Why Do Flats Make My Feet Stink? (And How To Stop It)

Do you love wearing flats but can’t understand why they make your feet smell, even when you wear the latest in anti-odor technology? You aren’t alone. In fact, many women have an issue with stinky feet when wearing flats – even the chicest of flats.

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Flats have a tendency to make your feet sweat due to the material covering the foot. However, where your foot sweats depends on how you wear your flat shoe. If you prefer to wear them with bare feet, you will likely notice a strong odor under your feet where moisture is trapped.

In addition, this area of the shoe’s exterior is not breathable so it does not allow for airflow. When airflow is reduced, a perfect breeding ground for bacteria is created and this can cause an odor to develop.

Flat shoes are particularly prone to foot odors because there are no openings for your feet to breathe. And the fact that flats do not have a thick sole also allows the bacteria to accumulate faster.

So… Is It The Flats Causing Your Feet To Stink?

The short answer is that your feet sweat when they’re in contact with shoes. The longer answer involves the fact that sweaty feet smell, even when you’re wearing sandals, and there are some people who are more prone to this than others.

A lot of factors go into how smelly your feet will get in your flats, but the main one is how much moisture gets trapped in the shoes. If you wear socks, or if you sweat a lot, or if you have a condition like diabetes that increases your risk for foot issues, then you might get a buildup of moisture in your flats.

If you’ve been wearing your flats regularly and suddenly notice a funky smell, it’s probably not an indication of disease — it’s just the natural byproduct of wearing shoes that trap moisture. Washing them regularly should help get rid of the funk.

Flats aren’t the only type of shoe that can cause foot odor problems. Sandals and certain types of sneakers can also trap moisture and lead to smelly feet.

If you’re wearing flats, it’s possible that you’re not getting enough air circulating around your feet. This may be the result of shoes that are too tight or unventilated. Overly padded shoes can also cause moisture to build up, which is why it’s important to wear socks in shoes with padded soles.

How Do I Stop My Feet from Smelling in Flats?

What can you do? One way to prevent smelly feet is to wear cotton socks. Since cotton tends to absorb moisture better than synthetic fibers, this will help keep your feet dry and reduce the number of bacteria on them.

Maintaining good foot hygiene is essential for preventing bad foot odor. If your feet are sweating, bacteria will build up and cause odor. Washing your feet every day and using antiperspirant sprays or powders can help keep your feet smelling clean and fresh.

How to stop your feet smelling in flats:

  1. It’s important to keep your feet dry by wearing absorbent socks and changing them regularly and using an anti-bacterial deodorant spray on your feet.
  2. Make sure there is room for your toes and wear cotton or wool socks – synthetic socks can collect moisture and become damp and start to smell quickly.
  3. Wear your shoes around the house before going out – this will help them breathe and get rid of any sweat inside them.
  4. If you’re wearing closed shoes, be sure to change your socks at least once a day. If the shoes are made of leather or fabric, wipe off your feet with a damp cloth before putting on fresh socks every day.
  5. If you get home from work at night and have not changed your socks all day, two pairs of clean socks will work best. This will provide an extra layer between your feet and the bacteria-laden pair.

How Do I Get Rid of the Smell in My Flats?

Unfortunately, no matter how much you love your flats, this will always be a tradeoff to keep in mind. Why? It’s simply because flats are open to the elements–and your feet are not.

When you wear your flats, this creates an environment in which bacteria can build up in the sweatier parts of your shoes. Over time, this sweat can give you a terrible foot odor…unless you take the time to clean out the smell every once in a while.

Getting rid of the smell in your flats is not easy, but it’s not impossible either. You can follow these tips to make your flats smell good again.

  1. Mix baking soda with water and pour the mixture into a spray bottle. Spray this solution on the inside of your flats to remove any odor.
  2. You may also need to deodorize your shoes to remove bad smells. Keep your shoes in an open area for 12 hours or more, then wipe them with a dry cloth.
  3. If you are finding that you are having difficulty removing the odor from your flats, try using tea tree oil to remove the odor instead. Tea tree oil is known for its antibacterial properties and could easily remove any odor from your flats.
  4. Tea tree oil can be used in different ways, depending on how strong you want the tea tree oil scent to be. You can dilute tea tree oil with water and put it in a spray bottle, or you can mix it with baking soda for a scrubbing powder if you don’t want too much scent at all.
  5. Some people think that putting newspaper into their flats can help absorb moisture and reduce odors over time. The newspaper will soak up moisture, but it will take time for this process to happen. It is best to leave the newspaper in overnight.

How Do I Stop My Flats from Sweating?

Shoes and boots made from synthetic materials, like plastics and types of vinyl, don’t breathe like leather. When your feet sweat, the moisture can’t evaporate as it does with natural materials. That means your shoes and boots can smell worse than they would if you wore leather.

If you want to keep your feet odor-free, find footwear that allows air to circulate more freely through the upper part of the shoe. The best options are shoes made from leather because it’s porous.

This is one item where spending a bit more money might be worth it because inexpensive shoes are likely to have less breathable uppers. Consider these factors before deciding which shoe to wear.

1. Intensity of the odor

Does your foot odor problem occur with every pair of shoes or only when you wear athletic shoes? You need to know if your feet are the root cause of the problem. If you have a foot odor problem, it will be more difficult to determine if the shoe is responsible for the odor if you are wearing it with socks.

Try wearing the same socks with different pairs of shoes to see which ones are causing an odor. The intensity of the odor can also be important. If you are wearing athletic shoes, then the odor may be more intense because sweat and bacteria build up in your shoes when you exercise.

2. Material of shoe

Leather and suede shoes often absorb moisture and become a breeding ground for bacteria that contribute to foot odor. If you frequently use these types of shoes, they may be the contributors to your smelly feet. High tops can trap in sweat and make your feet smell worse.

3. Socks

The type of sock you wear can also contribute to foot odor if not washed frequently or allowed to stay damp for long periods of time. Make sure not to wear socks that feel damp or sweaty all day because this will cause bacteria growth resulting in smelly shoes and feet.


In summary, there are some shoes that, no matter how hard you try, how much you get them out in the fresh air, get them dry-cleaned, move heaven and earth to get rid of the smell. They always STINK! You love them otherwise (or hate them, but can’t throw them away) — but your feet HATE your shoes (but can’t throw them out either).

Foot odor is a common problem. Flip-flops, open-toe shoes, and even comfortable sneakers can cause smelly feet, especially if they don’t provide room for your toes and arches to move and breathe comfortably. Your feet sweat more than you realize.

For instance, research has found that people who wear athletic shoes with good ventilation have 40 percent less foot odor than those who wear closed-toe shoes.

Who gets smelly feet? It’s not just about the shoes you’re wearing. Sweaty feet are often hereditary. People who run in hot weather or walk for miles on end with wet feet tend to have the worst foot odor. And some people just sweat more than others.

You may also be interested in… Can You Wear Shoes Without Insoles? (Are They Necessary?) and Why Can’t I Wear Flats? (Why Do They Hurt So Much?)