Smelly Feet

Parent Q&A

  • How do you get rid of foot odor?

    (9 replies)

    Seriously, how do you get rid of food odor?  I'm looking for real remedies beyond baking powder and freezing your shoes.  What does one do with a teen that can just clear an apartment complex?

    I make my son's stinky soccer cleats live out on our covered front porch, where they are safe from rain but are exposed to air and, more importantly, sunlight. That helps a lot. You might also try a tea tree oil foot soak, like the one from Purely Northwest, if you can get your teen to cooperate. I use it myself for toenail fungus, but I could imagine the tea tree oil might help against odor-causing bacteria as well.

    Just a few ideas. Breathable natural fiber socks, no polyester. Lately my older son who has very sweaty feet, for whom cotton socks just don't work, has been liking wool socks. They breathe much better.  http://www.smartwool.com. Also more than one pair of shoes, so he can alternate them, and let them dry. I would also guess that his feet really need to air out, darkness and dampness lead to lots of bacterial and fungal growth. So barefoot time each day., especially in sunlight, when the weather permits. 

    I don't have foot odor, but I have massive underarm odor. I recently switched to Lavilin Aluminum-free Underarm Deodorant Cream - available at Sprouts, Whole Foods, health food stores, Amazon and it works for me - and I only apply it once a week! They make a foot cream called Lavilin Foot Deodorant Cream and I would bet it works too. Good luck.

    Seriously, try daily multi vitamins. We have a family member whose foot odor went away after starting a vitamin regimen.

    He should wash his feet with hibiclens (over the counter). Leave it on for one minute and then rinse thoroughly. That will kill the bacteria.

    You can try scrubbing the shoes with hibiclens too but maybe better to get new ones!

    You haven't listed what you currently do besides powder. That said, you want to keep the feet clean and dry, the shoes too.

    If possible use breathable shoes or sandals, and make sure to rotate shoes. That will keep bacterial growth down. You can wash or line dry your shoes too. If your teen has a beloved pair they always wear, get two or three. If they will go barefoot whenever possible or use sandals that could help.

    Always use fresh socks. Experiment with different fibers to see what works best.

    Wash your feet, daily. Make sure to scrub off the old skin not just step into the shower. They can use something to dry out their feet too like hand sanatizer, deodorant (antiperspirant too), a salt bath, or powder.

    If the odor is that bad I'd be tempted to throw out their current shoes and start from scratch.

    When I had this embarrassing problem, what fixed it was changing to cotton socks. It was the synthetics that seemed to create the odor. Go figure! A little bit of spandex or whatever doesn't seem to hurt. Good luck. 

    Baking powder won't work. You want baking SODA; works best if he sprinkles it on his feet & between toes (or add it to a mint or lemon-scented lotion/gel/cream to massage into his feet).  Also, wool socks help; so does that thyme antibacterial spray sold at Whole Foods, but that could get expensive.

    Multiple pairs of shoes, so one or more pair can be drying out.  It's the cumulative effect that calls out the hazmat team IMO. 

  • Kiddo's STINKY Feet

    (6 replies)

    My child is 7 and when he was around 2 we noticed his shoes get terribly stinky.  I didn't know that could happen to kids!  I had to throw away a pair of leather sandals that looked fine but were basically unusable.  He gets a bath or feet washed every day.  We keep his toenails trimmed.  We have multiple pairs of shoes so they can completely dry between wearings.  His socks seem to get really clean in the wash.  Still, those feet reek!  We eat pretty healthy and the rest of him doesn't smell bad.  Also, although strong, it is just a normal foot smell.  (My husband jokes this was inherited from him.)  Is adult foot spray safe for longtime use by a growing kid?  Are there brands of shoes that can be washed often without falling apart?  Does a certain kind of sock help?  Any info would be appreciated.

    RE: Kiddo's STINKY Feet ()

    In addition to all the other remedies mentioned above, we put our son's shoes in the freezer overnight - it kills the bacteria which make the smell. It helped reduce the smell. 

    RE: Kiddo's STINKY Feet ()

    I've had this problem on and off for years and had great success w/sprinkling baking soda in the offending shoes.  It magically eliminates the gross odors.  That and keeping their feet and shoes dry.  Good luck!

    RE: Kiddo's STINKY Feet ()

    Talk to a doctor?

    RE: Kiddo's STINKY Feet ()

