Comment from: Paleo Dan [Visitor]  
Paleo Dan

No mention of Stuffitts (http://stuffitts.com)? They have been great at keeping the odor of my KSOs under control. I used to have to wash them weekly in order for them to be wearable in public. I've been using Stuffitts for a couple of months now. While they don't smell of roses, they definitely don't have funk.

Or, for the DIYers out there, make your own Stuffitts clones: get some aromatic cedar shavings (http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B001LQXEAA/ref=nosim/paleodan-20 or your local pet store). Stuff it into some thin socks or stockings. Bam! Instant Funk-B-Gone.

05/20/10 @ 09:05
Comment from: Brittany [Visitor]
Brittany

Thanks SO much for this list of solutions! I am going to add another one that has cured the problem for me.

I cloth diaper my baby, and wash the diapers, and regular clothes, with a detergent called "Rockin Green". I simply do a soak in really hot water and 2-3 Tbs of detergent for 4 hrs. Then I throw them in the washing machine. My KSOs always come out smelling NEW.

05/20/10 @ 09:08
Comment from: j [Visitor]
j

An alternative is to change one's diet. I actually stopped eating animal products, started taking colder showers and washing my feet with organic soaps and my feet not only after a couple weeks stopped sweating even close to as much but they also stopped smelling. In fact, most of any body oder I had stopped. Just a note on that. A bit more extreme than using cleaners and such, but nonetheless effective.

05/20/10 @ 09:35
Comment from: Steven McG [Visitor]
Steven McG

One thing i have found to be really effective that isn't mentioned above is drying the VFFs in direct sunlight.

My feet are smelly at the best of times and combined with wearing them through an Australian summer last year, all my VFFs were developing a smell so bad i had to leave them outside when i took them off. Previously i had just been putting them in a washing machine at 40C with detergent weekly, but after a few months the smell would return hours after washing and drying them.

After it became obvious that other people were noticing the smell too, i looked on the forum here and started experimenting with pre-soaking in oxyclean or vinegar and scrubbing with a toothbrush. This improved things a bit, but the smell still returned after a couple of days wear. Then one week i noticed that one of my Sprints was stinking and the other was still fine. This seemed very strange and it took me a while to work out that one had been left to dry in shade and the other was left in direct sunlight. Over the next few weeks i experimented drying my Classics, Sprints and KSOs out on my balcony with one shoe in shade and one in direct sunlight. Sure enough the one dried in direct sunlight didn't smell nearly as bad as the one dried in shade.

My cleaning regime is as follows:
1. Wet the footbed and give it a light scrub with a toothbrush.
2. Machine wash at 40C with detergent.
3. Leave outside (or next to a window) with the footbed facing the sun until they dry.

With the above cleaning method, they still don't smell by the end of the week and by leaving them in direct sunlight when i'm not wearing them, it can be extended to 2 weeks between cleans.

Some caveats:
Obviously this is not useful for Flows or KSO Treks (as the uppers are impermeable to light), but it does seem to work fine for regular KSOs.
It also doesn't help if - like me - you live somewhere that clear skies aren't common for most of the year, though it does still seem to help a little even with high level cloud.
I'm not sure what the exposure to UV will do to the upper fabric over time, though i suppose it isn't any worse than wearing them outside in sunlight. It is also probably less damaging than repeated exposure to acid (vinegar) or peroxide (oxyclean) etc.
There seem to be a few products for sanitising shoes with UV lamps, which might be effective in lieu of sunshine.

05/20/10 @ 09:36
Comment from: Anderson [Visitor]
Anderson

Thanks for putting this post together, Britt! I recently slogged my way through that thread on fighting the stank, trying to pull from the flood the tips that would help me when the time comes. This was a nice piece of work distilling the key points into a much more structured package. Kudos.

@Steven McG - that's interesting input on sunlight. Being in Florida, that could really simplify things for me!

05/20/10 @ 10:26
Comment from: Lynn [Visitor]
Lynn

I don't have a pair of FiveFingers just yet because I am waiting for the KSO Treks for women to be released. But, I have been following this website to help me when I do get my first pair.

My question and comment regarding the "stink" in the shoes, why aren't people using the product that most SCUBA divers use to get the smell out of their wetsuits? Being a diver for many years, I would use Sink the Stink on my wetsuit and it works really well.

Once I get my first pair of FiveFingers I plan on trying this product because I don't want to have the same issues with smell that everyone else is having. (But, that might not be an option...lol)

Another quick question, if people don't have smelly feet, does the problem still exist?

05/20/10 @ 11:11
Comment from: Jeff [Visitor]
Jeff

To get rid of truly heinous odor, sprinkle baking soda all over the tops and interior of the vibrams (I've used this on KSOs and Classics). Then drop them in a small bucket and fill it to the top of the shoe with vinegar (NOT diluted) so that they are completely submerged. Soak at least 8 hours. Wash per usual instructions.
I have particularly smelly feet and this method gives me at least 2-3 months of running in the Texas heat before I start to notice the odor again. No need to spend money on special cleaners or harsh chemicals, in my opinion.

05/20/10 @ 12:55
Comment from: aaron [Visitor]
aaron

I haven't waded through the 13 pages of suggestions, but some of them are really interesting and ingenious. Here's my two cents on the topic: I use Sport Wash. It is like WIN detergent. Both were designed specifically to clean and protect tech fabrics. I wash all of my running gear with Sport Wash right in the washing machine and everything always comes out smelling nice and clean, including my VFFs. You can get Sport Wash or WIN at most running stores or on Amazon.com. They are both about $9 for a bottle that does about 20 loads of running clothes.

