Why Do You Have Smelly Feet and Natural Remedies that Work

You wouldn’t think that such a simple request could cause so much anxiety…But when I ask a patient to remove their shoes and socks so that I can examine their feet, I can feel the tension brewing immediately. And then the apologies start. I’m so sorry…my feet are gross. I apologize, my feet smell awful. I’ve been wearing these shoes all day, so please forgive me. I usually respond by saying something like, Trust me, I’ve seen worse…which is usually true. This article from my team at UpWellness helps to explain why some feet smell the way they do and give you some simple tips that will help you avoid the panic the next time a doctor asks you to remove your shoes.


Smelly feet can plague anyone. From even the most hygienic to the person who thinks showers are optional. Unfortunately, dealing with this condition can be incredibly tricky, and if you have stinky feet, you are more prone to hide the stench under socks and closed toed shoes which only exacerbates the problem. Here are a few common causes of bromodosis, of foot odor, and natural ways to keep your feet smelling great.

Why do your feet smell

Trapped sweat

The leading cause of bromodosis is when the feet get too hot and begin to sweat in closed toed or non-breathable shoes. Like sweat throughout the rest of your body, foot sweat has no odor. The stench begins to develop when the sweat is trapped and causes bacterial growth. This bacteria, known as brevibacterium, thrive in salty environments that stay moist, such as between your toes and is known for producing that somewhat off-putting cheese-like smell that you can’t seem to escape.

Damp socks

Your shoes aren’t the only culprit when it comes to trapping bacteria and holding on to sweat. Damp, dirty socks can seriously contribute to the funky odor coming from your feet.


Naturally, when you’re stressed, your body produces more sweat. If you have a frantic workplace or find the rest of your body sweating excessively, your feet probably are too. In fact, stress-sweat can be even worse because it is made up of different ingredients, and produced in a different gland than typical sweat, leading to a more pungent odor.

Fungal infection

Athletes foot is a well-known, uncomfortable fungal infection that not only causes itching but can also contribute to foot odor. Plus, many people make the mistake of applying anti-fungal cream between the toes, which can just increase moisture content, irritation, and smell. Stick to antifungal cream on the bottoms and sides of your feet.

Natural remedies for food odor

Shoes are key

Purchase breathable mesh shoes that allow the sweat to evaporate rather than collect, and wear open-toed shoes whenever your activity and the weather permits. Try alternating between a few different pairs of shoes throughout the week to give them time to air out.

Change your socks

If you’re going to be wearing the same pair of shoes for an extended period during the day, it is a good idea to bring a pair of backup socks. Around lunch or the mid-point in your day, switch out your soiled socks for a new pair. Be sure to invest in high quality, natural socks (wool and cotton work great) that are designed for moisture wicking. Also, always wear socks whenever you are wearing closed shoes as they help soak up the moisture and bacteria and keep it from permeating your shoes.

Keep proper foot hygiene

Keeping your feet clean can help prevent multiple-day bacterial buildup and prevent the stink from developing as quickly. Make a special effort to lean over and scrub your feet in the shower with antibacterial soap. Merely letting the soap and water run over them won’t cut it. Use a pumice stone or pedi egg to scrape off dead skin that could lead to foot conditions and odor. Thoroughly dry your feet and between your toes after showering and give them a little while to air out before immediately on putting socks.

Soak your feet

If you are rotating your shoes and socks and taking care of your feet and are still experiencing excessive foot stench, you may want to try a natural soak to help eradicate the bacteria. A soak made up of one part apple cider vinegar and two parts warm water can help kill lingering bacteria thanks to apple cider vinegar’s antifungal properties.

The tannic acids in strongly brewed black tea can help keep your feet from sweating as much and kill bacteria. Steep 5 tea bags in a quart of boiling water in a foot soaking tub (remember, any black tea will work), allow the tea to cool slightly and then soak both your feet for 20 minutes. Do this every day to alleviate stench. It is also a great time to get in some reading, listen to your favorite podcast, or meditate.

You can also try a salt wash with ½ cup kosher salt or ¼ cup Epsom salt in 4 cups hot water. Soak for 15 minutes to help kill fungus and prevent odor. Remember, rinse and dry your feet thoroughly any time they are wet, including foot soaks.

All change starts from the inside…even dealing with smelly feet. Eliminate refined carbohydrates and sugar from your diet, and eat protein, healthy fat, and whole foods for total body rejuvenation.

-The UpWellness Team