Smelly Socks

So, why do socks smell?

The strict answer is that socks don’t actually smell – the stench of foot odour is passed onto them from smelly feet. However, it’s socks that get the blame, and smelly socks have been the butt of jokes in kids’ comics and Ben Elton sitcoms ever since.

The main cause is sweaty feet. Sweat, being excess water, is odourless, but the damp, warm atmosphere is a beneficial environment for bacteria which themselves smell like – well – smelly feet. These bacteria are naturally present on our skin, but as they are allowed to grow in the damp and warmth without adequate ventilation (for example, because you’re wearing shoes all day) they soon begin to smell.

Given that socks are in direct contact with the feet, they too provide an ideal atmosphere for bacteria to grow. And being in contact with smelly feet for hours at a time, it’s almost certain that bacteria will pass between the two.

The key here is the amount of ventilation the foot gets. Natural fibres such as cotton and wool give more ventilation than polyester or nylon, meaning that natural fibre socks are less likely to ming like an abandoned cheese shop.

And the lesson here is to wash your feet, and wear natural fibre socks. And you can’t go wrong with a fine pair of cotton socks from