Oh! Our poor, poor feet. The least cared body part. It lifts the whole body weight the whole day in different situations and different environment. Sometime it has the right footwear, but most times the footwear itself becomes the problem. One such problem encountered by the feet is odor, medically termed bromodosis. Foot odor and shoe odor is a common problem.
But, after a full day’s work or leisure, when someone gets home and takes off the shoes, the whole apartment gets filled with a stench. The causes of stinky feet are unavoidable – sweating and bacteria. But sweat and bacteria can cause many feet issues including foot odor, cracked heels and soreness that are both uncomfortable and embarrassing.
There are several remedies including essential oils for foot odor and sprays available that can mitigate the odor or treat it.
The Canadian Journal of Micromiology in 2006 published a study that evaluated foot odor due to microbial metabolism (1).
Oftentimes people ignore or simply do not notice smelly feet or fungus on the feet. However, if these foot conditions are left unattended then it can result in more serious skin conditions and might point to other health issues. And moreover it points fingers at one’s personal hygiene.
Simple practices including pedicures and foot scrubs can eliminate bacteria and fungus from the feet and cause the feet to regain its suppleness and softness. It also cause the feet to lose its odor.
Use essential oils as natural remedies to combat stinky feet (feet smell), stinky odor from feet sweat or perspiration, and skin irritation. Just add a few drops of the essential oil (natural oils) in a spray bottle with lemon juice or apple cider vinegar and use as a shoe deodorizer to moisturize your feet, avoid smelly feet and shoes.
We will look at all the possible options that can take care of foot odor issues, but the crème de la crème is essential oils for foot odor, so let’s begin with that.
Best Essential Oils for Foot Odor
1. Lavender Essential Oil For Foot Odor
Lavender essential oil is the most popular essential oil mainly because of its aroma. Besides its aroma, lavender oil also has antimicrobial properties that can eliminate bacteria and fungus from the feet. The aroma of lavender is also known to decrease stress and anxiety.
The essential oil of lavender also has antifungal and anti-inflammatory characteristics that soothe the feet in case of any soreness. It also opens the pores and allows the skin to breathe.
How To Use
Take 4 drops of lavender essential oil and mix it with one and a half tablespoons of jojoba oil and apply it on the feet before bedtime. Massaging this blend every night will gradually prevent foot odor.
2. Juniper Essential Oil Lowers Foot Odor
The essential oil extracted from the Juniperus communis L. plant has antimicrobial and antifungal properties. It also has a fresh woody and spicy aroma that negates any other stench. It is not the first essential oil that one thinks of when trying to subdue any odor, but juniper oil is effective. It is also an anti-inflammatory that can soothe feet irritation.
How To Use
Before going to bed, massage the feet with a concoction consisting of juniper and benzoin essential oils in the ratio 1:1 and coconut oil.
3. Lower Foot Odor With Benzoin Essential Oil
Benzoin oil is yet another essential oil that is not the first choice for masking an odor, but the oil extracted from the Stryax benzoin tree has a vanilla like aroma with resinous undertones. It also has antimicrobial and antiseptic properties that prevents and treats soreness or cuts in the feet.
Benzoin essential oil is used to treat and heal wounds. The peer-reviewed journal Planta Medica published a 2018 study by Ané Orchard, Alvaro Viljoen and Sandy van Vuuren. In the study, it was found that the oils of Juniperus virginiana (juniper) and Styrax benzoin (benzoin) were effective against three odor-causing bacteria that cause foot odor (2).
How To Use
Mix two drops of benzoin essential oil and two drops of juniper essential oil in two tablespoons of coconut oil and massage the foot thoroughly before sleep.
4. Peppermint Essential Oil For Smelly Feet
This is an essential oil that can effectively eliminate foot odor and make the feet comfortable inside any footwear. Why? Because peppermint essential oil has a cooling effect when applied on the feet.
Apply the oil on the feet for a nice fragrance. After applying the oil on the feet, you can smell the aroma from the hands for a quick aromatherapy. The mind and body will be refreshed with its aroma. The oil is also effective in combating the microbes that caused the stink.
How To Use
A two drops of peppermint oil and mix it in a tablespoon of sweet almond oil. Apply it on the entire foot before wearing footwear. Wipe off any excess oil on the feet.
