The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports Medicine

What’s That Smell? Fixing Foot Odor

Posted by on Tuesday, February 21st, 2012


Has this ever happened to you?

You: I’m just going to kick off my shoes and relax.

Family Member 1: I just remembered, I have to check on something in the oven…at Grandma’s house. In Uruguay.

Friend: Oops, did I mention that I’m going on a trip to the South Pole? Now?

Co-worker: Oh wow, I have to go wash my pens. See you later!

Yes, maybe your feet smell a little. Or a lot. Or smell like a garbage truck. First, don’t worry, it happens to everyone at some time or another. Second, really don’t worry, because there are some very simple things you can do to cut down on foot smell.


  • Don’t sweat. If your feet sweat, they’ll make your shoes and socks smell. Then when you put those shoes on again (we’re hoping you’ll wash the socks) their smelliness will go back to your feet. It’s the circle of life, or the circle of foot odor. Follow these steps to cut down on your foot sweat.
  • A little sprinkle. Dust the inside of your shoes with some baking soda or some cornstarch. For extra fanciness, mix equal parts baking soda and dried sage, let it sit overnight, then use dust that inside your shoes. The baking soda will cut down on your foot odor and the sage will make your feet smell the stuffing at Thanksgiving dinner.
  • Get salty. Soak your feet in a tub of warm water with some salt mixed in. Regular salt, Epsom salt, exotic French sea salt, any kind will do. Just don’t be surprised if your dog suddenly wants to lick your feet. Dogs love salt.
  • You Look Radishing. Or you smell radishing. Okay, actually radishing isn’t a real word, but radishes are a real solution for your foot odor problem. Juice some radishes, add a touch of glycerine, and put it in a spray bottle to spritz on your feet. This is a good remedy if you have a juicer. If you don’t, I don’t envy your evening spent at home trying to squeeze the juice out of two dozen radishes.
  • Approach Gingerly. Ahh, ginger, the cure all. Good for your stomach, now good for your feet. Mash some ginger root (yes, the knobby root, not ground ginger powder) and wrap it in a thin, slightly porous cloth, like gauze or cheesecloth. Soak that in hot water for a  bit, remove the pouch of ginger, and rub the liquid onto your feet after you’ve washed them.
  • Zinc this will help? A lack of zinc in your diet can actually contribute to foot odor. Men should have about 11 grams of zinc a day and woman about eight. If you think you’re missing those marks, try adding zinc-rich foods such as wheat germ, pumpkin seeds, peanuts, and yes, dark chocolate or cocoa powder to your diet. You can also try zinc supplements, but a) don’t go crazy and start eating tons of zinc-y foods every day and b) if you’re unsure about how much zinc you need, check with a doctor before you start messing around with supplements.
  • You are what you eat. Garlic, onions, peppers, and scallions all taste great, but everyone knows if you’ve been eating a lot of them because your body sweats them out. Yes, if you’ve been eating lots of spicy food, you’ll smell spicy, too. Well, more like an older, funkier version of that spicy. If you’re having a lot of problems with sweating and body odor overall, rethink your diet until you’ve got control of the problem. Maybe you’ll discover some new, more subtle flavors. Just make sure that you eat a healthy, balanced diet, of course!

Try out these handy tips and you’ll never empty a room again when you bare your feet. If your foot odor persists, though, you might want to see a doctor, as body odor can sometimes be an indicator of a more serious problem. Of course for help with any kind of foot problem, contact us at The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports Medicine. Dr. Josef J. GeldwertDr. Katherine Lai, and Dr. Ryan Minara have helped thousands of people get back on their feet.





If you have any foot problems or pain, contact The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports MedicineDr. Josef J. GeldwertDr. Katherine Lai, Dr. Ryan Minara and Dr. Mariola Rivera have helped thousands of people get back on their feet. Unfortunately, we cannot give diagnoses or treatment advice online. Please make an appointment to see us if you live in the NY metropolitan area or seek out a podiatrist in your area.