It’s certainly been tough staying at home so much due to the pandemic. We can’t go over to our friends’ places and just hang out with them on the couch with a game or movie on in the background. However, there’s one thing about all the time at home that hasn’t bothered me: I never have to smell my friends’ stinky, sweaty feet when they take off their shoes!
No one likes smelly feet, often caused by sweaty feet and the wet socks that accompany them. No matter what type of sock you wear, whether it be a dress sock, athletic sock, or work sock, you may find yourself in a situation where your feet feel excessively warm or sweaty. This can lead to wet socks which produce unwanted odors your colleagues, friends, and family all have to smell when in your proximity.
But what causes feet to get sweaty in the first place? And when shopping for the best socks for sweaty feet, how do you know what to look for? This blog attempts to outline everything you need to know when looking for the best moisture wicking socks: we’re going to outline different materials and fabrics, explain moisture wicking technology, and give you some extra tips and tricks to keep your feet dry all day.
The Science of Sweat: What Causes Excessive Sweat and Stinky Feet
Sweat is a natural mechanism our body uses to help cool us down. When your body gets warmer than your brain wants it to be, the brain sends signals to glands in the skin to produce sweat. When that sweat meets the air around it, the moisture evaporates, creating a cooling effect for your body.
Sweat, being mostly water, doesn’t smell on its own. Rather, it is when the sweat is combined with bacteria that are present on our skin and in our clothes that the unwanted and unpleasant odors are detected. Because our feet are enclosed by our socks and shoes all day, sweat doesn’t have as much opportunity to evaporate. The right socks for sweaty feet can help minimize the moisture retention and actually help keep feet dry. However the wrong socks can trap and build up moisture, exacerbating the unwanted foot odor that comes along with it.
How do Moisture Wicking Socks Work to Keep Sweaty Feet Dry?
Moisture wicking fabrics and materials help to not only provide opportunities for our skin to breathe, but can absorb a significant amount of sweat without feeling noticeably wet. In socks, this means the fabric must be able to quickly dry and evaporate the excess moisture, as your feet stay enclosed in your shoes.
What Materials Are Used in the Best Socks for Sweaty Feet?
Depending on the functionality you need, socks can come in a variety of different materials and fabrics with different levels of moisture control. Socks can even be blended from multiple fabrics to utilize features of each material. Let’s break down some of the most commonly available fabrics in socks today.
Cotton is a comfortable and lightweight natural material. When you think of classic white socks, you think of cotton. The problem with cotton is that for as comfortable as it is, it is not a great fabric for moisture control. Cotton fibers retain heat and trap moisture that accumulates in socks, leading to sweaty, stinky feet.
Merino wool is a natural fiber that, like cotton, is extremely soft and comfortable. Wool socks are typically more lightweight and breathable than cotton, and have natural moisture-wicking properties to help keep feet dry. The downside is that merino wool socks provide insulation, which makes feet feel warmer, leading to more sweat. While this is balanced by merino wool’s breathability, it makes it less comfortable in warmer environments.
Bamboo is another natural fiber that has gained popularity in recent years for its eco-friendliness. Bamboo is great at regulating moisture and is naturally odor absorbent, due to its antibacterial and antifungal properties. Due to the organic nature of the product, bamboo socks tend to be more expensive, though they offer top levels of performance for even the sweatiest feet.
Polyester is a synthetic material that is extremely lightweight and breathable. While polyester by itself isn’t moisture wicking by nature, most modern polyesters are blended in a way to maximize its abilities to control moisture. Thus, some polyester socks are now some of the best socks for sweaty feet available today!
Metal fibers, such as those woven from copper and silver, are noted for their antimicrobial properties. They can help keep even the stinkiest feet from being detected in close proximity. These metal fibers are traditionally blended with softer fibers, as they are rigid in their own nature. Socks with metallic composition tend to be more expensive, making it tougher to be an everyday sock.
Nylon is another synthetic fabric that is extremely lightweight, stretchy, and flexible. However, nylon on its own is not very breathable - nylon socks trap moisture and can get damp quickly, making them uncomfortable for sweaty feet. Unless the socks are marketed as for performance, save nylon socks for more casual situations.
Spandex holds its shape very well, and has some built-in moisture controlling properties. Spandex is known for its flexibility and stretchability, which is why it is commonly added to softer fabrics to add to their durability.
Are Your Socks Too Tight? Proper Fit Means Less Sweaty Feet
An often overlooked aspect to picking the best socks for sweaty feet is to make sure you have the right fit. Most people’s socks are simply too tight - they add additional insulation to your feet, making them feel warmer and leading to more sweat than the fabric can hold. This in turn leads to sweaty and stinky feet. Thus, you want to ensure you pick the right fit for your socks. This is especially true if you have XL feet or XXL feet, when most socks aren’t designed for extended sizes.
Start by looking at the size of the sock - does it correspond to your shoe size? If you find yourself in between sizes, you will want to consider sizing up to ensure proper airflow to your feet. Also look at the flexibility and stretchability of the fabric - look for synthetic fabric that contorts to the shape of your foot, ankle, and calf. One additional note is that if you typically wear a longer crew sock, make sure your pants are also loose to keep your feet aired out and cool throughout the day.
Tips and Tricks to Prevent Sweaty Feet and Wet Socks
Socks alone should not be your only defense against sweaty feet. There are many small things you can do to keep your feet as dry as possible throughout the day and week:
- Rotate your socks often - not wearing the same pair for too long (one day maximum) keeps bacteria and fungi from accumulating on your feet. When combined with moisture, these microbes produce unpleasant odors
- Use hot water when washing your socks to kill microbes and sterilize them from future bacterial and fungal growth
- Rotate your shoes often - shoes that get worn down quickly offer less breathability and comfort for your feet, which often results in wetter, smellier feet
- Store shoes upside down so moisture doesn’t sink in to the footbed (this is especially helpful if you find yourself wearing boots often)
- Take off your shoes whenever possible! Allow your feet free access to air to ensure sweat evaporates
- Over-the-counter foot powders to help dry out feet are commonly available at most pharmacies
Checklist: What to Look For When Purchasing Socks for Sweaty Feet
Here’s a quick checklist you can refer to when you look for socks for sweaty feet:
☐ Are they made from moisture-wicking fabrics?
☐ Do they have odor absorption and anti-microbial properties?
☐ Is the material conducive to producing a breathable and lightweight sock?
☐ Are they flexible and stretchable to ensure proper fit?
☐ Are they the right size for your foot?
☐ Will they provide all-day comfort and cushioning?
Tall Order Socks are Perfect for Sweaty Feet!
While everyone’s individual needs vary, if you’re looking for great everyday socks for sweaty feet, Tall Order’s Extra Cushioned Crew Length and Low-Cut Ankle socks are the perfect compliment for any outfit or activity! They check off every box on the checklist of what to look for:
- Tall Order Extra Cushioned socks and Low Cut Ankle Socks are made from premium fabrics which include plenty of moisture and odor control. They are lightweight and breathable, and include a layer of cushioning to take pressure off your shoes and your feet for all-day comfort.
- Tall Order Socks are the perfect balance of not too tight, but not too loose either. They include a special Comfort Band at the top which stretches to fit even the widest ankles and calves, and stay where you want to wear them throughout the day
- Tall Order Socks come in 3 sizes to fit any foot: 9-11 (regular size socks), 12-15 (XL socks), and 16-20 (XXL socks)
With Tall Order Socks, your feet will be dry and comfortable no matter how warm the outside environment is!