Bacteria inside Shoes

Bacteria inside Shoes


They are hardly a topic discussed very often. Yet there are many bacteria living inside your shoes. There they can result in smelly shoes which are an annoyance to yourself and anyone who comes close to them.

In this blog post, I will give you short information on bacteria inside shoes: where they come from, what kinds of bacteria may live inside your shoes and how to limit the impact of such microorganisms living in your shoes.

Where do the bacteria in your shoes come from?

This is pretty straight forward. On your skin live many different bacteria. Most of them play helpful roles for your overall well-being. They create a biological environment harmful to pathogenic microorganisms. However, some bugs on your skin also are less positive for you. Apart from real pathogens, there are bacteria that are not making you sick but are still annoying.

They break down the contents of your sweat and transform them into smelly compounds (e.g. butyric acid). One of the areas where this happens commonly is your feet.  I am sure that you are familiar with the typical smell of “cheesy feet” that have stuck in shoes for a couple of hours and sweated a lot in those shoes.

Apart from the smelly particles from your feet that go directly into your socks and shoes also some of the bacteria from your feet get transferred into your shoes, together with some more sweat. This sweat they can degrade as well, creating your very own “Cheese Factory”. Yuck..

What kind of bacteria live inside your shoes?

Typically the bacteria in your shoes are the same that can be found on your body causing all kinds of smells. Examples of bacteria strains that live on the skin and create the typical cheesy smell are:

  • Brevibacterium epidermis
  • Staphylococcus spp
  • Bacillus subtilis natto

What to do against smelly shoes?

Here are some tricks against the bacteria living on your feet and inside your shoes and the smell they can create (some are pretty obvious):

  • Wash your feet every day, and whenever they are smelling
  • Change your socks often
  • Don’t wear the same pair of shoes all the time. Rather rotate them every day.
  • During the day go barefoot or at least without shoes as often as you can (i.e. do not wear them at home or in the office).
  • Wear sandals
  • When your shoes smell and you can wash them, do so.
  • Use deodorants inside your shoes, such as sprays or deodorant balls.
  • Use sprays that kill off microorganisms, such as silver solutions.

All pretty simple things that should keep your feet and shoes smell-free and reduce the number of foot odor bacteria.

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