Foot odour is a problem that not many want to admit to having, but it’s definitely an issue for many! Why do feet and shoes get so stinky? In short – sweat.
It is of course natural for the feet to sweat (and some people sweat more than others) but having shoes on for the most part of the day doesn’t help the situation. Covered feet mean little to no ventilation which creates a hotbed for bacteria - which in turn results in smelly feet and shoes.
Having smelly feet and shoes is embarrassing, especially in Asia where you take off your shoes before entering a person’s home! So how do you fix the problem?
Let’s start with what you should do to try and keep the problem at bay.
Keep your feet as dry as possible at all times - When you come out of the shower, or after you wash your feet, make sure you dry them properly; paying close attention to the areas between the toes.
Wash your feet often – As mentioned, it’s bacteria that cause the feet and shoes to smell so washing them often (and drying them) will help to eliminate the problem. Make sure you use soap, and not just water. You can also treat yourself to a nice foot bath at the end of a long day which will also relax you.
Give your shoes time to air out - Wearing the same pair of shoes every day is a potentially smelly situation. Your shoes need time to breathe and dry out (giving the bacteria a less friendly breeding ground!) so try to alternate your shoes every other day at the very least.
Wear socks - This depends on the shoes you wear but whenever possible, put on a pair of good quality natural-fibre socks that will help get rid of the moisture from sweaty feet. This of course means that the socks will need a good soak and a wash before you wear them again, to avoid the bacteria having a good old time in your socks.
Wear shoes with ventilation – Synthetic materials tend to be less breathable than leather, but the design of the shoe also plays a part in how well moisture can escape - covered shoes but with a perforated design is a good example, or strappy sandals.
So now that you know what to do to avoid having smelly shoes and feet, what can you do about your shoes that already smell? You can always buy shoe deodorisers but make sure you get the ones that are anti-bacterial and will help get rid of the odour, not just mask it. If you’d like to try some home remedies, check out the below.
Vinegar – Yes, vinegar on its own does smell but it’s an amazing deodoriser. Just mix equal parts vinegar and water, and spray the insides of your shoes. Do be careful not to get it on the outer part of your shoe as it may stain or discolour depending on the material; you can do a patch test before you proceed if you want to be really cautious. You can also add a few drops of essential oils if you’d like. Make sure you let your shoes dry out completely before wearing them.
Freeze! - Bacteria thrive in warm conditions so sticking your shoes in the freezer overnight is a great way to get rid of it. Just put your shoes in Ziploc bags and shove them in the freezer overnight or for a bit longer. Then you can take it out, let it thaw and dry properly before you wear them.
Baking soda – This amazing powder has many uses and one of them is to absorb odour. Just sprinkle some in your shoes and leave for as long as possible; at least overnight. Don’t forget to remove the baking soda before you wear the shoes.
Cat litter – Cat litter absorbs odour so putting some in your shoes will work a treat. As with the baking soda, don’t forget to remove the litter before you wear the shoes!