Yeah VFFs are funky...but sometimes not in the good way

I have seen this discussed elsewhere, but I cannot remember where, so I thought I would start a thread here.  After some prolonged wear, VFFs can get mighty funky in the smell department.  Regular washing (of both the shoes and your feet) helps, but I find that the smell does not go away completely.  I am going to try white vinegar in the rinse cycle of the wash and see if that helps, or maybe just a post-wash soak in a diluted vinegar solution followed by a thorough rinse in water.

What are others' tips for dealing with the VFFunk?
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  • on 1243872103:

    I have seen this discussed elsewhere, but I cannot remember where, so I thought I would start a thread here.  After some prolonged wear, VFFs can get mighty funky in the smell department.   Regular washing (of both the shoes and your feet) helps, but I find that the smell does not go away completely.  I am going to try white vinegar in the rinse cycle of the wash and see if that helps, or maybe just a post-wash soak in a diluted vinegar solution followed by a thorough rinse in water.

    What are others' tips for dealing with the VFFunk?



    You aren't the only one to report smelliness -- I've not experienced it with mine, but I generally don't have smelly shoes or feet.

    I noticed with my 2nd paire of VFFs - the KSOs - that they came with some kinda tag that had something about anti-microbial treatment being applied to the shoe.  I can't remember the name of it though.  I wonder if that is new?  My KSOs are probably about three months old now.
  • Both of my pairs (Classics & KSOs) have the built-in anti-microbial stuff, but my Classics get ripe. (No problem with the KSOs, but that is just due to the fact that they have been worn much much less.) I'm curious to hear what others have to say about it.
  • The antimicrobial stuff, IRRC, is called Aegis.http://www.microbeshield.com/.  It seems to work for a bit but with any sweaty exercise it stops working quickly...

    Recently I've been adding some baking soda to the detergent when washing my VFFs that I run in - that helps a bit, but it doesn't last for long.
  • no funk here.

    Had since Feb, 160 miles, washed when dirty, normal wash cycle.

    Jason only positive funk
  • I have a backyard patio so everyday I hose out the FF's I am wearing and use a product called green works by clorox. I have it diluted in a spray bottle so I just spray the insole and outer material and scrub everything with my fingers, rinse and hang them on the clothesline. If they are still wet when i want to wear them I throw them in the dryer for a few minutes on low. They stay much fresher than machine washing.

    I know that VFF says not to dry them but I haven't experienced any problems to date, and my black KSO'S have been through a lot. I tried to rip my pinky toe off on a concrete curb and that did more damage than anything else. The sole has a small split and the material between the toes has a small hole. The rip-stop technology works magically.
  • We have Green Works as well, I'll have to give it a try.  But I don't know how good I am going to be about cleaning them everyday.  Thanks for the tip!
  • on 1244247264:

    I have a backyard patio so everyday I hose out the FF's I am wearing and use a product called green works by clorox. I have it diluted in a spray bottle so I just spray the insole and outer material and scrub everything with my fingers, rinse and hang them on the clothesline. If they are still wet when i want to wear them I throw them in the dryer for a few minutes on low. They stay much fresher than machine washing.

    I know that VFF says not to dry them but I haven't experienced any problems to date, and my black KSO'S have been through a lot. I tried to rip my pinky toe off on a concrete curb and that did more damage than anything else. The sole has a small split and the material between the toes has a small hole. The rip-stop technology works magically.


    Hm - I'll have to try that, it sounds like it is working well for you! Thanks for the tip.
  • If I wear my KSOs without socks for too long they'll smell. I sprayed mine with Oxi Clean (with hydrogen peroxide), let them sit for about half an hour, then put them in the wash. The smell comes right out. I think the hydrogen peroxide in the Oxi Clean kills the bacteria that causes the smell.
  • I stopped using the washer for a couple of reasons.

    First, I wear mine almost exclusively on city streets so when I wash them a black oil scum is left on the washer sides. If I forget to wipe it down guess what? The next load is sure to be whites.

