The Best Socks For Sweaty Smelly Feet

Does this sound familiar?

You make an habit out of thoroughly washing your feet. You change shoes regularly and take them off when possible.

You make sure to wear at least 80% cotton socks. You even use foot powder.

And you have taken other measures to combat smellly feet as well.

Yet still, your feet are sweaty all the time and your socks damp and stinky.

It’s really embarrasing to take off your shoes when you enter a gypsy friend’s home, go shopping for shoes, or visit a Japanese restaurant.

When having to expose your sweat-discolored socks, contaminating the air around you, you are desparate for a solution.

You are wondering, “heck, I’m even using a quality antiperspirant, maybe it’s my socks that still cause my feet to sweat so much”.

And you are right.

Changing the type of socks you wear day in day out can help cure sweaty feet.

Footwear and socks prevent our feet from evaporating moisture. This trapped sweat quickly becomes smelly, because of bacteria that feed on it, producing the cheesy smell.

Since going barefoot* as much as possible is not a practical solution,  it’s helpful to choose your socks and shoes wisely.  (* I try to do so and especially love running barefoot in the woods which made my friends call me “barefoot walker” but that aside.)

One of the main causes of sweaty, smelly feet is wearing the wrong socks & shoes.

Which socks to avoid

Synthetic socks will make your feet sweat like a pig in summer. Plastic, nylon, polyester, or other synthetic fabric linings don’t allow sweat to evaporate and don’t absorb it either, so your feet stay wet. If such socks are tight they worsen the effect.

Polyester socks are often the preferred choice of athletes because they prevent blisters by keeping the perspiration away from the feet.

Cotton socks are better than synthetic socks because they are lighter and cooler than acrylic socks and allow the feet to breathe.

The problem with all-cotton socks is that they do not hold as much moisture without becoming sodden.

cotton socks absorb moisture but do not dispel it causing your feet to remain wet

They get wet, stay wet, and thus provide an environment the smell causing Brevibacteria thrive on.

Cotton socks also retain heat. Which is something these bacteria also thrive on.

Definitely get rid of synthetic socks such as acrylic and nylon socks but also avoid cotton.

Other reasons why it’s important to keep your feet dry are because moisture may cause fungal infections such as Athlete’s foot and blisters.

Not to mention cold feet in winter and overheated, extra sweaty feet with blisters in summer.

The best socks to prevent sweaty feet

Here’s why wearing the right type of socks is such an important and efficient element in combating sweaty feet.

If you own enough leather and other breathing shoes to rotate frequently, moisture will not be much of a problem in your shoes.

Soggy socks however, quickly cause foot odor (bromhidrosis). Especially if you suffer from plantar hyperhidrosis, which is the medical name for excessively sweating feet.

recommended: specialty socks with fibers designed to keep perspiration away from the foot (wicking socks)

specialty socks with fibers designed to keep perspiration away from the foot. – See more at: http://www.healthyfeetstore.com/sweatyfeet.html#sthash.crHIy46V.dpuf

There’s a wide range of socks available, designed to keep your free dry and fresh. These wicking socks include; sports socks with ventilation panels, synthetic liner socks, wool socks, and other types.

The best dress socks for sweaty feet are merino wool (Smartwool) socks. They are moisture absorbent,  and contrary to what you may think because it’s wool, will not make your feet hot and sweaty.

Moisture wicking socks

Most of the socks listed below are moisture wicking socks in one or another way. The bacteria that cause smelly feet live on the top layers of the skin on your feet. They thrive on moist. Therefore it is necessary to keep sweat away from them.

You can’t stop sweating anyway since your feet have the most eccrine sweat glands than any other body part. You can reduce the amount of sweat your feet produce though.

Feet are known to be able to produce a pint of sweat per day

Once your shoes have been exposed to sweat and lots of bacteria they will set up colony in your shoes too. That’s why it’s important to clean your shoes on a regular basis as well.

