Get Rid Of Smelly Feet Fast With A Simple DIY Foot Soak

Smelly feet can be embarrassing. You don't want to be the person who walks into a home, takes off your shoes, and starts to realize that an unpleasant odor is emanating from your toes. 

Nevertheless, it can happen to anyone — and there could be a few different things that could be causing your feet to stink. The most straightforward reason for smelly feet is bacteria buildup. Sweat itself isn't smelly, but spending prolonged hours of your day walking about, building up sweat, heat, and moisture inside can all be the perfect breeding ground for bacteria, shared dermatologist, Dr. Sam Ellis. Bacterial waste products that come from the organisms' interaction with dead skin cells are what cause a foul odor.  

Then there's athlete's foot, which refers to a fungal infection of the foot, that can also contribute toward smelly feet. "Fungi like to grow in warm, moist areas, so when your feet sweat inside your shoes and socks, it creates the perfect environment for fungus," shared board-certified cosmetic dermatologist, Dr. Dendy Engelman (via Insider). Turns out, there's a simple DIY foot soak involving mouthwash that can help in situations where bacteria or fungal buildup could be causing your foot odor. You'll need Listerine Original (the yellow stuff), vinegar, some warm water, a bucket, and a fresh towel to get started. 

How to prepare the DIY foot soak

Begin by filling a bucket with Listerine Original, warm water, and some vinegar. Equal parts of each would be good. Make sure the bucket is wide and deep enough to soak both your feet comfortably and that the water level reaches above your feet. 

Place your feet in the solution and soak for 15-20 minutes. Remove from the bucket once done and wipe your feet with the fresh towel. Dermatologist, Sandy Skotnicki told Byrdie that the four essential oils found in the mouthwash – eucalyptol, menthol, thymol, and methyl salicylate, "may decrease the unwanted growth of fungal organisms and invasive bacterial species through their antiseptic qualities."  

The gentle acids found in the mouthwash and vinegar can also exfoliate your skin, added cosmetic chemist Ron Robinson (via Allure). Despite its potential to curb bacteria and fungal buildup, however, this simple DIY foot soak is not a cure for conditions like athlete's foot, warned board-certified dermatologist, Dr. Geeta Yadav. She recommended trying over-the-counter medications made specifically for such foot conditions before resorting to home remedies such as these. There are a few other things to consider. 

The menthol in the mouthwash can be irritating on skin

Menthol might have cooling properties but it can also potentially irritate skin. Dr. Yadav told Byrdie, "The menthol present in Listerine can potentially be irritating to the skin. Not to mention, it just feels wasteful."

Plus, there have been no specific studies done on the use of this particular mouthwash to combat smelly feet or foot conditions, per Healthline. Proponents of the DIY foot soak seem to be going off the simple fact that thymol and other ingredients in Listerine Original are antiseptic — kill bacteria, solve the smelly feet problem. 

While this isn't necessarily a stretch, it's always good to check with your dermatologist before trying home remedies such as these. Especially if you have sensitive skin, wounds, cuts, and abrasions that could get irritated by any of the ingredients in the mouthwash, or you have any foot conditions like cracked heels, athlete's foot, or Hyperhidrosis. Ultimately, DIY remedies are only as good as their effectiveness. What works for one may not work for everyone. You could also avoid wearing the same shoes for two days in a row, discarding really old shoes that smell bad, and switching to moisture-wicking socks to combat smelly feet. Foot deodorants can also work wonders.