Tips to Prevent Foot Odor

After hours of working in the office, studying in school, playing a sport, or exercising, our feet would most likely smell pretty bad once we take off our socks and shoes at home. Although there are some people that have little to no foot odor, there are still a lot of us that have smelly feet, especially after spending plenty of time wearing shoes.

Foot odor is sometimes inevitable for many, but there are methods that can be used or followed in order to minimize food odor to the point that it cannot be smelled by the people near or around you. Here are the things you need to know about foot odor and how to prevent it.

The Causes of Foot Odor

There are a few causes of foot odor, and two or more of these causes would usually combine to worsen the smell of our feet. Take a look at the details below for the major causes of foot odor.

Bacteria Inhabiting Your Feet

bacteria on your feet

One of the biggest causes of foot odor is bacteria, which likes to live in areas that are full of moisture. When our feet are inside a pair of shoes, the sweat that comes out of our feet gets trapped in the space between our feet and the shoes. So, sweat creates a lot of moisture in the interior of the shoes, and this moisture would be the perfect place for bacteria to thrive. [1]

The bacteria would then continue to live on the surface of your feet’s skin, and they would eat oils and dead skin cells for them to survive. As bacteria grow in numbers, they would begin releasing chemicals or organic acids, and these are actually the ones that produce the bad smell on our feet. So, the more bacteria are on your feet’s skin, the smellier your feet will be.

Excessive Sweating

Because bacteria live and thrive in areas that have plenty of moisture, it is expected that people that sweat excessively will have smellier feet. Excessive sweating is usually a symptom of hyperhidrosis, which is a common skin condition wherein the affected person sweats too much. Hyperhidrosis may affect all the skin in a person’s body, or it may only affect a specific area, like the feet, the groin, the armpits, and the head.


Another reason for the sweating of our feet, which then causes bacteria buildup, is overheating. Whenever we wear shoes for work, school, sports, or exercise, we would often feel like our feet are warmer compared to being barefoot. The reason why our feet are warm is that a lot of shoes today don’t really have ample ventilation or breathability, so the temperature inside the shoe would remain warm. 

When our feet finally overheat, they would then produce sweat that will increase the moisture inside the shoes and allow bacteria to thrive. Overheating is arguably one of the common causes of smelly feet, so it is important for a lot of us to wear shoes that offer breathability to avoid the overheating problem.

Tips for Preventing and Reducing Foot Odor

The fortunate thing about foot odor is that it can easily be remedied through the use of various products or items that are readily available online or in physical stores. To know more, here are some of the best tips we can provide for preventing and reducing foot odor.

Wear Moisture-Wicking Socks

white socks

An effective way to reduce the sweat on your feet whenever you are wearing shoes is to wear socks that have moisture-wicking capabilities. These special socks have the ability to wick moisture away, which basically means that they can remove excessive sweat on the skin of your feet. [1] However, wearing moisture-wicking socks is not enough to stop your feet from smelling bad sometimes, so you will have to also follow other tips and methods for the best results in reducing or preventing foot odor.

Clean Your Feet Properly

Another effective method of reducing foot odor is to wash or clean your feet properly once a day. Cleaning your feet every day or every time you take a bath will help in reducing oils and dead skin cells on the surface of your feet, and by reducing those, you will prevent bacteria from thriving on the feet’s skin since they don’t have almost anything to feed on.

To wash oils and dead skin cells on your feet while also getting rid of stubborn dirt and grime, you will need a pumice stone, which is an abrasive item that is effective in scrubbing harmful elements away from your feet and skin. In addition, you may also want to use a foot scrub to moisturize your feet and make them smell fresher.

Apply Foot Powder on Your Feet

applying foot powder

To reduce the amount of sweat produced by your feet, you can try applying foot powder that is effective in keeping sweat buildup in check. There are different foot powders that you can buy in stores, and you can buy the ones that already have fragrance in them to allow your feet to smell nicer after removing your shoes.

Alternate the Shoes You are Wearing Each Day

If you have two or more pairs of shoes, it is better if you can alternate what you will wear each day. For example, if you have already worn a specific pair today, you can wear another pair tomorrow. The reason why you should do this is to prevent the odor from staying on your shoes, as the pair you have worn today will have a chance to dry out tomorrow, which is important in order to remove the odor caused by your feet.

Try Iontophoresis

doctor checking a patient’s foot

If the bad smell of your feet is still present even after following the tips we have provided above, then it may be time for you to try iontophoresis. This procedure is done by running a small current of electricity in your skin to block the sweat glands, which will cause them to stop producing sweat. Through iontophoresis, you will be able to reduce the amount of sweat that your feet produce, and this procedure is particularly helpful for those that have hyperhidrosis.

Foot odor can be treated as long as you are willing to spend time cleaning and applying foot powder on your feet. In just a few days or weeks of proper treatment, you will be able to reduce the bad smell coming from your feet effectively. However, if the problem still persists, we highly suggest that you talk to your healthcare provider for tips and suggestions. 


[1] Sample, J. (2022, June 1). Why Do My Feet Smell So Bad? 10 Ways to Get Rid of Stinky Feet. GoodRx Health. Retrieved January 19, 2023, from