    You have my sympathy! There are things inherited from our parents that we can't do anything about...ha ha. I am not gonna mince words about several topics in the rest of this message- so anyone who gets grossed out easily might want to stop reading (-: My husband has very oily skin, he always has, and although did not have acne as a teen, has always has a few pimples on his back at all times. His shirts have always had terrible ring-around-the-collar. And because he sleeps without a shirt at night, the sheets and pillowcases have a visible grease print where he sleeps. Sigh. My oldest son has inherited this trait, and as he is almost 13 the oil seems to be ramping up in response to puberty. There is no way to change it, so, I have to tell myself that there are many great things about it too! No flaky dry skin! Very few wrinkles (that is a big one)! No need to use lotion! So, I know that is a different issue than your son faces, but I just wanted to share that there are many inherited difficulties that we all deal with as parents. It seems to me that you are doing all of the right things. One last thing that you might try is going to a podiatrist (a regular MD won't know, it is not their specialty) and just seeing if there is anything that they might have to offer. I know that there are only certain strains of bacteria that live on our skin that produce the smelly smell, so the Podiatrist might have more info about how to figure that out. The only other thing I can add is to never, ever let him wear Crocs. I have worked with enough boys to know that boys who wear Crocs with no socks have the worst foot odor ever! And it is accompanied by a brown slime that inhabits both their feet and inside of the shoes. Sorry to be gross, but it is true! My younger son has worn crocs only while going to/from the pool and this has never happened. But his friends who wear Crocs 24/7, that is another story. The other thing is that with my boys who generally don't have foot odor probs I have found that there are certain blends of poly or nylon socks that can create instant foul foot odor. Now that my 13 year old is doing track, his feet sweat so much in workouts, and with puberty, I am noticing a bit more odor but if he wears cotton or cotton-blend socks it is not bad at all. But some really expensive, made-in-the-USA dry-Max socks that we got at a pricey running shop created some of the most awful foot odor that I have EVER smelled- like we could smell the socks from the other room. And my son had showered that day, it was a normal workout, nothing had changed except that he wore those socks! I had him wear his cotton blend ones the next day, and no smell. I washed the expensive dry-max ones thinking it must have been something on them, but- same thing happened again the next time he wore them, I mean, the socks were so putrid (and stiff, how does that happen with a 2 hour wearing?!!) that I just threw them away! Yeah, raising boys is interesting, huh? best to you!

    RE: Kiddo's STINKY Feet ()

    Sounds like Athlete's Foot!  Kids can get it, and it is what makes feet and shoes and socks stink.  It's a fungus and it can spread through the family via the shower, bathtub, floors, anyplace that is damp. Locker rooms and swimming pools are prime breeding grounds. Just get an over-the-counter antifungal spray or powder like Tinactin.  I like the powder - sprinkle on clean feet at night, and put on a clean pair of socks.  Same thing in the morning when he gets dressed.  Sounds like your husband also has athlete's foot - you might be clearing up your son's athlete's foot and then he gets reinfected by the dad!

    RE: Kiddo's STINKY Feet ()

    My five year old daughter has had the same problem since she started wearing shoes. She now wears flip flops when the weather allows, and otherwise mainly Keen sandals (Newports I think). You can throw them in the washing machine (cold). We add baking salts to our laundry which I think helps. Dry them overnight with some newspaper scrunched up inside. They don't always dry perfectly overnight so we run two pairs at once, a size apart so it's not a huge expense. Because of the sandals' construction, she seems fine with a pair that is a little big. Hope that helps!

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Pre-teen's extremely smelly feet

May 2012

We are having issues with a pre-teen's extremely smelly feet. We've tried a few strategies, but I'm wondering if there are suggestions to ease this overwhelming odor. I would love some advice, like socks vs no socks or suggestions for shoes that allow feet to breathe, does diet or water intake make a difference? Thanks Pb


So what have you tried so far? In our family, when this begins to inflict itself on a family member we forbid/discourage sneakers without socks. We make sure theye have at least 2pairs of sneakers and encourage that the same pair is not worn 2 days in a row, and always with fresh socks. In that way the little cheesy-smelling organisms (dont mean your kid) have more time to die off between wearings. Also, socks can be washed and dried in the hot dryer, but sneakers dont take so well to it. When the person gets home from a long day they are encoraged to take off their shoes and let their feet breath(dry out), perhaps in the back yard. The socks should be put in the laundry, but in a way that allows them to air dry if they arent thrown directly in the washing machine.

If they wear tevas or keens that are water proof, they can be washed, scrubbed with soap if needed, rinsed and left to dry in the sun (try not to wear 2 days in a row). After showers they can take extra care to dry between toes. Can also use a bit of clotramizole or tolnaftate (?) cream between the toes if needed for athletes foot. You can get it in the foot section of the drug store. Stinky Feet No More!


If his feet are extremely smelly then he probably has athlete's foot, which is a fungus. My 3 sons all got this during the summer at sports camp, and anytime they were playing sports. When it's really bad, the feet start itching and peeling.

You want to minimize wet and warm. Wearing socks will keep the feet drier than enclosed sandals with no socks (like Keens). But if they are playing sports and running around and sweating, then socks alone will not do the trick. Once the socks are damp (and warm) you have the perfect growing medium for fungi (athlete's foot.)

Do this: 1. Get athlete's foot powder and use it religiously after bathing, and again in the morning when he puts clean socks on. We like Tinactin which is a powder. 2. He should take his shoes and socks off as soon as he gets home to air out his feet. 3. Wash socks on very hot water with bleach. 4. Wash shoes every week or so. 5. Rotate shoes so he isn't wearing the same pair two days in a row. The pair he isn't wearing should be opened up and aired out, preferable outside in the sun.
It only takes a few days of this to notice a difference. Good luck!


