What is Foot Deodorant?

M.C. Huguelet

Home to hundreds of thousands of sweat glands, it is no wonder that human feet sometimes smell less than pleasant. Luckily, a foot deodorant can help combat foul foot problems by eliminating odor-causing bacteria and masking existing disagreeable smells with pleasing ones. Foot deodorant can take several different forms, from an underarm deodorant which has simply been applied to the feet, to a foot-specific product, to a homemade mixture. Some foot deodorants also contain an antiperspirant agent, although some health experts question the safety of prohibiting the release of sweat through the feet.

A combination of cornstarch and baking soda can be used as a homemade deodorant.
A combination of cornstarch and baking soda can be used as a homemade deodorant.

Body odor occurs when the naturally occurring bacteria on the skin’s surface feed on sweat and then leave behind foul-smelling waste. The dark, moist environment provided by socks and shoes makes the feet a favorite habitat of these bacteria. As with most deodorants, a foot deodorant has two main functions. Firstly, it eliminates or greatly reduces bacteria populations, usually through the use of an alcohol-based substance. Secondly, it introduces a new scent to the treated area, thus covering up existing body odor.

Foot deodorant combats smelly feet.
Foot deodorant combats smelly feet.

There are several different types of foot deodorant. Like underarm deodorant, however, they tend to come in solid, roll-on, or spray form. Some individuals deodorize their feet by simply applying underarm deodorant to their foot soles. Others use products designed specifically for the feet. These foot-specific deodorants may be stronger than their underarm counterparts, but they may also be more expensive and more difficult to find.

Some people make their own foot deodorant products. They may, for instance, mix an absorbent powder such as cornstarch with pleasantly scented natural oils, such as peppermint essence. When spread over the bottom of the feet in a thin layer and allowed to dry, this mixture can both absorb excess sweat and give the feet an agreeable scent. This type of foot deodorant generally provides a budget-friendly deodorizing option that is also usually free of chemical irritants. On the down side, however, homemade foot deodorant may not work as effectively as store-bought products.

Many store-bought foot deodorant products also contain an antiperspirant agent — generally made from aluminum — which stops or greatly diminishes sweating by temporarily blocking the sweat glands in the treated area. While antiperspirants can significantly reduce the occurrence of body odor, some health experts question the safety of preventing the feet from releasing sweat. Those who do not wish to temporarily prohibit sweating should avoid purchasing foot deodorants that contain antiperspirant agents.

Foot deodorant works by eliminating odor-causing bacteria and masking current unpleasant smells with better ones.
Foot deodorant works by eliminating odor-causing bacteria and masking current unpleasant smells with better ones.

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Discussion Comments


My brother has really bad smelling feet. He isn't even allowed to take his shoes off in the house because you can smell the odor all over the house. He has to remove his shoes out in the garage.

He has tried a lot of different products but I don't know if he has found one yet that works long term. He will wash his shoes on a regular basis and has even tried some home remedies like vinegar and baking soda, but nothing has really worked for the long term.

I think he had the best results with a foot odor cream, but even that quit working after awhile. He would be encouraged to know he is not the only one with this problem, and would love to find something that really takes care of the problem.


I have always used a deodorant spray to help control my foot odor. I know this sounds crazy, but I never even thought of using regular deodorant to take care of this. I just thought a specialized product would work better.

It would probably be cheaper to use regular deodorant and I don't know why it wouldn't work just as well.


Is having sweaty feet something you grow out of as you get older? When I was a kid I remember having smelly feet and would be embarrassed when I had to take my shoes off somewhere.

I used to avoid wearing closed shoes as much as possible, but I was involved in a lot of athletics and this was hard to do. Whenever I had the chance I would wear sandals or shoes that would let my feet breathe.

Now that I am older I don't have this problem with my feet. I used to pour some baby powder in my shoes overnight. This helped for awhile, but never lasted for very long.

They probably have more choices of products for foot deodorant today, but I am just glad I haven't had to worry about it for a long time.


I have only found one product that really works for my foot odor and it is called Lavilin foot deodorant. This a cream foot deodorant that I ordered online as a last resort.

It cost me about $12 for a jar of this so I was sure hoping it would work. This can be an embarrassing problem and I was getting so frustrated because nothing else I had tried worked very well.

I have a problem with smelly feet for as long as I can remember. I know there are a lot of sweat glands in the feet so this is part of the reason, but my feet have always smelled worse than other people in my family.

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