5. Frankincense Essential Oil Reduces Feet Odor
Known as the king of Oils, frankincense essential oil is extensively used in skincare and hair care. However, its strong antiseptic and antibacterial properties prevent any kind of infections on the feet. Infections can exacerbate the foot odor.
Frankincense essential oil also gets absorbed into the feet quickly. It is also blended with other essential oils because of its good anti-inflammatory properties, which soothe the skin.
How To Use
Take a bucket of warm water and add 5-8 drops of frankincense essential oil. Use this water as a foot soak. For overall wellbeing, a bath with warm water infused with frankincense oil does wonders.
6. Lemon Essential Oil for Smelly Feet
The oil extracted from the citrus limon plant has a lemony aroma, which is quite common in cosmetic products. The oil is used as an ingredient in foot sprays to lessen the foul smell. Lemon essential oil is often used in massage aromatherapy to boost the energy and to smell nice.
It is the oil of choice for dealing with athlete’s feet. Lemon oil is known to be an energy booster, so use this oil long before bedtime.
How To Use
A few drops of lemon essential oil can be mixed with avocado oil and rubbed on the feet as soon as you remove the footwear after getting home. Or, soak the feet in warm water with lemon oil.
7. Black Pine Essential Oil For Stinky Feet
Botanically this oil is called pinus nigra oil. Not many people are aware of black pine essential oil. But, its coniferous and woody aroma beats stinky feet. A research article published in the journal Chemistry & Biodiversity investigated the chemical composition and properties of black pine oil.
It found that the main constituents were alpha- and beta- pinene, germacrene D and beta-caryophyllene. It also concluded that the oil has antimicrobial and antifungal properties that inhibited the growth of fungi and yeast (3).
How To Use
Mix three drops of black pine in a tablespoon of coconut oil and rub the mixture on the feet. Repeat this everyday for a few weeks to see good change in feet health.
8. Grapefruit Essential Oil For Foot Odor
Grapefruit essential oil is extracted from the peels of the grapefruit. The antibacterial properties of the oil eliminate bacteria in the feet. This orange colored oil is used in massage aromatherapy for its scent, and antimicrobial and antifungal properties.
Applying this citrus-scented oil on the feet kills the bacteria and gives the feet a good scent.
How To Use
Take three drops of grapefruit in one tablespoon of coconut oil and rub on the feet before putting the footwear.
9. Eucalyptus Essential Oil For Odorous Feet
Eucalyptus essential oil is not just useful for respiratory issues; it is useful for the feet as well. Eucalyptus oil has the ability to hydrate the feet and eliminate the bacteria in the feet. It thus keeps the feet supple and odor free.
How To Use
Mix 6 drops of eucalyptus with one and a half tablespoons of grape seed oil and massage the feet before going to bed.
10. Tea Tree Essential Oil For Feet Odor and Care
We have saved the best for last. Stinky feet, infectious feet, dry feet or dirty feet… tea tree essential oil is the solution for all the feet related troubles. The oil extracted from the Melaleuca Alternifolia plant, native to parts of Australia, is renowned in the essential oil segment for its antiseptic, antifungal, antimicrobial and antibacterial properties.
Because of these powerful properties, tea tree essential oil is used for treating several ailments and conditions including skin infection, athlete’s feet and nail infections. Before treating feet odor or any other feet conditions with tea tree oil, one must clean the feet first.
A 2020 study found that combination of tea tree oil and honey could even treat foot ulcers (4).
Tea Tree Oil Foot Wash – Foot washes with tea tree oil as an ingredient are available in the market. Or, a foot wash with a suitable carrier oil can be used. Foot washes are used to eliminate bacteria and fungus that cause foot wash. A soap with tea tree oil can also be used. After washing the feet, a tea tree serum can be used as a moisturizer on the feet to hydrate the skin.
Tea tree Essential Oil Foot Bath – To get rid of stubborn bacteria and fungus, and strong odor, a foot bath with tea tree oil is in order. Add tea tree oil to the foot bath and scrub the foot. This also eliminates the dead skin cells from the feet.
Foot baths with tea tree oil must be kept short, usually around 5 minutes. This oil is potent and soaking too much time could disrupt the skin’s oil balance. This must be done only when the odor is too much to handle.
Tea Tree Foot Cream – Foot creams with tea tree oil are available in the market. If not, a few drops of tea tree oil can be added to regular foot cream and applied on the feet. Creams provide maximum exposure of tea tree to the skin. This can be inculcated into regular foot care regimen.
