Reducing foot odor

Jul 28, 2020 | Joey Keillor | @joeykeillor





Everyone’s feet sweat. Wearing shoes creates a warm, dark, moisture- trapping environment that’s ideal for bacterial and fungal growth and as a result, foot odor.

To keep foot odor in check:

  • Wash daily with soap — This reduces the bacteria and fungi on your feet. Dry your feet thoroughly, especially between the toes, before you put on socks and shoes. A hair dryer on the cool setting can help.
  • Powder your feet — With clean, dry feet, apply a light dusting of cornstarch or an antifungal powder to help keep the feet dry.
  • Choose the right socks — Sports socks help keep moisture away from the skin and tend not to retain moisture. Wool or cotton socks also absorb moisture, although moisture can build up and cause odor. Change socks if they become damp.
  • Keep shoes fresh — Buy shoes made of breathable material, such as sports shoes or shoes made of natural materials. Try not to wear the same shoes two days in a row unless they have thoroughly dried out. Remove shoe inserts when possible to help them dry faster. Shoes that have developed an odor may need to be thrown out if washing with soap doesn’t help.
  • Air them out — If those around you don’t mind, kick off your shoes now and again to let your feet air out.
  • Seek help if needed — If you have a foot wound or skin problem — or if your feet sweat excessively — talk to your doctor  about therapies that may help.


For a monthly dose of reliable health information that's anything but pedestrian, check out the Mayo Clinic Health Letter!


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