Does Salt Water Get Rid of Smelly Feet?

Smelly feet are a common problem that can be embarrassing and difficult to treat. The odor is often caused by excessive sweating and bacteria growth on the feet. Some people claim that soaking your feet in salt water can help kill bacteria and reduce foot odor. But does this home remedy really work? Here is an overview of using salt water for smelly feet.

How Does Salt Water Work?

Proponents of using salt water claim that it can help reduce foot odor in a few key ways:

  • Sanitizing – Salt water creates a high-saline environment that makes it difficult for bacteria and fungi to thrive. Most microbes cannot survive for long when the salt concentration is very high.
  • Reducing sweat – Salt causes the skin to retain less moisture. Less sweat means there is less food for the odor-causing bacteria.
  • Neutralizing odors – The salt interacts with compounds that cause unpleasant foot smells to neutralize some of the odor.
  • Softening skin – Salt water has a mild exfoliating effect to remove dead skin cells and calluses where odor can be trapped.

What Does the Research Say?

There is limited scientific research on the effectiveness of salt water baths for foot odor specifically. However, some studies have analyzed salt water’s effects on bacteria growth in wounds or infections. Results have shown that saline does help reduce microbial growth, likely due to the sanitizing effect.

Research has also demonstrated that salt baths temporarily increase skin hydration and improve skin barrier function. And we know that proper foot hygiene and exfoliation helps prevent odor. So while not directly proven by studies, the components of how salt water foot baths work do have some scientific merit.

How to Use a Salt Water Foot Bath

If you want to test out a salt water foot soak, here is a simple way to do it at home:

  • Fill a basin with enough warm water to cover your feet. Water that is too hot can dry out the skin.
  • Add 1/2 cup of plain table salt and stir until dissolved. You can adjust the amount of salt to suit your preference.
  • Soak your feet for 15-20 minutes to allow the salt solution to work.
  • Rinse your feet with clean water and thoroughly dry them, especially between the toes.
  • Follow up with a foot powder, deodorant, or antifungal cream.
  • Repeat the salt water soak two or three times per week for best results.

It’s important to continue practicing general foot hygiene like washing and exfoliating the feet daily, wearing breathable socks and shoes, and using topical treatments for excessive sweating or fungi. Salt water baths can be drying if done too often, so limit soaks to a few times per week.

While not a cure-all solution, salt water foot soaks can be a helpful natural remedy for reducing foot odor. The salt has mild antibacterial and exfoliating effects. It can temporarily decrease sweating and neutralize odors. When combined with proper foot hygiene and clean, breathable shoes, salt water baths may help your feet stay fresher for longer. But smelly feet can sometimes indicate an underlying issue, so see your doctor if odor persists despite home treatments. With a little consistency, salt water just may help you soak your feet troubles away.