Can Apple Cider Vinegar Get Rid of Smelly Feet?

Smelly feet are a common problem that can be embarrassing and difficult to treat. With its antimicrobial properties, many people tout apple cider vinegar as a natural remedy for foot odor. But does it really work? We asked Dr. Amanda Smith, a dermatologist, and Jessica Wu, a busy mom of two young kids, for their takes on using apple cider vinegar for smelly feet.

Dr. Smith cautions that while apple cider vinegar has antibacterial properties, there is little scientific evidence that it can eliminate foot odor. She explains, “Foot odor is caused by a bacteria called brevibacterium that thrives in the warm, moist environment of shoes and emits a cheesy smell as it multiplies. While the acetic acid in apple cider vinegar may inhibit the growth of this bacteria, it likely does not fully remove the odor.”

However, Dr. Smith says that apple cider vinegar may still be beneficial as part of good foot hygiene. “It can help remove dead skin cells and whiten toenails when added to a foot soak. The antimicrobial effects may provide some odor reduction, but not complete elimination.”

Jessica has found that apple cider vinegar foot soaks help freshen her feet after long days chasing after her 3- and 5-year-old. “As a busy mom, I’m always on the go and rarely have time for self-care. My feet take a beating, getting sweaty and smelly in my sneakers. Soaking them in a basin with 1 part apple cider vinegar and 2 parts warm water counteracts the bacteria that causes the odor.”

Jessica follows up the soak by scrubbing her feet with a pumice stone and applying a baking soda-based foot powder. “The vinegar soak isn’t a cure-all, but it’s an easy, natural way to clean my feet and make them less stinky. I definitely notice a difference in odor and softness after doing an apple cider vinegar treatment.”

Dr. Smith reminds patients that preventing foot odor also requires keeping feet dry and wearing clean socks and shoes. She advises, “Practice good foot hygiene by washing feet daily, using antibacterial soap, exfoliating dead skin, clipping nails, and applying foot powder. Wear moisture-wicking socks and switch shoes daily to allow them to dry out. See a doctor if foot odor persists despite these efforts.”

While the evidence is limited, apple cider vinegar may help reduce foot odor when combined with proper foot care. Its antimicrobial effects can aid other hygiene practices. But smelly feet may require additional treatments, so talk to your dermatologist if vinegar soaks don’t do the trick. With some consistent effort, you can keep your feet fresh.