Japanese customs dictate taking your shoes off when entering homes, and also some restaurants. But while this practice helps keep the floors clean, there’s a downside to it too, as kicking off your kicks means there’s one less layer between your possibly stinky feet and the people around you.
So when we heard about a method to reduce your feet’s bouquet, we decided to give it a shot, especially since it’s as simple as changing the type of socks you wear.
Socks with separate toes have a number of things going for them. Not only do they comfortably stretch out your digits, they’re also a more unique fashion choice than standard socks. But what really made us rush out and buy a pair were all the people telling us they reduce foot odor.
The logic behind it seems sound. With ordinary, toeless socks, your toes are in contact with each other. That makes it harder for sweat to dry, which in turn promotes the growth of smelly bacteria. Toe socks, on the other hand (foot?) individually wrap each toe in sweat-absorbing fabric, helping to keep your feet clean and dry.
But while that all makes sense on paper, we wanted to see if things actually work out that way in the real world. Volunteering to be our sock-sporting guinea pig was RocketNews24 Japanese-language correspondent P.K. Sanjun.
First, Sanjun swung by sock store Tabio’s Ikebukuro branch to pick up a pair of toe socks for 700 yen (US $6.10), a little pricy for a pair of socks, but we figured their silk blend made it worth it. P.K. slipped a toe sock over his right foot, then covered it with a regular sock. The left foot, or control foot, just had a single normal sock.
Next, P.K. put on the sort of dress shoes we imagine are commonly worn by full-grown adults whose jobs have a stricter dress code than the one for news/comedy website writers. After tying his laces, his feet were in for 10 solid hours of percolating inside their brown leather sheaths.
Still, a solid day of desk work isn’t exactly the most grueling test environment, so after work, it was off to the gym for some strenuous exercise. After changing into a pair of athletic socks (with the five-toed sock still underneath on his right foot), P.K. swapped his dress shoes for his well-worn three-year-old pair of New Balances.
After two hours of sweating at the gym, P.K. passed on his usual shower, in order to preserve any freshly made odors from his not-so-fresh feet. Changing back into his more formal footwear, he made the 30 minute trip home and peeled everything off. Our reporter took a deep breath, then two more for his smell test.
Hoping to get some good news first, he started with his right foot. Showing off his limber legs, P.K. lifted his toes to his nostrils and inhaled, before having his olfactory nerve greeted by the best scent of all: nothing.
The toe sock hadn’t just reduced foot odor, it’d prevented it entirely! But it was still too early to celebrate. Maybe P.K.’s workout hadn’t been vigorous enough to build up any significant stink. To really confirm if the toe sock had made any difference, he’d have to go in for another whiff, this time of his left foot.
▼ Yup, smells bad!
It wasn’t like P.K.’s left foot stank. After all, as a RocketNews24 writer, he’s ordinarily in possession of a pleasing smell. Still, though, after a whole day wrapped up in a standard sock, his left foot definitely had a bit of musk to it, and the difference between it and his right foot was like smelly night and odorless day.
So in conclusion, we’d say picking up a pair of toe socks is definitely worth it. You can find cheaper brands than the 700-yen ones we bought, but even if you do end up spending that much, we’re sure your friends and family will appreciate the investment.
▼ We know we can’t wait to smell P.K.’s feet!