I work in a biological research institute. As two of us have Tevas and both have the same problem we set about finding out why. The smell is caused by bacteria which live in and feed on the sweat and skin cells which accumulate on the sandals. This is by no means unusual and most forms of footwear are susceptible to the problem, but we wanted to find out why the problem seems worse with Tevas than other types of footwear. The smell is actually caused by the waste excreted by the bacteria as they feed. Through taking swabs from the Tevas and growing the bacteria found on agar we were able to isolate the strains of bacteria present. Although several strains were found, the predominant strain was Corynebacteria. This bacterium is known to thrive only in acid conditions, and a simple litmus test confirmed the Tevas to be slightly acidic with a pH of 5.5. In further tests we discovered the acidity had been absorbed by the thick skin on the soles of the feet and the Corynebacteria were also present there.
It seems the materials used in Tevas are slightly acidic and so encourage the Corynebacteria bacteria to live on them, which in turn causes the Teva smell. There are many ways to reduce acidity, but most of the methods we use in the laboratory would not be suitable for use on footwear and feet. After trying several ways of tackling the problem we decided to try Marmite, yes I do mean the stuff you put on your toast. Marmite is slightly alkaline with a pH of around 8 but also acts an antiseptic due to the high salt content. Marmite is just alkaline enough to neutralize the acidity present in Tevas, and the mild antiseptic effect is all that is needed to kill the Corynebacteria bacteria. After treating both the sandals and soles of the feet by coating with Marmite for about ten minutes then rinsing in water we found the problem of the smell was completely gone. Tests by taking further swabs from the sandals confirmed the Corynebacteria bacteria were no longer present. The pH of the sandals was found to have shifted to almost 7 which should prevent the Corynebacteria bacteria from returning. It's too early to tell how long this treatment will work for, but our best guess is about three months before needing to be done again.
A nice 50/50 bleach solution sprayed on kills it for a week or so. Get used to the routine and no problems.
every week or so soak your feet in warm water (or tea which contains tannin- an astringent that helps prevent perspiration), scrub them with a pumice stone and dr. bronners, and then apply some baking soda once they are dry.
this should prevent them from stinking up your tevas as they get so brutally smelly because the rubber holds dead skin cells shed during physical activity. i've heard 15 mg zinc supplements help too but no more as it can interfere with your copper intake.
also, most tevas are now being manufactured with an antimicrobial coating thing which has been holding up fairly well for me so far.
and always remember the wise words of former vice president dan quayle:
Mars is essentially in the same orbit... Mars is somewhat the same distance from the Sun, which is very important. We have seen pictures where there are canals, we believe, and water. If there is water, that means there is oxygen. If oxygen, that means we can breathe.
i just bought a pair of teva terra fi sandals, and my feet reek after 3 days. my feet never stunk in my old tevas. they have a problem, and they need to correct it. i want my money back.
I wash my sons stinky Tevas in the washer with jeans or towels, and dry them in the sun. A foot spray helps too.
I use bicarbonate of soda, just a pinch rubbed into the soles of shoes that are inclined to 'hum', and if the reaction is strong I also rub it on my feet too before wearing. It works wonders, and is a lot cheaper than some expensive powders you can buy.
From the Tevas website:
We have several suggestions. It is possible the rubber used on the top sole, when combined with your body chemistry, is contributing to the odor.
The easiest way to clean the sandals is to bend the heel and toe under water pressure so that any dirt in the grooves of the top sole will wash away.
Scrubbing them using a soft bristle scrub brush and an antibacterial soap may also do the trick. Do not scrub the nylon straps because it will cause them to fray. You can also put your sandals in a chlorine pool. Do not put them in a hot tub or jacuzzi! Allow your sandals to dry, but not in direct sunlight.
We recommend that you clean your sandals every 2 or 3 weeks in order to reduce the bacterial build up.
If your sandals have an odor prior to wearing them, put them in a well-ventilated area for a few days. Airing them out should do the trick.
The sandal odor is not covered under Teva warranty.
I've heard Tea works. Apparently it is steeped tea - maybe check Google for the "recipe"
This is what I found. Good luck!
wash them in a washing machine, or leave them in the sun. use deodorant powder when you wear them in future.
posted by andrew cooke at 2:37 PM on June 26
Take an old toothbrush and scrub them with lots of baking soda. Wash off, leave outside to dry.
posted by Happydaz at 3:17 PM on June 26
I've splooshed tea-tree oil on the foot side of my Teva soles, let it sit a little while, rinse off. But the sun sounds like a plan too.
posted by zadcat at 3:22 PM on June 26
Had some of this problem on a long trip in the tropics I just took. I was wearing Tevas alot, which would get muddy or soaked with river-water and then end up smelling funky the next day. The best solution was a good washing with a detergent/camp-soap and lots of water, followed by a long exposure to direct equatorial sun (wonderful what UV will do to smelly bacteria) until fully and completely dried.
I noticed that the worst smell arose when we'd come back from a long day, give the sandals a rinsing, and then let them sit damp overnight. That amount of damp darkness was just the thing to cultivate the sort of funky bacteria that made shoes reek. So a complete sun-baking seemed to be the most important thing for keeping shoes smelling good.
posted by Mercaptan at 3:32 PM on June 26
if you use soap make sure you get it completely rinsed out, or your shoes will start to foam the next time they get wet.
posted by clarahamster at 3:41 PM on June 26
Tea tree oil is a popular remedy. I've heard of (but not tried) just using a regular deodorant stick on them. And of course, the fine people at Teva have thoughts on the issue.
posted by jewishbuddha at 3:52 PM on June 26
I've found the best way to keep mine clean is the top shelfm of my dishwasher. Seriously. I'd suggest running the idea by your signifigant other or roomates first, though.
posted by jrhyley at 3:55 PM on June 26
I've always been a sucker for Simple Green and a stiff nylon brush.
posted by five fresh fish at 4:12 PM on June 26
The smell is usually caused by bacteria.. putting 'em in a plastic bag and tossing them in the freezer for a couple days works pretty well.
posted by Orrorin at 4:14 PM on June 26
Don't know about Tevas, but sometimes plastic and rubber items just get incurably funky. It seems to be some chemical breakdown that gives off eau d' crap. I had a set of plastic-handled nut drivers (settle down over there!) that became too stinky to use. I have also had sandals that would not stop smelling, regardless of what deodorant/detergent/bleach treatment I gave them. Other similar sandals don't have the problem, so it's not my feet doing it.
I'd be interested in hearing a chemist's explanation of what's going on, or better yet, how to recognize future stinky items before I buy them.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 5:49 PM on June 26
Scrub them with laundry detergent and a scrubbing sponge. Let them dry.
Then soak them (strap/foot pad side down) in hot water with as much baking soda dumped in as will dissolve. Rub any extra baking soda paste into the straps and foot pads. Let it soak for a good while, maybe overnight. This eliminated the smell in my Merrells. Unfortunately it'll eventually come back.
I think you can buy sandals with anti-bacterial stuff built into them to prevent smells.
posted by schroedinger at 8:12 PM on June 26
I always used Doc Bronner's peppermint soap. Wish they didn't pick up the funk, though.
posted by RikiTikiTavi at 9:15 PM on June 26
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