De-Stink The Stink

It’s that time of year again. The temperature is starting to rise (oh nooooo…) and your feet sweat like no one’s business when they are stuffed inside your thick and warm ski boot liners all day. I use thin synthetic socks when I ski, and they hold plenty of wrank foot odor on their own. But, at the end of the day, the stink inevitably ends up deeply embedded in my liners as well, which don’t end up getting tossed into the washing machine after each use. The smell can get very bad, sometimes….even quite embarrassing.

The past couple of years though, I’ve been keeping a bottle of Febreze anti-microbial spray handy, near where I store and dry my boots, and it really seems to help keep them from really taking off in the stink department. A couple shots in each liner when I take them off…maybe another when I put the liners back in the shells after drying…seems to do the trick.  I used to put my liners in the sun for a long time, theorizing that the UV rays would kill some of the bacteria.  It may have, but the smell would reactive with each use.  I can tell you, the Febreze method works WAY better!

26 Comments

26 Responses to “De-Stink The Stink”


  1. 1 mike Mar 6th, 2012 at 8:25 am

    I’ve found the best way to prevent this is to apply antiperspirant on the bare feet at the start of the day. My choice is arm&hammer, but any antiperspirant will work. I originally started doing this to prevent blisters. Dry skin is much less likely to blister. But the side benefit is that my inner boots are much drier at the end of the day. Since I started doing this, my blister problem has completely gone away.

  2. 2 randosteve Mar 6th, 2012 at 8:30 am

    mike…that is a good idea. i’m assuming you use a spray, as opposed to a stick/roll on?

    i wonder if it would help with keeping ones feet warmer in cold temps as well? half the time my feet get cold when out ski-touring, i feel like my socks and liners have gotten wet from sweat first…and then gotten cold.

  3. 3 brian Mar 6th, 2012 at 8:37 am

    Well, the problem is not your boot liners but your feet, obviously. Start with your feet and you will have less of a problem.

    Some people just have stinky feet. Sounds like you’re one of those guys, Steve. I’ve seen lots of variability in this on various expeditions with clients over the years. We used to use vapor barrier socks which magnify the issue greatly.

    One thing you should try, besides starting out the day with clean, scrubbed feet is to put some sort of anti-perspirant all over them before you put them in socks. Now, some people think these products are evil, causing brain damage and the like. Whatever. They’re the same people you can’t stand to ski behind on the skin track because they stink so bad. Chose your poison.

    Anyway, try using some on your feet and you’ll find the sweat/stink problem get’s better.

  4. 4 randosteve Mar 6th, 2012 at 8:42 am

    you should smell my flip-flops…that i’ve had for 5+ years.

    maybe those are one of the problems?

  5. 5 Matus Mar 6th, 2012 at 9:09 am

    Try soaking the liner in a water and bleach solution – it works well.

  6. 6 randosteve Mar 6th, 2012 at 9:12 am

    sounds like murder on the liners…no?

    i would think the bleach would be bad for the foam in the liners…or the glue that sticks the lining to the foam.

    some good alternatives.

  7. 7 jons Mar 6th, 2012 at 9:13 am

    I don’t think anyone has a worse case of intuition trench foot than me, my liners belong in a hazmat bag after skiing. Recently I found a product called Stuffitts that might help avoid liner stench and reduce the need to leave them outside/clean them after each tour. Its a foot shaped bag filled with wood chips intended to be put inside footwear after use to absorb moisture. Has anyone tried these in boot liners? Until I find a solution I will just keep jamming my gloves into my boots for the car ride home.

  8. 8 Jonny Mar 6th, 2012 at 9:23 am

    I agree with Brian above. Nip the problem in the bud and go for the feet. The stink comes from bacteria (as we all are well aware) but what most dont realize is that those bacteria love to live in and feed off that dead, flaky, callused skin on the bottoms of our feet. When my feet start to increase in funk factor I go strait to the ol pummel stone and go to town on em. Getting rid of all that dead skin means dramatically reducing the bacterial numbers and therefore a leg up on the stink. Once you get your feet all squeeky clean, for sure, pull out the febreze for tag team effect.