Tea tree and Essential Oils Blends – There are many essential oils with powerful properties that can eliminate bacteria. There are other essential oils that have an amazing aroma. Tea tree oil can be blended with these essential oils and applied on the feet.
Some of the oils that can be used are lavender, lemon and eucalyptus oils. However, as there are several essential oils in the mix, it is good to do a skin patch test before use.
DIY Recipes Of Essential Oils For Foot Odor
One way to get rid of foot odor and get a great massage for the feet is with foot powder. Rubbing the feet with foot powder eliminates bacteria and fungus and keeps the feet dry.
1. Essential Oil Foot Powder Recipe
- 12 drops of tea tree essential oil
- 15 drops of lavender essential oil
- 15 drops of frankincense essential oil
- 3 tablespoons of arrowroot powder
- Add all the ingredients into a jar.
- Mix the contents in the jar to make a uniform paste.
- Wash the feet before bedtime.
- Apply the paste on the feet at night.
- To keep the paste intact, wear a pair of socks.
- This powder can be added to the inside of the shoe as well.
2. DIY Essential Oil Foot Scrub
- 5 drops of peppermint essential oil
- 5 drops of grapefruit essential oil
- 1 tablespoon of sugar
- 1 tablespoon of oatmeal
- 1 teaspoon of lemon juice
- Curd if needed
- A bowl
- Combine all the ingredients in the bowl
- Add curd to make the mixture pasty
- Apply the paste on the feet, the heels and between the toes.
- Add some coarsely grounded oatmeal to make the mix more scrubby
Also read: DIY Essential Oil Recipes For Cracked Heels
Other Ways Of Dealing With Foot Odor & Stinky Shoes
Those frequently bothered with foot odor must buy footwear that is open and airy. Covering the whole feet will not give enough space for it to breathe. Closed shoes or smelly shoes will also increase sweating which gets accumulated and leads to more unpleasant smell
Do not wear the same footwear (stinky shoes) everyday or every week. And make sure the shoes do not stink. Wash it regularly. Also, apply deodorant before putting the footwear.
Keep Feet Dry
Keeping your feet dry as long as possible is a good option. Here, an antiperspirant might come in handy. If not, one can apply talcum powder or baking soda as well.
Antibiotic Cream or Ointment
Bacteria are the main cause of foot odor. Sweating is an invitation for bacteria. Applying an antibiotic ointment on the feet, toes and toenails can reduce the odor.
Apple Cider Vinegar to The Rescue
A foot soak comprising of apple cider vinegar and warm water. Put the feet in the water for 15 minutes and put an end to odorous feet problem. Adding Epsom salts also help.
Essential oils are aromatic and have several therapeutic properties including anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, antifungal and antiseptic. These properties are useful in eliminating microbes from the feet and getting rid of feet odor. Applying essential oils for feet odor also results in healthy and supple feet. Soak your feet for 15 minutes in essential oils for stinky shoes and sweaty feet issues.
Frequently Asked Questions
What essential oils are good for smelly feet?
The essential oils that are good for smelly feet are as follows: –
1. Lavender essential oil
2. Tea tree essential oil
3. Peppermint essential oil
4. Eucalyptus essential oil
5. Juniper essential oil
6. Benzoin essential oil
7. Lemon essential oil
Can tea tree oil get rid of smelly feet?
Tea tree oil is a potent antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, antiseptic and antifungal agent. It also has a strong aroma. These qualities of tea tree oil make it an efficient tool in getting rid of foot odor or smelly feet.
What does soaking your feet in tea tree oil do?
Soaking your feet in diluted tea tree oil deodorizes the feet and eliminates any bacteria or fungus. It makes the skin supple by moisturizing it.
- Can J Microbiol. (2006). Foot odor due to microbial metabolism and its control. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/16699586/
- Planta Med. (2018). Antimicrobial Essential Oil Combinations to Combat Foot Odour. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29579744/
- Chemical Composition and Antimicrobial Activity of the Essential Oil of Endemic Dalmatian Black Pine (Pinus nigra ssp. dalmatica). https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1002/cbdv.201000185
- Enfermería Clínica. (2020). Comparison of honey and natural ointment based on honey-tea tree oil on the healing of diabetic foot ulcer. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S1130862120300176