My Vibrams recently developed a mind of their own, and were about to grow their own legs, I'm sure of it. They absolutely stank and a lovely cheesy smell followed me whenever I wore them, and even after I'd taken them off and washed my feet (it wasn't me, I promise). Sadly washing them normally (ie in the washing machine) and allowing to dry completely didn't completely relieve them of their smell and they were soon creating a fugg around me again within a run or two. As you can image, the Mrs was not happy at all - "he normally smells so nice".
Thankfully all was not lost. A simple soak over night in a bucket of warm water with about a cup of white spirit vinegar soon cleared the smell. They now have a weak vinegary smell, despite a thorough rinsing, but this is no where near as bad as the stench they used to have. People also can't smell the vinegar from across the room and the wife is happy too 😀 The smell of vinegar should wear off relatively quickly, and should hopefully extend the time until the next vinegar bath. Time will tell.
From my quick research, it appears this is quite a common complaint with the topic popping up on numerous forums, though none of the complaints are quite as amusing as this rendition I found by Patrick Donnelly in a Crossfit forum...
I've been an owner of a pair of FiveFinger Sprints for over a year now, and have slowly grown accustomed to using them for everyday life. In fact, about three weeks ago when I moved to college, I began using them as nearly my only footwear. There's one problem with that: they stink.
They don't just smell, they stink. They omit a foul stench that stalks me throughout the day; an odor so pungent that it surpasses anything any of my senses have ever sensed; a fetor so abrasive to the nostrils that a mere sniff of it could drive a man mad. It's rather unpleasant.
The smell began after two days of rain, where I, riding my bike around campus to get from place to place, had gotten my Vibrams thoroughly soaked. Luckily, there's not much fabric to them, so they dried quickly. After noticing the smell, I washed them, which caused the smell to subside. A week and a half later, the smell had recollected its forces and began to hurl further barrages of odors. Naturally, I washed them again - once again, the smell retreated. Yet, it still was not vanquished. Now the smell is back again, with a vengeance, stronger than ever, dead set on wreaking havoc upon everything in its path! It must be stopped once and for all!
Anyway, yeah. It's stinking up the whole dorm room and even leaking into the halls. How do I fix this for good? I know that when you're completely barefoot, your feet don't acquire a smell because it's difficult for the bacteria to grow when all the sweat evaporates so quickly. The Vibrams seem to be a refugee camp for those exiled bacteria. I can't simply keep washing them, since not only do I lack the laundry to warrant the washes, but I lack the quarters to fund them. That's completely ignoring the fact that the smell is recurring with each wash, and getting stronger each time too.
Any help would be greatly appreciated by myself and by my roommate.
There's no indication if a response was actually received, but there are a lot of other good suggestions for cleaning and keeping your Vibram Five Fingers smelling clean and fresh in the post.