Everyone suffers from it at some point in their lives (some more than others), and no one is talking about it: smelly feet. It’s the kind of stench that can leak your shoes. It’s plain embarrassing. Other than washing your feet every hour, you can control your foot odor by choosing the right pair of socks. And you know which yarn makes the best socks for stinky feet? That’s right Merino wool!
Before determining the best socks for stinky feet, we must understand why your feet stink and how our favorite performance apparel – Merino wool – helps fight odors.
Note: We’ll be focusing mostly on lighter socks, as they are best for smelly feet. If you are looking for heavyweight merino wool socks, you can read our full review here.
Disclosure: To maintain genuineness and authenticity, Merino Wool Gear DOES NOT sponsor products. Yet as an Amazon Associate, we may earn a commission from qualifying purchases.
Why Do Your Feet Stink?
Pungent foot odor may just sound like a passing issue. Still, it’s a persistent, debilitating, and embarrassing problem for many of us.
So, why exactly do your feet smell so bad after walking around all day? Bacteria, of course!
Tiny microorganisms all over your body thrive in moist & dark environments. As you sweat, these bacteria munch on the oils and proteins in your secretions, along with your dead skin cells. To be frank, they are just snacking away at your bodily juices.
It’s the organic acid byproducts of these bacteria that cause you to smell. They are living off of your sweat, emitting a foul-smelling organic acid, and growing their colony.
If that’s the case, why doesn’t your whole body smell?
Well, your feet have nearly a quarter-million sweat glands, which is much more than any other part of your body. The microorganisms have better ‘nutrition’ and living conditions inside your socks than they do on your hands.
For your average person, these bacterial emissions are the cause of smelly feet. But for others who suffer from severe foot odor, there is an additional culprit. Nearly 15% of feet contain the bacteria – Kyetococcus sedentarius – that produces volatile organic sulfur stench. It basically smells like someone is peeling eggs inside a pile of old gym clothes.
So, as we mentioned before, the two main ways to control this odor-causing bacteria are thoroughly washing your feet and creating an unsuitable environment for the bacteria to thrive. Again, we earnestly hope you’re washing your feet, so we are more focused on the latter, which you can achieve by wearing the right socks.
How Does Merino Wool Prevent Odors?
In addition to being thermoregulating, super comfortable, and high-performing, Merino wool is actually an odor-proof fabric. But, it’s not as simple as you think.
The traditional assumption is that Merino wool controls odors by providing a harsh environment for bacteria. Makes sense, right? If bacteria couldn’t survive, they couldn’t eat your foot juices, thus, not releasing any smelly byproducts.
Well, that’s not exactly the case.
Wool tends to have the same amount of bacterial volume after use compared with synthetic materials. But it’s how the fabric traps the stench that makes it odor-resistant.
If you didn’t know already, wool has significant water absorption properties due to its hydrophilic nature. It can retain up to 30% of its weight in water before actually feeling wet. Now, the bacteria that live within the fabric are still munching on your sweat proteins. But, their smelly byproducts become trapped in the fabric’s water moisture content, not within the material itself.
The same cannot be said for other sock materials like polyester. Their quick-dry nature allows organic acid odors and sulfur smells to adhere to the fabric’s surface. With purely synthetic materials, your socks don’t trap the odors and release them until they reach the nostrils of an unsuspecting victim.
The moral of the story: stick with socks made from Merino wool or Merino wool blends.
For more information about the science of Merino wool, make sure to check out our complete guide here.
The Best Socks For Stinky Feet: What To Look For
Everyone’s sock preferences are different, so it’s crucial to summarize a few specifications to look out for when you’re researching Merino wool socks for smelly feet.
Merino %: The higher the wool %, the softer the sock, but also less durable. Look for Merino blends.
Fabric Thickness: Lighter fabrics provide more breathability, yet thicker materials may be warmer.
Performance: Extra features are great, but you should understand your basic performance needs.
Versatility: As Merino can be expensive, you want to ensure your socks suit your lifestyle.
