Can Tea Tree Oil Banish Your Smelly Feet?

Smelly and sweaty feet can be an embarrassing problem. The bacteria and fungi that live naturally on our skin thrive in the warm, moist environment inside shoes and socks, leading to foot odor. Tea tree oil may help combat smelly feet thanks to its antibacterial and antifungal properties.

Tea tree oil comes from the leaves of the Melaleuca alternifolia plant, native to Australia. It has a strong, medicinal scent. Tea tree oil contains terpinen-4-ol, which gives it antiseptic qualities. Studies show terpinen-4-ol can kill certain bacteria, fungi, and viruses.

Because of these disinfectant characteristics, tea tree oil is often touted as a natural remedy for foot odor. Tea tree oil may be able to destroy the bacteria and fungi responsible for that unpleasant “stinky feet” smell.

To use it, add several drops of tea tree oil to a foot bath or mix it with a carrier oil like coconut oil and rub it directly on your feet, especially between the toes. The moist environment there allows microbes to thrive. The antifungal action of tea tree oil could help remove smelly microorganisms.

Some people find success using tea tree oil foot sprays containing both tea tree and other antibacterial essential oils like lavender, rosemary, eucalyptus, and peppermint. Spraying feet with these formulations may inhibit microbial growth.

Research shows pure tea tree oil and products containing it can reduce foot odor and athlete’s foot. In one study, topical application of a 10% tea tree oil cream for two weeks decreased foot odor in 78% of participants.

However, tea tree oil can cause skin irritation in some individuals. It’s best to first try diluted tea tree oil on a small patch of skin before applying it all over your feet. Mix it with a carrier oil or look for pre-diluted products. Never ingest tea tree oil, as it can be toxic if swallowed.

While more research is still needed, using tea tree oil foot soaks, sprays, or creams may be an easy, natural way to keep your feet smelling fresher. Along with good foot hygiene, tea tree oil could help minimize foot odor caused by microbial overgrowth. So if smelly feet are getting you down, consider giving tea tree oil a try.