You know what The Man hates? The Man hates stinky feet, so stay clean.

It only looks cute. The smell here is very serious: A specially trained German shoe-smelling cat nearly perishes in the line of duty.     (Photo by tomroyal on flickr.com)
It only looks cute. The smell here is very serious: A specially trained German shoe-smelling cat nearly perishes in the line of duty. (Photo by tomroyal on flickr.com)
German police broke into a Kaiserslautern apartment this week after neighbors reported an extremely foul smell seeping into the stairwell. The shutters had been closed up for nearly a week, and mail was collecting in the unit’s box, so the police were prepared to find a very dead body in the apartment. They found no such thing.

What the officers did discover was a pile of very dirty laundry next to a pair of very stinky feet, which were attached to a man who was simply asleep.

How did this happen to the man? Well, foot odor, technically referred to as “stank,” is caused by sweaty feet and bacteria. A warm, moist foot is an ideal place for bacteria to live, and while the mere presence of bacteria on a foot won’t cause a bad smell, the waste they produce from consuming dead skin and sweat will. As your feet get sweatier, more and more bacteria grow down there, and they produce more and more waste, creating an increasingly potent stank.

One of the main culprits of foot odor is brevibacteria. Bervibacteria loves the spots between your toes, and the dead skin on the soles of your feet, and it produces methanethiol, which smells like stinky cheese. This is no coincidence, as stinky cheese gets its aroma from brevibacteria too.

Now, if any of you are in doubt as to whether this foot-based bacterial chemical factory can be so powerful that it could convince your neighbors that you are decomposing in your living room, let me relate to you the true story of my best friend’s freshman roommate. This roommate, who we will call “Jeff,” had feet of such potent stank that the whole hallway of the dormitory smelled like a gym shoe by October. It was so bad that the floor RA threatened to evict my friend and Jeff from the room on health grounds unless the smell was cleared up, “whatever it was.” It is extremely unlikely that Jeff was dead and decomposing, too, because he was often seen walking around, or drinking. I was able to experience the smell firsthand – walking into the room was like having a sweatsock taped over your nose, and this was when “it was starting to get better.” Jeff, however, never noticed the smell, and was convinced that a joke was being played on him.

The moral here, obviously, is to wash your feet often and buy well-ventilated footwear, or else the police will break into your house looking for your dead body. And nobody wants that.

My feet smell like baby roses, but you may be interested in this.

Thanks, neighbors.

Your Comments, Thoughts, Questions, Ideas

Liza's picture
Liza says:

Good work, John.
Now you can move on to answering that age-old question: "Why do my dog's feet smell like corn chips?"

posted on Mon, 07/16/2007 - 10:00am
mdr's picture
mdr says:

You know what? That's interesting. My socks sometime smell like corn chips. And I don't have corns on my feet. I wonder why that is.

posted on Mon, 07/16/2007 - 10:15am
shanai's picture
shanai says:

Thank you for explaining why my feet stink. I thought it was something specific to $2 shoes bought at K-Mart, but really it's just that I insist on wearing these canvas beauties without socks all summer long. Sure, people make fun of me now, but soon H&M will be selling the same exact shoes for $30 instead of $2, and brevibacteria will be hip like whatever stinky beast grows inside "skinny" jeans.

Also: can it help prevent athlete's foot? I'd rather stink than itch.

posted on Tue, 07/17/2007 - 11:42am
JGordon's picture
JGordon says:

Can the stink prevent athlete's foot, do you mean?
We should be so lucky.

No, I'm pretty sure athlete's foot is caused by a fungus, and fungi like warm, dark, and damp places just like bacteria. So unless you let those rad canvas shoes have the occasional airing-out, you might be doomed to stinky and itchy feet. But that might just have to be your sacrifice to fashion. Mine is beard-waxing, which isn't fun either.

posted on Tue, 07/17/2007 - 12:04pm
LILY's picture
LILY says:


posted on Tue, 07/17/2007 - 12:22pm
shyla's picture
shyla says:

wow. very weird situation. but the dude with the stinky feet must know how to wear a different shoe. i mean get something other than that. i rather get something cheap than my feet being stinky. but anyways euck!!! i will be embarase for making the neighbor call the police due to some kind of feet odor.

posted on Tue, 07/17/2007 - 12:25pm
Joe's picture
Joe says:

Interestingly, CNN today reports that distinct orchid smells of 'sweaty feet'. Did your friend grow orchids?

posted on Tue, 07/17/2007 - 2:42pm
bobthebuilder's picture
bobthebuilder says:

OMG! you dont know how long I have been trying to find out what is wrong with my feet. I could understand if I didnt bath/shower but after a few hours of having my shoes on BANG we have STINK.
I have been told to try potasium phermangamate and that dont work also surgical spirit but no joy.

posted on Fri, 08/24/2007 - 4:14pm
DMM's picture
DMM says:

Thank god I never had this problem. The key to preventing smelly feet and athlete's foot is keeping the feet dry, clean, and minimizing bacterial/fungal growth. If you can manage to do all three things, foot odors should be history.

posted on Sat, 07/28/2012 - 7:16am

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