Wool socks

Wool socks belong to the best socks for sweaty feet because:

  • wool socks wick perspiration away from your feet
  • wool absorbs moisture in the inside of the fiber itself (whereas with cotton, the whole fiber absorbs moisture), the surface of wool socks stays relatively dry
  • wool has almost twice the moisture absorbing  ability of that of cotton
  • wool breathes well
  • wool socks are commonly thicker than cotton socks

Wool can wick as much as 30% of its weight in water.

Personally, I love wool socks for another reason, wool has excellent insulating properties which means it keeps your feet warm when it’s cold but also helps your feet keep cooler when it’s warm. (which is often a problem for me, my feet heat up really quickly, leaving me with very warm or even hot feet)

Smartwool socks, a popular, well-reviewed brand, help prevent sweaty feet and most people find they are not itchy.

Of course, everybody is different so switching brands may be useful when itch is an issue.

Merino wool socks

Some people find that 100% wool socks still become clammy. If you experience this too, you may want to opt for sock liners combined with (wool) socks. Such a combination helps a lot of people keep their feet dry.

Quality lightweight 100% merino wool socks are generally sold as “liner” socks.

Merino wool socks are often valued for various reasons. For one because of Merino wools excellent insulation properties. These socks keep your feet warm in winter and cool in summer. Which is great since overheated feet are common in people with sweaty feet.

Apart from that they are very soft, especially if you have socks with a micron count lower than 20. But that’s just a nice added benefit.

Merino wool socks are probably the best socks to prevent sweaty feet because:

  • They can absorb a whole lot of moisture (sweat) while still feeling dry since the moist is kept inside the fiber thus blocking microbes from feeding on the sweat. Apart from that it also evaporates sweat into the air. Eventually even Merino wool will be saturated (it can absorb about 35% of its own weight) and start to feel wet but this takes much longer than cotton or normal wool.
  • Because of this strong wicking ability Merino wool socks stay warm when wet.
  • Merino wool dries quickly. So you can take off your shoes to let your socks dry while not having to worry about the stench.
  • This special type of wool is naturally anti-bacterial. Its chemical makeup and structure make it a harsh place for bacteria and other microorganisms.
  • It eliminates odor. And it does this well.

 

Popular brands are SmartWool and Wigwam . They are known for their hiking socks but these offer a great solution for daily wear too. After all, some folks may use these socks during a marathon but we tend to sweat as much by just strolling to the grocery store two streets down the block.

I recommend:

Despite the benefits of wool socks, some people are just sensitive to wool.

 

Here are some alternatives. Types of socks that help keep your feet dry and free from odor.

Liner socks

are worn inside traditional socks, are made from special materials and are designed to provide you with increased comfort along with certain other benefits.

Read more : http://www.ehow.com/facts_5949081_sock-liners_.html

 

are worn inside traditional socks, are made from special materials and are designed to provide you with increased comfort along with certain other benefits.Read more : http://www.ehow.com/facts_5949081_sock-liners_.html

Synthetic (polyester) sock liners  (a.k.a liner socks) wick sweat away from your feet and keep it locked in the sock. Liner socks are worn inside traditional socks.

Thin synthetic liners worn together with wool blend outer socks are a popular solution for smelly feet.  They offer comfort, keep your feet dry, help educe foot odor but also prevent skin maceration.

Some  brands also feature additional protection against foot odor by adding substances that inhibit the growth of smell causing bacteria. An example: ProtectGuard® Anti-odour socks.

Antibacterial socks

You might consider antibacterial socks. These are impregnated to kill off the smell causing bacteria. Many sock manufacturers combine technologies.

Coolmax socks

Coolmax socks are specifically designed to move perspiration away from feet. These quality liner socks are made out of Coolmax,  Nylon, Lycra, Spandex, and Durofil. They have different types of socks divided in everyday use and active use.

A popular brand that features Coolmax technology are Thorlo Experia socks. They have cushioning which provides support and reduces friction and are extra breathable. Some users even say it’s like there’s air conditioning in these socks. Haven’t used them myself.

Drymax socks

Drymax wicking fibers
Drymax wicking fibers

Drymax socks have so called Active Odor Control.

