We’ve all been there before. You’re sitting in your cramped airline seat on a long flight, excited for your vacation or trip, when an unpleasant odor starts wafting through the cabin. It’s the smell of someone’s stinky feet. On airplanes, with recirculated air and people packed closely together, smelly feet seem inevitably to be an issue. While no one wants to be the owner of the offensive feet, being subjected to the smell can be just as unpleasant. But there may be a simple solution to this common airplane woe – slippers.

The tight quarters of an airplane cabin create a perfect storm for smelly feet. With shoes removed, feet are able to breathe and perspire more freely, leading to increased odor. The pressurized cabin also causes feet to swell, making it more difficult for shoes and socks to contain smells. And then there is the recirculated air which efficiently spreads the odor throughout the plane. Other passengers are trapped, forced to endure the stench for hours on end.

Why do feet smell so bad, anyway? Feet contain more sweat glands than anywhere else on the body. When feet are confined in shoes all day, sweat builds up. Bacteria then start to thrive on the sweat, producing pungent isovaleric acid, which is the main cause of foot odor. Those socks you peel off at the end of the day are absolutely teeming with bacteria. Wearing the same shoes and socks on a plane just amplifies the problem.

While airplane cabin air does pass through filters, they are not enough to eliminate powerful foot odors. Various airlines have tried solutions ranging from asking barefoot passengers to put socks on, to handing out complimentary foot powder. But these solutions either don’t fully address the source of the smell, or they place an awkward burden on flight attendants. Perhaps the solution is simpler than we think.

Slippers may provide a practical and comfortable solution for keeping feet covered on a plane, without the odor issues of shoes. Slippers allow feet to breathe while also absorbing sweat and containing smells. Their light, loose design reduces pressure on feet swollen from flying. Keeping a pair of slippers in your carry-on bag means you can easily slip them on when you remove your shoes on the plane.

Travel slippers come in many lightweight, quick-drying materials that “wick” moisture away from feet. Brands like Sea to Summit and Olukai make mesh airplane slippers intended to be worn in flight. Other travelers opt for a pair of soft socks with grippy bottoms. Make sure to choose slippers that will stay securely on your feet when walking down the aisle.

By changing out of your shoes into clean, breathable slippers on the plane, you can avoid subjecting fellow passengers to any stinky smells. If your feet tend to sweat a lot, you may also want to pack moist wipes in your carry on to freshen your feet after removing your shoes and socks. Choose slippers made from antimicrobial materials that help prevent bacteria and odors.

For a considerate flying experience, following airplane slipper etiquette is important too. Be sure to keep your slippers on at all times when walking around the cabin. And don’t forget to bring along socks to wear with your shoes when you deplane, rather than continuing to wear your plane slippers into the airport. Following these tips will keep feet – and fellow passengers – comfortable and odor-free.

Airline foot odor is an unavoidable nuisance, as inevitable as crying babies and cramped seats. But just like using noise-cancelling headphones and dressing comfortably can improve other airplane annoyances, making use of slippers is an easy fix for smelly feet woes. Simply by changing into breathable, moisture-wicking slippers, you can create a more pleasant environment on the plane. Your fellow passengers’ noses will thank you. So next flight, be sure to stow a pair of airplane slippers in your carry on. Your feet and your neighbors will be better for it.