Plus, expert-backed fixes that prevent and eliminate foot odor for good.

By Mirel Ketchiff
Updated: April 21, 2017

We're pretty hard on our feet. We expect them to carry our weight all day. We demand that they stabilize us while we pound over miles of trails. Yet we still want them to look nice and smell like we've been lounging around barefoot all day.

Unfortunately, our feet sometimes fail us on that last front. According to podiatrist Benjamin Kleinman, D.P.M., of the Baltimore Podiatry Group, the most mundane culprit of toe-curling foot stink is old shoes. "The first thing I ask a patient who comes in with foot odor is 'How old are your shoes?' Most people will say, 'Oh, they're in good shape,' but then I find out they're over a year old," he says. Shoes that are past their due date are a breeding ground for smelly bacteria. Toss 'em. (And replace them with these cute and comfy sandals your feet will love.)

To prevent sweat in the first place, you can use an antiperspirant. The same stuff you swipe on under your arms will work, but a spray like Dove Dry Spray ($6, target.com) is a little easier to apply than solids. Kleinman doesn't recommend using powders not specifically designed for your feet to absorb moisture and cut the scent, since certain bacteria or fungi can use them for food. Jackie Sutera, D.P.M., a podiatrist and a Vionic Innovation Lab Member, says a better bet is the SteriShoe Essential ($100, sterishoe.com), which uses UV light to kill 99.9% of stink-inducing germs.

But if funk-proofing your shoes doesn't help, it's possible a fungal or bacterial infection is to blame instead. These are often accompanied by symptoms like toenail discoloration or dry skin. And while there are over-the-counter antifungal and antibacterial products at every drugstore, Kleinman suggests going to a podiatrist before trying to self-diagnose, since symptoms can be vague and easy to misdiagnose. Also smart: Skip the natural remedies like black tea or vinegar soaks, he says. They could irritate your feet.

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Comments (3)

Anonymous
April 29, 2017
I've avoided stinky feet by not wearing closed shoes. If I have to wear shoes I wear sandals or flip-flops, & I go barefoot whenever possible.
Anonymous
April 6, 2017
I treat my excessive sweating with Iontoderma and it's great, you can use the coupon GETDRYNOW it's 20% discount I found it on the web it treats my sweaty hands and feet, a real life changing moment .. Highly recommended
Anonymous
April 6, 2017
Ooh, I like the article and I reeeeallly know this problem but I am not that convinced by the remedies, doctors sometimes give us, such as expensive cremes, sprays and stuff, they sometimes just even make it worse, well, at least you put a lot of chemical stuff on your feet, I don't think that can be so healthy for them neither..I am not so happy about this idea, so that's why I use natural, sweat absorbing inserts in my shoes and they do great work. They are made of cedar wood I think. The truth is, they saved me, I do barely have problems with sweaty feet anymore, even walking barefoot in my shoes during summer. And even my boyfriend uses them and he's quite convinced too..Maybe you could add them to your trial-list against any kind of foot-problems. Hope I could help a little ;)