No more stinky summer feet.
April 29, 2007 8:15 PM   Subscribe

Each year I get a couple pairs of sandals for summer, and each year they start to smell bad in no time. And they make my feet smell terrible too. It doesn't seem to matter what brand or material. What can I do to be totally rid of this problem while still wearing sandals and no socks every day? Is there some spray/ointment I can use on my feet/sandals each morning/night? Or what?
posted by debacle to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (23 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
What kind of sandals are we talking about? I can't imagine sandals of the open-foot, thong type getting smelly easily as there's so much airflow...
posted by jckll at 8:35 PM on April 29, 2007

Even leather sandals? Where the sole and all the parts that touch your feet are leather?

I don't remember the model, but I know that Teva makes some of its sandals out of a material that has been impregnated with an antibacterial chemical designed to reduce odour. (Tevas used to REEK after a month of wear, whatever that chemical is really works.)

That being said, look for anything antibacterial - it's the bacteria that make your sandals smelly.
posted by Kololo at 8:42 PM on April 29, 2007

You have to leave the sandals out in the sun when you aren't wearing them, or throw them in the washing machine in a pinch if they are tevas. I know what you are talking about. No spray is going to do it...
posted by baking soda at 8:49 PM on April 29, 2007

I bought a pair of black rubber Havaianas flip-flops at my local surf shop and not only were they cheap (less than fifteen bucks), but they've lasted over a year and a half of near daily use, look great (ie, no wear spots on the heels/toes/balls of my feet or issues with straps), and don't smell at all. The nice thing is that because they're rubber, they can get wet and be fine.
posted by mdonley at 8:58 PM on April 29, 2007

Do you have sweaty feet? I do and mine get smelly within probably two days of wearing them.

I got a prescription for drysol, which makes you stop sweating wherever you apply it.. it worked but I went through it within a month or two and it cost about 40 bucks, probably not worth it. You could try spraying your feet regularly with an aerosol deodorant that contains aluminum hydroxide, which will keep you from sweating. You should probably apply it right before you sleep.
posted by mhuckaba at 9:03 PM on April 29, 2007

rubber sandals (reefs, tevas, havainas) can all go in the dishwasher or washing machine and coming out smelling like roses...or atleast much better.
posted by enaira at 9:19 PM on April 29, 2007

The problem you will find is that it isn't just sweat that causes the odor. It's more the bacteria. You can't stop your feet from having bacteria. You have to kill the bacteria, hence the direct sunlight and washing machine.
posted by baking soda at 9:38 PM on April 29, 2007

i wear flats without hose or socks, and this is what works for me:

wash your feet with antibacterial soap.

spray with an aerosol deodorant.

if it's going to be a long day, carry some antibacterial wipes (rubbing alcohol or witch hazel wipes work, too) to swab down your tootsies if they get too pungent.

spray lysol disinfecting spray on your insoles at night, or if your soles are rubber, swab the insoles with a little bleach on a paper towel. let dry overnight.
posted by thinkingwoman at 9:45 PM on April 29, 2007

crocs. a tad warm, but they don't absorb and if they do get dirty you can throw them in the washer. Just please don't wear them out of the house.
posted by BigJuiceMan at 9:50 PM on April 29, 2007

Wash your feet well when you shower (soap & scrub), and apply gel deodorant to the soles of your feet & between your toes afterward.
posted by squalor at 9:55 PM on April 29, 2007

Foot powder is the most effective and economical solution. Dust your sandles very lightly and blow off the excess, otherwise you'll have funny-looking white feet.
posted by randomstriker at 10:02 PM on April 29, 2007

I've never tried this but maybe get quite a few pairs of sandals, and only wear each once a week or so. This is easy enough unless you like expensive sandals.
posted by 6550 at 10:19 PM on April 29, 2007

I have much the same problem, and I solved it last summer by buying a few packs of Summer Soles. The colour matches are fairly reasonable for most sandals, close enough that others won't notice. You just have to be good about cutting them to the correct shape. Basically they are sticky insoles for sandals, made with a nice comfy faux-suede surface for your feet. You stick them in, and after a week or so rip them off and replace with a new pair. I liked them because in some cases I found the insole was more comfortable than the sandal insole. Plus my sandals didn't pong anymore!
posted by Joh at 12:12 AM on April 30, 2007

These are the only sandals I wear anymore - Gurkee's

They are cool, comfy, lightweight, durable and when they get dirty, you can throw them in the washer. I haven't noticed any foot funk since I've been wearing them, and the only time I wash them is if I've been out in the mud or something so they look dirty, rather than smell dirty.

Happy Feet!
posted by lawhound at 4:11 AM on April 30, 2007

If you're talking about Tevas/Chacos/plastic flip flops, there is one simple solution. Once a week or so, fill your sink with water and some of that oxygen bleach stuff ("Oxy-clean"). Float the sandals upside down for 1/2 hour or so. Rinse and dry in the sun.

Obviously, if you're talking about leather sandals this probably is a pretty bad idea.
posted by hydropsyche at 6:02 AM on April 30, 2007

You could look for sandals that don't have a plastic, rubber or leather sole to them - those get smelly fast. Many brands have shoes with foam or cork footbeds that are pre-treated with anti-smelly stuff (antimicrobial shields and whatnot, which to the best of my knowledge is silver woven into the material. I think that the primary technology used for this is AgION antimicrobial treatment). Keen's come to mind since they're top of the game with antimicrobial footbeds, but Chaco's, the North Face, and even some in Teva's new line use this in many of their sandals.
posted by drycleanonly at 6:20 AM on April 30, 2007

If you want to try the drysol stuff that mhuckaba recommended, check out a product called Certain Dri, which is available near the antiperspirants/deodorants at the drugstore. It's the same stuff, just a slightly less strong solution, so you won't need a prescription.
posted by vytae at 7:14 AM on April 30, 2007 [1 favorite]

Keen sandals and shoes come with an anti-stinkfoot insert. Well worth the extra money!
posted by Mmothra at 8:52 AM on April 30, 2007

I've heard that there is stuff called "sandal soap" which can be gotten at shoe stores and apparently works wonders. I haven't tried it myself, but the person who told me this is generally trustworthy so you might look around.
posted by bink at 9:09 AM on April 30, 2007

I love my Keens but I can't recommend them as a solution for stinky feet, anti-microbial footbed or no. Mine result in serious stinkfoot even with the use of deodorant, which isn't the case for other shoes I wear.
posted by magicbus at 9:13 AM on April 30, 2007

I got 6 months at a time out of Havaianas in Brazil before I replaced them for wearing down after fairly heavy almost daily use and for a smell that was kind of like rusty water, but stronger. Even then, the odor could be minimized by washing with soap and water. When not wearing flip flops, I've found that deodorant stones work on feet, too.
posted by dmo at 10:04 AM on April 30, 2007

Wash your feet often with soap and water, and throw away any smelly shoes so you don't convey the bacteria from your old shoes to your new ones.
posted by Manjusri at 10:10 AM on April 30, 2007

I live in Keens, Tevas, and other similar shoes, and I have come to accept that the stinkfoot will eventually arrive. There's a rule in our house that my shoes have to stay on the deck and I have to wash my feet when I get home.

That said, I run my shoes through the wash with a couple white bar towels and some bleach, don't do the spin cycle, and then dry them outside in the sun. That works pretty well.
posted by nekton at 1:00 PM on April 30, 2007

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