    Second and equally important, the straps on the kso's get all twisted up and it takes me a good hour (at least it seems like an hour) to get them straight. I wear them to work daily so I need to wash them daily if I choose not to wear socks. To make even a small load I would have to add an old towel or something that leaves lint and stuff attatched to the velcro. A once over and on to the line is as easy as it gets for me.

    I like the idea of Oxyclean. Anything to reduce the funk is okay with me. Kevin
  • You know I think this is a fairly common problem (I'm knocking on wood that I've yet to have stinky VFFs), and hopefully you guys can work on finding the "definitive solution" so we can share it with everyone.

    So hydrogen peroxide bath might be one solution.  Daily cleansing another.  I wonder what the heat point is for the rubber to melt -- could you heat them enough to kill the bacteria but not melt the VFFs?

    Hmm ...
  • I've also read about putting stinky VFFs in the freezer in a sealed plastic bag with baking soda. I think the theory was that the baking soda absorbed the smell that was there and the freezing killed the bacteria. Don't know if it works, I've never tried it.
  • on 1244601418:

    You know I think this is a fairly common problem (I'm knocking on wood that I've yet to have stinky VFFs), and hopefully you guys can work on finding the "definitive solution" so we can share it with everyone.

    So hydrogen peroxide bath might be one solution.  Daily cleansing another.  I wonder what the heat point is for the rubber to melt -- could you heat them enough to kill the bacteria but not melt the VFFs?

    Hmm ...


    I think the problem is that a lot of gunk builds up inside the toe pockets. Even if you kill the bacteria (brevibacteria, propionibacteria), the sulfurous and odoriferous compounds they produce are still going to be there (methanethiol - think blue cheese - and propionic acid - think Swiss cheese). So, even if you kill the bacteria, you leave the smell. Also, every time you put your foot into VFFs, you essentially re-inoculate your VFFs with these bacteria, starting the process again. With bare feet you have a lower surface temp - the bacteria reproduce a bit more slowly - and also, the skin cells that slough off of your feet will carry away the large majority of these chemicals (because the bacteria live off of these dead skin cells).

    This is all based off of only one semester of microbiology so take it with a grain of salt. Still, I think that killing the bacteria eliminates the cause but not the symptom. 
  • Last thing out the door this morning was to grab my kso's from the dryer and hit the road. They were still soaked when I took them off the line earlier so I threw them in the dryer. Last night I tried baking soda with the spray and really rubbed it in and then rinsed them. Apparently I didn't rinse them enough. I opened the dryer and found a pair of white ff's. The baking soda bonded to the entire surface of the shoe. I ran back outside, washed them again, blotted them as dry as I could and went to work with wet feet. There is still some residue on them but I think it will all come off today. Beware the baking soda!
  • Hmm. I've never had this problem...maybe I use less....
  • on 1245424823:

    Hmm. I've never had this problem...maybe I use less....


    I'm sure I over did it and thought I rinsed them enough. I should have taken a picture, it was something. All is well now. Kevin
  • Good, I'm glad to hear it!  ;D
  • I've started to use a light coating of Gold Bond powder and it seems to be tackling the problem very well.
  • I don't know if this has ever happened to anyone else... The other day, my spouse put his very dirty/smelly KSOs in the wash, we took them out, checked them for smell (no smell), and put them on the drying rack. The next day, when he grabbed them to put them on, they smelled SO BAD. We think it was because they dried too slowly but we're not sure.

    We got the smell out by spraying them with OxiClean (which we had not done the first time they were washed) and letting them sit for half an hour before putting them back in the wash. When we took them out, there was thankfully no smell and we put them outside to dry faster in the sun and wind. When they were dry, they didn't smell again.

    So my lessons learned were 1) OxiClean does a super job at removing the smell and 2) KSOs need to dry faster than leaving them on the drying rack overnight in the basement (at least for my spouse's shoes).
  • I've been using the OxyClean powder, it seems to be working alright - but I haven't tried an extended soak in Oxyclean - that may work out better than just tossing some of the powder in the washer.

