry throughout the day; just be sure to keep a separate stick for your underarms.
  • Mix one part vinegar, one part isopropyl alcohol. Pour the mixture into a medicine dropper and apply it over and between the toes and on the irritated skin on the foot. The beauty of this mixture is that it is harmless to skin – but deadly to fungus and bacteria.
  • ​Try mixing together one part vinegar and one part water, applying it to the skin on your feet. This will adequately stave off any odor that might occur during the day. If you would like, you can add a few drops of thyme and a few cups of baking soda.
  • Use hand sanitizer to kill the germs on your feet and to stop bacteria from growing in the first place

How to Prevent Your Feet From Smelling?

Footwear Tips for "Why do my Feet Smell?"

During the summer, consider wearing sandals or other open-toed shoes to allow your feet to “breathe.” When your feet are allowed to breathe, any sweat that might occur will evaporate quickly because of the circulation of air.

In the winter choose wear canvas or leather shoes so your feet can breathe through the materials. Avoid shoes comprised of rubber or plastic, which confine the foot and cause it to produce more sweat.

1. Socks

Change your socks every day. The job of the sock is to absorb sweat while you are wearing it. When you take it off, it dries out, retaining any sweat of the day. When you put on socks that have already been worn you are basically reheating dried sweat - a recipe for disaster if you are trying to prevent stinky feet.

If you have foot odor, you will always want to have a pair of socks on. If you are sweating excessively, put on two pairs of socks to keep moisture under control.

When you wash your socks, turn them inside out so that the fabric facing your foot will completely wash away. Opt for socks that are made out of absorbent material like wool, and stay away from non-absorbent material like nylon. These socks will just trap wetness around the foot, making it easier to catch bacteria.

Why do My Feet Smell

Credit: gizmodo.com

2. What to Put in Your Shoes?

You can dust a coat of baking soda onto the insides of your shoes. Repeat this daily, shaking out the baking soda from the day before prior to dusting your shoes with a new coat.

Zederna Cedar Soles Original - Natural cedar wood insoles; moisture-absorbing and comfortable; very effective with sweaty feet, and to prevent and eliminate foot and shoe odor (pack of 3 pairs) EU46

You might want to consider using cloves or cedar wood to freshen up your footwear. You can the wood shavings in your shoes for a day or two when they are not being worn. After a few days, the odor will go away.

Cedar wood insoles is a good thing to consider using as well as the wooden shavings. The natural cedar wood contains essential oils that curb fungus and bacteria. They also can prevent and cure nail fungus and athlete's foot.

3. Caring for Your Shoes

Rotate the shoes you wear so that they can dry out completely before they are worn again. It takes about twenty-four hours for a pair of shoes to completely dry out. Regularly wash your shoes. You can do this simply by tossing your shoes into the washing machine. Dry them off in the drying machine.

If you don’t, be sure that the shoes have dried completely before putting them on. Finally, take off your shoes when you can. This helps your feet and shoes to stay drier.

4. Caring for Your Feet

This may seem like obvious advice, but scrub down your feet every day. Quickly lathering the foot with soap in the shower isn’t enough to fight off food odor. Exfoliate the entire foot with a brush, a cloth or some other type of tool.

When you wash your foot with soap, make sure it is anti-bacterial and always scrub in between your toes. After you have washed your feet, dry them completely, including in between the toes.


Summing up, you have learned why do my feet smell, and how to prevent smelly feet:

  • Use deodorant on your feet
  • Use mixtures including vinegar to prevent the foot from smelling
  • Use hand sanitizer to keep bacteria away
Why do My Feet Smell

You also learned that you should give your shoes proper time to dry and that you should wear socks if the odor is a problem. Change them daily. There are a number of items you can use in your shoes to prevent smelly feet.

Finally, when you care for your feet, make sure you are cleaning them sufficiently, exfoliating and drying the foot completely. Smelly feet might be embarrassing, but it doesn’t have to be a reality if you take precautions and care for your feet. Did you like the article or find it helpful? If you did, let us know below.

You might also like:


1. http://www.nhs.uk/Livewell/foothealth/Pages/smellyfeet.aspx

2. http://www.wikihow.com/Get-Rid-of-Foot-Odor

3. http://health.howstuffworks.com/skin-care/information/anatomy/question514.htm

Lamont Ly

My name is Lamont Ly and I have spent the countless number of hours researching and studying the best solutions for foot care related problems. My goal is to save your time as well as money by offering all the assistance backed by relevant and reliable information so that the health of your feet is not compromised in any way.

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