Foot odor can come from several causes, including a fungal infection such as athlete's foot, or hyperhydrosis, a condition characterized by excessive perspiration in the hands and feet. Foot odor can also cause your shoes to stink, even after the cause of foot odor has been eliminated. Instead of throwing away your sweaty shoes, try a few home remedies to eliminate the bad odor.
Clean Your Feet
Keeping your feet dry and clean helps prevent foot and shoe odor. To get rid of shoe odor, you have to control foot odor first. Stinky feet develop when sweat, produced by the 250,000 sweat glands in each foot, mixes with bacteria. Keeping your feet painstakingly clean and dry discourages bacteria build-up, absorbs perspiration and gets rid of any odor. Wash your feet at least once a day in warm water and soap. Dry your feet thoroughly, taking care to dry between your toes.
Soak Your Feet
Fill a tub with a quart of warm water, and mix in a half-cup of vinegar or a tablespoon of baking soda. Soak your feet for 15 minutes once a week. Foot soaks with vinegar or baking soda make the surface of your feet more acidic, creating a hostile environment for bacteria.
Keep Your Shoes Dry
Shoe odor is usually caused by bacteria that thrive in the warm, moist, dark environment in the shoe. Decrease the amount of bacteria in your shoes by keeping them dry. Avoid wearing the same pair of shoes two days in a row, because it can take up to 24 hours for the inside of the shoe to dry out completely. If your shoes have removable insoles, take them out when you're not wearing the shoes. If your shoes get wet, dry them in a sunny spot for a few days, or run them through the dryer. When you put your shoes on in the morning, sprinkle cornstarch or talcum power over your dried feet and toes to absorb moisture, and sprinkle a little inside your shoes after each wearing.
Change Your Socks
Changing your socks a few times throughout the day will keep the insides of your shoes less damp and help reduce odor. Wearing socks made of a natural fiber such as cotton or hemp lets your feet breathe. Natural fibers also absorb sweat more effectively than synthetics.
Hide The Smell
Placing a shoe deodorizer in your shoes, can help your shoes smell more pleasant. You can use a strong-smelling herb such as sage, lavender or rosemary to help hide shoe odor. Sprinkle fresh or dried leaves from the plants into your shoes when you're not wearing them. Scented oils and essential oils also make good shoe deodorizers, and are less likely to irritate your skin like synthetic fragrances can. Put a few drops of oil such as clove or patchouli onto a cotton ball. Cover the cotton ball loosely in plastic food wrap or waxed paper to keep the oil from staining your shoes. Put the deodorizers into your shoes when you take them off, and leave them in there until you wear them again.