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Killing the Infamous “Vibram Stink”: A Better Solution

Posted by on Apr 13, 2011 | 7 Comments

I’ve written extensively about this topic in the past.  The vast majority of people that have tried any Vibram-soled minimalist shoes is aware of one serious drawback:  If worn without socks, they develop an indescribable funk.

I have tried a ton of products to eliminate the funk.  Some work pretty well.  Others not so much.  A few months ago, Steve Schapow sent me some Arxodos, an odor-elimination spray that works freakishly well on sports equipment.  Having played and coached football for a number of years, I am intimately familiar with the stench that shoulder pads develop.  If this product can kill that smell, maybe it could tame my Five Fingers and Trail Gloves.

How to Use

The product is a spray-based formula.  To use, you just squirt the shoes a few times after each use.  It’s pretty simple.

Real-World Test #1

Luckily, I have a large collection of excessively stinky shoes.  Some are Five Fingers, some are Merrell Trail Gloves.  All were in various stages of stinkishness.  I gathered my two oldest kids (ages 6 and 4) and had them rank the shoes according to the strength of the stench.  I would objectively say they ranged from slightly unpleasant to “this makes me want to projectile vomit.”

I sprayed the left shoe with Arxodos and left the right in it’s “natural” state.  One treatment eliminated the odor in the two least offensive shoes.  The third-smelliest took five treatments spread over the course of a single day.  The Arxodos was not able to kill the stench of the smelliest, even after 20 treatments over four days.

The smelliest pair would require a bigger gun.  My friends at The Outpost in Holland, Michigan gave me some MiraZyme enzyme cleaner to test.  I prepared a Rubbermaid storage container and dunked the smelliest Trail Gloves for 30 minutes.  I removed them and allowed them to air dry overnight.

The MiraZyme killed most of the odor in the smelliest Trail Gloves.  A single treatment of Arxodos finished the job.  I was definitely impressed with both products’ ability to kill stench.

Real World Test #2

My second test was designed to test if Arxodos could prevent the odor from developing in the first place.  For this test, I utilized my entire collection of shoes I wear at least occasionally, including:

  • Three pairs of Trail Gloves,
  • Two pairs of Tough Gloves,
  • Two pair of True Gloves,
  • A pair of Terra Plans Dharmas,
  • A pair of Vibram Komodo Sports,
  • A pair of Vibram KSOs.

After each use, I sprayed the left shoe.  The right shoe was my “control” shoe.  I have done this for three months.  With daily sprays, I have used about 6 ounces of Arxodos.  The result- the left shoe never developed any offensive odor.  The right shoe developed some degree of odor.  The severity depended on application.  The shoes I used for running smelled the worst.  The shoes I used for work and wore socks smelled the best.


Arxodos successfully killed the stink in moderately smelly shoes, but was not able to tackle the worst of the bunch.  For the smelliest, I used MiraZyme odor eliminator, then followed up with Arxodos treatments after use.  I was pleased with the results.  Arxodos is simple, effective, and relatively cheap.  When Shelly and I begin traveling around, we’ll be trapped in a Suburban for long stretches of time.  Controlling the smell of the shoes will be important, and this is the product I’ll use to accomplish the task.

Where to buy

Arxodos and MiraZyme can be purchased from their website or via Amazon using the links below.  Amazon sales help support BRU.  🙂


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  1. Nick
    April 16, 2011

    I’ve got a friend who’s had a problem of bad odour but iwth a sleeping bag (I also happen to sweat a lot in my sleping bag, which is a pain really and which makes it stink a lot). She solved the problem by putting the sleeping bag open in a freezer, not he ususl freezer but one at work…anyways, I’d be quite keen to try that with my New Balance minimus walling that are getting quite smelly after a few weeks opf wearing them without socks…might work aye?

  2. Ngoc Bui
    April 13, 2011

    Had some success with this approach.

    1. Wet Vibrams.
    2. Add salt to wet Vibrams.
    3. Dump salted wet Vibrams in a bucket of water and leave it overnight.
    4. Dry and enjoy.

  3. Rob
    April 13, 2011

    I have been running in the same pair of Vibram KSO since Feb 2010, about 900 miles so far. They just go in the washing machine with dark loads and come out smelling fresh as a pair of daisies. Eco-friendly detergent, no softener etc.

  4. adam
    April 13, 2011

    I honestly don’t see what the problem is….I have NEVER had a pair of shoes that didn’t stink after wearing them without socks. Why would the vibrams be any different?

    I have two pairs of footwear that I always wear socks in: my ski boots and my motorcycle boots. Everything else has had bare feet inside of them and each will get some sort of smell after wearing them.

    You think Vibrams are bad???? You should smell my hockey skates!

    • Steve Schapow
      April 18, 2011


      Arxodos was developed for sports like Hockey, Lacrosse, Football and Soccer. We am in a lot of pro shops throughout the USA. If your Skates and gloves are smelling bad you will love this product! We just changed to free shipping in the USA with priority mail. I would recomend the 22 oz bottle for you. Check out my website for the testimonials
      Steve Schapow

  5. Steve
    April 13, 2011

    I’ve been using antibacterial denture cleaner for a while on my KSOs (which works great), but having a sprayable option sounds a lot more convenient than soaking.

  6. Stacey Lynn
    April 13, 2011

    My daughter thanks you. As does anyone who has ever been trapped in my tiny car with me.