If you’re one of the many people plagued by smelly feet, you’ve probably tried all sorts of remedies – from foot powders and deodorants, to antibacterial soaps and frequent pedicures. But one unusual solution you may not have considered is giving your feet a nice long soak in a tub of beer.
As odd as it sounds, beer foot soaks have a long history of use as a folk remedy for smelly feet. And it turns out there’s some science to back up the practice. Beer contains antimicrobial compounds from the hops used in the brewing process, which can help fight the bacteria and fungi responsible for foot odor. The carbonation in beer also has a slight exfoliating effect, helping to slough off dead skin cells. Meanwhile, the yeast contains vitamins that may soothe irritation.
The concept is simple. Just kick off your shoes after a long day, pour some beer into a tub or foot bath, and let your feet soak for 20-30 minutes. The hoppy, malty liquid will get to work neutralizing odor-causing microbes, the bubbles will gently scrub away calluses, and the yeast will lend its therapeutic touch. When you’re done, dry your feet thoroughly – especially between the toes where moisture tends to linger.
What type of beer works best for smelly feet? Most any beer will do the trick, but stronger IPAs, stouts and ales tend to be more antimicrobial thanks to higher concentrations of hops. Just be sure to avoid thick or dark beers like porters and bocks which can leave sticky residue on the skin. And it may be wise to refrain from drinking the leftover foot bath brew!
Of course a little prevention can go a long way when it comes to combatting foot odor. Be sure to wear breathable socks and shoes, alternate pairs from day to day, sprinkle antibacterial shoe powder inside before putting them on, and change your socks at least once a day. Keeping toenails trimmed short also eliminates places for microbes to hide.
Pair these healthy foot habits with the occasional beery foot soak, and you’ll be putting your best foot forward in no time. The pleasant hoppy aroma is certainly more welcoming than stinky feet! So next time your dogs are barking, consider grabbing a six pack…for your feet.
The Bubbly History of Beer Foot Baths
Soaking sore, smelly feet in beer has been practiced since ancient times. Egyptian medical texts from around 3,500 BC recommend beer foot soaks for labor pains. Ancient Greek doctor Hippocrates wrote about using beer and vinegar to treat skin growths and rashes. And Roman soldiers were known to soak their feet in beer at the end of long marches to reduce inflammation and odor.
In medieval Europe, the antiseptic properties of beer were revered. Monks brewed beer for sanitation purposes as much as for drinking. The nuns at abbey hospitals would prescribe ale for various ailments. And during outbreaks of deadly plague, some people washed themselves from head to toe in beer as protection against illness.
By the 1700s, soaking feet in beer had become an established folk remedy across Central Europe. The lower classes often lacked access to other means of bathing, so local brews doubled as an improvised foot bath. The practice continued over the next centuries, with various beer spas opening to cater to people seeking therapeutic soaks.
Today it’s understood that the antimicrobial compounds in hops make beer an effective foot bath, killing odor-causing bacteria and fungi on contact. The sudsy carbonation also provides a gentle exfoliating effect to scrub away dead skin cells. Some modern spas have revived beer foot soaks, claiming benefits for reducing germs and irritation, smoothing calluses, boosting circulation, and leaving feet soft and odor-free.
So next time you kick back to enjoy a nice cold brew, consider detouring part of that six pack…to your feet. Let your toes bask in the bubbly, antimicrobial bliss. One thing’s for sure – a beer foot bath beats soaking your feet in soda any day!
The Science Behind Beery Foot Soaks
It may sound unusual to dunk your feet in a vat of beer, but there’s some solid scientific evidence supporting this unorthodox home remedy. As it turns out, the ingredients that give beer its unique flavor and aroma also impart antimicrobial, exfoliating, and anti-inflammatory effects beneficial in fighting foot odor.
Hops are the green cone-shaped flowers that provide the trademark bitter flavor in most beers. During the brewing process, hop resins and oils containing antimicrobial compounds known as humulones are extracted into the liquid. These humulones, specifically humulone and lupulone, have been shown to combat a range of bacteria and fungi – including the odor-causing microbes that thrive on wet, enclosed feet.
Another key ingredient is malted barley which contains enzymes needed to convert starch into fermentable sugars. Malting triggers the release of riboflavin, niacin, and other water-soluble B vitamins with known skin-soothing properties that may help reduce irritation and inflammation.
Meanwhile, the unique effervescence of beer comes from the addition of brewer’s yeast which eats sugars and produces alcohol and carbon dioxide gas. This natural carbonation has a faint foaming effect when used in a foot bath, providing gentle exfoliation to lift dead skin cells off the surface of callused heels and toes.
Furthermore, old-fashioned top-fermented beers also contain surface yeasts and wheat proteins resulting in a pleasantly cloudy brew bursting with vitamins. These extra nutrients may lend additional skin-conditioning benefits. Though filtered modern lagers contain fewer suspended solids, they still supply antimicrobial hop resins making them suitable for foot bathing.
The next time your dogs start barking after a long day on your feet, consider remedying that smell with the biology of beer! Brew up a nice hot foot soak using your favorite IPA or ale and let the hops, malt, yeast and bubbles do their magic. It may sound odd, but your feet and your friends will thank you in the end!