Six Best Men’s Socks For Stinky Feet
54% Nylon, 43% Merino, 3% Spandex | Lightweight | 3/4 crew | Underfoot cushion | 5 colors | Price: $$$
Pros: Enhanced comfort features | Lightweight yet durable | Lifetime guarantee
Cons: Sizing runs small | Dries slower than pure synhetic
Darn freakin’ Tough. Do we need to say more?
Okay, maybe for those you aren’t familiar with the Vermont-based sock manufacturer, Darn Tough does one thing and one thing exceptionally well: socks.
They are lauded in the outdoor community for their ingenuity in sock design. It sounds crazy, but Darn Tough legitimately call themselves “sock nerds.” And, their Light Hiker Micro Crews are one of their top sellers.
We honestly could go on all day about these socks (they are really our favorites, not just because our feet smell), but we’ll just give you a quick summary. They are light & breathable, featuring mesh vents for improved airflow. These socks are comfortable as could be as seamless technology and targeted cushioning provide relief. Oh yeah, and there is literally an unconditional lifetime guarantee. Seriously, you buy one pair (even though they are a bit expensive), you’re buying them for life.
Anyways, I could go on and on about these socks, but I’ll give you a chance to check out the Darn Tough Light Hiker Micro Crew Socks for yourself.
56% Merino, 41% Nylon, 3% Elastane | Lightweight | 1/4 crew | Targeted cushion | 6 colors | Price: $$$
Pros: Mesh venting for breathability | Lightweight performance blend | Seamless fit
Cons: Reported manufacturing inconsistencies | May wear prematurely behind heel
Suppose you’re looking for a high-performing, odor-controlling sock for athletic endeavors. In that case, the Smartwool running socks may be the best pair for you.
Not only will the Merino wool help to prevent odors, but there is a mesh venting system to provide better breathability to your feet. Typically, with lightweight fabric and mesh, socks tend to be delicate. But, Smartwool uses their patent-pending Indestructawool™ technology to improve durability and enhance your performance.
Oh yeah, let’s not forget about the ‘4 Degree™ elite fit system’, seamless toe, and light cushioning for stress impact reduction. You can tell these socks were designed for all-day, odor-free comfort.
49% Nylon, 46% Merino, 5% Lycra | Lightweight | Crew | Light cushion | 4 colors | Price: $$$
Pros: Fantastic ‘foot feel‘ | Simple & versatile design | Launders well
Cons: Fit too tight for some users | Slightly expensive
If you’re familiar with Darn Tough socks, you probably know about their wide selection of socks. They make products specifically for hiking, winter sports, running, etc. Moreover, there are wild colors, patterns, styles, and performance enhancements, but the sheer variety may feel overwhelming.
However, Darn Tough knows that you wear vibrant socks all the time. They released a lifestyle sock with a basic, standard design but with all their enhanced features. It’s called – well – The Standard.
It’s only composed of 46% Merino wool, but the lightweight fabric offers plenty of breathability to keep your feet dry. Also, the seamless construction and high-density stitch count improve overall comfort.
Overall, if you are looking for Darn Tough performance without some of their popular products’ flashiness, try out The Standard crew socks.
61% Merino, 34% Nylon, 5% Spandex | Lightweight | Crew | Mid-to-Full cushion | 7 colors | Price: $$$$
Pros: Innovative comfort (engineered toe box) | Tight fit prevents blisters | Fantastic durability
Cons: Fit may seem “too snug” for some | Sizing inconsitencies
Darn Tough and Smartwool may be more prevalent in the Merino wool sock industry, but don’t step over Farm To Feet socks. Their craftsmanship and attention to detail make them one of the most comfortable and best socks for smelly feet.
The majority of these lightweight socks are constructed of naturally odor-resistant Merino wool. At the same time, the remaining synthetic material provides fantastic durability. It’s breathable, moisture-wicking, and will keep your feet fresh on any adventure.
Moreover, you shouldn’t sacrifice comfort just to have fresh-smelling socks. Farm to Feet knows that. They engineered targeted cushioning zones, seamless toe closures, and supportive compression into their socks.
To sum up, you’ve got to try these lightweight crew socks out. If you aren’t a fan of the crew height, they offer the same exact design in 1/4 crew height.
