Significant sweating and sweaty feet in work shoes is a real problem for some people, but although this issue affects many of us, the embarrassment factor means it’s often not spoken about. That unpleasant odour when you take your shoes off is caused by butyric acid and doesn’t just affect you – the people around you can probably smell it too. Fresh sweat doesn’t actually have any odour at all, however: it’s only when the bacteria on the skin start to break down the water on the feet, which contains minerals and dander, that the sharp and unpleasant-smelling butyric acid is produced. In this blog post, we’ll look at why sweaty feet might be a problem for you and give you some concrete, practical tips to help prevent sweaty feet in work shoes.

Sweaty feet – potential causes

Although sweating doesn’t feel very pleasant, it actually plays an important role in keeping you healthy: it regulates your body’s water balance and temperature, helps eliminate metabolic products, and provides the skin with a protective acid mantle that stops germs from spreading.

The condition known as hyperhidrosis pedum, or excessive foot sweating, can have several causes, but it’s completely normal for your feet to sweat more in the heat of summer, during sport and exercise or when you’re carrying out strenuous tasks. However, unhealthy lifestyle factors such as smoking, drinking too much alcohol or coffee, or consuming too much salt can also contribute to smelly feet in work shoes. Our emotions also play a role in how much we sweat at work, as significant stress, nerves, anger and anxiety increase the amount we sweat.

If you notice that your feet are particularly smelly, this might also be caused by wearing the wrong work shoes and/or socks. Make sure you choose appropriate safety shoes for your daily work that are suitable for sweaty feet: these should be the correct size for you and should be made from breathable material that wicks sweat away. It’s also a good idea to get your foot position checked, because sweaty feet in work shoes can sometimes be caused by a misalignment that leads to excessive strain on the foot. Fortunately, this can be remedied with orthopaedic shoes or comfortable custom-made orthopaedic insoles. Our medicare site has more information about our orthopaedic solutions for uvex safety shoes.

The importance of foot hygiene is not to be underestimated: if you wear your work shoes for long periods with moist feet or don’t dry off your feet well enough after washing, you’ll create the ideal warm and damp conditions for the spread of bacteria and athlete’s foot.

Very sweaty feet in safety shoes can also be caused by genetics or by conditions such as hyperhidrosis, gout, hyperthyroidism and hormonal disorders. If you think you might be suffering from a medical condition, contact your doctor. If your feet continue to sweat persistently, you might want to ask about possible medical treatments.

What shoes and socks help prevent sweaty feet?

If you want to wear work shoes without getting sweaty feet or an unpleasant odour, you need the right footwear and suitable socks. Make sure that you choose safety shoes with anti-sweat protection, which use breathable materials and ventilation mechanisms (for example, a breathable insole such as uvex tune-up or comfortable climatic insoles, breathable lining and outer shoe material, etc.) to wick much of the moisture away and therefore reduce the amount of sweat left behind. The same applies to socks. Suitable work shoes with anti-sweat protection can be made from microsuede or leather, while breathable socks can be made from natural fibres such as bamboo, merino wool or a textile mix including virgin wool. Socks with silver threads can help to combat the bacteria that produce butyric acid via a chemical reaction.

Another important factor is shoe size. Make sure that you pick safety shoes in the right size and width so that your feet aren’t squeezed into too small a space and to prevent uncomfortable pressure points and sweating. You can find some pointers on this topic in our blog post “How do I find the right size safety shoe? With the uvex size advisor app!

uvex climazone – foot climate management with uvex

Proper management of your body’s climate – with shoes and/or clothes – can significantly improve your comfort levels. uvex has been researching the impact of climate issues for many years and has collaborated with several eminent institutions to develop devices and procedures for measuring (bodily) climate properties.

The purpose of the uvex climazone programme is to develop products with perfect (bodily) climate regulation, for example in the form of climate-optimised safety shoes that prevent sweaty feet. This category includes our safety sandals and perforated models that feature climate-optimised, breathable materials and ventilation holes in the outer shoe material and are therefore ideal for feet that become sweaty quickly and for a dry working environment.

How can I prevent sweaty feet in work shoes?

Fortunately, there are a number of simple steps you can take in your daily life to prevent getting smelly feet when wearing work shoes:

1. Wash your feet daily: Wash your feet every morning and evening with soap and dry them thoroughly – including between the toes. This will help combat the warm, damp environment on your feet, which is a perfect breeding ground for bacteria and fungi.

2. Change your socks daily: Don’t be tempted to economise when it comes to your socks – put a fresh pair on every day or more often if necessary.

3. Let your shoes dry off completely: Your shoes – especially those made of leather – need time to dry off and release the moisture that they have absorbed throughout the day into the environment. Leather, for example, needs to dry for 24 to 48 hours to regenerate. Wait until your safety shoes are completely dry before wearing them again. It’s a good idea to stuff your work shoes with newspaper and leave them to dry in a well-ventilated place – but never place them on or near a heat source, as dry heat will cause leather to become hard and brittle.

4. Alternate the shoes you wear: Invest in two pairs of safety shoes or keep a spare pair of uvex Original insoles by your shoes so that you can alternate them and give your shoes enough time to regenerate fully. Our uvex comfortable climatic insoles can be inserted into your shoes to promote healthy foot movements with their absorption zones and are made from highly breathable and moisture-wicking materials. They should be replaced regularly and can be washed by hand at 30°C if very dirty.


5. Use shoe deodorant or shoe disinfectant: If you sweat a lot at work, you can treat your safety shoes daily with shoe deodorant or our shoe disinfectant uvex shoe add in. Simply spray five to ten pumps of the solution onto the sole and under the insole of the shoe in a well-ventilated area and leave to dry for 15 minutes. For badly affected footwear, the recommended treatment is three applications per week. If you have any questions, please contact our expert team for advice.

6. Try a foot bath: Simple home remedies such as a traditional foot bath with antibacterial additives are another way to combat sweaty feet in safety shoes. You can use a variety of ingredients you’ve got at home, such as baking soda, ginger, black tea and vinegar, to give your foot bath antibacterial properties.

7. Go barefoot: Leave your shoes off whenever you can when you’re not at work and allow your feet to breathe.

8. Use sage leaves: Sage is a natural deodorant with a pleasant scent and can be placed inside your shoes.

Read our blog post for more information on why shoe odour occurs, how we ensure our work shoes are suitable for sweaty feet, and how you can eliminate and prevent shoe odour.

How often should I replace my work shoes?

If worn every day, work shoes last for 9–18 months on average. You can find their date of production under the tongue of the shoe. However, the actual amount of time you will be able to use them for is highly dependent on the level of wear and tear, weather conditions, chemical substances and other factors. Always check your safety shoes for signs of damage, defects or impaired functionality before wearing them to ensure that they provide you with full protection. You can read more about how often you should replace your work shoes and how to clean and care for them properly in our blog post.

Anti-sweat work shoes from uvex safety

uvex produces safety shoes from breathable materials that are suitable for everyone, even if you experience sweaty feet. The majority of our safety and work shoes are odour-free right from the start, as we have minimised our use of adhesives (which can develop an unpleasant smell when added to the shoe material).

In addition, safety shoes in the uvex 2, uvex quatro STX and uvex 3 MACSOLE ranges feature built-in SympaTex® membranes, which wick condensation away into the surrounding air, while also being 100% waterproof. These well-ventilated safety shoes are perfect for those with sweaty feet. Our shoes are also designed with other ventilation mechanisms such as breathable lining material and outer shoe material and insoles with ventilation holes.

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