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Why Do Shoes Smell, and What You Can Do About It

Smelly Feet Can Ruin Both Your and Your Co-Workers’ Day

Don’t let stinky feet be the cause of an unpleasant day for you!

Whether you are having a good time on a hot summer’s day outdoors or coming home from a long day at work, feet can be smelly – some more than others. If you clear out a room within a few minutes of taking your shoes off, you may have a foot odor problem.

Why do feet smell?

Bacteria called Kyetococcus sedentarius is the leading cause of foul-smelling feet. Many at-home remedies can help with this pesky problem.

How Shoes Get Smelly

Bacteria grows in the dark, moist areas, and what better place for them to multiply than on your feet when you are wearing work boot socks and shoes.

Why Do Feet Sweat?

Feet have an incredible 250,000 sweat glands, so sweating in your feet is a common occurrence. Wearing socks and shoes keeps your feet moist as there is no air or ventilation for them to dry when you are sweating. Sweaty feet create a perfect breeding ground for smelly bacteria. Bacteria is in your socks, on your shoes, and they live on your feet – especially between your toes.

And that’s just one side of the story.

Some people’s feet are smellier than others. The smell is because they sweat more. Whatever the reason is for stinky feet, it is an annoyance for many people.

What Can We Do About Foot Odor?

The only way to clear up that pesky smell in your shoes is to kill the bacteria growing in your shoes, socks, and feet. There are a few natural solutions to foot odor. (1)

In case you might be asking yourself

Combine these tips to get the best out of your foot care:

  • Wash your feet daily – Cleaning your feet with soap and water will eliminate many odor-causing bacteria. Soak your feet in Epsom salt will do wonders for your muscles and stinky feet.
  • Keep your feet dry – Don’t put socks on your feet right after a bath or shower; dry them well and let them air dry a few minutes before putting on socks. Moisture between your toes is a perfect breeding ground for bacteria².
  • Breathable shoes – Choosing breathable and comfortable work boots are important too. Some materials have better ventilation, while those made with synthetic materials are less breathable such as polyester and nylon. Shoes with perforations are ideal as they are breathable.
  • Shoes need a break, too – Leave your shoes to air out for 24 hours after wearing them so that the bacteria will die. Try alternating shoes every day. 
  • Wicking socks – Wicking socks will help push away sweat and ventilate your feet. Keep an eye out for materials in your shoes, such as merino wool, microfiber blends, or olefin. If your work boots are well-ventilated, these socks will do a great job at keeping your feet dry. Don’t forget to change your socks often!
  • Baking soda – Baking soda is not just for baking cookies! Add a couple of teaspoons to your shoes and let it sit overnight. Baking soda in your shoes and on your feet will lessen the smell.
  • Vinegar spray – Add equal parts of vinegar and water into a spray bottle and apply to your shoes to kill odor-causing bacteria that might be growing in them. Be sure to let it dry for 30 minutes before you wear them. This mixture can discolor some shoes, so be sure only to spray it on the inside.
  • Mask the smell – While it is better to fight the cause of foot odor, there are some ways you can mask the smell. Rubbing your shoes with drying sheets, tea bags, citrus peels, and lavender can reduce the smell of your shoes. You can also leave it in the toe area of your shoe overnight will give it a pleasant aroma.
  • Make sure your shoes aren’t too tight – Tight shoes can cause your feet to sweat more.
  • Wash shoe insoles – Washing your shoes’ insoles will also help keep your shoes clean and bacteria-free. Make sure that the insoles are removable and washable.

Smelly feet can make anyone self-conscious. Don’t let pesky bacteria get you down. Practice good hygiene and do some of these natural remedies to improve your foot odor.

Common Questions

What causes stinky shoes?

How do I stop my shoes from smelling?

Why do my shoes smell after washing?

Is smelly feet a sign of ill health?

Final Thoughts

Odor-causing bacteria survive in moist sweaty areas, around dead skin cells, and multiply in dark places. The more you sweat – the more bacteria that is produces. If you don’t have a medical condition causing foot odor, following these simple tips can significantly reduce odor-causing bacteria’s growth.

Simply put

There are many ways you can naturally reduce stinky feet. Do more than one of these tips and maximize its effectiveness and practice good hygiene. Be selective on footwear that has adequate ventilation and pair it with lightweight, sweat-absorbing socks.

If you continue to suffer from foul foot odor, see your pharmacist for some over the counter creams. There are antifungal and antibacterial creams and sprays that are also very effective and safe to use.

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James Blake

James has made it his mission to find the top boots on the market. He's passionate about matching the right boot to the right application because different boots are a perfect fit for different uses.

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