  9. 9 js Mar 6th, 2012 at 9:28 am

    I know this sounds like heresy, but I’ve turned to cotton socks for skiing. Plain, white, high-rise tube socks. My feet are so much happier. They sweat less and hence never get cold. I wouldn’t wear them on a long, frigid day high in the Tetons (would use wool for that), but for just about everything else they have treated me right. Less sweat equals less stench, too. Took me 20 years of using thin synthetics and wool blends to figure this out. Cotton is comfortable, and my feet feel better during and after skiing.

  10. 10 randosteve Mar 6th, 2012 at 9:30 am

    well…that sure is interesting, js.

  11. 11 joseph.szasz Mar 6th, 2012 at 11:23 am

    I’ve just started using VERY thin nylon socks from the dollar store for the fair price of $1.12. Buy seven pairs and then be sure to take the boot liners out each night. Warm and dry even on overnighters. That anti-microbial febreeze is the ticket for the real stink. Works good in the car thats been full of wet skins, gloves, and shells also.

  12. 12 Omr Mar 6th, 2012 at 11:47 am

    Big sweat here, so liners go on heat vents after every outing. They’re dry within an hour. And no, there’s no damage to the thermo fit due to the heat. If thoroughly dried, the bacteria growth is minimized. I like the febreze and anti-perpirant ideas.

  13. 13 Nick Mar 6th, 2012 at 11:50 am

    Steve – I have used the Febreze method, as well as storing them with dry with a couple of fabric softener sheets stuffed in them. Not sure it does anything, but I think that the scent of the sheets at least maskes the smell of the liners and may suck up some of the smell.

    Have also done the anti-perspirant on the feet pre-tour and it really does help a lot. I just used the stick, though.

  14. 14 Matus Mar 6th, 2012 at 12:46 pm

    No, the bleach will not destroy them. It is sufficient to put the liners in a weak solution of bleach and water once a season. I do it with my intuition liners and so far no problem.

  15. 15 gringo Mar 6th, 2012 at 2:20 pm

    I can recomend using the smartwool Ultralight ski liners as a stand alone sock. super thin, no pressure points,, and because they are merino wool, they are in a different stink league all together than any synthetic. Do this in combination with clean tootsies and you will reduce your boot gas emissions notably!

    It’s the same as going from capilene to merino long johns, night and day difference.

  16. 16 randosteve Mar 6th, 2012 at 7:50 pm

    i haven’t been too much of a fan of wool socks for ski-touring. i feel like the fibers can be a little too abrasive, which then irritates my shins.

  17. 17 Ty Mar 6th, 2012 at 8:42 pm

    A friend of mine’s liners are so bad we joke that multiple generations of microbial communities have lived and died in there, with the current generation living off the waste products. Light soap and water would help to wash out greasy residues that act as a substrate…

  18. 18 Chris Mar 6th, 2012 at 11:32 pm

    I bought a can of aerosol deodorant to spray into my boots at the end of the day. It seems to work surprisingly well – the missus doesn’t make me dry out my boots in the basement any more.

  19. 19 Johnny Mar 7th, 2012 at 9:17 am

    “It’s Alive!” (suggested photo caption)

    I have used Febreeze Sport on favorite (most used) pair
    of gloves towards the end of the season as days became warmer.
    Worked well.

  20. 20 X-Reed Mar 8th, 2012 at 8:37 am

    Crossing our fingers….

  21. 21 BNK Mar 8th, 2012 at 9:06 am

    Baking soda-n-water rinse.

  22. 22 Randokitty Mar 8th, 2012 at 9:52 am

    I’m with you, X-Reed.

  23. 23 D Mar 8th, 2012 at 11:00 am

    2nd that X-Reed

  24. 24 Jax Mar 8th, 2012 at 11:24 am

    Prayers and good thoughts Steve, we need you around!

  25. 25 Incline Willy Mar 8th, 2012 at 9:20 pm

    Back when I was coaching and living in ski boots 10 hrs/day, 5 days a week I invested in a good boot dryer. Not a heater, but one that blows room temp air into your boots for 12 hours overnight. The hoses reach all the way down into the toe of your boot, you don’t have to remove your liners (they last A LOT longer this way), keep your shells buckled so they don’t deform. Boots are always dry in the morning and NEVER stink. No sprays, powders, potions needed.

  26. 26 Saynah Mar 8th, 2012 at 9:39 pm

    sprinkling a bit of baking soda works the best for me

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