Most of us have experienced stinky feet at one point or another in our lives. While some may reach for the fabric refresher spray or cleaning chemicals, those with chemical allergies need to be a bit more cautious in the products and methods we use. Even essential oils, which are tolerated by some with chemical allergies, can build up in shoes from repeated use and become irritating/allergenic. Just because the chemical smell is gone does not mean that the chemicals are all gone.
Most stinky foot issues are caused by bacteria or fungus, and these are exacerbated by the moisture released by our feet. Washing your feet is a great start, but it only goes so far, and does nothing to stop the stink that has already moved into the shoes. Below I’ve listed eight ways to reduce or eliminate foot odour from shoes.
Wash your shoes – If it is possible to do so without damaging the shoes, try washing them. The combination of water, soap, and agitation will do wonders toward removing the agents causing the odours.
Dry out your shoes – The longer sweat and other moisture is present in shoes, the more bacteria and fungi can multiply. Balled-up newspaper (avoid out if you have any allergies related to paper or ink), dessicant packs, or tea bags are common methods of absorbing moisture more quickly.
Wear socks – Socks, especially if made of natural fibres like cotton or wool, help to absorb sweat, keeping your shoes dry longer, and making it easy to wash the majority of the day’s sweat away with the rest of your laundry. They also catch dead skin flakes and other dirt, keeping your shoes cleaner. Natural fibre socks also cause less sweating in the first place, since they breathe better than polyester and nylon.
Get breathable shoes – Synthetics are more common than not in footwear nowadays, and most of these do not breathe, holding moisture in. Find a good pair of more breathable shoes and those bacteria and fungi will have a less friendly environment in which to grow.
Put the shoes outside – UV light kills a wide variety of bacteria, and fresh air can help to carry away odours.
Sprinkle baking soda in your shoes – The baking soda not only absorbs moisture and odours, but the high-pH environment created makes it hard for a number of bacteria to grow.
Use vodka or rubbing alcohol – High-proof vodka or rubbing (isopropyl) alcohol will help to kill bacteria and fungi in your shoes. You can even use the vodka on your feet. Kill the microorganisms creating the smell, and the smell will dissipate quickly.
Freeze your shoes – It sounds crazy, but freezing actually kills a number of microorganisms (and even insects). Put your shoes into a bag, stick them in the freezer for a while, and pull them out for fresher feet.