How to Use Foot Powder (with Photos) – According to Doctor

8 minute read

To use foot powder, start by washing your feet. Use antibacterial soap. If you want to soothe and disinfect your feet thoroughly, take an epsom salt foot bath.

Once you’re done, dry your feet. Massage foot powder into your feet. Start with the toes and go backwards, towards the ball of the foot. Then put on moisture-wicking or cotton socks.

Hi! I’m Dr. Karim Maghraby. I’m a medical doctor and physician scientist (M.D., M.Sc.). I spent hours researching and writing this article.

Below, I’ll explain how to use foot powder safely and properly.

We’ll go step by step, with photos. We’ll also cover different foot powder types, making your own deodorant powder, and more. 

Let’s get started!

Disclaimer: This guide was created for educational purposes. It neither offers nor replaces medical advice. Learn more here.

Table of Contents


Step - Wash Your Feet

Start by washing your feet thoroughly. Good foot hygiene makes foot powder more effective. We recommend using an antibacterial soap, especially if you have foot odor. It can help get rid of athlete’s foot, fungus, etc.

If you have swollen, achey or stinky feet, you can also take an epsom salt foot bath. They will reduce swelling and pain. They can also reduce foot fungus, especially in hard-to-reach areas soap doesn’t get to.

Make sure to clean the whole foot. Lather it up thoroughly if you’re not taking a foot bath. Make sure there’s no debris between the toes or anywhere else. If you have dry, cracked heels, you may want to use pumice stone too.


Step - Dry Your Feet

Once you’re done washing your feet, dry them. Use a towel or soft cloth, and make sure the fabric is dry and clean. Dry thoroughly. Excess moisture can lead to blisters and conditions like athlete’s foot.

Don’t walk barefoot when drying your feet because…

  1. Floors in public spaces can be dirty. You might catch a bacterial or fungal infection.
  2. Dirt, dust and debris sticks to wet feet. This can lead to foot odor and stop foot powder from working.

If you’re washing your feet at home, dry them immediately after rinsing them. Don’t step outside the shower, bath or tub. If you’re washing your feet in a public space, wear waterproof shoes while washing your feet. Dry without stepping on the floor.


Step - Apply Foot Powder

Take a little foot powder and massage it onto your feet. Start with the ball of your foot. Make sure to get the area between the toes. Work your way back towards the ball of the foot, then the midfoot and heel. Give your foot a quick all-over massage once you’re done.

Make sure you’re using foot powder. Shoe powder isn’t always made for human skin. Body powder may not be absorbent enough for a sweaty foot. And remember there are different types of foot powder. To make sure you’re using the right kind, read the section below.


Step - Put Your Socks On

We like two kinds of socks for foot powder. First, thick cotton socks. These will stop the talcum powder from rubbing off as you go about your day. They’ll also absorb any excess moisture if your feet get sweaty.

We also like breathable, moisture-wicking socks. These will cool your feet and keep them dry. With them on, your foot powder will keep working longer.


Step - Apply Powder to Your Shoe

You don’t have to apply powder to your shoe. But if your feet get sweaty often, or you’ll be wearing your shoes a while, you might want to. To do it, just sprinkle some powder inside of your shoe.

Most types of powder will do here. Regular baby powder works fine; so do shoe and foot powders. Since we’re not working with human skin directly, we can be less careful.

If you can, don’t wear the same shoes two days in a row. This will keep them dry and help stave off stinky feet, blisters and athlete’s foot.

Foot Powder Types

Foot powders aren’t all created equal. Here are some of the most common types you need to know about.

Foot deodorant powder

These help control sweating and foot odor. Some work as an antiperspirant, reducing foot sweat. Others work as a deodorant, reducing foot smell. A third category reduces sweat and smell.

We recommend natural foot powder products. Ingredients like tea tree oil can reduce foot odor naturally. Others can absorb sweat. For most people, there’s no need to apply chemicals to foot skin.

Medicated foot powder

This kind of foot powder usually helps with fungal and bacterial infections. It can also help with itchiness and irritated, dry feet. Medicated foot powder tends to have ingredients like boric acid and arrowroot powder.

Multi-purpose foot powder

A third kind of foot powder doesn’t have any special qualities. It just absorbs moisture, keeping the foot dry and blister-free. Baby powder is a good example of multi-purpose foot powder.

You can make this kind of foot powder at home. All you need is a few simple ingredients available at any corner store. Keep reading to learn how in the section below.

How to Make Your Own DIY Foot Powder

Making your own foot powder is really simple.


2 parts corn starch or arrowroot powder

1 part baking soda

1 part baking powder

Optional ingredients

Essential oil (add a few drops for deodorizing effect)

Boric acid powder (add 1/5 part to reduce fungal infections and reduce body odor)


Mix all the ingredients together and use as explained above.

Foot powder ingredients to avoid

Allergy sufferers should avoid powder products that use essential oils. This includes tea tree oil, which can irritate the skin (5).

If you have irritated or damaged skin, be careful with products that use talc and cornstarch. When used on an open wound, talc can cause skin irritation, pain and discomfort. (6). The same applies to starch.

If you have a cut, burn or blister, cover it with a band-aid before applying powder. Alternatively, look for restorative medicated foot powder that uses zinc oxide.

Why use foot powder?

Our feet have the highest concentration of sweat glands in our whole body. They produce lots of sweat. This sweat can give our feet an unpleasant scent. It can also lead to discomfort, blisters and other problems.

Foot powder helps manage foot sweat by absorbing moisture. If it has an active ingredient like boric acid or tea tree oil, it can kill fungus and bacteria.

What does foot powder do?

Foot powder’s main function is to absorb excessive sweat. This keeps the feet dry. It also prevents bacteria that feed on sweat from multiplying and producing foot odor. It reduces the risk of fungal infections and prevents smelly feet. Some foot powders use essential oils to give the feet a pleasant smell (1,2).

Medical foot powder can have other, auxiliary effects. It can help with skin irritation, calluses, corns and other conditions (1,2). Foot powders and sprays that use salicylic acid are particularly helpful for thickened skin.


What’s better: foot spray or foot powder?

Both can reduce perspiration and foot odour equally well. Foot spray is more likely to include chemical-based ingredients. Personally, I recommend powder.

How does foot powder work?

Foot powder absorbs sweat, reducing discomfort and foot odor. It can deodorize the foot with active ingredients like tea tree oil. Some types of foot powder, e.g. ones with talc, reduce sweating.

Can I use foot powder on sweaty hands?

In most cases, yes. There’s no reason you can’t use your foot powder on your hands. Just remember your hands may not respond to a product that helps your feet. Also remember that, unlike with feet, sweaty hands need frequent applications of foot powder.


1. How to apply foot powder the right way. Palm Beach Naturals (2019).

2. Foot powders and sprays. Cosmetics Info (2019).

3. How To Use Foot Powder? Quick Guide And Handy Tips. Sootheyourfeet  (2019).

4. Jaliman, D. & WebMD Staff. Tips for Healthy Feet. WebMD (2021).

5. Rieder, B. O. Consumer exposure to certain ingredients of cosmetic products: The case for tea tree oil. Food Chem. Toxicol. 108, 326-338 (2017).

6. Fiume, M. M. et al. Safety Assessment of Talc as Used in Cosmetics. Int. J. Toxicol. 34, 66S-129S (2015).

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Dr. Karim Maghraby

Last Updated:

July 6, 2022


Dr. Maghraby is a medical doctor and published physician scientist. He’s an avid runner and a user of sports compression gear.