05/20/10 @ 13:04
Comment from: Zyzzyx [Visitor]
Zyzzyx

I've been lucky enough to be one of the folks not affected by the funk. But then, my daily use is split between two pairs of Treks (brn/blk) and I'm always wearing wool Injinji socks. (it stays cool in the office, and looks closer to 'normal' with socks)

I'm certain a big part of my avoiding the funk is not wearing the same Vibrams everyday; sometimes two days in a row, maybe three. Also, the wool socks are a big part as well. Before I changed over to Vibrams I wore boots. Full leather boots with no mesh for breathing. Again, I always wore wool socks (Smartwool!), and no stink then either.

As it warms up though, I'm wearing my Classics and KSOs at home, without socks. Good chance I'll be revisiting this post.

05/20/10 @ 14:44
Comment from: Jeff [Visitor]
Jeff

I've been using a pair of classics to work in everyday for the past two years and a little of the other year and a half that I've had them. Oh and my job is landscaping! They get filthy by the end of the week. All I do is scrub the footbed with hot water and a dishwashing brush and in the toes with a toothbrush. Then just hang em on my fan to dry. I used to wash em in the washer but this way is quicker and way more effective! No Stank!

05/20/10 @ 16:17
Comment from: somedude [Visitor]
somedude

I think iamcam had it right, "just embrace the funk!" LOL

05/20/10 @ 17:57
Comment from: Misguided [Visitor]
Misguided

Well I saw a picture of Gold Bonds foot LOTION for feet treatment, however, Gold Bonds (or any foot powder for that matter) works wonders for ridding the stank and keeping them that way. My Classics were getting the funk bad since I wear them all day everyday with a wash once a week. But since using the foot powder (a light dusting on the soles and between the toes) the funk has vanished from my Classics. Now they have a neutral smell (think smell after new shoe smell disappeared, but no funk arrived), and it has stayed this way for the past month.

Simply,
Misguided

05/20/10 @ 18:50
Comment from: Rana [Visitor]  
Rana

This is a truly epic post. Thanks!

05/20/10 @ 18:55
Comment from: Charles [Visitor]
Charles

It's important to dry them out quickly after you wash them or whenever they get wet.
I use a fan or direct sun.
Tea Tree oil drops between the toes works well also.

05/20/10 @ 18:57
Comment from: Chris [Visitor]
Chris

I had a Mirazyme failure too. I think all the soak did was allow the bacteria to spread. And now the footbed seems to be slicker when wet and stickier to my foot than it was pre-Mirazyme. Not recommended.

05/20/10 @ 23:15
Comment from: Realdane [Visitor]
Realdane

For smelly, cracked feet use Toejuice (toejuice.com). I know, it sounds weird but it works really well on cracked heels and also helps your feet stay, well, un-smelly.

05/20/10 @ 23:38
Comment from: BodyBuilderMikeVFF [Visitor]
BodyBuilderMikeVFF

I use GoldBond, a little on the tops and bottoms of my feet and a squirt into my VFF, smell comes out instantly. I throw them in the wash every 2 weeks. Give it a shot, it def works for me!

05/21/10 @ 14:39
Comment from: Chris [Visitor]
Chris

Very useful post - thank you!

I have 2 pairs of KSOs, worn almost exclusively for regular life & fitnesss. I've never had smelly feet before, but after a couple months these things stink as bad as everybody has described.

I've been putting them in the sink to soak for an hour or so with some dishwashing soap (the wash dishes by hand kind) and then drying in front of a fan. They stay stink-free for a few wears or until my next run, then it's back in the sink!

05/21/10 @ 18:26
Comment from: Michelle [Visitor]
Michelle

Ha! I JUST posted a blog about my cleaning research and what has worked for me! I came over here to share it. :)

Good luck, everyone!

http://lunasealife.wordpress.com/2010/05/21/the-vibram-stank-the-fivefinger-funk/

05/21/10 @ 20:51
Comment from: Tom [Visitor]  
Tom

I keep a spray bottle filled with rubbing alcohol near the door and spray the shoes every now and then. No smell and I have worn them everyday since I bought them.

05/21/10 @ 21:15
Comment from: Ian Wendt [Visitor]  
Ian Wendt

The Penguin brand Sport Wash is the same product as the Atsko brand SportWash you can buy for less than 5 dollars at Wal-Mart. It works great for cleaning my Fivefingers and all my other technical and casual fabrics. Highly recommended.

05/22/10 @ 03:58
Comment from: jeff [Visitor]
jeff

The real solution is to use WIN detergent. It is formulated to work on all these high tech fibers. NIKE recommends it, and so does Under Armor.

The other stuff doesn't work for me. WIN is the only thing that worked. They just mask odor. WIN actually takes it out.

05/22/10 @ 09:58
Comment from: peter [Visitor]
peter

What is this obsession folks have with keeping their FF's fragrant? They're F'n shoes. Shoes stink, fancy-minimalist or not.

05/22/10 @ 13:46
Comment from: Mike [Visitor]
Mike

While my black KSOs typically get a bad funk after a couple days, my KSO Treks hardly seem to pick up any smell. I barely need to wash them.

05/22/10 @ 15:43
Comment from: Patrick [Visitor]
Patrick

I have been fascinated with getting the smell out of the shoes. I have been testing everything even remotely related to soaps and cleaning - my apartment looks like a lab...
Have tried a lot of these techniques, but also have a few other tips.
Start caring and cleaning before the smell comes to new VFFs. Stay away from machine washing - use hands and your soap of choice.

