Does your kid have horrible foot odor? Is the smell so bad every time they take their shoes off that the whole family has to run for cover? Here are several ways to get rid of stinky smelly feet for good!
I am the mom to three teenage girls, and I had no idea how much a girl’s feet could stink! I mean, I grew up with brothers and I know boys’ feet stink, but my girls definitely rival their uncles in the horrible foot odor department.
My two left at home are both avid soccer players and runners and I was just about done with my mudroom smelling like stinky feet all the time. It stunk during track season, cross country season, and soccer season. And then, because their feet and shoes were cross-contaminating each other all their shoes would smell bad. Dance shoes, ski boots, dress shoes—all of them.
I couldn’t handle it anymore, and I decided to figure out how to get rid of the teen stinky feet once and for all! I know this is a very common problem for teenagers, and the good news is that it’s totally fixable!
How to get rid of your kid’s stinky feet for good!
It’s important to understand why their feet stink so badly in the first place.
It is all about bacteria.
The bacteria can be caused by athlete’s foot or other fungal infections, but is usually due to excessive sweating. Their feet sweat, the sweaty feet create a lovely, damp, and perfect environment for the bacteria to grow, and that bacteria stinks.
Unfortunately, once shoes (and even socks) have been exposed to this stinky bacteria, it almost feels like a losing battle. The shoes stink, and then the socks worn with the smelly shoes the next day will stink, and then the feet stink.
So the bacteria has to be eradicated from all three places—feet, socks, and shoes—if you’re ever going to get rid of the smell.
I researched a bunch of methods, and have tried several of them. I’m going to share with you everything I have learned as well as what worked and what didn’t work for us.
Hopefully you’ll be able to find something that works for you, too!
How to get rid of smelly feet
Foot spray or foot powder
We tried Gold Bond No Mess Powder Foot Spray and Odor Eaters Stink Stoppers for Kids and Teens directly on the foot. Both lessened the smell, but did not completely eradicate it.
The Odor Eaters smells better than the Gold Bond and I felt it did a better job of taking the smell off of the foot. However, if you don’t spray every inch of the feet, some smell will remain. But this is a good quick solution.
You can also try talcum powder in the shoes or on the bottoms of your feet as a way to soak up the sweat, but it may not help the smell very much.
June 2023 update: It appears that the Odor Eaters has been discontinued. You can try Dr. Scholl’s Probiotic foot spray instead.
Using just normal deodorant that you use under your arms actually works pretty well. We just had the kids put the Secret baby powder scented deodorant all over their feet before putting on clean socks.
Deodorant is already formulated to kill bacteria, so this is a good solution. If you are using an anti-perspirant formula, then it’s even better because the feet won’t sweat as much. Spray deodorant would probably work better than the solids, but we didn’t have any so I didn’t try it.
Most deodorants contain aluminum chloride, which is the active ingredient in prescription medications specifically for stinky feet.
Yep. The Listerine you likely already have in your medicine cabinet can help fight stinky feet. Just pour some in a bowl and soak the feet in it. You can dilute it with warm water if you want your bottle of mouthwash to last a bit longer.
Just like deodorant, it is already formulated to kill bacteria. Just make sure the feet are completely dry after soaking them before putting socks and shoes on. Damp feet will just cause more bacteria to grow.
Apple Cider Vinegar
Try soaking the feet in warm water mixed with a cup of apple cider vinegar for 20 minutes every day for a week. This should get rid of the smell.
Using lavender oil, which smells wonderful as well as having some antimicrobial properties, can help. You can rub the essential oil into the bottom of your feet using a carrier oil such as coconut or jojoba oil. This will gradually get rid of the unpleasant smell if you are consistent.
Tea tree oil is another powerful antifungal essential oil that can conquer bacterial growth in the feet. It is a popular remedy for nail fungus, and works well on stinky feet, too.
I don’t know if you’ve seen their clever commercial, but as soon as I saw it, I bought some—specifically with stinky feet in mind.
I bought the lavender sage tube, and I am impressed. This stuff really makes a huge difference. As soon as we rub it on their feet the smell is gone. And it stays gone for a while, unlike with the foot sprays.
It’s a little spendy, but I feel it was worth it for us—plus a little goes a long way.
Other supplements that may help include Colloidal Silver and Probiotics.
I had my girls start taking probiotics by Hyperbiotics, which I love. I gave them the Pro-15 formula (I take the Better Body formula religiously) and it’s possible this has made a difference. I can’t say for sure because we tried so many other things but it’s never a bad idea to take probiotics since they encourage a proper balance of bacteria in our bodies.
100% cotton socks
First of all, make them wear socks all the time. I know girls don’t always like to because of the fashion part of it, but even if you buy them the no-show socks, it will help.
All socks should be 100% cotton if possible, because they allow the feet to breathe the most, which means they will sweat less.
Finding 100% cotton socks that are also cool enough for my teens has been difficult, though.
My girls love these Nike socks for sports, and while they are not 100% cotton they use Nike’s dri-fit technology and seem to do okay. They like these no-shows for when they want to look like they aren’t wearing any socks—they are 80% cotton.
As long as socks are clean and dry, they will help to stop the sweating and the stink, but if you can find 100% cotton that your kids will wear—all the better—the right socks will make a huge difference!
How to get the smell out of shoes and socks
The same foot sprays that I used directly on my kids’ feet can also be used in shoes and are a great way to lessen the unpleasant odor.
I found the Odor Eaters Stink Stoppers for Kids and Teens (discontinued) worked really well as long as I sprayed their athletic shoes immediately.
The stink would always still be faintly there, though, so it really is just a stop gap since you can’t wash their shoes every day (and I have never actually tried to wash soccer cleats).
This OdorKlenz sport powder for shoes also does a really good job if you keep up on it. Natural enzymes take away the odors.
Wash with an enzyme cleaner
When you do wash their shoes in the washing machine, use an enzyme cleaner that is designed to break down bacterias and get rid of smells.
Nature’s Miracle is one that people use to get pet smells out of carpet, and it is supposed to work well on stinky shoes, too.
Since I had it on hand, I used the EnviroKlenz laundry enhancer that I use to get the stink out of my dishcloths and towels, and that worked very well for us. All stinky shoes and socks smelled fine once out of the laundry.
You can use code overstuffed20 to get an extra 20% off your order at EnviroKlenz.
Shoe deodorizer balls
We have tried these deodorizer balls. They help, but don’t entirely fix the problem. They at least helped to make the mudroom smell better when we remembered to put them in the stinky shoes overnight.
Activated charcoal is a good natural odor absorber. You can buy these shoe bags that are filled with it to put in shoes overnight.
I have not tried these, but I have used similar room deodorizer bags made with activated charcoal, and they worked great. So I would think the shoe deodorizers would be at least somewhat helpful for the stinky shoes.
You can fill clean socks with baking soda and stick them in the shoes overnight. This will also help absorb odors. I have just poured the baking soda straight in as well—it’s messier, but it helps.
Remember—if you don’t treat both the feet and the shoes/socks, you will never get rid of the problem entirely.
When you purchase new shoes, make sure that the feet have been treated and do not stink at all before allowing your child to wear them!
It’s a battle, but we have managed to be foot stink free for a few months now! Once you’ve eradicated the bad odor, be sure to practice good foot hygiene to keep the smell from coming back.
This post may contain affiliate links, for more information, please see my disclosure.