Do You Have to Wash Your Feet in the Shower?

A person cleans and rinses their feet in the shower.

If you were on TikTok last year, you might have seen a debate arise over whether you have to wash your legs in the shower. Yes, it was a real question, but it gives rise to another. Do you have to wash your feet in the shower?

Yes, you do need to wash your feet in the shower, but the answer is surprising in its connection to the first question of whether you need to wash your legs.

The debate over washing your legs in the shower started on Twitter in 2019, but TikTok resurfaced it in late 2022. Essentially, a viral fight broke out with those who don’t wash their legs arguing that rinsed-away soap moves down them, giving them an adequate “clean.” But those who do wash their legs argue, well, that those who don’t are unhygienic.

When it comes to expert input on the matter, Dr. Joshua Zeichner, a New York City-based dermatologist, told Women’s Health that washing your legs isn’t necessary unless they’re visibly soiled are sweaty.

So then why is that soapy rinse not enough to get your feet clean?

Think about your feet. Not only are they closest to the ground and therefore more likely to pick up dirt and bacteria if you’re wearing open-toe shoes or sandals, but if they’re in closed-toe shoes like sneakers or loafers (and if socks are involved), there’s also going to be a lot of sweat hanging out in your footwear and on your feet.

According to Robert K. Lee, D.P.M., chief of podiatric foot and ankle surgery at UCLA Medical Center, who spoke with Self, bacteria feed off the waste coming out of your sweat glands and can ultimately lead to odor. So if you want to prevent odor and bacteria, yes, you need to actively wash your feet. But it’s not just about removing sweat, odor, and bacteria. Lee also told the outlet that cleaning your feet helps eliminate dead skin cells, and by eliminating them, you reduce your chance of getting calluses.

Whether you were on team no wash or team wash for the leg debate, it’s pretty clear that you should be actively washing your feet.

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