05/24/10 @ 16:08
Comment from: Josué [Visitor]  
Josué

This is a great post and very timely for me since I'm increasing my wear times with my VFF Classics and this will allow me to successfully slay the STANK! :p

I'm going to tweet this, Justin.

05/24/10 @ 18:38
Comment from: eightbit [Visitor]
eightbit

I've tried a few different methods, and some do help, but to be honest- I've found that spraying them with AXE body spray before I put them on, and after I take them off not only makes them not smell bad, but makes them smell awesome. This doesn't kill bacteria, but a lot of times the bacteria is already dead, and that causes the smell (microscopic decay). Just try it- keep it cleaned like normal, but just add this zest of nice smell whenever.

06/02/10 @ 15:22
Comment from: Chris Butterworth [Visitor]
Chris Butterworth

update from my last comment..

We're another month into summer (110 today in Phoenix), and I've had to up the ante on my cleaning routine.

I've been doing a quick soak-wash with dish soap (as described above), then I soak them pretty good in a vinegar-water solution for about an hour before fan or sun drying.

Also, I now take them off in the garage before entering the house & spray them down heavily with fabreeze. (along with my feet!)

All this work buys me 2-4 wearings before they need another wash. Pretty high-maintenance shoes if you ask me; I wish there was a better solution, cuz the shoes themselves are the best...

06/28/10 @ 19:41
Comment from: Brian Stewart [Visitor]  
Brian Stewart

I've been running in Vibrams now for almost a year. Cleaning is as simple as just adding a 1/4 cup of baking soda to the washing machine along with your favorite detergent. Works every time! I just ran a half marathon and the footbeds were covered in funk. I put them through a cycle with the baking soda and they were like new again.

08/17/10 @ 15:18
Comment from: Darryl Edwards [Visitor]
Darryl Edwards

I am working on a natural method to clean my Five Finger flows, which due to the neoprene really do smell regardless of washing them weekly in a washing machine...

I am experimenting with baking soda, cider vinegar etc.

Will let you know how I get on!

-Darryl

08/21/10 @ 17:54
Comment from: Dominic DeSousa [Visitor]
Dominic DeSousa

I find that greenworks detergent kills the smell immediately. It's pretty much natural and mine have a wonderful fresh laundry scent to them afterward! During my week in between washings, the best combination was Goldbond foot powder (they have this menthol type that I use) and lysol spray with a stiff bristled tooth brush, though I'm looking for something stiffer to really be able to scrub them.

09/13/10 @ 11:38
Comment from: Tiago [Visitor]  
Tiago

PediTech ActiFresh spray, really works for me. I put it on my feet and my VFF's and I can sweat all day in them that the smell won't win over it.

This product does what it says!

09/20/10 @ 08:36
Comment from: Qubit [Visitor]
Qubit

FEBREZE - pet odor eliminator works well.

I apply a few squirts of FABREZE to each after I pull my Classics out of the washer and before they have dried. When dried the FABREZE brings them back to a "neutral/good" smell.

Occasionally, when the yellow footbed begins turning black with dirt, I will wet the whole shoe, apply a few drops of liquid detergent, smear that around the foot bed, and let that soak while the washer fills with water.

This "pre-soak" always seems to bring the footbed back to yellow and helps with odor too.


11/21/10 @ 13:37
Comment from: maxroch [Visitor]
maxroch

Just bought myself a pair of VFF KSO Trek. Love every minute of wearing it so far including a trip to the gym and 15 minutes on the treadmill. Now I am a bit concerned after reading all this talk about stinky feet and shoes. I hope it won't happen to me. I have never had problems with the stinky shoes department. I think the trick is not wearing the same pair of shoes more than once a day. Better yet, give every pair of shoes a couple of days to air dry before wearing them again. I may purchase another pair of VFF just so that I won't wear the same pair on consecutive days (I wonder if the Classic is as nice as the KSO Trek). Using a clean pair of socks every wear helps as well as not walking around in those socks before putting your shoes back on. Perhaps I should consider buying and wearing those Injinji finger-socks with my VFF to improve the chance of keeping them odor-free. However, in the case of VFF, it is probably much harder to keep the inside of the shoes clean. We'll see...

12/19/10 @ 10:50
Comment from: Richard [Visitor]  
Richard

I purchased my first of VFF's they are great size 47 brown kangaroo leather KSO TREK VFF's :) I have Ms and find walking bearfoot with my service dog to allow myself enough independence toO still get around !!! I am Very impressed with the FEEL !!! I purchased 8 pair's of injinji toe sox and that felps end odor problembs before they begin !!! My Service Dog Peaty (White Boxer) has Owned Vibram Shoes since 2009 he wears the RUFF WEAR shoe from RUFF wear @ pet joy.com they have yellow Vibram raised yellow on the sole and are TOP NOTCH...!! I hope him in his and me in mine will make for added ballance thru great VIBRAM Products !!! Thanks for making a great product the added feel in my toes and stimulation of cinsation in my feet without fear or injury Like when I actually used to try to walk barefoot and was un aware of why THANKS VIBRAM

12/22/10 @ 22:10
Comment from: Scott [Visitor]
Scott

Try using Grapefruit Seed Extract diluted with a little water and use a toothbrush to scrub the inside (and outside) to rid your VFF's of funk. Grapefruit Seed Extract is an outstanding anti-microbial and the scrubbing gets the "dead stuff" out of your VFF's.

