What makes feet stink

What makes feet stink
CC BY 2.0 Josh/Flickr

... and 6 natural remedies to ease the odor.

When it comes to scent, some things are pretty universal. Scientists have found that people across the globe find the smells of citrus and flowers to be pleasant. The same holds for odors that we find disgusting; going to show that often times whether an odor is attractive or repulsive is beyond matters of culture or taste. We depend on our ability to discriminate because scents can provide important information about things like food sources and suitable mates, as well as that which may be hazardous. Take smelly feet.

Although feet that reek aren’t necessarily hazardous (though they may signal an unsuitable mate for some), that which makes them malodorous comes from a family of organisms that has its share of dangerous characters: bacteria.

Contrary to popular belief, it’s not the perspiration that makes us stink; although it’s the sweaty body parts where the reek occurs. The feet are one of our sweatiest spots, and given that we generally keep our feet swathed in shoes and socks, we provide the perfect environment in which bacteria thrives: a warm and damp place with an adequate supply of oxygen and nutrients (in the form of dead skin, ugh). When all the pieces are in place, the bacteria do their thing and start emitting gasses, and voila, the stench. Basically, stinky feet come from bacteria gas and other byproducts. Read it and weep:

Propanoic acid: The product of propianibacterium which eats the amino acids in sweat. It has a distinctly sour smell.
Methanethiol: The product of brevibacterium eating dead skin cells; it smells like sulfur and limburger cheese.
Isovaleric acid: The product of staphylococcus epidermis eating dead skin cells; has notes of cheese and rancid vinegar.

Everytime you put your shoes back on, you’re remixing all these things that cause the stink. But fear not, you can stop the madness by targeting the sweat, dead skin and bacteria. Here's how.

1. Fight sour with sour
Give your feet a bacteria-fighting soak with a mix of one part vinegar to two parts water in a tub; soak feet for half an hour weekly.

2. Settle into a salt soak
Add 1/2 to 1 cup kosher salt to warm water and soak your feet for 20 minutes daily for two weeks.

3. Try tea
Tea is said to reduce sweating by closing pores and also acts as an antibiotic. Mke a tonic by boiling two black tea bags in a pint of water for 15 minutes. Add to a tub of cool water and soak daily for 30 minutes for a week.

4. Scrub your soles
Use a pumice stone regularly to remove dead skin.

5. Use sensible socks
Use fresh socks daily and make sure they are 100 percent cotton or other breathable, natural material which will allow moisture to escape.

6. Shun soggy shoes
When you remove your shoes, open them up to allow them to air out and try to keep them dry. Add some cornstarch before wearing them to help absorb moisture; a little baking soda can help to soak up odors, too.

What makes feet stink
... and 6 natural remedies to ease the odor.

Related Content on Treehugger.com