Whether you’re pounding the pavement for your latest run or simply running errands in the summer sun, this time of year can be hard on your feet. And when the shoes come off, smelly socks and foot odor refuse to be ignored.
It’s an unpleasant and uncomfortable combination, but there are plenty of ways to combat it. Keep reading to learn the best remedies so you can sport fresher, drier feet this summer.
What Causes Smelly Feet?
The first step is to understand what causes sweaty, stinky feet. Sweating is our body’s natural response to overheating as well as a way for it to dispose of toxins. There are an incredible 250,000 sweat glands in each foot (way more than anywhere else in the body), so it’s no wonder that our socks end up drenched as temperatures rise.
However, it’s important to understand that sweat is actually odorless, so it can’t take all the blame for the stench. It’s when that sweat comes into contact with bacteria on our skin that the smell is unleashed. And since bacteria thrive in moist environments — such as sweaty socks and shoes — it’s no surprise that smelly feet are a common problem for many of us.
Certain health conditions can also contribute to smelly feet, including poor circulation or fungal foot infections like athlete’s foot. If you find your sweating situation is excessive, it’s best to consult a doctor to check for any additional concerns.
Top 5 Proven Solutions for Preventing Foot & Sock Odor
Now that we know a combination of sweat and bacteria are to blame, here are the top five ways to treat and prevent the stinky effect.
1. Hygiene Is Queen
Simple is often best, and that’s the case with this tip. Wash your feet every day with an antibacterial soap, paying careful attention to between your toes, and fully dry them before putting on socks or shoes. While in the shower, it’s also a good idea to use a foot scrubber or pumice to remove any hard skin — another favorite hiding place of bacteria. Keep your toenails trimmed and clean for additional protection. It may seem obvious, but regular washing is one of the most effective ways to avoid foot odor.
2. Sprays, Powders & Potions
Once your feet are fully clean, deodorizing sprays or powders can be used to help prevent or reduce odor. Keep in mind, though, that sweating is your body’s way of clearing out toxins, so it’s best to avoid antiperspirants that would suppress this natural process. Instead, consider more natural solutions like talcum powder, corn starch, and baking soda to absorb moisture and thwart bacteria. You can also sprinkle these solutions directly into your socks before wearing them or in your shoes overnight to speed up the drying process.
Other natural options include lavender oil and orange peels (both of which have antibacterial properties), an Epsom salt soak, and even sanitizing hand gel, which we all have plenty of these days, to prevent those unwelcome smells.
3. Sock It to Odor
Since moisture is the enemy of odor, wearing the right socks is essential to avoiding sweaty feet. Say no to synthetic fibers that keep sweat sitting on the foot rather than evaporating, and yes to moisture-wicking materials like Merino wool, bamboo, or copper-infused fabrics. Feetures’ Merino 10 is a distinct blend of antimicrobial Merino wool and Tencel fibers that pull sweat away from your foot and naturally prevent odor.
Stop smelly socks by changing them throughout the day or whenever you notice sweat becoming a problem. And here’s the cardinal rule: Never wear the same socks two days in a row, even if you don’t think you sweated much in them. They will still have absorbed moisture and bacteria will be brewing.
4. Shoe Maintenance
In addition to wearing breathable socks, you should also consider breathable materials in your shoes. Leather and canvas are good options for ventilation, as are sandals or any open-toed shoes that allow sweat to evaporate. If you find smells cling to your shoes, give them time between uses to air out and fully dry outside or in a well-ventilated area (not stuck in a closet). You can also stick some dryer sheets or newspaper in each shoe to help soak up extra moisture and freshen the smell. For an additional dose of clean, wash them either by hand or in a washer if machine washable. And remember to remove insoles to dry faster and air out odors.
5. Go Barefoot
Give your shoes a rest by not wearing the same pair every day. This provides enough time for them to fully dry and stops the cycle of perpetual bacteria growth. When you kick off one pair, try not to immediately reach for another. It’s important to allow your feet time to rest and dry out. Especially at home, skip the slippers and let your toes breathe for a change!
Feetures can help keep your feet fresh this summer with our line of Merino wool socks for both active and casual wear. We proudly stand behind every sock we make, and our lifetime guarantee allows for a replacement at any time with no questions asked. Try a pair for yourself today and say goodbye to smelly summer feet!