I use NutriBiotic GSE, it's around $10 and lasts a long time. Also use it to rid (and prevent) sinus infections and other bacterial, viral and fungus infections. It's safe inside-out. Love this stuff.

01/04/11 @ 16:15
Comment from: Willard [Visitor]  
Willard

I washed my kangaroo leather KSO Treks for the first time because they were starting to smell. First I sprayed them inside and out with “Spray-n-Wash”, then soaked them for a couple hours in hot water and Oxy-Clean laundry booster. When I pulled them out the water was brown as I expected but the leather was slimy. I rinsed them really well and ran them through the rinse cycle in the washer. Since they are leather I feel like I ruined them some how because they felt so slimy. Is that normal?

01/18/11 @ 10:38
Comment from: Sean [Visitor]
Sean

When winter hiking/mountaineering, the number one cause of cold feet is wet feet. Usually they are wet from sweating since most people were waterproof footwear for these activities. Someone involved in cold weather research for the Army recommended a product that was just available (at the time, about 10 yrs ago) called Hand-Sense. It was developed to protect against mustard gas, but a nice side effect is the barrier was bi-directional and it prevents sweating as well. Might be worth a try. I have no affiliation with them, just wanted to pass along the info.

01/20/11 @ 15:51
Comment from: Steve [Visitor]  
Steve

I was not aware of this odor issue with Fivefingers until I bought a pair and started running with them. I am a fitness nut and work out all the time with TRX, Free form boards and Bosu. The funny thing is that I own a company that makes a deodorant spray for athletic Equipment. It is called Arxodos. Since Arxodos works so well on Hockey and Figure skates that smell bad I tried it on my Fivefingers. All you have to do is spray them on the inside and out after each run. No more smell or funky feet. My website is www.arxodos.com if you want to try it out. If you have any questions you can email me as well. s.schapow@arxodos.com.

02/08/11 @ 13:17
Comment from: Heather [Visitor]
Heather

I've tried putting them in the top rack of the dishwasher. It kills the bacteria and gets rid of any smell.

02/11/11 @ 19:08
Comment from: Simone Johnson [Visitor]
Simone Johnson

Try this a natural way -->

http://www.thefitnessexplorer.com/home/2010/9/15/how-to-clean-vibram-five-fingers.html

03/10/11 @ 06:48
Comment from: Bmanhappy [Visitor]
Bmanhappy

Hey everyone! I just wanted to share what I do with my KSO treks.

I get a the canned air from amazon.com and once a week, after washing and drying (normal clothes detergent) I flip the canned air upside down and freeze inside and out...let it warn normally back up to room temp before putting on.
This freezes and kills all smell-producing bacteria. you have to be sure to get it good in the toes! I go through 6 cans of air (about 17 bucks) in 2-3 months.

I also wash my feet after each extended period of time.

it feels like the freezing every week might be a bit much ( they dont ever really smell anymore) but I would rather do a little too often then have the stink! (my girlfriend used to always complain)

03/12/11 @ 01:27
Comment from: Kitkatbird [Visitor]
Kitkatbird

I have only had my VFF's long enough for them to just start smelling and I am going to try a remedy that I discovered when I had a problem with my cats urinating on my dog's bed over and over even after I washed it. I mix hydrogen peroxide and baking soda and use it as a prewash treatment, letting it soak in the smelly area. Works so well that not even my cats could smell their scent anymore and they immediately left the bed alone. I've never had a problem with bleaching although some people ask me about that.

I can't say how long its likely to last but I am sure it is worth a try.

03/17/11 @ 09:51
Comment from: E. Wong [Visitor]
E. Wong

This works flawlessly:

Get a large jar or tupperware (head-sized or bigger) that closes securely. Fill it 1/3 up with the hottest water your tap can produce, and add 2 Tablespoons of Dial anti-bacterial liquid hand soap. Add Vibrams. Close lid, and shake the jar like a crazy person for one minute. Let soak for two minutes, shake, rest, and shake. Then, drain the water, add more hot water, and repeat until the water doesn't come out soapy anymore. Let dry. Enjoy!

04/11/11 @ 19:15
Comment from: kithawk [Visitor]
kithawk

ODORZOUT! ODORZOUT! ODORZOUT! I'm extremely allergic to tobboacco, all grasses, and any pet with hair. So, the smell of these things makes me as panicky as when a bee lands on your face. I'm allergic to them, too. I have been using Odorzout for years on any garment that smells, and it works. I buy clothes on ebay from smokers, and one soak eliminates the ashtray. Anyone who has tried to kill cigarette stink knows that is something huge. It works on my Komodos, too. It's something that will clear the smell even once it is already thriving. I buy it from amazon. Preventatively, I use medicated gold bond every time I put on my five fingers. No smell, no itch. No stink. And it is easy. Just because I'm paranoid, I wash mine in the sink more often than I do normal laundry.

04/16/11 @ 23:13
Comment from: Brad [Visitor]  
Brad

Foot odor for your shoes, starts mostly with the stank on your feet. I'm active duty military and what I do atleast once a week is put neosporin (that antifugus creme for cuts and scrapes) all over each foot and sleep with it on and I noticed with my boots and now my VFFs that the amount of time in which it takes before they truly need cleaning is about a month. May not work for you guys/gals whom already impregnated funk in your shoes but for new pairs I guarantee you'll be pleasantly surprised.

