They hold us up, keep us moving, score incredible goals, and even protect us from danger. And sometimes they smell like rotten cheese. So why is it that so many of us don’t wash our feet?
Whether you’re an athlete, a dancer, a beach bum, or a model, you should always wash your feet. So please pay attention! Your little piggies will thank you later. Why do feet get so smelly? What is the proper way to wash our feet? What health risks are involved with dirty feet?
Have you ever taken off your shoes after a hard day of work and gagged from the nasty stench? Well, don’t worry, you’re not alone.
This doesn’t necessarily mean you have bad foot hygiene. Some people are more genetically predisposed than others to have stinky feet. The truth of the matter is, the average foot has 250,000 sweat glands, making it the fine-dining hotspot for hungry bacteria.
Our feet stink due to brevibacterium linens, a harmless bacteria that live on your skin and consume dead skin cells. The waste produced by this bacteria contains the same chemicals found in skunks and rotten eggs. Yuck, I’d throw out those old socks if I were you.
And if you happen to live in a hot and humid climate, unfortunately, your feet will be home to even more bacteria. Fun fact. There is a world record for the number of feet smelt. Madeline Albrecht, who worked for Dr. Scholl’s, holds the title for smelling 5,600 feet. Are you kidding me!? That poor, poor woman. So what would happen if you didn’t wash your feet for a whole year?
You might think that taking a shower and letting soapy water run down your body is enough. Well, I’m sorry, but dirt and bacteria can still build up between your toes, and on all that dead skin you forgot to scrub off.
Your best bet is to scrub every inch of your feet to exfoliate them properly. This should be a daily practice, even if you don’t have a very active lifestyle. Otherwise, you’ll be at risk of infections, warts, and stinky fungus.
Athlete’s foot is a fungal infection that affects 3-15% of the population. It’s easy to catch, especially if you like to walk barefoot in moist, public spaces, like a locker room or a communal shower. So you might want to bring a pair of flip-flops with you to the gym.
Damp and humid environments allow fungus to thrive. That can lead to infections, causing symptoms like itchiness, flaky skin, painful boils, and a scaly rash. Even worse, if you use the same towel on your hands and feet, infections can spread to your hands and fingernails. So keep a separate towel for your feet and be careful who you high-five. If you don’t treat your athlete’s foot with antifungal cream, well, things could get smellier and even more painful.
As months go by, you might develop plantar warts, which occur when the human papillomavirus enters your feet through a cut in your skin. These nasty warts grow inward and cause painful calluses in pressure-bearing areas like the heel. It might start to feel like you have stones in your shoes.
And to top it off, if your sweaty, stinky feet soften the skin at the edges of your toes, you could suffer from ingrown toenails. If you’ve ever stubbed your toe, well, imagine that kind of pain in your toes all the time. Ouch.
Your shoes and socks would start to smell pretty awful and would need regular cleaning. Or maybe throw them out. If you’ve got a massive collection of kicks, well, you might want to start a daily rotation and mix up the ones you wear. Why not look fresh and smell fresh too?
To make matters worse, your stinky, unwashed feet might leave bacteria on your carpet and furniture, making them just as smelly. I’m sorry, but febrezing just isn’t going to cut it this time.
And if you share a bed with that special someone, well, you might be lining up at the singles club before long. Oh, and did I mention joint pain? As your dead skin builds up, it can offset your balance and make you walk funny. This can affect your joints and leg muscles, which could lead to serious back problems.
Speaking of walking funny, why did the foot stink at telling jokes? Because it was corny. Hahahaha, okay, bad jokes aside, for the amount of work our feet do every day, we should be giving them regular massages and pedicures. Trust me. They’re good for the sole.
- “How To Practice Good Foot Hygiene | Institute For Preventive Foothealth (IPFH)”. 2021. ipfh.org.
- “Why do feet stink by the end of the day?”. 2019. The Conversation.
- “Is Soapy Runoff Enough To Keep My Feet Clean? – Dollar Shave Club Original Content”. Lecklitner, Ian, and Ian Lecklitner. 2016. Dollar Shave Club Original Content.
- “Athlete’s Foot: Overview”. Institute For Quality And Efficiency In Health Care (Iqwig).
- “7 Funky Feet Facts – Foot Health Center – Everyday Health”. 2018. everydayhealth.com.
- “More Than A Quarter Of Men Don’t Wash Their Feet In The Shower – Dollar Shave Club Original Content”. Leftley, Nick. 2016. Dollar Shave Club Original Content.