    Kevin -
    As far as the Gold Bond powder, does it irritate you at all? I've never used that before but it sounds like it would chafe or rub if you did something particularly active when it was applied.

  • Kevin -
    As far as the Gold Bond powder, does it irritate you at all? I've never used that before but it sounds like it would chafe or rub if you did something particularly active when it was applied.
    [/quote]

    I haven't noticed anything adverse. I do use it sparingly and rub it into the material. I was more concerned with powder seeping out of my black ff's
  • I've had some issues with stinky KSO's. I've since washed them, using pre-wash, with arm and hammer detergent. I just throw my workout clothes in with the KSO's. For drying, I put a table fan on high blowing on them. Gets them dry quick and the pre-wash and wash with the arm and hammer detergent keeps the smell away.

    I've since bought a 2nd pair and use one pair for running and one for normal activities.
  • Saltwater seems to cut down on the smell if that's how they get wet (as opposed to rainwater or something) - or at least they take a bit longer to get smelly.
  • "BUMP"

    I wanted to bump this topic up after listening to Tina's podcast with Michael Martin of Vibram. One of the questions talked about undesirable odors coming from VFF's. I have found what I think is a good solution and use it all the time. I also wrote about it in this thread but wanted to share it with our newer guests.

    I wear FF's exclusively in my job as a street level sales rep (as well as everywhere else shoes are required). Stinky feet are out of the question. After every two wearings I take my shoes out to the patio, soak them with hose water, spray liberally with Clorox Green Works, scrub inside and out with my fingertips, rinse thoroughly and hang them on the line. It takes a total of about one minute. If they are still wet when I want to wear them I toss them in the dryer on low and haven't had any problems.

    I'm sure the bathtub or local stream would work just as well.

    If it's going to be very hot I will rub some powder on my feet before wearing. Knowing that people can get close to my shoes without me worrying about them fainting is great piece of mind. For me it's just part of my daily routine. Kevin

  • on 1249143586:

    "BUMP"

    I wanted to bump this topic up after listening to Tina's podcast with Michael Martin of Vibram. One of the questions talked about undesirable odors coming from VFF's. I have found what I think is a good solution and use it all the time. I also wrote about it in this thread but wanted to share it with our newer guests.

    I wear FF's exclusively in my job as a street level sales rep (as well as everywhere else shoes are required). Stinky feet are out of the question. After every two wearings I take my shoes out to the patio, soak them with hose water, spray liberally with Clorox Green Works, scrub inside and out with my fingertips, rinse thoroughly and hang them on the line. It takes a total of about one minute. If they are still wet when I want to wear them I toss them in the dryer on low and haven't had any problems.

    I'm sure the bathtub or local stream would work just as well.

    If it's going to be very hot I will rub some powder on my feet before wearing. Knowing that people can get close to my shoes without me worrying about them fainting is great piece of mind. For me it's just part of my daily routine. Kevin




    Hey Kevin - thanks for recommending the Gold Bond powder. It works well! I used it today and noticed a slight sweatiness but otherwise I'm fine and my feet dried out quickly. There is no odor coming from my KSOs - not even the Gold Bond powder scent. This is pretty amazing as because I have NEVER washed my KSOs in any manner - and I've worn them alot (I regularly wash my sprints because I get them messy and muddy and sweaty etc). Although I will probably wash them soon. But it's nice to save this pair for "casual" wear only - not sweating in them a lot + gold bond powder + occasionally wearing injinji socks helps control odor to the point wear washing is unnecessary.
  • I have been using regular corn starch baby powder in both pairs of my VFFs for the past week and I really like the difference it makes.  The powder really helps to minimize the sweaty feeling in the toe area of the shoes and has also cut down on some of the funk.  Makes the shoes much more comfy!
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