Q. My husband's feet stink sooo bad that it actually puts me in a bad mood! He showers daily and uses foot powder in his boots, but it does NOT help.

I'm tired of the house smelling like rotten feet. Any ideas? Please help me. I'm at my wits end!

A. Persistently smelly feet may be caused by infection. Eliminating the bacteria or fungus may solve the problem.

Readers have shared dozens of remedies for smelly feet. Some include soaking the feet in Epsom salts, baking soda, dilute vinegar or Listerine (amber colored) solutions. A waitress suggested Campho-Phenique and other people have used oral zinc or chlorophyll tablets.

We are sending you our Guides to Hair and Nail Care and Smelly Feet for more details on overcoming odor, nail fungus and athlete’s foot. Treating shoes is also important. Readers recommend rotating footgear and killing germs in the shoes with Lysol or rubbing alcohol.

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  1. tim m.

    Not practical for most people but going shoeless stopped my horrible case overnight and is still working without fail ten years latter. Extreme, but effective. It is great going barefoot most of the time. I keep shoes in the car for going into shops and I work at home – shoeless.

  2. MJay

    My ex-boyfriend also had problems with his footcare. Ok, it was not the reason why I left him. ;) But the smell was embarrassing. He tried several powders and creams… nothing worked. Then his doctor recommended special cedarsoles to him. After a couple of days he lost his stinky problem. So these cedarsoles also seem to be a good solution.

  3. lorie

    I know that your diet can be some of the problem too. Doing a body cleanse might help get rid of the toxins in his body. Also putting newspapers in the shoes at night, helps eliminate the smell in the shoes. Try it for a week to see if the smell starts to go away. Just make sure that you are changing the papers every night.

  4. Jan S.

    crystal deodorant comes in a spray and works very well for foot odor …and you only need to use it on the toes and in between the toes . It works well for me .

  5. Mel

    I had smelly and sweaty feet when I started wearing nylon panty hose for work (back in the 80’s and 90’s). I discovered that if I swiped an anti-perspirant on my toes on the bottom of the foot, next to the ball of the foot, the odor and sweating were gone. The whole foot doesn’t smell, it is just the bottom of the toes.

  6. IMW

    My grandmother told me about urinating on feet when you are in the shower. Another cure is to stand in fresh cow manure. My 14 yr old has had smelly feet for 3 years and was really embarrassed so I told him to do this and there is no more smell. These two remedies really do work. They are free and natural.

  7. GCM

    I have used Vick’s Vapor Rub on my feet for over five years. It has removed the smell from feet, shoes and home is pleasant!!

  8. Mary Kay

    Regarding smelly feet, have you tried crystal deoderant sticks? They work great on underarms and are supposed to work well for feet too.

  9. Anna

    My grade school aged son used to have terribly stinky feet and recurrent athlete’s foot fungus infections. AF treatments worked, but slowly and with only short-term results.
    We figured out that there were two factors contributing to this foot problems – his shoes (popular “skateboard” sneakers, and his socks (thick cotton “tennis style” sport socks).
    When we switched his socks to a “wicking” synthetic sock, the foot odor reduced quite a bit.
    But the best results came from a change in shoes – to a truly breathable canvas sneaker (Converse). These shoes don’t hold in as much moisture and they dry more thoroughly at night. We also bought more shoes for him so he could rotate footware, but he tends to not rotate very often, so I think it is the breathable and fast drying canvas that is the important factor with the shoes.
    I personally have never had a foot odor problem until I bought two pairs of Sketchers shoes, despite the fact that both pairs had lots of ventilation openings in the uppers (some other Sketcher owners have told me the same thing). The insoles are a synthetic fabric and just don’t breath, especially with bare feet (the problem was slightly less with thin cotton socks or an “odor prevention” insole added. I avoid Sketcher shoes because of this odor issue now, though I do like their styles and comfort. But the odor is simply not worth it. i have noticed that some of their sportier styles now come with a removable insole, so perhaps that problem is avoidable now if the insole is replaced with one less likely to cause odor.

  10. Ray

    If there is no infection, try an antiperspirant deodorant after each washing of the feet. Works wonders, for me anyway.

  11. DK

    Some years ago, a friend of mine had the same severe problem. I believe I read in an Adele Davis book that sometimes such a condition is caused by too little zinc. He started taking zinc supplements and the problem disappeared within a year.

  12. BW

    I had smelly feet for 20 years or so … then heard that Palmolive Gold, and a few other deodorant soaps, had an ingredient that killed the bacteria that caused the smelly feet. I’ve been washing my feet with Palmolive Gold for the last 15 years and have had no foot odor!

  13. Lisa

    I have had success using rubbing alcohol by putting it in a small travel size spray bottle. It makes for easy spritzing on the feet and in the shoes. It seems we wash our hands several times a day, our feet should be treated just as well (at least in the morning and evening).

  14. S.D.

    Strange as it may seem, the problem of odorous feet could be simply that the person does not actually wash them. I knew someone with that problem who was astonished to learn that he needed to thoroughly wash his feet with soap. He believed that it was sufficient to stand in the shower and let the water run over his feet as he showered. Once he started to wash his feet, the problem was solved.

  15. Judy

    My husband had the same problem and a lot of the smell was because his feet were not able to breath because he was wearing socks made with man-made fibers. We tried cotton and/or wool socks and 99% of the problem disappeared. We were amazed but it worked and has for many years.

  16. Michelle G.

    An older lady friend once shared with me that urinating on your feet while in the shower will cure foot odor problems. Although it’s not considered acceptable practice, it is free and it’s a natural product. Try it. It worked for me.

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