Q. My wife has complained that I have very stinky feet. It’s putting her off sex and upsetting the children. What can I do?
A. Smelly feet often start out as sweaty feet. Then bacteria that live on skin get a foothold and create unpleasant odors.
Strategies to dry out feet or discourage bacterial growth can be helpful. Tips we have received include using an antiperspirant on the feet, taking zinc or chlorophyll and using a foot powder containing fluffy tannic acid, talc and bentonite.
Many readers of this column recommend foot soaks of Epsom salts, baking soda, or a strong tea solution. We are sending you our free Guide to Solutions for Smelly Feet.

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  1. RLozano

    Eating too much salt from processed foods causes my feet to sweat so much sometimes it ruins my shoes. When I lower my salt intake, all is well with my feet.

  2. Doug G.

    Solution for smelly feet: soak feet in betadine/water mixture, at least 1/4 cup betadine to enough water in small plastic tub to cover bottom of feet an toes. Soak for 15- 20 min. Get a pedicure at least once a month man or woman, or use pumice stone in shower or bath to remove dead skin.

  3. dn leslie

    years ago my stepson age 15 had such stinky feet even he couldn’t stand them. I had seen him so exasperated he poured bleach on them to get rid of the odor –to no avail.
    His aunt came to visit her sis & they were talking when the boy came home his mom said don’t take those shoes off in here. To which his aunt said whats the matter? Mom explained we couldn’t stand the odor. The aunt said don’t you remember the old rhyme–zinc for stink–it will do it.
    We bought a small bottle of zinc–a whole tablet made him sick to his stomach so we cut them in half—half a tablet a day– in a month there was no more stink.
    hope this helps someone d.n. leslie

  4. DWD

    I wonder if these folk with smelly feet rotate their shoes? Some guys wear one pair all the time so the never really dry out. I have 3 pairs of sneakers, 4 pairs of casual shoes (two black, two brown), one pair of dressier “Sunday” shoes. I place them on shelves and rotate them pretty consistently so I never wear the same pair of shoes more than one day in a row. Even traveling I try to carry 2 pair if luggage is an issue or preferably 3 if by car.
    Also make sure your closet is not too air tight by leaving the door ajar when possible and there is room around the shoes for them to air out.

  5. Anonymous

    My brother used to take off his shoes and we would all about die because his feet smelled so bad. We found out that it was athletes foot and he treated his feet with athletes foot creams and sprays and the smell was gone. My brother had no lesions or reddness—just the smell. So treat smelly feet for athletes foot.

  6. abigail

    Putting bars of ivory soap in one’s shoes can help to remove odors from shoes. I use the ones that have outlasted their time (usually 3 months) in the bed for easing foot and leg cramps.

  7. RM

    I’m not sure if this will work for a really bad case, but when I have soaked my feet in warm water and cornmeal my feet come out very soft and smell almost pleasant–well, like feet soaked in cornmeal. Another good thing about it is that it doesn’t give me wrinkly prune feet like I would normally get if I were just soaking them in warm water.

  8. ebm

    The crystal deodorant (sticks) are better known are also available in sprays for underarm and foot. It should work since it’s great for underarm odor. Also, some sneakers make my feet really hot and sweaty, others don’t, weed them out and make sure to change socks at least once a day. When I was a massage therapist some men’s foot
    odor was unbearable, cold and clammy, too.

  9. DWD

    Wasn’t there a recent post about using a hair dryer on feet after showering? I think this was related to athlete’s foot, but a thorough drying with a blast of hot air before applying any of the suggestions, would only seem to aid the effectiveness of what is applied.

  10. Bianca R.

    Another factor may be the socks and shoes one wears. My husband complained of stinky feet when we met, but after switching to (albeit somewhat more expensive) leather shoes and cotton or wool socks, the odor problem evaporated. Just another variable to factor in.

  11. TexasLouLee

    I filled a spray bottle with rubbing alcohol and spray my feet before putting on my shoes. I also spray the inside of my shoes/sandals with the alcohol (it has not caused any damage to the leather or vinyl shoes) and no longer do I suffer with this issue. A friend rescued me with this advise a couple of yrs ago.

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