Why Do Feet Smell?


You notice it after working all day, whether you are on your feet or not. Or, maybe you have been going on an outing for hours. You take off your shoes, and you are horrified because your feet smell terrible. You cannot wait to get into the shower and scrub your feet along with the rest of your body because you cannot handle the odor of your feet.

Even if you have not been exerting yourself, you cannot help but notice how stinky your feet are. So, why do feet smell? Let’s talk about this a little more, shall we?

What Is The Reason Behind Your Stinky Feet?

If you have an understanding behind the reason for your smelly feet, you won’t be confused any longer as to why your feet smell like old parmesan cheese. Especially when your feet have been in socks and shoes for hours of any given day. Yes, it is embarrassing if you are around others playing soccer for example, but you cannot stop your feet from smelling. But you can reduce the severity of it (more of that later on).

You do realize that your skin has sweat glands, and those sweat glands are needed, so you flush out toxins with sweat as you exert yourself or sleep. Because when you are sleeping, your body is working. And when your body is working, you have a lot of toxins to flush out. By the way, sweat by itself is odorless. The reason you think that sweat smells are since wherever there is sweat present, that becomes a bacterial breeding ground. Different types of bacteria breed in different areas of the body. That is why sweat that comes from your armpits smells differently from the sweat that comes from your feet. Their metabolic processes give off different odors.

The one type of bacteria that breed on sweat glands on the soles of your feet is called the brevibaterium. It thrives in salty environments that are damp, which is the description that matches the area between your toes. Therefore, when it emits odors from its metabolic process, it gives off that cheesy-like odor.

The fact of the matter is that bacteria are part of the cheese-making recipes. The brevibaterium is a component of parmesan, Limberger, Muenster, and Entrammes cheeses. That is why those cheeses have the same odor as your feet. However, cheese lovers can compartmentalize this gross fact. If they love cheese and love loading their pasta dishes of parmesan cheese, they can easily separate the fact that it smells dirty feet. If you remind them of this fact, they will shrug their shoulders and enjoy their cheese-covered pasta.

Since this bacteria lives on your feet and emits that cheesy odor, you cannot avoid that. Your feet are naturally smelly as a result of that. However, there are ways to minimize the smell, so you don’t end up embarrassed if you are with a group of people, and you are the one who has the smelly feet. If you are the only one who has the stinky feet of your group, people will know it, and nothing is more embarrassing than that, especially when combining it with wet feet if you are not wearing the proper wading footwear.

Therefore, if you are assuming that the type of footwear and socks you put on your feet have an impact on whether they smell or not, you are right. There are also some lifestyle habits to adopt when it comes to taming that foot odor.

What Can Be Done To Reduce The Offensive Foot Odor?

Why do your feet smell terrible after you have been wearing shoes that are not breathable without socks? That is because that is the ideal setting for bacteria to grow and multiply fast. Therefore, your feet and shoes will stink. The best thing to do is to no longer wear shoes without socks.

Wearing socks can significantly decrease the foot odor because socks soak up and absorb the sweat. Socks prevent sweat from permeating in the shoes, so if you wear clean socks, your feet will not smell nearly as pungent. But you need to wear a fresh pair of socks every day or every other day if you are not wearing your shoes often. If you wear the same socks over and over again in a week, then they soaked in sweat where the bacteria can breed. Those socks become smelly, and if you wear them repeatedly, your feet will have an offensive odor.

Therefore, you want to wear a fresh pair of socks, preferably daily. Especially if you are on your feet and wearing shoes often. It is also advisable to alternate wearing different pairs of shoes every other day if you can. If you keep wearing the same shoes, that can also increase the bacteria breeding inside of them. Alternating your shoes can reduce the number of bacteria that multiply, which means your feet will not smell too bad if you wear different socks daily as well as different shoes every other day. When you are not wearing a pair of shoes, allow them to dry out so that any colonies of bacteria that are breeding in those shoes won’t survive.

The shoes to wear must be breathable, and the best type of shoes that fit that description are mesh shoes. That is because they allow the air to flow smoothly and keep your feet fresh, and that will help reduce how much sweat comes out. When it comes to winter boots, they are not going to be breathable as its purpose is to keep your feet warm. That is why you want to buy several pairs of winter boots so you can wear each pair on different days. You can allow the pair you are not wearing to air out on the day you are wearing the other pair of boots.

It is also advisable to get removable insoles to help kill off foot odors as they are antimicrobial. Keep your feet hygiene proper by washing your feet daily with soap and water, and be sure to scrub the areas around your toes as that is where the bacteria thrive. Dead skin, bacteria, and microbes can be removed this way and dry them thoroughly before putting socks on. You can even put antiperspirant on your feet, which you use for your underarms as it can help reduce the sweat.


If you have been asking yourself, ‘why do feet smell’, you now have the answer. Your feet sweat, especially between your toes. When your feet are sweating, it attracts bacteria, which causes them to have that distinct cheesy odor. There is no way to prevent that. However, you can reduce the pungency of the smell by utilizing several hacks (for example, bowl with proper bowling shoes and not your normal sneakers, as they have limited capacity for breathing). You need to wear socks when you are wearing your shoes as they absorb sweat, and change your socks daily.

Wearing different pairs of shoes on alternating days can help reduce the smell. Additionally, you must wash your feet and scrub in between your toes daily to keep your feet clean. If you take those measures, your feet will not smell so bad that the attention is on you.