Having smelly feet — medically known as bromodosis — is a widespread problem that can affect both men and women.
In most cases, bromodosis doesn’t signify a serious medical condition; however, it can make you self-conscious and affect your relationships.
The good news is that you can usually treat smelly feet at home with simple and inexpensive methods.
In this article, we’ll talk about vinegar foot soak, which is one of the most effective home remedies for stinky feet.
To better understand how a vinegar foot soak can help reduce bad foot odour, let’s explain what causes smelly feet first.
Causes of Smelly Feet
Foot odour (or smelly feet) is often caused by a build-up of sweat and bacteria [1, 2, 3].
In fact, sweat itself is almost odourless! However, it creates an ideal environment for certain bacteria to multiply.
This is because bacteria that are naturally present on the skin love moist, wet and dark environments, such as the insides of sweaty shoes [4, 5, 6]
Bacteria feed off the sweat and produce an acid byproduct that smells pungent [7, 8].
Besides bacteria, fungus infections such as athlete’s foot can bring about smelly feet [1, 2, 9].
Stress, certain medication, alcohol, poor hygiene, obesity and hormonal changes may also contribute to smelly feet.
Vinegar is potentially beneficial against stinky feet because it has antimicrobial properties.
The acetic acid found in vinegar can neutralise odour-causing bacteria on the feet, thus helping to reduce foot odour.
Research has confirmed that vinegar can kill a variety of pathogens; including bacteria and fungi.
Vinegar foot soak helped many people with bromodosis and may help you as well. At least, it poses virtually no risk.
How to Make a Vinegar Foot Soak
You can use apple cider vinegar or white vinegar to prepare a vinegar foot soak. It is up to you.
Whether you use white or cider vinegar wouldn’t make a significant difference in the effectiveness of the soak against odour-causing bacteria; because the amount of acetic acid in standard white and cider vinegar is more and less the same [10, 11, 12].
To prepare a vinegar foot soak:
- Fill a bucket or basin with 1-part of vinegar and 2-parts of warm water. Continue adding water and vinegar at the same ratio until you fill the basin up to your ankles.
How to Use a Vinegar Foot Soak
Since it has antimicrobial properties, adding vinegar to a foot bath can help kill odour-causing bacteria on the feet.
Here is how you can use a vinegar-added foot soak effectively to combat foot odour…
- Wash your feet with soft soap before soaking them.
- Then soak your feet in the vinegar foot bath for 10 to 20 minutes.
- After soaking, wash your feet with soft soap and dry them completely.
Note: It is usually safe to use a vinegar foot soak once a day until the unpleasant odour disappears. However, to make the process safer; use a vinegar foot soak every two or three days.
Vinegar Foot Soak Risks
When used in moderation, a vinegar foot bath is unlikely to cause a problem.
That said, if you have open wounds, cuts or sores on your feet, you shouldn’t soak your feet in a vinegar foot bath.
Moreover, if you have diabetes do not attempt to treat your food problems with vinegar. Allow your healthcare team to treat any foot problem you may have developed.
Other Tips to Combat Foot Odour
- Start every day with a clean pair of socks made of cotton or wool.
- Change sweaty socks regardless of how long you have been wearing them. Wet socks attract odour-causing bacteria.
- Avoid wearing shoes without socks, otherwise, sweat can be absorbed by the insoles or the uppers of shoes.
- Wear shoes made from breathable materials such as canvas and leather
- Avoid wearing the same shoes two days in a row to allow each pair to dry out thoroughly before being worn again.
- If possible (appropriate) go barefoot indoors so that your feet stay dry.
- To prevent foot odour, wash your feet every day, if possible with an antibacterial soap.
- Dry your feet completely after washing.
- Keep your toenails short.
- After removing your shoes, consider spraying them with a disinfectant.
- Alternative to vinegar, you can use Epsom salts and black tea bags to prepare a foot soak.
The effectiveness of vinegar foot soak on stinky feet has not been tested with major scientific studies.
Research, however, confirms that vinegar does possess antimicrobial properties. And that is why vinegar is considered a potential agent against odour-causing bacteria [13, 14, 15].
In most cases, soaking the feet in a vinegar soak bath does a good job of helping to reduce or eliminate the foot odour. Plus, it is inexpensive and easy to prepare.
At the very least, soaking your feet in warm water after a long day will help reduce your stress, lower blood pressure and may even improve your sleep, as studies suggest [16, 17, 18, 19].
However, if vinegar foot bath or other home remedies don’t improve your bromodosis, you should consider seeing a podiatrist or a dermatologist.
Your doctor will determine the underlying cause of smelly feet (such as hyperhidrosis) and apply the most suitable treatment accordingly.
Tarkan is an experienced health writer ( currently more than 600 articles ) and also the founder of this website namely www.neededforhealth.com. His expertise in health stems from in-depth medical research and knowledge which he obtained over the course of many years.
Tarkan enjoys sharing factual knowledge on health, psychology and nutrition. He always aims to deliver evidence-based recommendations, provide links to related scientific studies.