05/01/11 @ 13:11
Comment from: Joe [Visitor]  
Joe

The simplest and BEST solution to combat & prevent smell in footwear (from a microbiologist's viewpoint).

I've been reading a lot of 'solutions' on how to combat the smell from VFF. And quite frankly all of them are so complicated that it's ridiculous and entertaining to read.

So here's the TRUTH:
1. The smell is caused by microorganism that are present on our body. They like warm moist places and grow when there is a good environment and 'food.' Some bacteria may emit a foul odor, others may not.

2. The only way to prevent or combat the odor is to kill the bacteria causing the odor.

Solution:

1. Buy a spray bottle and 70% isopropyl alcohol (do not buy anything greater than or below 70% - those will not be effective in killing bacteria (it may seem like greater than 70% will work better, but trust me it doesn't. You need the 30% water in the solution to go into the cells of the microorganisms).

2. Put it in the spray bottle.

3. Every time you are done wearing your VFF, spray the inside with 70% isopropyl alcohol, including the toe pockets.

4. Allow to dry (it should dry relatively quickly about 30 mins unless you totally soak the thing).

5. That's it. No need to wash your VFF unless it is really soiled. I have yet to wash my VFF due to smell.

Explanation on how it works:

I work in the pharmaceutical industry and there are 2 basic items that is used to kill microorganisms: 10% acidified bleach, and 70% isopropyl alcohol. Bleach is toxic and can ruin shoes so use 70% IPA.

The action of 70% IPA is that it kills vegetative cells (but not spores). BUT who cares about spores. When spores are present they become vegetative cells when food is present and the environment is habitable (feet creating warmth & moisture). So when you are done wearing your VFF spray 70% IPA and you kill all vegetative cells.

EASY!

Now stop making potions and go for a scientifically backed solution.


05/10/11 @ 18:56
Comment from: K. J. [Visitor]  
K. J.

Joe - "70% isopropyl alcohol"... so I should buy this right?

http://www.walgreens.com/store/c/walgreens-isopropyl--alcohol-70-first-aid-antiseptic/ID=prod1544320-product

Just double checking, because i was specifically looking for it without the word "rubbing" in it.

05/13/11 @ 13:31
Comment from: kint [Visitor]
kint

After a few days my KSOs get a little funky. So, I do the same thing I do with my kitchen sponge after I do the dishes. 'Nuke' 'em. I wrap my KSOs in a hand towel and toss them in my microwave on high for 15 seconds. (No, it doesn't melt them.) Then I hand wash them with just water, or if they're really dirty, I put them in the washer. Once dry, no more smell. No trip to the store necessary... Unless you don't have a microwave.

05/15/11 @ 00:23
Comment from: Lazarus [Visitor]  
Lazarus

This thread shows an excellent range of detergent- and anti-microbial answers. Detergent helps surround oily molecules so that they separate from one another and from the material they're stuck to. Anti-microbial solutions kill the bacteria that cause odor. While both methods, especially in combination, provide moderate success, there's one other option: live enzyme cleaners.

These contain harmless cultures of non-odor-producing bacteria. Think of them as the yogurt of the cleaning world. They were originally created for institutions needing to clean human waste from carpet or upholstery, but are now available for consumers. They're far more effective than detergent-based cleaners--they don't merely soften the organic compounds so that they can be lifted away, they actually consume them. The bacteria's by-products are all much simpler hydrocarbons, and don't adhere--microrganism's waste is often far "cleaner" than ours (as wine, bread, and yogurt all demonstrate).

Ordinarily, the problem with footwear is that bacteria thrive in them. With live-enzyme cleaners, this becomes an asset. The odorless bacteria will continue occupy the territory that the odor-producing bacteria would like to move into. (Think of making your own yogurt or keeping sourdough starter.) They'll need periodic reinforcement, of course, but after a good overnight soak with a live enzyme cleaner in a warm place, it's usually enough to spray some inside on a regular basis.

If you've been using harsh cleaners on your VFFs, the residue will retard the new cultures for a little while, but only temporarily.

I use BioKleen Bac-Out, just because it's available anywhere, and is reasonably priced. If you know someone who works in a nursing home, you might buy a gallon jug of one of the super-concentrated industrial versions at a wholesale price (They'll be called "Live Micro," "Consume," or something similar). If you'd like to reduce the already minimal cost, cut the top off an empty milk-jug and keep it as a dedicated culture-soak (again, like sourdough starter). A few hours in the jug will both clean your VFFs and feed your microscopic pets. More useful than sea-monkeys. ;)

06/16/11 @ 16:30
Comment from: David Hadaller [Visitor]
David Hadaller

Leave'em in the freezer for a preliminary kill then put some baking powder inside

06/16/11 @ 18:46
Comment from: David Hadaller [Visitor]
David Hadaller

sorry i meant baking soda

06/16/11 @ 18:47
Comment from: Romeo [Visitor]
Romeo

I just got my first pair of KSO's and I love them. After my workout today, I blowdried them at max level for about 5 minutes each -- after all, they do say that prevention is better than cure. I'm gonna try and make this a habit for the next couple of months and see if this prevents the infamous VFF stank!

Thanks for this post though, bookmarking it in case all else fails!

06/22/11 @ 23:29
Comment from: Andrew [Visitor]
Andrew

Was having a bad time with the stink! They'd be so bad I'd be washing them after one or two times. Then I started washing at 60 degrees instead of 40 and I've have had no problems since, even after running a 10k and wearing them all day.

