June 21, 2024

Freshen Up: Dealing with Foot Odor on the Road

Whether you’re going on a dream trip across Europe or a quick business trip to a nearby city, packing comfortable shoes is key for any traveler. However, after miles of walking combined with heat, sweat, and tight shoes, an unpleasant passenger can turn up: foot odor.

While it’s common, especially when traveling, foot odor can be embarrassing and uncomfortable. Luckily, there are steps you can take before, during and after your travels to keep your feet fresh. Here is a guide on dealing with foot odor on the road.

Prepare in Advance

Since prevention is the best cure, take proactive measures to ward off foot odor before you travel:

Pack proper footwear: Bring an extra pair of shoes and shoes that provide adequate airflow to your feet. Flip flops, sandals, and socks made of moisture wicking fabrics are all smart options.

Use preventative powders and sprays: Apply over-the-counter powders and antifungal/antibacterial sprays to your feet and inside your shoes before traveling. This creates a barrier against odor-causing bacteria. Popular options are medicated foot powders containing zinc oxide or arrowroot powder.

Wash socks: Use antibacterial soap and hot water to thoroughly wash any socks you plan to bring. This removes bacteria lurking inside that causes odor later.

Trim toenails: Trim your toenails short before traveling since moisture and bacteria collects under long nails, causing unpleasant smells quicker.

Travel Care for Fresh Feet

Once you hit the road, consistent foot care is vital for preventing that embarrassing foot stink, especially if you’ll be on the go:

Change socks daily: Pack more socks than outfits so you can change them at least once a day, if not more when very active. Rotating allows them to fully dry and limits bacteria buildup. Consider quick-dry sports socks that wick moisture away from your feet.

Rotate shoes: If possible, avoid wearing the same shoes two days in a row. Let them air out for 24 hours before wearing again so sweat and moisture have time to fully dry. Consider packing 2-3 pairs of travel friendly shoes like collapsable flats, sneakers or sandals.

Use drying powders: After showering or whenever your feet get sweaty, sprinkle medicated drying powder inside your socks and shoes to soak up moisture and discourage odor-producing bacteria from growing.

Disinfect shoes: Disinfect the inside of your shoes whenever you take them off using antibacterial wipes, rubbing alcohol spray or other disinfecting products. This prevents smells from getting worse over time.

Let feet breathe: Take shoes and socks off whenever you can to air out your feet, such as when in your hotel room. It stops sweat from being trapped against your skin and lets shoes dry out.

Post-Travel Foot Freshening

You made it through your travels odor-free but notice lingering foot smells still lurking in your shoes or feet when you get home. Now what? Here is how to tackle post-travel foot odor:

Sanitize shoes: Spray the insides with antibacterial solutions or rubbing alcohol, let fully dry and sprinkle more medicated powder inside before wearing again. Repeat daily until smells dissipate. Stuff with newspaper overnight to help shoes retain shape and soak up leftover moisture.

Clean socks: Follow your regular laundry routine but add borax or antibacterial laundry booster to the cycle. Dry on high heat. Throw out any unsalvageable socks harboring odors.

Soak feet: Create a foot bath by filling a basin with warm water and adding antifungal wash, epsom salt and essential oils like eucalyptus, peppermint or tea tree oil. Soak feet for 15-20 minutes to deep clean skin, kill bacteria and deodorize.

Use foot scrubs: Make pasty foot scrubs with a mixture of gentle oils like coconut or olive oil plus Kosher/sea salt and essential oils. Gently scrub feet daily focusing on cleaned callused areas then rinse. The salt will buff away dead skin so odors don’t get trapped while oils moisturize.

Spot clean orthotics: Remove shoe orthotics and clean by hand using antibacterial soap and cold water or follow manufacturer’s suggestions. Let air dry completely for one-two days before adding back into shoes.

When foot odor develops on the road it can really stink up your travels! However, staying proactive with these preventative steps and post-trip foot refreshed will help tackle embarrassing foot smells anywhere your journeys take you!