ARTICLE BY Minh Vuong

The Art of Keeping Your Feet Fresh!

Fresh Feet Header

Looking after your feet is as important as looking after your sneakers. More often than not, shoe health is an indicator of feet health. Smelly feet may be symptomatic of having more beaters than heaters – but they could also be indicators of a fungal infection!

As sneakerheads, you may have heightened awareness about shoe cleanliness. You’ve likely mastered the basic concepts of cleaning and storage, but there are some advanced skills that apply beyond the sneaker that’ll keep your toes happy, and your feet fresh.

Here are some tips and tricks for having happy feet.

Shoe Cleaning Picture

Keep Them Clean!

You brush your teeth, wash your clothes, and clean your dishes – so, you should do the same with your kicks! You wouldn’t put clean feet into dirty shoes, and vice versa. Of course, prevention is the best cure, so protective sprays can go a long way in stopping the growth of stains and filth. On the spray front, there’s a wide range of popular aerosols available in the market that promise to rid your collection of any odour-causing bacteria.

Failing that, spot-cleaning as soon as grime develops on your beloved shoes is the most effective way to keep them in top order. Regularly pulling out the insoles and loosening the laces completely to let the shoes ‘breathe’ is also important. However, if they’ve taken quite a beating, a deep, sudsy clean and air dry is the only solution.

Kanye West Yeezy Collection Forbes
Ye likely has impeccably fresh feet. | Image by JAMEL TOPPIN FOR FORBES

Buy More Sneakers

Odds are, you’ve got a few pairs of sneakers. Easily a dozen, maybe two dozen. Maybe you’ve got over 30, or are into the hundreds, even thousands! Well done, you’ve inadvertently kept your sneakers and, by extension, your feet fresher by having a rotation so large that the shoes don’t ever really get beat up and smelly. This is assuming you wear all of your sneakers…

Even if you don’t have a pair for every day of the year, try to avoid wearing the same sneaker on consecutive days. Let them breathe!

Chup Sock Collection
Chup Socks by Glen Clyde are among the best in the business. | Image via Glen Clyde

Sock It to Me!

If you’re making it rain with weekly sneaker purchases, don’t pinch pennies by skimping on your socks. Socks are available in widely differing levels of quality. While everyone has particular preferences on height, colour and patterns, the most important factor to keeping your feet fresh is the sock’s material composition.

Ever heard the saying ‘cotton kills’? It’s a contentious topic that remains up for debate – especially among hikers and adventurers. The case against cotton socks seems sound. Cotton may be a natural fibre and highly absorbent, but once it soaks up all the moisture inside your shoes, it’s got nowhere to go. Stinky socks equal stinky shoes.

Which is why alternative materials or blended materials like hemp and bamboo have grown in popularity for their sweat-wicking abilities. Don’t shun polyester or nylon! Things have gone a long way since the sweaty stockings of past decades. Now, innovations like CoolMax and CORDURA have been woven into socks to keep your feet (and sneakers) comfortable and protected.

And, it shouldn’t need to be said, but, please wear a fresh pair of socks each day.

New Balance M1300JPJ
You get wooden shoe trees with your 68,000 yen NB1300 JPJ

Shoes Do Grow on Trees

In the sneaker world, spring-loaded shoe trees have gained popularity with meticulous sneakerheads who want to keep their prized possessions crease-free and shapely. Budget options have long been the standard (shout-out to IKEA’s very affordable OMSORG), but why not make the same investment into your shoe care as the shoes themselves?

This is where sneakers’ forefathers, that is, dress shoes, can impart some wisdom. Wooden shoe trees made from varieties like cedar and beech have proven benefits for extending the life of expensive leather shoes and boots. Being a natural material, the wood absorbs excess moisture and smells, while imparting a sweet and pleasant aroma to your shoes. And these premium options are often also adjustable, fitting to a wide variety of shoe shapes.

Quentin Tarantino Sneaker Freaker
Tarantino probably knows a thing or two about foot care.

Preaching the Pedicure

You’ve cleaned your shoes, so you may as well clean your feet. If you’ve exhausted all of your other shoe care options, or maybe need a drastic overhaul of your foot-first routine, then pedicures are the future. Well-groomed (and well-heeled... haha geddit?) readers of Sneaker Freaker may already be all over this (good on ya!), but for everyone else, consider advancing beyond your regular nail clipping and filing for truly fresh feet.

It may be as simple as an occasional soak and massage, or a comprehensive service with pumice stones and PedEggs. Exotic locale allowing, ‘doctor fish’ are another unconventional way to keep your feet clean.

The practice of pedicures dates back at least 4000 years across all different societies, so your ancestors were definitely onto something…

Now, go and book an appointment with your local pedicure specialist, order those cedar shoe trees, and cop that expensive pair of artisanal socks. Your feet will thank you for it.

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