(Note: This post will be a 2 part series. Today’s post features a DIY Foot Wash.)
Recently, I went on a trip with my Mom and my kids. We had a blast road-tripping and cramming into hotel rooms along our journey. It made me feel like a kid again—good for the soul. Each day, we would plan a location-based, touristy thing to do. In the mornings, we would head out with our snacks packed, our water bottles filled, and our athletic shoes strapped on. Then, we would walk the day away, enjoying the sights and our adventures. One thing that I did not prepare for or even think about, though, was how stinky our much-used and loved athletic shoes would get. You see, not only were we traipsing all over God’s green earth, but we were also getting quite sweaty while doing so. So, as science would have it, we would sweat, our feet would sweat, the insides of our shoes would get moist, and we would wear them again the next day, before they ever got fully dried out. Then, we would wake-up, put our athletic shoes back on, sweat again…You see where this is going, right? It took us straight to stinky-shoe town. P.U.!
When we packed up to go home, I bagged all of the stinky shoes up in a plastic bag to save our nostrils in the car, and I brought them home to perform some sort of reconnaissance mission to hopefully eliminate the smell. Going into this endeavor, I knew that in order to make the shoes smell better, I would have to face the problem in two steps:
1) I needed to create something to clean our feet with that could tackle the bacteria and fungi that were making them smell bad;
2) I needed to find a way to get our shoes clean of the dirt on the outside, and their insides clean of the bacteria and mold.
(Note: Today’s post will focus on cleaning your feet. I will put up the post about cleaning your shoes soon afterwards.)
Now, before I go into how I cleaned our shoes and feet—and YES, it worked, because all our feet have never smelled better, and all three pairs of our shoes are now odorless and clean—I want to talk about why feet and shoes can smell so bad in the first place.
To start with, each of your feet contains 250,000 sweat glands. Whoa! Right? The problem with having that many sweat glands in one place is that our feet are usually covered up all day with socks and shoes; thus, they are not getting proper ventilation—they are sweating into our socks and shoes and never being given the chance to air out or to dry out. Also, some people’s feet sweat more than other people’s feet. The continuous moisture becomes a breeding ground for smelly bacteria and fungus. Once inside of your shoes—these microbes will continue to breed and to cling to your feet and socks. Each and every time you put those microbe-containing shoes back on, the fungi and bacteria get onto your socks or bare feet again. Add to this any additional mold or fungus that also begins to grow inside the shoe or between your toes, due to the moisture, and you have one smelly spot!
At this point, you might be asking, “Why do some people’s feet smell bad, even when they are not wearing shoes?”
Well, feet, in particular, are an especially ripe place for bacteria and fungus to grow. Fungus and bacteria eat dead skin cells and oils from your skin. As their colonies grow, they start getting rid of waste in the form of organic acids. It’s those organic acids that smell bad. Some folks even acquire bacteria on their feet called Kyetococcus sedentarius. These bacteria produce a sulfur compound that smells sort of like rotten eggs. Ewww, but true. If you have this sort of thing going on, you definitely should consider following both steps I will outline below. The reason being, if you only clean your shoes without diligently taking care of the bacteria and fungus on your feet, the smell will return. It is like treating the symptoms only without treating the disease. You may get some temporary relief, but you it won’t solve the problem long-term.
Now that you know all about feet and shoes and the stinky fungi and bacteria that grow on them, here are my tried and true formulas and methods to conquer the stench:
DIY Foot-Cleaning Wash to Fight and Prevent Bacteria and Fungus
Tools & Ingredients:
- Clean, Empty bottle with a Screw-on Cap (Old shampoo or hand soap bottles work well for this.)
- EC3 Mold Solution Concentrate (This is antifungal, and antibacterial.)
- Aloe Vera Concentrate or Witch Hazel (This is the liquid, self-stable aloe vera. Do not use the aloe marketed for nutritional use or for first aid. Both aloe vera and witch hazel are antiseptic and antimicrobial. Aloe Vera has the added benefit of being antifungal. Either will work well for this wash.)
- Optional: 100% Pure Essential Spearmint or Lavender Oil (Both of these oils are antiseptic, antibacterial and antifungal. Choose your oil based on scent preference, and feeling preference. The lavender oil will give your wash a warming, calming effect. The spearmint oil will give it a cooling, cleansing, energizing effect. If you are adverse to scents, leave this ingredient out.)
- 100% Pure Liquid Castile Soap (This will cleanse your feet without causing irritation. It will also work as a “carrier” agent for the essential oils and EC3 Mold Solution Concentrate.)
- Fill your empty container ¼ of the way from the bottom with EC3 Mold Solution Concentrate. This will amount to roughly 2-3 TBS of EC3.
- Add about the same amount of Aloe Vera Concentrate or Witch Hazel to the bottle. You can go with approximately 2-3 TBS of this, depending on the size of your container.
- Add approximately 3-4 drops, depending on the size of your bottle, of 100% Pure Essential Spearmint or Lavender Oil. I decided to use the Spearmint, because I like the cooling sensation it provides on my feet.
- Top your bottle off with the liquid Castile soap. Make sure to leave enough empty space in the top of the bottle, so that the mixture can move and blend together properly.
- Screw the cap onto the bottle and shake vigorously to mix.
(Note: It is always best to perform a patch test with a new cleanser. Pick an inconspicuous part of your body and apply a small amount of the cleanser. Suds it up a bit and rinse off. After about 10 minutes, check to see if your skin is having any sort of reaction. If, not, you should be good to go. If any redness, itchiness, swelling or blotchiness occurs, discontinue use immediately.)
- When either in the tub or the shower, squirt your foot wash into a loofah or a moist washcloth. (You want to use something that is a little abrasive, because it will help to slough off some of the dead skin cells.)
- Get a good lather going, and scrub the bottoms of your feet, the tops of your feet, and in between your toes as best you can with the foot wash.
- Rinse your feet thoroughly.
- When you are finished bathing or showering, make sure to dry your feet really well. It is also best to leave your shoes and socks off for a while, if possible, after bathing or showering to let your feet air out.
- Start by using the foot cleanser each time you shower or bathe. Once you feel like you have any odors under control, you can back off a bit, and use it a few times a week for maintenance.
Now you have no excuse to have smelly feet!
If you decide to try this foot wash, I would love to hear from you!