Kids can have stinky feet…but then they become teenagers and it can be sooo much worse (trust me, when you think it can’t get worse, it can)
I remember one day driving home after baseball practice. The Arizona summer heat was starting to approach so it was quite warm at practice. Practice ran for 2 hours after a full day of school that included PE class. My son took off his shoes while I was driving. Suddenly my eyes started watering and stinging and I could immediately tell he had taken off his shoes and socks (we have a rule that he needs to wait until we get home or change into fresh socks in the lockerroom). It was so bad. Time to figure out how to deal with it.
Tips Dealing with your Teenager’s Stinky Feet
Practice good foot hygiene. Shower daily and make sure they’re washing their feet with soap. Antibacterial or charcoal-based soaps are a good choice. Dry feet thoroughly before putting on socks and shoes. Keep toenails neatly trimmed.
Rule out skin conditions on the feet. Skin conditions such as foot fungus or infections. If there is any evidence of bumps, rash, or itching, see a doctor to rule out a skin condition. Follow through with any doctor-recommended treatment plan.
Wear clean socks. Always wear socks with shoes. Get no-show socks if it’s a style-thing. Make sure they’re wearing clean socks each day. Some teenagers can get lazy about laundry and just grab the first pair they see (which may be a pair left on the floor from yesterday) If their feet sweat a lot during sports practice, change socks when done.
Clean socks thoroughly. Wash socks in hot water with a good detergent.
Don’t use fabric softener because it just causes buildup on laundry and doesn’t it allow it to get as clean. Use a vinegar rinse in the laundry (pour white vinegar in the fabric softener cup of your washer). Use wool dryer balls and don’t over-dry to help deal with static.
You can also try adding baking soda to the laundry to absorb odors. Other options to try are Lysol Laundry Sanitizer or Oxi Clean with Odor Blasters. If the socks have a lot of buildup, you can try laundry stipping.
Soak overnight and then run through the laundry machine
Or replace the socks and start fresh.
Apply deodorant to feet. Lume natural deodorant can be applied to feet to help control sweat.
Wear natural fibers when possible. This applies to both shoes and socks. Cotton, bamboo, or merino wool socks are best for absorbing moisture from sweaty feet.
Shoes made with synthetic materials tend to hold odors more than natural materials. They don’t allow feet to breathe as much, caused feet to stink more and hold onto odors. I’ve noticed my son’s leather sneakers stink less than his pairs made of synthetic materials.
Allbirds sneakers (wool runners and wool loungers) made with merino wool and my new favorite shoe. I can wear them sockless and my feet don’t ever feel sweaty or stink. I will be ordering a pair for my son next (I already own 3 pairs). Bonus – the shoes can be thrown in the laundry so super easy to keep clean. They also make merino wool socks.
Rotate shoes. Have multiple pairs of shoes so that you can rotate. Shoes need a chance to dry out. Warm moist environments promote bacterial growth. Alternatively, you can use boot dryers.
Use Bamboo Charcoal Bags. Use routinely to absorb odors before the shoes get worse. We have a few sets and keep one set in my son’s gym back for his cleats. The charcoal packs should be placed in the sun monthly to regenerate. Replace after a certain amount of time.
You can use newspaper and crumble it up and place it inside the shoes. Use a new piece each time.
Funk Away Use an odor eliminating spray such as Funk Away on their shoes to kill bacteria which can cause odors
Clean or replace shoes that really stink. Everything above is about how to prevent odors. But if the shoes really stink, then you have to deal with that. If the shoes are washable, run them through a laundry load.
If they’re not washable you can try a few things to remove the odor. Put alcohol in a spray bottle and spray the insides of the shoes and let it evaporate. Put baking soda and let them sit overnight
Good luck. The teen years are tough with their hormones causing emotional challenges and smells.
If you find discover any new tricks for dealing with the teen stink challenges, send us an email and leave it in the comments. We parents need to stick together to survive the teen years.