Having smelly feet can be an embarrassing and uncomfortable problem. The source of foot odor is sweat mixing with bacteria on the skin, which causes an unpleasant smell. While good hygiene habits like washing your feet daily are important, wearing the right type of socks can also help combat foot odor. Here are some tips on choosing the best socks for smelly feet.
Look for Natural Fibers
The best socks for smelly feet are made from natural, breathable fibers like cotton, wool, or bamboo. These materials allow ventilation and wick moisture away from the foot, preventing excess sweat that leads to odor. Synthetic fibers like polyester or nylon don’t breathe as well, trapping sweat against your foot. This creates the perfect environment for bacteria to multiply and make feet smell.
Cotton is a top choice for combatting foot odor thanks to its absorbent and airy properties. Look for cotton-rich sock fabrics like cotton blends or Pima cotton. Wool also naturally resists odor and wicks moisture, even when feet sweat a lot. Bamboo fibers are very breathable and absorbent as well. Try to avoid 100% synthetic socks if possible.
Choose Moisture-Wicking Styles
Moisture-wicking socks are designed to keep feet dry by pulling sweat away from the foot to the outer surface of the sock where it can evaporate. This helps prevent the sweaty conditions that bacteria relies on, stopping odor before it starts.
Look for socks advertised as moisture-wicking or sweat-wicking. Materials like polyester or nylon are often used in moisture-wicking sock fabrics, but they are blended with cotton, wool, or bamboo. The moisture-wicking properties come from how the sock is designed and knit, not just the fabric.
Some socks also have ventilation panels knit into areas prone to sweating like the toes or arch. Mesh ventilation zones can improve breathability and moisture control. Odor-fighting socks may also be treated with antimicrobial silver fibers or baking soda to prevent bacterial growth.
Change Socks Frequently
Even the best socks for smelly feet need to be changed daily. Swapping socks allows them to fully dry out and prevents bacteria buildup. Having multiple pairs of socks on hand makes it easy to give socks a day of airing out before wearing again. Quick drying moisture-wicking fabrics also help socks from staying damp.
Wash socks frequently in hot water to kill bacteria and odor. Activewear detergents help remove stubborn odors and sweat stains. Bleach alternative products containing oxygen cleaners can also disinfect smelly socks. Be sure to fully dry socks in the dryer or air dry them to prevent mildew odors.
Use Odor-Fighting Insoles
For severe foot odor, use medicated insoles along with breathable socks. Insoles designed to combat foot odor contain antimicrobial ingredients and activated charcoal to absorb odor. These provide a defense against sweat and bacteria down inside the shoe.
Look for insoles containing silver, tea tree oil, or baking soda. Charcoal infused insoles absorb stenches and can be refreshed by placing in the sun. It’s a good idea to alternate between multiple pairs of insoles to extend their odor-fighting effects. Remove insoles daily to allow shoes to fully dry.
Manage Athlete’s Foot
One common cause of foot odor is athlete’s foot, a fungal skin infection. The fungus releases smelly compounds giving feet a strong, unpleasant odor. Along with odor, symptoms of itching, cracked skin, peeling, and redness occur.
Wearing moisture-wicking socks and changing socks frequently helps prevent athlete’s foot from developing. Be sure to wear sandals in public showers or locker rooms where fungus spreads. When present, over-the-counter antifungal creams applied to the feet daily for about a week can clear athlete’s foot. Keeping feet dry prevents its return.
See a Podiatrist
For some people, smelly feet are due to excessive sweating of the feet called hyperhidrosis. This condition creates ideal conditions for foot odor no matter what socks are worn. Prescription-strength antiperspirants or medications that reduce sweating may be necessary to control odor.
If socks for smelly feet don’t seem to help, discuss options with your doctor. They can check for sources of odor like infections. Custom orthotic inserts may improve foot sweat issues. In severe cases, prescription medications or even surgery can treat excessive foot sweating and odor.
Practice Proper Foot Hygiene
Anytime feet get sweaty, odor can occur. Practicing good foot hygiene limits foot odor issues. Keep your feet clean by washing them daily with soap and drying carefully, especially between the toes where moisture gets trapped. Trim toenails straight across and smooth calluses with a pumice stone to remove dead skin bacteria feed on.
Dust feet with medicated powder to help absorb sweat during the day. Wear clean socks and change them when your feet get sweaty. Alternate pairs of shoes to give them a chance to fully dry between wears. These healthy foot habits along with moisture-wicking socks keep smelly feet at bay.
While genetics do play a role in body odor, having stinky feet isn’t an inevitable fate. There are many sock options today specifically designed to combat foot odor. Choosing socks made with breathable, moisture-wicking fabrics will help keep your feet fresher. Combine odor-fighting socks with other hygiene habits to say goodbye to smelly feet.