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24th January, 20204 min read

How to get rid of smelly feet

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Most people experience the odd case of smelly feet, but if it happens often or your foot odour makes you feel self-conscious, then it’s time to do something about it.

There are ways to get rid of smelly feet without having to see a doctor, and you can treat foot odour quickly, easily and inexpensively.

1. Create a good foot hygiene routine

To prevent smelly feet, you need to treat the problem. This means remembering to wash your feet thoroughly with an antibacterial soap at least once a day. This may sound obvious, but in the rush to get ready in the morning it’s not always easy to make time to scrub your feet in the shower.

Make sure you dry your feet properly too, especially the area between your toes, which can be a breeding ground for bacteria.

It’s also important to keep your toenails short as this will help to prevent a build-up of dirt under the nails. You should remove any hard skin with a foot file, as this can become soggy when damp, encouraging bacterial growth.

2. Stop sweaty feet in their tracks

Your feet have more sweat glands than any other part of your body, so it’s normal for them to sweat. Work towards reducing the sweat as much as possible rather than trying to remove it altogether.

Try using a deodorant or antiperspirant on your feet if they’re particularly sweaty. A standard underarm deodorant will work just as well as a foot product, and can save you money. If this doesn’t help you could try using talcum powder, which absorbs sweat.

Putting medicated insoles in your shoes can help to prevent the growth of bacteria caused by sweat, and these insoles will also have a deodorising effect.

3. Socks are your best friend

Always wear a pair of socks. Feet often become smelly if sweat soaks into your shoes, and this is more likely to happen if you’re not wearing any socks. If your shoes don't get the chance to dry out before you wear them again, this may make your them smell.

Be sure to wear socks with trainers or any closed shoes and opt for leather or canvas shoes instead of plastic ones, as they let your feet breathe.

If your feet sweat a lot you could try wearing moisture-absorbing socks and using antibacterial shoe spray to prevent the sweat from getting into the material.

Sports socks, which are designed to keep your feet dry when you're exercising, are a great option. Go for wool or cotton rather than nylon as natural materials are more breathable. Be sure to change your socks at least once a day depending on the weather conditions and climate.

4. Buy your footwear wisely

There’s a common saying that you can never have too many pairs of shoes, and when it comes to preventing smelly feet, this is true. Invest in more than one pair for each season so you can switch between them every day.

Give your shoes at least 24 hours to dry out before wearing them again as this can help to prevent the shoes from smelling.

Remember to choose wisely when buying footwear - patent stilettos may look great in the shop window, but are they really practical? Leather and suede allow your feet to breath and will deal with damp better than synthetic fabrics.


Healey N. Why you can still get smelly feet in winter [Internet]. 2020 [cited 23 January 2020]. Available here.

How to stop smelly feet [Internet]. 2020 [cited 23 January 2020]. Available here.

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