That Stinks! The Low Down on Foot Odor

Posted by Jesse Flores on

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You know that moment after a sporting event, a day outside, or just a warm day out enjoying the sun when the family gets in the car, you take off down the road and then you hear, “Ugh! What’s that smell?” Someone slipped off their shoes and now the whole car is stinky. If you have teenagers, are an athlete or live with one, you’re probably all too familiar with this moment. 
But listen to this—your feet have more sweat glands than any other part of your body and these glands release sweat throughout the day to help keep your body cool. As gross as it sounds, it explains why our feet can get pretty stinky. 
Smelly feet, or bromodosis, is super common and nothing to be embarrassed about…but still, nobody wants to be the one with stinky feet. So what causes smelly feet and what can you do about them? 

What Causes Smelly Feet?

Luckily, besides all the sweat glands our feet are also filled with some natural bacteria. These bacteria help break down the sweat as it’s released. Even more bacteria will form if you sweat in your shoes, take them off, and then put them back on before they’re completely dry. When that bacteria can’t expel the waste it’s helping to absorb…well, things get stinky. 
Now that you know what causes stinky feet, what can you do the prevent them? 

Preventing Smelly Feet

Keep Your Feet Clean

The number one way to avoid the buildup of sweat and bacteria is to keep your feet clean. Getting in the shower isn’t always enough; use a mild soap to scrub your feet while you’re in there. Make sure to get in between your toes and to dry them completely when you get out.  
Use a mild soap and scrub brush to wash your feet at least once a day. The best time to do this is during your morning or evening shower. It’s important to dry your feet completely after washing. 

Remove Dead Skin

Wait, before you get out of the shower, use a foot file to remove the hard, dead skin from your feet (you can usually find this skin on your heels). While this skin might feel hard and rough, it can get soggy and soft when it’s wet, creating the perfect environment for even more bacteria. 

Alternate Your Shoes & Insoles

If you wear the same shoes or socks for two days or more in a row, they won’t get a chance to dry out after you sweat in them and then they’ll start to stink. The best way to avoid this is to alternate the shoes you wear each day, especially if you work out or sweat in one pair.  
The same is true if you use insoles for extra support. It’s best to have two (or more!) pairs to keep in the shoes you’re alternating so they have time to dry out, just like the shoes. 

Let Your Feet Dry Out

Just like your shoes, your feet need a chance to dry out. If you can, walk around barefoot after a work out, shower, or after a long time spent outside, to give your feet time breathe and dry. 

Use Antibacterial Products

Conditions like Athlete’s Foot or a buildup of fungus can also cause your feet to smell so if simply keeping them clean and dry isn’t working, you can use use an anti-fungal cream, spray, or soap to get them extra clean. 
A foot powder or spray can also help absorb sweat both from your feet or your shoes. 

Apply Rubbing Alcohol 

Rubbing alcohol will help dry out your feet so try applying before bed at night but make sure to avoid any cracks in the skin. 

Keep Stinky Shoes Contained

What do you do with those stinky shoes when you take them off to dry? You don’t want them stinking up your car, closet, or a bedroom. To keep the stink contained (and even help it dissipate!) try a shoe carrier like the ShoeSling. The ShoeSling keeps stinky shoes away from other clothes and out of bags, helps to contain the smell, and is made of an antimicrobial technology that reduces smells and reduces the spread of bacteria. 
You can also try these tricks to avoid stinky feet:
  • Wear moisture-absorbing socks
  • Soak your feet in vinegar or Listerine
  • Keep your toenails clipped
  • Change your socks multiple times a day if you sweat a lot
Everyone gets stinky feet but teenagers, pregnant women, people who are on their feet all day, and folks under a lot of stress tend to sweat more and are more prone to stinky feet. Don’t make the whole car say, “ugh!” when you take off your shoes. Just keep your feet clean, get some socks that absorb moisture, and alternate your shoes! 

Always consult your physician before beginning any exercise program. This general information is not intended to diagnose any medical condition or to replace your healthcare professional. If you experience persistent pain, consult your healthcare provider.


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