Made out of  olefin, polyester, elastane and nylon they are geared towards athletic performance and support and blister prevention but also keep your feet from sweating excessively.

The synthetic olefin is also known under the brand name Coolmax.

Sweat pulls heat away from skin 23 times faster than air. 

Under Armour socks

Under Armour socks are designed to wick moisture and accelerate evaporation. Made from polyester, acrylic and spandex these  socks fix the sweaty feet problem for some while others complain about durability.

Under Armour socks are valued for their padding, support, and slip resistances. On the other hand, some types of  UA socks don’t seem to last that long ending up with holes relatively quickly.

Because many Under Armour socks are not so durable as they used to be or tend to shed a lot they are not my favorite socks to help reduce sweaty feet. If you do like this brand, make sure to check out Under Armour’s well-reviewed and popular Heat Gear Trainer Crew socks.

Coppersole socks

Back in the day I had those copper insoles in my shoes. Nowadays there are socks with copper fibers too. The copper fibers are embedded in the yarn.

Aetrex coppersole socks for example feature copper threads that don’t wash out and help prevent smelly feet by killing bacteria and fungi. These socks even restore collagen in your foot soles keeping them more supple and healthy.

Personally I think I’d rather go back to using copper insoles than wearing these socks. They seem a bit ‘gimmick-y’ to me.

Bamboo fiber socks

Bamboo fiber socks are eco-friendly socks that are popular among people with diabetes, those with allergy-prone and sensitive skin, and other groups.

These socks keep your feet warm in winter and cool in summer because of bamboo’s thermal regulating properties. They help reduce foot odor because they are almost 4 times more absorbent than cotton socks.

Bamboo fabrics are often claimed to be antibacterial and anti-fungal. The bamboo plant itself is antibacterial, whether the fabric, in for example socks, after the production cycle still is is not entirely clear. Researchers are looking in to fortifying bamboo’s antibacterial properties by adding additional antibacterial agents. Source Wikipedia.

The incredible soft and luxurious feeling of bamboo textiles however,  is undisputed.

Covert Threads socks

Military socks, specifically designed for harsh climates and conditions. If you suffer from very sweaty feet these socks may be for you. They make great dress socks too.

Covert Threads is just one of the several military socks brands. Like most other brands these sculpted cushion socks are specifically designed for hot or extremely cold climates.

The wool & acrylic blends keeps feet dry and prevent blisters even when walking and perspiring a lot. Other features that help reduce smelly feet is the infection preventing silver lining which is claimed to distribute heat evenly.

X-Scent socks

X-Scent socks have threads with silver ions. Silver ion technology is known to kill bacteria and a wide range of microbes.

Some people are enthusiast about silver socks for sweaty feet while others are concerned about potential side effects.

Similarly, some people spray their feet and shoes with a silver containing spray such as Primos Silver XP.

Additional advice

Some people only have mild complaints. Their socks may get damp after walking a while.

Others suffer from full-fledged plantar hyperhidrosis. They sweat so much that their feet slip around inside their shoes and emit a chronic and severe odor (bromodrosis).

No matter how severe your complaints, the right choice of moisture wicking socks made out of cotton, or even better, wool can make a huge difference.

Clean socks

  • Remember to change socks during the day. Take a clean pair of socks with you to school or work.(Which is why I am no fan of liner socks. It’s a hassle enough to have to change one pair of socks during the day.)
  • Use absorbent foot powder twice a day. Always wear clean socks.
  • Wash your socks on the hottest cycle. After washing, rinse your socks in a diluted antiseptic solution and let them dry in the air.
  • If necessary, wear a second pair of appropriate socks over the first pair for increased absorbency.

damp conditions inside a shoe and the wrong type of socks promote sweaty feet

Clean, breathable shoes

  • Make sure to wear non-occlusive , breathable footwear. Leather, canvas, and mesh shoes are best and athletic shoes or boots should be avoided.
  • Wear a different pair of shoes on alternate days, so they can dry fully.
  • Take your shoes off whenever possible during the day. This way your socks can dry and your shoes can air out a little.
  • Although hiking shoes such as Goretex are often breathable, some people still experience sweaty feet.  If that’s the case for you go for non-waterpoof boots without membrane.
  • Washing the foot pads inside your shoes will help fight the smell causing bacteria.  Since they feed on sweat, make sure to clean them regularly.
  • If your shoes don’t get the chance to dry, use a shoe dryer.
  • If you wear boots a lot, consider purchasing a boot rack that lets you store your boots upside down.