07/12/11 @ 17:24
Comment from: LordoftheCrabPeople [Visitor]
LordoftheCrabPeople

TEA TREE OIL!!! A few drops rubbed on your feet in the morning and your funky aroma will be gone forever. I own 4 pairs of various Fives and no longer have funk. I have been wearing Vibes since BEFORE they were known (we're talking like, mid 2008 or something). Tea Tree Oil all the way. No need to super-wash your Vibes every day. Wash them maybe MAYBE once a week in the shower.
Tip: Buy at least 2 pairs so you can rotate. Buy 4 pairs and you can be lazy like me.

07/20/11 @ 19:34
Comment from: adebayo [Visitor]
adebayo

I washed my five fingers with tide and the smell was gone. I poured it all orver the outside, on the inside and let it sot for 5 mins before washiong it with a few other small things. Not only was the smell gone, they now smell wonderful.

07/28/11 @ 20:10
Comment from: luissanchez [Visitor]  
luissanchez

Hello.... I found a fairly simple and easy way of ridding my Vibram Komodosport shoes of their awful smell. What I did was prepare a mug of green tea (four bags) and brewed them in boiling water. I let this green tea sit until it reaches room temperature. Then I pour the tea mixture into a small container big enough to put my pair of vibrams in. I add enough water to the container and the green tea such that the liquid will submerge and cover my shoes by at least one inch height. Then comes the somewhat crazy and yet functional part. I add 1.5 tablespoons of melafix, a fish medicine used for repairing fins (you can buy this at petsmart or at petco. I let the shoes soak for about 24 hours and then move them outside to dry in direct sunlight. Sure.... the shoes might smell like green tea... but the smell is completely gone! Let me know if this helps

07/31/11 @ 18:00
Comment from: Colleen [Visitor]
Colleen

I used some Hartz brand (because I had it on hand) pet odor remover spray. I sprayed into my son's VFF that he has worn almost everyday since he got them in March (imagine the stench!), took an old toothbrush to the foot bed and toe areas for good measure, let them sit for a bit and then rinsed in a bucket of water before washing in the washing machine. I washed that pair and another newer pair of his brothers, not worn near as much. When I checked them after they were completely dry I was able to actually put my nose in the shoe and not smell one whiff of odor! His brothers shoes, while only a couple of months old still had a noticeable smell. The rest of the families barefoot shoes will be getting similar treatment.

08/22/11 @ 14:45
Comment from: runnnnnnnnn [Visitor]
runnnnnnnnn

Tomatoes! Treat the funk as you would a skunk spray ... soak Vibrams in tomato juice! It's all natural, non-toxic, cheap and easy. Works like a charm!

08/28/11 @ 21:23
Comment from: Sarah [Visitor]
Sarah

Another trick that works, is using the crystal rock deodorant that comes in the spray bottle and spritzing your feet and letting it dry a minute before putting on your shoes. Inhibits growth of bacteria

09/19/11 @ 12:21
Comment from: Vshoes 132 [Visitor]
Vshoes 132

I just discovered this site what may unfortunately be too late. Crazy me decided that febreeze would cover the funk up in between washing. Sadly, the febreeze was absorbed into the material and did not wash out! I will be trying to salvage my shoes with some of the methods listed here, but I am not very optimistic at this point. I leave this comment as a word of warning to anyone interested that febreeze is not the answer to the funk problem

09/23/11 @ 22:07
Comment from: Dylan Perkins [Visitor]  
Dylan Perkins

I recently bought VFFs in November. Does taking a shower while wearing the shoes really work efficiently?

01/20/12 @ 14:35
Comment from: Jon [Visitor]
Jon

I've had my KSO Treks for about a month and a half now. I wear them as a daily shoe and also for running, so I'm pretty much wearing them non-stop. For a month and a half, I'm very impressed by how little they smell. I've only worn socks with them for two runs when my friend let me borrow a pair. I've only washed them twice, one of them being today. When I washed them by hand this time, I noticed that when I applied pressure to the footbed (which is also leather) a not-so-nice smelling black liquid emerged. I then took a scrape with my fingernail and noticed a build-up of black gunk. It took a long time to try to get as much of that black liquid out (which I'm guessing was the source of the minor smell) and I still didn't quite get it all.
Is there any way to prevent this from happening without wearing socks all the time? My feet do sweat a lot, and I will be trying some of the remedies above, but should I be treating the leather any differently than I would the other fabrics?

02/24/12 @ 23:53
Comment from: Tyler [Visitor]
Tyler

I am shocked by some of these suggestions in the comments section. Soaking in tomato juice, brewing in tea, soaking overnight in vinegar, blow drying them after every use, putting them in the MICROWAVE!! You have got to be kidding me. Whatever happened to soap and water? It does the trick for me and my feet reek to the high heavens. You folks bring Geek-Dom to a whole new level.

03/02/12 @ 14:24
Comment from: Ken Lee [Visitor]
Ken Lee

This is how I clean my five fingers, it's my little secret and it does not smell afterwards.

After each wear of five fingers, I always blow at it with a fan. It will help dry up the sweat much more quickly and will slow down the bacteria build up. Once it start to stink or have odor. Usually 1-2 months of wear. I do the following.

1. I put dish washing soap on the bottom to clean off the oil, dirt, etc.

2. I put hot water into 5 finger then use Martha Stewart Clean Detergent to clean the inside. I like to keep things as organic as possible.

3. I boil hot water and pour it into my five finger and let it sit until all the water in the shoe drain. The hot water will kill any bacteria.