Kid's smelly feet and sandals

Sept 2008

What to do with a kid who insists on no socks with sandals? With this warm weather, we're having a lot more challenge with smelly feet, I mean not just smelly but unbelievably stinky. Any tricks for how to minimize the problem? We're having problems especially with sandals like Keens. smell sensitive mom


Try cleaning the tot's feet and sandals thoroughly with soap and water. Then when dry, apply this stuff regularly to feet and sandals: http://www.amazon.com/Gold-Bond-Medicated-10-Ounce-Containers/dp/B000FKGH8Y/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8=hpc=1220474328=8-2 You can probably find this product at local stores too. Works like a charm for me. Judiah
Two words: Washing Machine
A very helpful sales associate at Cotton and Company recommended buying all-leather sandals for my stinky-footed son. It has made a HUGE difference! In fact, we had an odor- free summer for the first time since my son started walking. - Pepe Le Pew No More
Keens can be washed in the washer. Also when ours were really smelly I kept a spray bottle near the shoes and sprayed them periodically to remove the smell. Fill the spray bottle with mostly water, some drops of lavender oil, a few drops of tea tree oil and a bit of witch hazel. Supposedly keeping them in the sun also helps. not so smelly anymore
I always had good luck putting Birkenstocks out in full sun for a few hours. I'm sure that's not great for the Birks, but I think it killed the stink pretty well... for a while, at least. kevin
I hate smelly feet too. Get him some Crocs. No smell, and comfy. -No Stinky Little Boy Feet
I missed the original post, but the person who said there are no smelly feet with Crocs has never met my son. His stinky feet can clear a room, and they're not much better when he wears Crocs. We've started throwing his shoes in the washer on a regular basis, spraying them with Lysol to kill the bacteria, and having him wash his feet with anti-bacterial soap every night. The situation is MUCH improved.

My smelly feet

Oct 2003

I have a smelly feet problem and am looking for a home remedy. I looked on the web and found a variety of salves and powders to buy, one site recommended putting Boric Acid Powder on my feet, another recommended washing my feet daily with anti-bacterial soap, another recommended spraying my feet with an anti- perspirant. Does anyone have a treatment that works that they can recommend? Thanks! Reeking While Walking


A type of body work I use called Jin Shin Jyutsu has a special ''flow'' that works for smelly feet (when all else fails). It works! You can do this for either foot.

Hold your left little toe with the left hand (use thumb and any of the 1st 3 fingers) and hold the sole of the same foot with your right fingers. To do the other foot: Hold your right little toe with your right hand (same as above) and hold the sole of the same foot with your left fingers. This is a bit awkward for you to do, so someone else can do this for you when facing you.

I suggest 20 minutes of this daily, alternating each foot, for a few weeks. This can be done while watching kids, TV, socializing, etc. if you are limber and wear long pants. To have a practitioner work on you, Pam Reynolds (548-0126) or Leah Statman (525-5080). This body work is totally amazing. It is being used in some Bay Area hospitals to ameliorate the side effects of conventional cancer treatments. A student who was 7 months pregnant with pre-term contractions and sciatica was relieved of both symptoms within 30 minutes and later delivered a healthy full-term child (no further sciatica either). Nori Hudson


I feel for you. I tried Essential Oil Products ''Foot Spray'' lavender & tea tree. It's herbal and works. I sprayed it on my bare feet before putting on socks, even sprayed my socks before putting on shoes. I sprayed the inside of the shoes as well. I did it a few times a day. I also tried keeping my feet out of sweaty shoes as much as possible. Good luck. no more smelly feet
I'm sort of a sweaty person myself, and sometimes this means stinky feet. I guess I have a couple of control (not elimination) strategies: 1. Drink less coffee/caffiene 2. wash my feet in the morning with a normal soap and dry them well 3. wear breathable shoes (leather, canvas, slip-on) and cotton or Smartwool socks (the latter are expensive but ultra comfy and they stay drier than anything I've tried). Also, I frequently air out my shoes, placing them outside, with the insoles removed and also airing in direct sun for a few hours. The sun is an amazing antiseptic! Knows whereof you speak
My feet sweat a lot and I used to have smelly feet. But about 10 years ago someone told me to use my anti-perspirant on my feet. They sweat less and there is now no smell. I also switch my shoes and never wear them 2 days in a row. I will buy 2 pairs of my favorite and let the one I wore air out the next day while I wear the other pair.

8-year-old has smelly feet

My 8 yr. old's shoes and feet smell horrible after a day in regular shoes (with socks), but her feet don't itch. I tried baby powder in the shoes but that doesn't help much. We had to throw out one pair of tennis shoes, they smelled so bad. Is this normal? Thanks for any advice.
I have noticed that my son's feet sweat a lot during the day. I attribute it to the non-breathable materials many kid's shoes are made of these days. I would suggest that you get your child two pairs of shoes and alternate them, so one pair has time to dry out for a day. This is recommended for regular adult shoes, anyway. Fran
I know from experience that most kinds of sneakers hold up OK in the washing machine - take out the inserts if they are removable and let them air dry after you wash them. Also, little kids do get athelete's foot - mine did - and the stink could also be from that, so you might want to get some athelete's foot powder to put in her shoes. Good luck! Ginger