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How to deal with stinky Vibram Five Fingers?

by (80)
Updated September 16, 2014 at 7:13 PM
Created May 19, 2010 at 2:50 AM

I bought a pair of KSO's in early April. I like how comfortable they are: I had some doubt before I purchased them. What does everyone here think of them? Has anyone seen any benefits by wearing them? Is there anything that you do not like about them?

So far I have nothing bad to say about them. However, I have noticed that I've developed a strong foot odor after about three weeks of wearing them. I have washed them, yet this didn't help the problem any. Has anyone else noticed this? If so, have you been able to manage the odor any?

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21400 · June 29, 2012 at 5:46 PM

here's my UNSWAG (Un-Scientific Wild Ass Guess) - Just like a sick dog has a particularly odd smell, humans who are healthy smell like humans. Humans who are sick smell worse (more bacteria). I still wouldn't go as far to say that Paleo eliminates foot/body odor (I get pretty ripe at times) but I don't use deodorant anymore and I only notice if I miss a post-workout shower.

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2613 · June 29, 2012 at 5:40 PM

Wash them often and make sure they dry out in the open! I use Efferdent when they get really bad. If you're not walking around in water, you should also consider wearing toe socks. I cannot express how much of a difference it makes.

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80 · May 25, 2010 at 7:37 PM

Have you had any luck by sticking them into a freezer?

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4089 · May 19, 2010 at 4:49 PM

Thanks for the tip!

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6157 · May 19, 2010 at 3:43 PM

Mike, 9.5 is about a 43 European -- they definitely make VFFs in your size. The smallest men's size for many models is a 40. If your store doesn't carry it, you may have to get them to special order. Or order off the VFF website directly.

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3651 · May 19, 2010 at 4:28 AM

can't seem to find them in my size anywhere. 9.5 american seems to be 4 sizes too small for any of the one available.

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65 · May 20, 2010 at 9:04 PM

For odor control, I do 2 things:

  1. After I finish wearing them for the day, I do a spray of athlete's foot/odor control spray into each shoe
  2. Every week or two, I wash them in the washing machine with Oxyclean. If you've let the funk develop for some reason, I'd soak them overnight in ~1 cup of Oxyclean.

Good luck, they are incredibly comfortable (albeit goofy looking!)

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2613 · June 29, 2012 at 5:40 PM

Wash them often and make sure they dry out in the open! I use Efferdent when they get really bad. If you're not walking around in water, you should also consider wearing toe socks. I cannot express how much of a difference it makes.

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418 · May 20, 2010 at 3:08 AM

the best way to ELIMINATE the odor, not just mask it is to use efferdent or some other denture cleaner, soak them in it for about an our and then let them air dry overnight. these types of solutions actually kill the odor causing bacteria, yet do not harm the shoes, Vibram even recommends this. I have tried this and it works amazing!!

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6157 · May 19, 2010 at 3:41 PM

Benefits: I'm convinced that my six-year battle with plantar fasciitis was conquered (in about 6 months) in equal parts due to Paleo (removing inflammatory agents) and going barefoot/VFFs (restoring proper biomechanics and strengthening the feet). My posture has improved. I can walk, stand, run without pain. The benefits are just too obvious to question. I never wear shoes if I can help it.

Odor management: the most effective solution I've found is reply #10 on this Crossfit forum thread

Basically,

  1. Throw them in the wash (I sometimes skip this step if they are not really dirty)
  2. Soak them in 1:3 distilled white vinegar:water solution overnight (you can use even more vinegar if necessary)
  3. Air dry (I often skip this step and it seems to work fine)
  4. Throw them in the wash again to remove vinegar smell
  5. Air dry

My VFFs are fine for weeks, but they will smell pretty fast if I wear them in the rain. Baking soda helps but doesn't kill everything. The vinegar soak takes care of all odors, at least for me. It apparently kills the bacteria that cause the odors. Thanks to Kevin Thomas for the tip.

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4089 · May 19, 2010 at 4:49 PM

Thanks for the tip!

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4089 · May 19, 2010 at 11:09 AM

I have a pair of Treks and a pair of Sprints. I've been wearing them a lot; around the house, running errands, a couple of times to the office, while working at home, and walking for at least 1hr/day.

Suffice to say that I wear traditional shoes rarely at best anymore, and that the VFFs seem to work as advertised. My toes are splaying, my soles are toughening (Sprints on gravel roads are a great foot massage and may have to do with the tougher soles), and my feet feel different, somehow; stronger. I've also noticed that walking in VFFs reduces pain from a herniated spinal disc.

In terms of odour management, I wash them. Also, a couple of weeks ago I borrowed some nylon sockettes from my wife, stuffed them full of aromatic cedar shavings from a local pet store, and whenever I remove my VFFs I stuff a shaving-filled sockette into each. It makes a big difference in terms of odour.