4. I let it sit to air dry at an angle.

This had help me keep my smelling like new again and does not damage my shoe.

03/06/12 @ 02:03
Comment from: travis [Visitor]
travis

Thanks for the tip with the isopropyl alcohol.. I'll give it a try. That and a good wash with bronner's.

Cheers!

03/09/12 @ 02:13
Comment from: Paul [Visitor]
Paul

I used one cup of soda crystals in a bucket of warm water and let my classics soak for three hours.

Then I put them in the washing machine on a gentle cycled and hung them out to try.

No smell.

04/08/12 @ 13:18
Comment from: Hillel [Visitor]  
Hillel

anyone with komodosports knows where the stink really is because of the removable insole. when you smell the shoe the real stink is coming from the insole. just focus on the insole (with a toothbrush or whatever other way) the stink from the rest of the shoe comes out easily in the wash

04/18/12 @ 03:34
Comment from: Andy Brundrett [Visitor]  
Andy Brundrett

After wearing my KSO treks every day I switched to regular black KSO (it's warmer now and I like the thinner sole) but the smell has become awful! I have bad sinuses and usually don't notice a smell unless it is bad so it must be! Tried Febreeze and and trying 2Toms Stink Free. If I hand wash my KSO (not worth wasting a wash cycle on just them) in Tide and OxiClean powder, how long to leave them soaking? I guess I would just scrub a bit, agitate and leave them to soak? Thanks, AndyB, NH.

04/21/12 @ 23:31
Comment from: Matt [Visitor]
Matt

I put a dryer sheet in them between washings, seems to help give them a longer "fresh laundry" scent

05/03/12 @ 16:18
Comment from: Crocoodile [Visitor]
Crocoodile

I have a pair of KSOs...is it possible to remove the insoles and wash them. I never wear my kicks in the rain, but I do rock them barefoot but they don't smell. They insoles are not bright yellow anymore and I want that. Any info is appreciated....

05/05/12 @ 20:38
Comment from: Carla [Visitor]
Carla

To get the funk out of my leather VFFs I sprikle a generous amount of baking soda in them and stick them in the freezer. The baking soda soaks up the moisture and the freezer kills the bacteria. I haven't thrown my leather ones in the wash yet. For all my fabric VFFs, I pour white vinegar in them before I throw them in the wash. I make sure to swish it around really well, especially in the toes. If they are really funky I will add some peroxide to the wash water to help breakup the unwanted bio funk.

05/12/12 @ 16:26
Comment from: Rolf Pechukas [Visitor]
Rolf Pechukas

long-time VFF runner here - the main problem is using fivefingers barefoot - suggestions: once you get your VFFs clean, wear Smartwool socks - merino readily absorbs odors and keeps them out of the shoe - easier to wash socks than shoes (and you don't even need to wash the socks very often - maybe once a month for me - otherwise, air dry in sun - excellent deodorizer) - I recommend the Smartwools over the Injijis b/c they are are a merino/nylon blend - they last way longer - very high-quality sock - NOT too warm, equally good in summer as winter - I do NOT recommend the Injiji poly socks - get almost as stinky as the VFFs - you need that merino - last suggestion: in summer, run fully barefoot, if you can find a suitable trail (I used to train barefoot in NYC for HS track - asphalt w/ broken glass, anyone?) - give your VFFs a rest, and put all that training to good use! over and out - Rolf in MA

05/18/12 @ 14:12
Comment from: Joy [Visitor]
Joy

Glad to know that I wasn't the only one experiencing this. Another solution to free yourself from the funk would be to put your 5 fingers (preferably after you wash them) in a freezer bag and keep them in the freezer for a week. The freezer actually kills the bacteria. I've tried this with several different pairs of shoes and it works!!!

05/26/12 @ 20:07
Comment from: Hal Jordan [Visitor]
Hal Jordan

Well...after dealing with the stank, I can attest to initialy removing it by using hydrogen peroxide and baking soda, making a paste and scrubbing it with a toothbrush.

Then it occurred to me - I think these shoes were always meant to be washed after every wear.

After two washes...no more stank.

Now, I'm washing them after every run just using whatever my wife happens to pick up that week, with continued success.

I have no idea if this will eventually break down the shoe , but I'm guessing I'll have to buy another pair sooner than normal given all the frequent washings .

08/19/12 @ 23:45
Comment from: Jeff [Visitor]  
Jeff

Dr. Scholl's Odor-X with SweatMax spray or powder has really taken care of the odor issue for me. I need to wash less often and it even keeps my Spyridions from stinking when I wear them to work. Don't use too much of the powder or your sweaty feet will slip around in your shoes.

09/11/12 @ 21:23
Comment from: Maya [Visitor]
Maya

My Bikila stunk after running a few miles in them with sweaty feet. I hand washed them and air dried and kept them in the garage. The smell worstened, hubby noticed it right away. Had to throw them in the washer today and used liquid laundry detergent Arm & Hammer with Oxi clean. The funky smell is gone.

09/15/12 @ 21:15
Comment from: Mr Micawber [Visitor]
Mr Micawber

ozone blower - the same one I use for hockey. Works superbly!

09/20/12 @ 15:20
Comment from: James [Visitor]
James

I have found that the pet stain and odor remover spray I use for my animals works wonders on my VFF's.

My smartwool classics had such a funk they were unwearable. I completely saturated the foot bed and toe pockets and let them soak overnight. Followed up with a normal machine washing and they are like new.