78% Merino, 15% spandex, 4% Nylon, 3% Polyester | Crew | Full cushion | 4 colors | Price: $$
Pros: Single-layer warmth | Higher Merino percentage feels soft | Relatively inexpensive
Cons: User-reported durability issues | Not as versatile as other Merino wool socks
You may equate winter socks with thick, burly fabric – but that’s not always the case. The Minus33 Ski & Snowboard Sock is a lightweight, knee-high socks that is not super thick. This is because thick socks may bunch and irritate your feet when strapped into your ski boots.
Moreover, we’re not focused only on foot comfort but on reducing foot odor. The 78% Merino wool construction will help to ward off any pungent aromas you may get from your ski boots. Unfortunately, these socks aren’t very versatile.
Still, if you have the worst smelling feet in the ski lodge, you may want to grab a pair of these Minus33 Ski & Snowboard socks.
67% Merino, 30% Nylon, 3% Spandex | Over-the-Calf | Minimal cushion | 12+ colors/patterns | Price: $$
Pros: Adequate compression (doesn’t slip down) | Fits well even with larger calves | Manufactured in USA
Cons: Must launder with care | Long-tern durability concerns
You don’t want to be the smelly dude at work. And, if you don’t properly take care of your stinky feet, you may wear that badge of dishonor.
Although, many of the socks we mentioned already are for performance activities, not performance reviews. That’s where Boardroom Socks comes in.
These over-the-calf socks are constructed of over two-thirds Merino wool, offering a soft and comfortable foot feel even if you’re wearing uncomfortable dress shoes. Plus, the engineered ribbing and spandex incorporation prevent them from sliding down your leg.
The best part – other than the fact that your feet will stay dry – is that they are relatively affordable compared to some other pairs on this list. So, if you don’t want to stink off the office when you take your shoes off at your desk, go with Boardroom Socks.
Six Best Women’s Socks For Stinky Feet
51% Merino, 46% Nylon, 3% Spandex | No-show (invisible) | Minimal cushion | 7 colors | Price: $$$
Pros: Ultralight fabric & top ventsfor breathability | Undetectable seams | Enhanced durability
Cons: May shrink with improper care | User-reported sizing issues
Ultralight, ultra-comfortable, and ultra-odor-resistant, the Darn Tough Vertex No Show socks are the best women’s socks for smelly feet. Why? Well, we’re glad you asked.
The ultralight fabric weight offers maximum airflow and moisture-wicking to keep your feet dry. Thus, creating a more challenging environment for bacteria to thrive. A blend of Merino wool and synthetics traps odors while maintaining a fantastic foot feel. Moreover, there are mesh venting zones on the top of the foot and light cushioning for added comfort.
We could go on and on about the performance qualities of these Darn Tough Vertex socks. But we think you should check them out for yourself.
51% Nylon , 46% Merino, 3% Elastane | Low ankle | Zero cushion | 14 colors | Price: $$$
Pros: Designed for high-performance activities | Blended material adds durability | Mesh zoning for breathability
Cons: Not the most versatile design | User-reported fit issues
If you’re a hardcore runner, you have to take care of your feet. And we don’t mean simply from a pain aspect. Physical exertion leads to sweat and heat, thus creating a breeding ground for odor-causing bacteria. So, to kill your foot odor and stay comfortable on your morning jogs, you should try out the Smartwool Women’s Run Zero Cushion Socks.
These tabbed, no-show socks are crafted with a lightweight, Merino blend fabric to improve durability and breathability. The targeted, 4-degree fit and seamless toe provide maximum comfort. Moreover, the zero cushioning improves foot-to-ground contact, increasing performance.
Note: These socks have a slight taper toward the heel and may not be suitable for women with wide feet.
To sum up, these Smartwool socks are made to aid you in pushing your limits. It’s all about performing your best – and not having to worry about your feet smelling afterward.
59% Merino, 39% Nylon, 3% Elastane | 3/4 crew | Medium cushion | 7 colors | Price: $$$$
Pros: Ultimate durability for outdoor adventures | Seamless fabric technology | Moisture-wicking cushion
Cons: User-reported sizing inconsistencies | Not warm enough for winter hiking
Hikers and adventurers often have gear disputes. If you check out any online forum, you’ll see people debating the best backpacks, trail runners, and camp stoves. There’s never a real consensus on any gear, except one: Darn Tough. More specifically, the Darn Tough Hiker Micro Crew Midweight Sock with Cushion.