Further to this, I've read that sticking them in the freezer for 24 hours also works. I'm trying this tonight with my Sprints, which were due for a wash.

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80 · May 25, 2010 at 7:37 PM

Have you had any luck by sticking them into a freezer?

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328 · May 20, 2010 at 1:02 AM

These Injinji socks (available at REI) are a perfect liner. I normally wear them with the VFFs. This greatly reduces the odor issues.

http://www.amazon.com/Injinji-Socks-Performance-Large-White/dp/B0019LF62G

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78417 · May 19, 2010 at 3:12 PM

I have a pair of Sprints and some Feelmax Osmas. I would definitely recommend minimal footwear for everyone.

Here's some notes:

  • Your toes may hurt at first, in VFFs, as they begin to spread out and reform.
  • Heel striking will cause joint pain if you do it too often. This should be the first thing you fix when walking in minimal shoes.
  • Wearing sandals is fine as well, but make sure they're flat and not formed to the foot like tennis shoes.
  • Get 2-3 pair of toe socks. Wash the previous pair in the shower with you and hang them to dry. This way you get continuous toe-socks without having to buy a ton of them.

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451 · May 19, 2010 at 6:39 AM

I adore my Five Fingers! My feet, which used to give me agony every day (every time I tried to put my weight back on my feet after having them up off the floor? KILLED me) never hurt anymore and my feet, ankle and calf muscles are stronger like WOAH.

I get the odour issues too, so I wash them. It's mostly worked up til now, but it's starting to get worse and hang around longer. I'm going to give the baking soda thing a go. I mean, if it works for fridges, right? :)

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0 · January 22, 2014 at 10:44 AM

FWIW: This is not my answer (it's from Rachel Ray), but if you put them in an open plastic bag and set them in the freezer for a few hours or overnight it will kill the bacteria that causes stinky pinkies. Thought that sounded stupid until I tried it on my husband's sneakers - he wears them without socks all the time and they are beyond offensive - couldn't believe it really worked, but it did :o)

Also tried it with his work boots, as he works at a dairy plant and comes home with his boots positively reeking of sour milk. Worked like a charm for that too (and three cheers for breathable air! lol).

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0 · January 22, 2014 at 4:09 AM

I know this thread is old, but have any of you tried Peditech Actifresh? I bought some for my husband and it is awesome!! http://www.amazon.com/Peditech-Actifresh-Odour-8months-supply/dp/B001DZPUSI/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1390363615&sr=8-1&keywords=peditech

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316 · May 20, 2010 at 8:46 PM

I have worn almost nothing but vibrams for 11 months with occasional wearing of terra plana's vivo barefoots for more formal dress. I wash them once a week, air dry overnight. At night I put them in front of my air filter with ozone setting. Since going paleo, foot odor and body odor are minimal and I often don't use deodorant just a little soap and water and some of the alcohol based hand cleaner for arm pits. Does paleo really eliminate body and foot odor as well as freshen breath or does it simply inhibit sense of smell??

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21400 · June 29, 2012 at 5:46 PM

here's my UNSWAG (Un-Scientific Wild Ass Guess) - Just like a sick dog has a particularly odd smell, humans who are healthy smell like humans. Humans who are sick smell worse (more bacteria). I still wouldn't go as far to say that Paleo eliminates foot/body odor (I get pretty ripe at times) but I don't use deodorant anymore and I only notice if I miss a post-workout shower.

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194 · May 20, 2010 at 8:30 PM

I love Vibrams! I have two pairs; sprints and KSOs. I wear them everyday to work and at CrossFit/weight training. As far as improvements go, I have noticed my posture has improved and my ankle strength is much better. I seriously sprained my ankle a few years ago, and it had been giving me problems , however, it hardly hurts anymore and it is stronger than it has ever been.

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22913 · May 19, 2010 at 1:13 PM

Toe socks are easy to wash

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2759 · May 19, 2010 at 6:35 AM

I wear mine to the gym 5 to 7 times a week. I don't - or rarely - use them as an all-day shoe since I haven't mastered the non-heel-strike method of walking gracefully, yet. Odor hasn't been a big problem (in my opinion!) though I have washed them once when they seemed to be headed that way.

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75 · May 19, 2010 at 3:08 AM

I bought mine a couple of months ago and love them as well. They're basically the only shoes I wear now. My feet feel stronger and I can curl my toes more than I used to without getting a cramp.

If I wear mine too long without washing, I get the odor problem, too. So far washing has taken care of the issue. I wash mine about once a week.

I haven't been using soap on most of my body since the beginning of the year but started using soap to wash my feet recently to help curb any odor problems. The jury is still out on that. I've heard that putting some baking soda in occasionally can help. I'll try that if I run into any problems.

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40 · May 19, 2010 at 3:01 AM

I just bought some KSO's also and the salesperson told me to was with pet shampoo and really focus on the heal area, she also said a little baby powder before wearing them helps a ton too. FYI - I love mine so far!!!

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