Why Do Your Feet Smell And What Can You Do About It? This Video Has The Answers

When it comes to things that everyone thinks smell good, feet aren't exactly at the top of the list. Since foot odor can be more of a problem for some people compared to others, though, the big question behind it all is this: Why do feet smell, anyway? Good news — we have answers. A new video from the American Chemical Society's Reactions web series breaks down the science behind why feet smell and discusses some possible solutions to prevent smelly feet from happening in the first place. Science does nothing so well as explain the more bizarre parts of our world to us, am I right?

Shockingly, stinky toes don't plague my own life on an everyday basis. However, I'm no stranger to having to throw away a favorite pair of flats or two because I can smell them from three rooms away. Let's face it: There are certain parts of our body that have a unique perfume to them. Feet, armpits, and naughty bits all make this list. Obviously, there's biology and body chemistry behind each of these scents that explains why they smell the way that they do; as the video notes, when it comes to feet sweat, dead skin and bacteria are the foundations for smelly feet. I don't know about you, but I think that's another reason why everyone should invest in routine pedicures: Besides keeping your toes on fleek, a nice deep cleaning can do wonders for your little piggies' scent.

Here's the step-by-step of what's going on when our feet start to stink; scroll down to watch the full thing:

1. Sweat

Our body is covered in sweat glands to help cool us down. Not surprisingly, there's a higher concentration of these glands in places that end up smelling the worst, like our pits and our feet.

2. Sweat Smells. Or Does It?

Something I didn't know: Sweat itself doesn't actually have an odor. It only gains an aroma after it comes in contact with a few other things (stay tuned for what those things are).

3. Shoes

Shoes and socks don't allow our feet to breathe. So guess what happens?

4. Bacteria

Yep: Without allowing our feet to breath, bacteria moves on in and makes itself at home. In order for bacteria to thrive, it needs warmth, moisture, oxygen and food — and hey, guess what? Our shoes are warm, sweaty, and have oxygen, and the dead skin on our feet serves as a never-ending buffet of bacteria food. Yum.

5. Gas

Like any other organism, when bacteria eat, they fart (yes, even the female bacteria). The three main gases produced are propanoic acid, methanethiol, and isovaleric acid.

6. Cheese and Sulfur

A bacteria called Brevibacterium, which smells like munster cheese, releases methanethiol when it eats dead skin cells. This makes your feet smell like sulfur. Yummy.

7. Cheese and Vinegar Party

Another bacteria called Staphylococcus Epidermis produces isovaleric acid after eating dead skin. This releases another cheesy smell with the added bonus of a vinegar aroma.

8. Sour Not Sweet

Propionibacterium releases propanoic acid when it eats your sweat. This produces a sour smell. Ugh — that was even gross to type. I'm sorry, guys. But hey, the more you know, right?

9. Fighting Back

In order to fight back against foot odor, you need to focus on sweat, dead skin, and the bacteria feeding off both of these.

10. This Little Piggy Went To The Bathtub

Adding antibacterial soap and a pumice stone to your hygiene regime can help take dead skin off of the bacteria food menu.

11. The Fabric Of Our Lives

Besides wearing fresh socks, because duh, also make sure to use breathable sock materials like cotton to help your feet breathe.

12. Air Those Puppies Out

When you take your shoes off, open them up and put them someplace they can dry out. My personal secret is kicking them off or falling out of them as soon as a walk in the door and leaving them in the middle of the living room floor.

13. And When All Else Fails...

Grab some deodorant. The solution is in the name. You can actually use the same deodorant you use on your pits on your feet to help wick moisture away.

Check out the whole video here:

Reactions on YouTube

Images: Greg Pye/Flickr; Reactions/YouTube (13)