These socks literally come straight from a backpacker’s wet dream. The Merino wool doesn’t stink on long hikes. Moderate cushioning provides support as you’re on your feet all day and also enhances the moisture-wicking process. The midweight fabric is warm but still breathable.
Oh yeah, we can’t forget about the mind-blowing sock technology that Darn Tough puts into their products. The True Seamless™ construction reduces irritation while lessening the likelihood of seam tears. We honestly can say that these may be the perfect socks, not just the best socks for smelly feet.
In short, the Darn Tough Women’s Hiker Micro Crew is simply the most comfortable outdoor sock on the market. End of story.
36% Nylon, 31% Merino, 31% Acrylic, 2% Spandex | Crew | Medium cushion | 1 style | Price: $$$
Pros: Memory knit compression for better fit | Targeted reinforcements for durability | Playful pattern
Cons: Limited color options | Too warm for summer wear
Just because you have seriously stinky feet does not mean that your socks can’t be playful. The Fox River Women’s Red Heel Merino Monkey Stripe Crew Socks feature an entertaining monkey pattern, but don’t skimp on performance.
Even with a lower percentage of Merino wool, you still get the odor-resistant benefits. The breathability of these socks is not the best on this list, as the fabric is a bit thicker than our other suggestions, but they still are great for everyday wear.
Moreover, what’s a good sock without enhanced comfort, right? Fox River uses a memory knit technology, so these socks form to your unique foot shape. The cushioned heel and seamless toe also add to the luxurious feel.
Overall, these Red Heel Merino Monkey Stripe Crew Socks are our favorite stay-at-home-and-binge-watch-Netflix socks. They are high-performing, playful, and honestly, we just love monkeys!
58% Merino, 39% Nylon, 3% Spandex | Crew | Light cushion | 2 colors | Price: $$$$
Pros: Reinforced seams for longevity | Lightweight, breathable material | Excellent compression
Cons: Limited pattern availability | Expenisve
We stick with the animal-themed patterns with our next pair of women’s odor-proof socks. The Farm to Feet Women’s Emeryville Lightweight Crew Socks are a high-performing versatile option for those of us that need to control our foot odor.
What we love most is the mixture of elegance and engineering. The fox-pattern (available in 10 colors) makes these socks wearable with almost any outfit. Moreover, the light cushioning, seamless toe closure, and Merino wool blend fabric offer enhanced comfort.
Also, we have to shout out to Farm to Feet’s attention to detail in their ‘comfort compression’ technology. The targeted stretch (from the 3% spandex) gives the sock a tight, supportive fit. But, it’s not too restrictive to hinder your movement.
So, suppose you’re in the market for a lightweight performance sock that doesn’t smell but still value performance. In that case, these Emeryville lightweight crew socks may be the best option for you.
73% Merino, 26% Nylon, 1% Elastane | Crew | Zero cushion | 4 colors | Price: $$$
Pros: 4-way performance fit | Unnique knitting construction | Targeted mesh zones for breathability
Cons: May shrink with improper care | Reported ankle slippage
The Smartwool Women’s Cable socks are a simplistic yet effective choice in odor-proof footwear. Breathability and moisture-wicking are enhanced through the ultralight fabric and minimal cushioning. According to Smartwool, “socks are built for performance in the highest degree, making them ready for any adventure on your list.”
The unique knitting and several solid color options make them versatile. Still, some users have reported that the “loose” feel has caused ankle slippage. However, many users value the non-binding comfort of the cable socks as they provide room for movement.
Overall, if you want a great pair of versatile Merino socks with the Smartwool brand’s trusted backing, check out these Cable socks.
Final Note About The Best Socks For Stinky Feet
Don’t let your stinky feet take control of your life. I know, it sounds ridiculous. But you have plenty of other things to worry about, and your foot odor should not be one of them.
Merino wool does an excellent job at trapping odors, and lightweight fabrics provide airflow for your feet to stay dry. Moreover, the companies that we mentioned do a fantastic job at tailoring their socks to your needs.
Stick with Merino wool, and keep your feet fresh throughout the day.
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