Final note.

If wearing the right socks as well as other home remedies do not help cure your sweaty and smelly feet, go visit your doctor or a podiatrist.

They may prescribe a more powerful antiperspirant or advice you to get iontophoresis treatment or, in worst case scenarios, botox injections.

Check here to see if you have tried all proven-effective methods that are available.

 

21 thoughts on “The Best Socks For Sweaty Smelly Feet

  1. Calluses on bottom of my feet start to burn after standing a few hours into my shift which is twelve hours will the wool socks help this too

    1. Calluses are commonly caused by pressure and repeated rubbing from shoes or socks. As far as I know sweating isn’t a cause (which is the main benefit of wool socks). Make sure your shoes fit well since ill-fitting, especially high-heeled, shoes are a common cause of calluses and probably the burning sensation you experience. Some socks can bunch up at the toes thus causing friction as well. Avoid wearing those too.

      Cushioned socks such as those made by Under Armour or Covert Threads sculpted socks provide extra support and reduce friction and may be helpful in preventing calluses and the burning feeling. If cushioned, sculpted socks don’t help you may want to try shock-absorbing orthotics (special insoles, arch supports, and heel pads and shoe inserts) since these help align and support the foot and heel relieving pressure when standing or walking a lot.

    2. wearing a proper shoe will solve that issue, not a sock. Find out if you’re a supinator or a pronator and have a store employee help you find the proper shoe

  2. Hi,

    I saw this website and wanted to introduce myself.

    I sell socks that help to mitigate foot odor. The fibers are laced with an antimicrobial. I can personally attest that they work well.

    Bill
    Portland Oregon

  3. My daughter was recently injured and now has to wear a plastic AFO brace. She sweats so bad we have to change her socks and clean her brace several times a day. Yet she still develops severe heat rash on her calf. Is there a sock you recommend for this problem?

    1. I’d suggest wearing moisture wicking socks, preferably made from Merino wool as it helps keep feet cool in the heat too.

  4. I wear patterned nylon/polyester socks all the time: they are the most comfortable and I
    like the strong smell: my wife likes it too! I grew up in the 1960s when nylon socks were very popular, and I have so many pairs left from the 1970s that I wear these socks all the time. My feet are in perfect condition, and when I’ve worn cotton socks I’ve found that they get much more smelly! NO: nylon/polyester socks HAVE to be manufactured again, and they will prove once more to be THE MOST POPULAR AND DESIRABLE SOCKS!

  5. As a person who has feet that sweat profusely I can attest that the suggestions of regular wool, Merino Wool, and the other wonder fibers only make the problem worse. The best solution is to use CLEAN, DRY, COTTON socks and change them a few times per day.

    I wear wool and Merino wool socks for skiing for their superior warmth to cotton. The fibers in these socks amplify the smell of my feet. Cotton is the only material I have used that does not amplify the smell. All other fabrics that claim to wick away the moisture either augment or amplify the bad smell.

    The author is correct that the only real solution is to walk around barefoot all day. It is left to the owner of the sweaty feet to decide which is more socially acceptable: smelly feet or bare feet.

  6. My feet have started to give off a source, amonia-like odor. My husband gagged while doing the laundry recently. I don’t know what to do about it.

  7. Thanks for this. My son’s been struggling with eczema and when we got it under control on the rest of his body but couldn’t control it on his feet I began to take notice that he itches his feet until they’re bloody only after he’s worn socks. Turns out he has his daddy’s feet.. They just sweat so much. Looking into wool socks. Thanks!

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