Does Epsom Salt Help Smelly Feet?

If you’re looking for home remedies for stinky feet, Epsom salt is often suggested as a solution. But does it actually work to reduce foot odor?

Epsom salt is the popular name for magnesium sulfate, a compound made up of magnesium, sulfur and oxygen. It’s gained popularity in health circles for its many purported benefits, including reducing pain and inflammation, improving sleep and relaxation, drawing toxins out of the body and of course, getting rid of smelly feet. But what does the science say about using Epsom salt for foot odor?

There is some evidence that Epsom salt may have mild antifungal properties, which could potentially help fight one cause of smelly feet – fungal infections. Fungal organisms like athlete’s foot thrive in the warm, moist environment inside shoes and socks and when they overgrow, can lead to symptoms like peeling, cracked skin and stinky feet. The magnesium in Epsom salt may make the skin a less hospitable environment for fungal growth. However, research is limited and Epsom salt should not replace prescription anti-fungal medications for confirmed infections.

Additionally, the abrasive texture of Epsom salt may help remove dead skin cells when used in foot scrubs and soaks. Built up dead skin can trap bacteria and sweat, worsening odor. Exfoliating with Epsom salt can remove these layers of cells and debris. The salt also absorbs moisture, which dries out the feet. Dampness encourages bacterial overgrowth, so keeping feet dry may reduce foot odor.

Beyond these effects, there is not much evidence supporting Epsom salt as an antimicrobial or deodorizing agent. It does not appear to have significant antibacterial properties or abilities to neutralize foot odor itself. However, as part of good hygiene practices, using Epsom salt foot soaks may still be helpful for smelly feet. The salt can remove dirt, oil and cells and its exfoliating action may improve the efficacy of washing the feet with soap and water. It also reduces moisture and softens skin when used in soaks. Proper foot hygiene is key for preventing and treating foot odor.

The bottom line is that using Epsom salt alone will likely not eliminate foot odor, but it can be used as a beneficial addition to improve hygiene practices. To use it, dissolve 1/2 cup of Epsom salt in warm water and soak feet for 15-20 minutes. You can also make a scrub by mixing salt with a carrier oil. Be sure to rinse and dry feet well after soaking and exfoliating. Combining Epsom salt soaks and scrubs with washing with antibacterial soap, applying foot powder and wearing clean, breathable socks and shoes will give you the best defense against smelly feet. While Epsom salt itself may provide some odor fighting benefits through exfoliation and moisture absorption, good hygiene habits are the foundation for fresh smelling feet.