Why do my feet smell?

Have you ever felt personally called out by a yoga instructor asking you to “slip your shoes off before we get started?” Does the thought of taking your sneakers off at a friend’s door make you want to run away to start a new life? Well, you’re not alone and you’re in the right place.

While it’s not exactly a topic of polite conversation, we’ve all taken our shoes off and been confronted by a scent that can only be summed up as “friendly skunk selling aged cheese out of the back of his van.”

But what makes our feet smell like that? What can we do to stop it? How can a skunk afford car insurance? Don’t sweat it; we’ve got the answers.

What causes smelly feet?

Most people think it’s the sweat on our feet that causes foot odor, but most people are missing the full picture.

While it’s true that the sweat glands on our feet are the most active on our body¹—and a pair of feet can have about 250,000 glands for making sweat—sweat itself is odorless.

It’s actually billions of bacteria that create bad smells.

More specifically, the gnarly smell is actually a bi-product of the bacteria feeding on our sweat.² It just so happens that our feet provide the perfect environment for these bacteria to thrive: there’s lots of moisture, warmth, oxygen and nutrients (yum).

On top of all that, certain activities and situations—like damp, warm shoes, sweaty workouts and increased stress³—help these bacteria and fungi thrive and multiply. The result? Beyond funky foot odors that can clear a room.

Why do feet smell like cheese?

Well, first off, not all feet smell like cheese (gasp). Some other common smells include vinegar and cabbage. And it’s all down to the chemicals produced by the bacteria down there.

For example, brevibacteria are thought to be a primary cause of this foot odor, and also give Limburger, Port Salut and Munster cheeses their pungent scent. This is for real, not a joke.

Methanethiol is a major component in the flavor of cheddar cheese and yet it is also created by the bacteria on your feet. And for those with a more vinegar-y or cabbage-like aroma, the culprits are acetic, propionic and butyric acids.

The most common chemical smell associated with feet is isovaleric acid, which we would recognize as a “sweaty” scent.

Changes in the smell.

It’s actually important to be aware of any major changes in how your feet smell as it could be a sign of more serious problems.

If your feet begin to smell grape- or bread-like, that could signal a fungal infection, which can cause can rashes, skin breakage and larger wounds. It’s best to seek the advice of a doctor if these smells occur.

How to get rid of foot odor.

So, if the issue is bacteria, what’s the solution?

While practicing good foot hygiene by taking the time to properly clean your feet helps, you’re probably not actually killing the bacteria. Meaning your feet will be back to smelling like gorgonzola onion dip again in no time.

Keeping your feet clean and dry, wearing open-toe shoes whenever possible, using a pumice stone to remove dead skin cells and avoiding synthetic socks are all helpful but won’t solve the problem entirely.

That’s why we spent years researching the unique needs of the foot to create the ultimate product to eliminate those hungry bacteria in an instant (do you know how many episodes of Game of Thrones we missed for that)?

The result is Twinkle Toes, an amazing foot odor spray for shoes, socks, feet and more that combines 6 powerful anti-microbial agents to instantly wipe out the bacteria and fungus that cause funky odors.

Better than a standard foot deodorant or foot antiperspirant, our formula eliminates the root causes of odor instead of just masking them (think actually taking out the trash versus spraying some perfume on it inside and hoping for the best).

Ingredients like clinical silver, lichen extract, tea tree leaf oil and manuka oil were selected for their natural antibacterial, antimicrobial and antioxidant properties to kill and prevent future growth of the bacteria and fungus that cause odor on feet and in shoes.

Even better, you can use Twinkle Toes on your feet, shoes, socks, yoga mats and more, so you can see why it’s a cult favorite.

Making sure that your socks and shoes are clean and fresh too (or at least spritzed with Twinkle Toes if you’re in a hurry) will have your problems solved, feet freshened and anxiety quelled, so you can worry about more important things. You’re welcome!


  1. https://www.healthline.com/health/how-to-get-rid-of-smelly-feet#causes
  2. https://www.huffpost.com/entry/this-is-why-your-feet-smell_n_55a52ac8e4b0ecec71bcfd53
  3. https://patient.info/skin-conditions/excessive-sweating-hyperhidrosis/sweaty-feet
  4. https://www.discovermagazine.com/planet-earth/bacteria-give-feet-4-distinct-odors#.XVL3-tNKjjA
  5. https://patient.info/skin-conditions/excessive-sweating-hyperhidrosis/sweaty-feet