How to Keep Your Feet From Stinking

If you're out and about in summer and early autumn, chances are good your feet will get hot, sweaty and possibly stinky. Here are some ways to avoid that problem.

How to Keep Your Feet From Stinking

Combine sweat, a closed space and bacteria in summer and what do you get? Stinking feet, often in work boots or hunting boots during the early part of hunting season.

No one wants stinky feet. Whether in hunting camp or an office setting, someone's aromatic dogs aren't good companions. You might be able to get away with telling your good friend his feet smell like a donkey's tush but possibly nose-blind to your own.

Whatever the case, smelly feet are indicative of a combination of moisture and bacteria. Combine your non-breathing and hot summer boots, workout shoes or hunting boots with socks, sweat and the bacteria that thrives in that environment. You change your socks, maybe dry off or wash your feet, but neglect your footwear.

The next day, your footwear is still damp. Bacteria still are growing, festering, loving the fact you're coming back for another day of heat and sweat. Bacteria party! Add to the fact that many Americans still wear cotton socks, which hold moisture and are terrible at wicking it. That's why you sometimes will have wrinkly Old Man Feet and may even sweat so much you can wring out your socks.

If that's the case, think about the moisture still inside your shoe or boot. If you don't rotate your shoes or let them dry, that moisture can become a bacteria factory. It also can begin to degrade your footwear at the seams. Plus, it's just gross.

Two Easy Fixes

One of the best things I ever bought was a shoe dryer. I use it year-round for hunting boots, trail-running shoes, workout shoes and anything else that gets wet or sweaty.

Mine is an old Cabela's-branded model. The Peet shoe dryer is the original. The days are gone of putting your old leather boots by the cracklin' fire, stuffing newspapers in to soak up moisture and having to massage bear fat or saddle soap into them to keep them pliable. You can still do that if you're feeling nostalgic, but there are better ways.

The other easy fix is to quit wearing cotton socks. I've switched to Swiftwick Aspire for everything from knock-around to trail running to church and work. They're made from 55% nylon, 40% olefin and 5% spandex, are thin and incredibly breathable.

Although it sounds crazy to think about in summer, merino wool socks also do the same. Swiftwick's Pursuit socks, for example, have 66% Merino wool, 32% nylon and 2% spandex. They wick moisture and help keep you cool in summer. I don't understand it but they do. There's an Ultralight version, as well, should you want a Merino sock in a thinner design.

What to Do

To avoid having feet that would knock out Sasquatch, do these things:

— Clean your feet daily with antibacterial soap and keep your toenails clipped appropriately. Watch for athlete's feet or other problems with itching, burning, etc.

— Rotate your shoes each day, allowing the prior day's shoes to dry completely. Get a shoe dryer if possible to assist with this. Remove the insoles to allow them to dry and the boot or shoe to completely dry.

You may think about using some kind of powder to help control moisture. But think about this: if you're working hard and your feet are sweating a lot, do you want a bunch of powder getting all gummy and clotted around your toes? If you decide to use a powder, figure out how much is just enough to get the job done. You don't want to be making Gold Bond biscuit dough out in the heat.

— See your doctor or a podiatrist if you're continually having issues with smelly feet, athlete's foot, toe fungus or other problems. These can be easily remedied but also may be indicative of other health issues.

Yes, see a doctor or specialist if necessary. The nasty hangnail or calouses you've been carving on with PeePaw's Case XX might need attention from someone with a degree instead of a whetstone. It's no big deal to get checked out and you might get relief from that problem you've ignored for years. 

— Change your socks, man. C'mon! Wear some that wick moisture and allow your feet to breathe. Take extra socks to change into if possible during the day. Socks can make a world of difference in summer or winter.


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