So why do feet smell so bad? It’s an age-old question. The answer is probably obvious. What might not be obvious is how to clean the smelly shoes that are caused by bad-smelling feet.
Feet contain hundreds of thousands of sweat glands. This is normal in all people. Sweat is basically just salt and water, and doesn’t have much of a smell of its own. The smell is actually caused by bacteria. Sweat attracts bacteria and is their source of food. These millions of bacteria eat the sweat and then excrete it out. The bacterial excretion causes the pungent smells we’re so familiar with.
Actually, hands have nearly as many sweat glands as feet but don’t smell as badly. So what gives? The reason is our socks and shoes. The sweat from our feet can’t easily escape into the air like the sweat our hands excretes. Bacteria love the dark, damp confines of sweaty shoes and have a feeding frenzy. When you remove your kickers at the end of the day, the smell that hits you is all of that collected bacterial waste.
An obvious way to keep shoes from smelling is to keep your feet clean in the first place. Be sure to dry your feet completely after bathing and add a moisture-wicking powder between the toes. Wear socks like cotton or bamboo that are great at absorbing sweat and change them a couple of times throughout the day. Make sure your shoes are not overly tight which is another way to stimulate sweat to build up. Finally, go barefoot and let your feet air-out as much as possible. If you can, put your shoes on a rotation. That is, try to switch to another pair so that previous pair can air out before you wear it again.
Ok so what if you’re too late in cleaning your own feet and simply have shoes that you can barely stand to be in the same room with? There are numerous ways to rid those old, or sometimes barely-worn shoes of the odors they accumulate. Some methods are backed by sound science while others are Grandmother’s old ways that she swears does the trick. Whether you’re inclined towards modern science or old wives-tale methods, try one of these ideas on for size.
1) A combination of anti-bacterial spray and anti-fungal foot powder. There are various sprays and powders on the market that should work well. One to try is Fresh Wave.
2) Cedarsoles (insoles made from antifungal cedarwood) have an easy long-lasting effect.
3) Place each shoe into a plastic bag and place into a freezer overnight. The next day remove from the bag and freezer. Place the shoes outside in the sunlight to thaw, and dry.
4) Place cat litter into a pair of tights. Tie the tights securely and place in each shoe overnight. The shoes will be odorless the following morning. You will need to change the cat litter periodically. It works, cost is minimal and environmentally friendly!
5) Remove the laces and soles from your shoes and put them all in a single pillow cushion. Put a small towel in there too and then put on a single 40 or 50 degree wash. repeat this procedure again immediately after the first time.
6) Put rubbing alcohol on a cotton square and wipe out the insides of the shoes that are not washable.
Now go take care of those shoes before they take on a life of their own!