How to Get Rid of Sweaty, Smelly Feet

by Lisa Sefcik paralegal ; Updated August 14, 2017

Sweaty, smelly feet can be a source of embarrassment for anyone who wears shoes. When introduced to the warm, dark confines of your favorite footwear, the natural flora on your skin combine with sweat, resulting in unpleasant foot odor. Get rid of sweaty, smelly feet by using good daily hygiene and avoiding sweat-saturated footwear.

Foot Odor Basics

Of the 2 to 4 million sweat glands located on your body, more than 250,000 are located in your feet. Quite simply, the cause of sweaty feet—and foot odor—is perspiration, says the American Podiatric Medical Association (APMA), making good daily hygiene a requisite in preventing smelly feet. Some people experience excessive perspiration on the soles of their feet and in between their toes. This condition, hyperhidrosis, is common especially in teens and young adults, but it can also be caused by medical conditions such as thyroid disorder and anemia. Unless you have a condition that requires a doctor's treatment, simple self-care can reduce sweaty feet and foot odor.

Think Clean

To banish sweaty, smelly feet, start with clean, dry skin. Wash your feet daily using soap and water, taking care to dry them well after each shower or bath. Another suggestion for problem foot odor from the state of Massachusetts Division of Professional Licensure is to soak your feet in an antibacterial cleanser. Alternately, you can use a solution of water and vinegar, says the APMA.

Extra Protection

Shake a bit of absorbent foot powder on your feet before putting on socks and shoes if you want added protection against problem foot sweat and odor. However, you can also spray antiperspirant on the soles of your feet, as well as between your toes. The Division of Professional Licensure suggests choosing an antiperspirant that contains between 15 and 25 percent aluminum chloride.

Footwear Care

To prevent sweat-saturated shoes, never wear the same pair twice in a row. It takes more than a day for your shoes to completely dry out after you wear them. Also, be aware that footwear made of synthetic material such as plastic and rubber can contribute to sweaty feet and foot odor. Choose shoes made of natural, breathable materials such as leather.

Other Tips

Just as wearing dry, breathable footwear is important to prevent foot odor, it's also essential to put on clean, dry socks or pantyhose after you shower or bathe. Choose socks made of moisture-absorbent materials such as cotton and wool and pantyhose with cotton-lined soles. Pass over socks made of synthetic materials, such as nylon and orlon. If your socks or hose tend to become saturated with sweat, change them a few times a day.

Photo Credits

  • Artem Kononenko/Demand Media

About the Author

Lisa Sefcik has been writing professionally since 1987. Her subject matter includes pet care, travel, consumer reviews, classical music and entertainment. She's worked as a policy analyst, news reporter and freelance writer/columnist for Cox Publications and numerous national print publications. Sefcik holds a paralegal certification as well as degrees in journalism and piano performance from the University of Texas at Austin.