It’s easy to get stinky feet from time to time, but the good news is that it's also not that complicated to fix it. There’s really no excuse if you're peeling off your socks at the end of each day, only to force a 10-foot radius between you and your poor partner or roommate. (After this year, they'd probably be mildly sick of sharing space with you if your dogs smelled like spring lilies.) Heck, even your cat probably wants some distance from that odour.
So, let’s get into how to fix smelly feet, once and for all. We'll start with the root of the problem, then get to the products that will stomp out foot odour for good.
As with bad morning breath, stinky feet are caused by the accumulation of bacteria on your feet throughout the day. However, unlike bad morning breath, which is often caused by a lack of moisture in the mouth, smelly feet grow smellier as the foot encounters moisture. Your feet are covered in sweat glands, and as they perspire throughout the day, this creates a perfect environment for bacteria—if the moisture is allowed to stick around. However, if you have a good plan of defence against this problem, then you can prevent smelly feet from ever walking into your life.
A key part of keeping feet fresh is, well, washing your feet daily. Keep them clean, scrub them on occasion (may I suggest a callus remover, too?), and keep them smooth with an overnight application of foot lotion. Even pedicures and proper nail clipping can do wonders for preventing fungus and bacterial buildup. The more you love your feet, the less desirable they’ll be to the gross stuff.
You never want to put on your socks and head out the door if your feet aren’t totally dry—this is basically setting your poor feet up for failure. So, after showering, make sure you’ve totally toweled off your soles, and that they’re entirely dry before you pull on your socks.
Do yourself a favor and swap out your basic cotton socks—particularly on any day you’ll be inside your shoes for hours and hours on end. Cotton socks often provide good cushion for sports and quick errands, but cotton can also retain moisture—which is obviously bad when it comes to preventing foot odor. It’s better to seek out synthetic materials. Even better? wool. It sounds like it would be too warm, but there are some great lightweight wool socks on the market these days. Either way, these fabrics will pull perspiration away from the skin.
If you're still having trouble, try inserting stick odor-absorbing insoles into your shoes, which can further soak up moisture (and prevent your shoes from permanently sucking up any stench).
If you’re still getting sweaty feet on the daily, then you may need to turn things up a notch and apply a moisture-absorbing powder to your feet before you put on your socks—you can even sprinkle some into your socks and shoes for extra assurance. But only do so when your feet are entirely dry.
There’s no harm in throwing a fresh pair of socks in your bag, the same way you’d exchange into something fresh after a workout. This is the best way to “start fresh” midday, even if you can’t actually clean your feet.
Another strategy for keeping feet fresh is to never wear the same pair of shoes two days in a row. Let them air out between wears, so that you know they’re entirely dry the next time you stuff your feet inside. How's that for an excuse to cop some new sneakers?