Now just a couple quick sprays an hour or so before washing and the funk is gone.

11/26/12 @ 10:21
Comment from: TheDude [Visitor]  
TheDude

I took advice from one of the posters here, and bought a small spray bottle. I mixed isopropyl alcohol and hydrogen peroxide.

Now I simply spray my feet before putting on the VFF, and making sure to get in all the crevices.

Once I am done with a jog, I make sure to allow the Vibrams to air out, even placing them in front of a strong fan to quickly dry them. This even works if I happen to jog at the beach and get them wet.

One time after jogging in the water at the beach I did not dry them out with a fan, but put them under bright sunlight. It didn't work and it started to smell quickly as they weren't drying fast enough.

So when they get that bad, I soak them in a solution of soap and vinegar and wash thoroughly. That does the trick.

But the spray bottle trick works. I practically live in my VFF and there's no odor. In fact I still smell a hint of vinegar from the last soaking, rather than foot odor.

It also improved the smell on my normal shoes by applying the solution.

12/04/12 @ 22:14
Comment from: Rolf Pechukas [Visitor]  
Rolf Pechukas

after several years in VFFs (and 30 yrs barefoot running), my tips:

- keep them dry/dry them out, ASAP
this prevents stuff from growing
in the summer, mine stay out in the sun; in the winter they sit on top of the heater

- if they happen to get wet & skanky (we have a boggy golf course nearby that soaks them with fetid swamp water), then my formula is:
1. shake a healthy amount of baking soda in each shoe; 2. pour a healthy amount of white vinegar on top; 3. agitate, make sure solution bubbles around everything, up into the toes, etc; 4. pour out, rinse, and wash inside with Dawn dish detergent and warm water; 5. back out in the sun or atop the heater to dry

- I also recommend Smartwool merino/nylon socks - there are warm in winter, cool in summer, don't wear quickly b/c healthy percentage of nylon (the Injiji ones fall apart); and they absorb foot odors and moisture, and keep the shoes from getting smelly in the first place

that's it - enjoy!

12/05/12 @ 12:02
Comment from: Evan [Visitor]
Evan

Model: Speed(White) -- For those who don't care to clean them every day/week, to really get them clean & like new, you need to be willing to put a little muscle into the cleaning. Soaking in efferdent with hot water works great to start with & get the many layers of dirt & sweat loosened up, but the VB's surely will fail the the smell test after one day if you are active and wear them all day like I do!!
After soaking them in efferdent, take some of your favorite smelling hand soap and rub the soap deeply into the soles(making sure the soap is pressed into the soles all the way from the the heels to the toes). Then take an old toothbrush to the soles(focusing on the areas where you typically put most pressure(toes, balls and/or heels)and tons of dirt & bacteria should come out quickly. For myself, I had not cleaned them for almost a year and the soles went from mostly an ugly brown to white!! I could not get 100% of the stains out but my VB's are old and not well maintained so I think if you did this consistently every 3-6 months right from when you buy them, you should be able to basically keep them like new(the labels on the soles will disappear from the scrubbing, but who cares right??

04/11/13 @ 02:21
Comment from: steph [Visitor]
steph

I use hand soap and dish washing cleaner. works perfect!

06/12/13 @ 13:13
Comment from: nobody [Visitor]
nobody

I take mine into the shower with me and then pee on them. seems to work quite well strange as it may sound

08/05/13 @ 01:50
Comment from: JSL [Visitor]
JSL

The Kiwi Fresh Force with Dr Bronner Tea Tree Oil soap is amazing....Until a relative washes your vibrams in a hot cycle. Goodbye glue, goodbye five fingers :(

09/12/13 @ 00:34
Comment from: Indika [Visitor]  
Indika

I am able to dry my VFF, Leather Treks in my Samsung dryer on the rack which only operates on low heat and I usually have to run it 2 cycles to get them dry, summer is not so bad, but things do not dry so quickly in the winter and in the very wet Pacific NW. As for odor control I have been using this spray on my feet since before I discovered Vibram and the VFF's. I used this spray on my incisions and stitches after surgery as well as an all over foot care daily after shower since I broke both my feet escaping a 2 story apt fire above concrete.

Since i've discovered the VFF's I continue to use the spray not only on my feet, but inside my leather VFF's as well and I have not had any problems with odor. In fact after just a short seasoning period I do not really need to use the spray, but I still do from time to time since it will kill anything harmful that may cause odors or fungal issues which are a concern in the very wet and alive Pacific NW. I have tried to make my own spray , but I cannot get the consistency for spraying. I also make salves and all natural based self care since I have developed many often chronic stress related skin issues in the past.

I find the spray at Fred Meyer for $8-$9/4 oz spray and have only bought a handful of them in the 3 years i've been using it...

Foot Therapy
by Earth Therapeutics-
Pro Organic
Tea Tree Oil Foot Spray
enriched with
certified organic botanicals

EarthTherapeutics.com

12/11/13 @ 17:39
Comment from: Todd [Visitor]
Todd

I've solved the problem of the VFF Funk! I currently own three pair of VFF's and I use them nearly daily. I have one pair for running, a second for cross training, and the third for casual use/wear. Prior to buying my first pair, I had heard about the smell problem and was a little concerned. My worries were for nothing. The solution is simple. Do not allow your VFF's to reach the point that they start to smell. Seriously, it's that simple. I've been washing mine for years in the washing machine at least once a week with regular detergent and then I let them air dry. I've never had a problem. I believe if you do the same, you won't either.

02/03/14 @ 16:12