Smelly feet – 5 tips for removing the odour

Last updated: 23/3/2023

Do you avoid taking off your shoes when around others? Do your sandals smell terrible in the summer heat? Get rid of the smell with these 5 tips for smelly feet.

Read by Anne Thestrup Meimbresse

Anne, Varde Pharmacy
Anne has a MSc in Pharmacy from the University of Southern Denmark and has worked as a pharmacist at the Varde pharmacy for several years. Here she advises both costumers and doctors about the correct use of medical products.

Having problems with smelly feet?

Then Sofie from Australian Bodycare can tell you how to get rid of smelly feet.

Set against sweaty and smelly feet

3 effective products for feet and shoes that smell


Having problems with smelly feet?

It’s just not cool to have smelly feet. Colleagues who wrinkle their nose as they pass by, a summer date that loses spark as soon as the cheesy smell hits their nostrils. Foot sweats and terrible odours can affect us all, young and old, men and women.

The cause is the same; moisture, sweat and bacteria. Some of us just sweat more on our feet and then the smell unfortunately comes along too. Fortunately, help is available. Here you can find 5 safe methods that eliminate foot odours and give you your confidence back.

5 good tips for smelly feet

Smelly feet occur because we sweat on our feet. In fact, we sweat a lot on our feet as part of our body’s temperature regulation. On a regular day, you can sweat the equivalent of a full shot glass. If the sweat cannot evaporate, it settles in your socks and shoes.

Moist feet and shoes provide perfect conditions for bacteria. The bacteria thrive and turn the sweat into butyric acid. It is this acid that gives the characteristic rancid smell of cheese. Not very pleasant. Therefore, it is important to remove the bacteria that are responsible for the bad smell.

That’s what causes smelly feet

Moisture and sweat provide damp toes that the bacteria love. The cause of the moisture is typically due to:

  1. You sweat a lot in your shoes
  2. The sweat cannot evaporate
  3. You wear shoes for long periods at a time

In particular, there are two situations in which smelly feet are encouraged to develop: when we are at work and in the summer when we sweat a lot. The easiest thing would be to just kick off your shoes and socks and let the little piggies get some fresh air. But it’s just not acceptable in front of the boss!

How to get rid of smelly feet

1. Change shoes frequently and let your feet air

The big culprit is your shoes. Especially shoes that you sweat a lot in. Your feet do not benefit from being locked in for 8 hours every day at work. It’s even worse if you do physically strenuous work where you sweat a lot. Do yourself a favour and give your feet a break.

It may sound anxiety-provoking as your feet now smell, but get used to taking them off during the workday. If you are afraid of smelling bad, start your day at the office without shoes on. Try to take off your shoes for at least 5 minutes every hour. Let them air and cool down. It works.

Some running shoes and sandals in the summer are bacterial bombs. Running shoes because you sweat when you run, and sandals because you walk with your skin directly on them. Worst of all is if you wear them all day. Change shoes frequently and do not use running and training shoes as everyday shoes. If you are using sandals, it is a good idea to be extra thorough with washing your feet several times a day.

2. Tea Tree Oil against smelly feet

Remove the bacteria that causes odour      

Tea Tree Oil is an oil from the Australian Tea Tree. The tree only grows in Australia and has been used by the locals as the all-natural remedy for centuries. Tea Tree Oil is known for its antiseptic properties and is very popular for removing bacteria.

Tea Tree oil products are used directly on the feet to remove the bacteria that cause by smelly feet. Wash your feet as normal but replace the soap with Tea Tree Oil body wash. It is effective in washing away both sweat and bacteria. Then dry your feet thoroughly and moisturise them with a cream containing Tea Tree Oil. The cream adds moisture and replenishes the natural skin oils on your feet.

Foot bath with Tea Tree Oil

Finally, you can add a few drops of concentrated Tea Tree Oil into your foot bath. It has the same antiseptic effect. Just be careful not to have your feet in too long. No more than 5 minutes, because you risk breaking down the natural oils that protect your skin against bacteria.

Pure Tea Tree Oil for skin problems

100% natural and concentrated Tea Tree Oil from Australia

£7.99 £44.99

Use Tea Tree Foot cream

Australian Bodycare Foot Cream with Tea Tree Oil ensures that your feet retain moisture and your skin’s natural suppleness. It ensures you will not get dry, cracked feet where fungal infections can thrive.

Foot Cream with 10% urea for dry feet

Nurturing foot cream for dry skin on feet with 100% natural Tea Tree Oil


3. Wear special antibacterial socks and insoles

If you want to have an extra safety layer so you can take off your shoes without the smell, then antibacterial socks are a good option. Choose socks that are either made of bamboo or pure cotton. Studies show that bamboo sucks up to 8 times more moisture from the feet than regular socks.

You can also find socks that are made of plain materials but are sewn in such a way that the sweat easily wicks away and your feet get more airflow. These types of socks are hardier than the bamboo socks and are therefore great if you need to be active at work or during leisure time.

Another option is to buy an activated carbon leather sole. Leather is far better at repelling bacteria and bad odours and the activated carbon neutralises the smell. On the whole, shoes made of leather or canvas are better than shoes made of synthetic materials.

Good home remedy for smelly feet

4. Baking powder

Baking powder is known for its ability to absorb moisture and remove nasty smells. Adding a shake of baking powder in the fridge is a known trick to remove bad food smells. Sweat and smelly feet are no exception. Almost everyone has baking powder somewhere in the kitchen – if not, buy it – because it can save you from many unpleasant situations. It can also remove stains. Not least, it is super effective against foot sweat and smelly feet.

Start by washing your feet and drying them thoroughly. They should be completely dry. Then sprinkle and powder them with a bit of baking powder and put on your socks.

You can also wash your shoes in water mixed with baking powder. Let them dry and then sprinkle baking powder on the sole and dip it in with a dry cloth. It should remove the worst odours.

Baking powder is also preventative. Your feet will sweat less and the baking powder will absorb the sweat odour before it develops.

5. Natron (Bicarbonate of Soda)

Natron is another kitchen product that most of us associate with good old-fashioned cake baking. When Natron is heated and mixed with liquid, it releases CO2. It causes a cake to rise, but it also causes things to dissolve.

Natron is very effective as an odour remover and is completely harmless. If you suffer from bad breath, you can even just gargle a teaspoon of Natron dissolved in half a glass of water. Then the smell will be completely gone, not just masked.

You can do the same with your smelly socks and shoes. Just sprinkle some Natron in your shoes when you are not using them and then remove it before wearing. The smell is gone. Natron is so effective that it can remove even the worst smells. Give it a try before throwing your smelly shoes in the trash. It costs you a few quid at most.

Set against sweaty and smelly feet

3 effective products for feet and shoes that smell