This guest post was written by Elisha of My Health Maven. She is deeply passionate about educating people and empowering them to lead healthier lives. We encourage you to check out her blog and follow her on Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest!

Never have smelly shoes again! Make this essential oil DIY deodorizer

Bromodosis or smelly feet affects everyone at some point or another. While it can be embarrassing, it is important to remember that it is also perfectly normal and a regular occurrence for many people.  Sweat is simply the body’s attempts to keep the skin moist, as well as to regulate your body’s temperature.

What exactly causes sweaty and smelly feet?

For starters, there are more sweat glands in your feet than anywhere else on your body. Each foot has an amazing 250,000 sweat glands. Your feet secrete sweat all the time, not just in response to exercising or high temperatures.

Some of the main causes of sweaty feet include:

  • Hormonal changes, such as puberty or pregnancy.
  • Wearing shoes made from synthetic materials, that don’t allow your feet to breathe.
  • Hyperhidrosis is a medical condition which can cause you to sweat more than the average person.
  • Athlete’s foot can also cause foot odor.

What causes smelly shoes?

Unfortunately, many shoes and socks are made from synthetic materials, which do not allow the skin to breathe. As a result, bacteria can build up on your feet, socks, and shoes, this in turn causes foot odor. In addition, wearing the same shoes every day will not allow your shoes a chance to air out and dry. This also encourages odors to build up.

Ways to prevent foot odor

There are numerous helpful hints to minimize or prevent foot odor. Here are a few:

  • Don’t wear the same shoes every day. This gives them time to completely air out and dry.
  • Be sure to wear cotton or wool socks, rather than synthetics such as nylon.
  • Allow your feet to breath when possible. Consider wearing sandals or open-toed shoes. Go barefoot when you can.
  • Wear shoes that are made of canvas, leather or mesh materials rather than synthetics.
  • Wash your feet daily. Be sure to dry them thoroughly, especially between your toes.
  • If you have foot fungus, such as athlete’s foot, treating this problem will also help eliminate foot odor.

Consider an occasional foot soak with apple cider vinegar, due to its strong antibacterial, antifungal and antiviral properties this is a great option. Simply add a half cup of apple cider vinegar (ACV) to eight cups of warm water. Soak your feet for 15-30 minutes one or two times a day. You can also dry your feet thoroughly and rub in a small amount of coconut oil with a drop of peppermint or sage essential oil to help stop odor.

Commercial foot deodorizers

There are many commercially made foot deodorizers available in the marketplace, and they can include inserts, sprays, and powders. The problem with many commercial products are the potentially harmful ingredients used to block odor. In addition, many of these “air fresheners” for shoes simply cover up the odor, they do not actually remove it.

Chemicals to look out for in commercial products

Commercial products just have too many chemicals that don’t make it worth the risk, especially when simple nontoxic ingredients like baking soda or arrowroot powder will do the trick. But if you must use commercial products try to avoid these ingredients:


Isobutane– When sprayed in the air it can worsen asthma, causing labored breathing, coughing and wheezing.

Tolnaftate– Can cause allergic skin reactions and may cause cardiac problems in infants whose mothers come into contact with this chemical during the first trimester of pregnancy.

Butylated hydroxytoluene – This toluene-based chemical is used as a preservative in food and personal care products. Exposure to toluene can affect your nervous system. Symptoms can include headaches, dizziness, inability to concentrate and vision problems.

Talc– Talcum powder absorbs moisture, but in its natural form may contain asbestos. While the CDC doesn’t list any physical or chemical risks for talc, they do suggest to avoid inhalation….which is difficult to avoid with a spray.

Propylene glycol– Suspected of causing both respiratory problems and immunotoxicity.


Propylene paraben– Banned in many countries due to high concern regarding organ and skin damage.

In addition chemicals like Triethanolamine, Sodium Lauryl Sulfate, Phenoxyethanol, Propyl Paraben and Diazolidinyl urea have been linked to a wide range of health concerns ranging from immunotoxicity and respiratory ailments to suspected carcinogens and organ damage.

Homemade shoe deodorizers

Making shoe deodorizers is incredibly easy and is a very cost-effective option. With a reusable muslin tea bag and minimal ingredients, you can make your own shoe deodorizer. Here’s how:

Recipe 1– Simply mix 1/4 cup of baking soda with 5-10 drops of your favorite essential oil. Pour into muslin tea bag, pull the drawstring and place one tea bag in each shoe. Alternatively using triangle-shaped coffee filters also work well for this project. You would simply fill the coffee filter, gather the edges and tie off the filter with string or a rubber band. Place one filter in each shoe.

Recipe 2– Add ½ cup each of baking soda and arrowroot powder to a bowl. The baking soda removes the odor, the arrowroot powder removes moisture. If desired add 10-20 drops of the essential oil of your choice. Cut 10” x 10” squares of fabric. Scoop the mixture into each square. Gather the corners of the fabric together and tie it with a string or use a rubber band to create the little satchel of fabric. Place one in each shoe.

That it! Simple, non-toxic, inexpensive and easy to use.

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Elisha McFarland
Health Expert
Elisha McFarland, N.D. is the founder of My Health Maven. She turned her debilitating illness from mercury poisoning into a dedicated passion for helping people.