Why Your Feet Smell Like Cheese and Fritos Corn Chips

In short: The same bacteria that is used to ripen many cheeses, including Munster, Limburger, and Port-du-Salut, also lives on our skin and eats dead skin cells. It’s called Brevibacterium, and it releases S-methyl thioesters as it digests, which smell like cheese and corn chips.

So, you’ve been bothered by the smell of your feet, which is a combination of cheese and Fritos corn chips. There’s nothing to be ashamed of because we’re going to talk about it here.

The problem with stinky shoes and feet

People often ask the internet all the time about why their feet smell bad. But what’s peculiar is how people tend to ask in really specific, and frankly gross ways, usually in reference to food.

Like Why do my feet smell like popcorn? Or “Why do my feet smell like corn chips?”

Now you’d think that we’d be pleased that our bodies have the ability to create the smells of tasty snack foods; really, I think the question is why do Doritos smell like stinky feet?

But, for most of us, when that smell comes from a part of our body and not from a freshly opened bag of Fritos corn chips, it can be a little off-putting.

Foot odor comes from sweat, and your feet have the highest concentration of sweat glands of any part of your body. That’s why they get so sweaty when you have shoes on.

But sweat doesn’t have any odor of its own. It only starts to stink when it comes into contact with the bacteria on your skin, which happen to think that your bodily secretions are totally delicious.

Like we’ve talked about before, you are simply covered in germs. In fact, there are more microorganisms in and on your body than there are cells in your body.

And certain species of germs, like Staphylococcus epidermidis and Bacillus subtilis, feast on the nutrients in your sweat, particularly the essential amino acid known as leucine.

And yeah, not exactly a household name, but you would recognize it by its signature smell, which has been described variously as pungent, oily, and cheesy, just like Doritos and Cheetos.

It’s because of this smell that isovaleric acid is actually used as a flavor additive in a lot of foods, and it is thought to give certain cheeses their distinctive taste and odor.

So yes, when you feel like your feet are manufacturing the secret ingredient in nacho cheese corn chips, you are. But let’s talk about the main culprit of the cheese and corn chips smell.

Brevibacterium is causing the cheesy corn chips feet smell

Your shoes and feet smell like a combination of cheese and Fritos corn chips due to this little bacteria called Brevibacterium which are also used to ripen or mature certain types of cheeses.

In fact, Brevibacterium is the same bacterium that is used to ferment and ripen many cheeses that have distinctive flavors such as Munster, Limburger, and Port-du-Salut.

Brevibacteria are found on human skin, in a normal kind of way. As part of their normal metabolism, Brevibacterium releases S-methyl thioesters as it digests, which smell cheesy.

However, when Brevibacteria are living in excess, they can cause bad foot odor because of the release of chemicals called S-methyl thioesters, which smell very pungent.

S-methyl thioesters are the sulfur-containing compounds that cause the unpleasant odor, and this is the reason why your feet smell like a combination of cheese and Fritos corn chips.

Chances are, your feet are underneath socks and shoes. The hot weather isn’t helping either, so the excess sweat isn’t drying and is causing an outburst of this Brevibacterium.

How to get rid of the cheese and Fritos corn chips feet smell

If your feet and shoes have the dreaded cheese and corn chips smell, don’t fret. Here are three simple things you can do to get rid of the unpleasant odor.

1. Wash your feet and change your socks often

The best thing you can do to get rid of the pungent combination of cheese and Fritos corn chips smell is to wash your feet and change out your socks as often as possible.

Also, stop wearing the same shoes every day. Switch out your shoes and wear one pair every other day to help them dry out properly. Doing this will help with odor. 

2. Use foot probiotic spray

If you have excessive foot odor, you’ll need to be proactive and stop the odor before it comes. I suggest using a probiotic foot spray to eliminate the unpleasant foot smell.

This particular product contains probiotic extracts that help rebalance the bacterial environment on your feet to restore the skin’s healthy microbiome and prevent pungent odors from returning.

I tried a lot of things and I’m glad I stumbled upon this. Foot odor is about bacteria and not having the right balance of bacteria, and this spray will get your feet back in balance.

3. Exercise more

As for how to get rid of the smell, tests have shown people who exercise regularly tend to lose fewer amino acids in their sweat, and therefore smell less than people who don’t.

So put down that snack bag, get out there, and get some exercise in.

Related: Why your feet smell like weed