How to deal with shoes that stink, according to a podiatrist

TThe memory of my best friend asking what I smelled, and the answer being “my shoes” in front of her hot older brother, has been seared into my memory for the best part of the last decade. I don’t have to tell you that boot season is a recipe for a special kind of stench that stays on your shoes long after you take them off and can cause you to relegate your favorite pair of above-the-knee shoes to the back of your closet. But there’s no need to say goodbye to those stinky shoes: with proper care, they’ll be back to smelling like roses (or at least regular shoes) in no time.

Not to state the obvious, but smelly shoes start with the feet. “Foot odor is caused by the ‘fermentation’ of sweat and moisture; it’s actually a by-product and can be any combination of bacteria, fungus, mold or yeast,” says podiatrist Jacqueline Sutera, DPM, member from the Vionic Innovation Lab. Pretty! “These odor-causing germs thrive in dark, damp spaces, making your shoes an ideal environment. a prolonged time. contact with the feet”. This explains why the colder months, when your feet are usually stuffed into thick socks and unventilated shoes, can make things particularly smelly.

There are a few things you can do to prevent bad shoe odor from happening in the first place. Dr. Sutera suggests sprinkling your feet with powder or antiperspirant to help keep them dry and wearing socks designed to help wick away moisture and sweat. “When you don’t wear socks, there’s no barrier, and the material of your shoes ends up absorbing sweat, which in turn breeds odor-causing bacteria,” says Dr. Sutera. “Wear socks made from natural fibers or that are infused with copper, which has antimicrobial properties.” Leather shoes tend to be better than other materials (since they’re easy to clean), and no matter which shoes you choose, be sure to alternate them daily and let them dry completely between wears.

Proper foot care can also help. Every time you wash your feet, you will want Really lather them up and take special care to wash between your toes. “And dry between your toes!” says Dr. Sutera. “Putting on socks and shoes right after a shower without letting your skin dry properly creates a moist, dark environment, which is perfect for fungus and bacteria to grow.” If your feet need a little more love, try a black tea foot bath. “The tannic acid in the tea helps prevent feet from sweating and causing odor,” says Dr. Sutera. All you need to do is brew two tea bags in a liter of water, let it cool down, and soak your feet for 10 minutes every night for a week. “Once the problem is under control, soaking your feet once a week will keep the odor at bay.”

If you’re past the point of prevention and already have some BO-infused boots on your hands, you’ll want to get in there and kill the odor-causing germs. Dr. Sutera recommends using an ultraviolet light disinfectant, such as Sterishoe ($100), or spraying them with Lysol. For a $0 fix, try putting them in a plastic bag and storing them in the freezer overnight. “Freezing temperatures can kill most odor-causing bacteria,” says Dr. Sutera. These fixes apply to boots, sneakers, flats, really any of your closed shoes. Try them out for yourself and you won’t have to worry about getting called out about your smelly shoes ever again.

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