How To Clean Smelly Shoes

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Do those lingering smells from your shoe embarrass you? Wanna get that new shoe smell again? We have the right solutions for you!

As summer kicks off, our feet sweat a lot and those balmy feet lead to stinky shoes. Bacteria on your feet feed off from that sweat and leaves the nasty odor as a byproduct. Sometimes, this pungent smell can only irritate you but in extreme cases, it is embarrassing when a person sitting next to you can smell it. 

Let’s look into some easy hacks and remedies that would prevent the lingering smell and you won’t be embarrassed to remove your shoes. These are mostly natural remedies that you can try before you are forced to throw the smelly shoes in an incinerator!


Deodorizer for Smelly Shoes

Though prevention is better than cure, we cannot simply part with our favorite pair of shoes without trying. Check out some deodorizing methods for getting rid of smells that have already infiltrated your shoe. 

1. Baking Soda

We know how powerful baking soda is as a deodorizer, and yes, it can cure stinky shoes as well. Liberally sprinkle some baking soda on the offending footwear and keep it overnight. The stench will vanish as you dump the baking soda in the morning. 

You can also make reusable ‘odor eaters’ with a pair of old socks. Fill the toes of these socks with baking soda, tie them up in a knot, and stuff them in the shoe every night before going to sleep. This won’t let the smells infiltrate the shoe overnight and you can breathe fresh! 

2. Make a DIY Spray

As promised, the remedies here are all-natural and inexpensive. Mix ½ cup water and ½ cup vinegar in a spray bottle.

Put in few drops of tea tree oil in the mixture and your very own shoe spray is ready to roll. Spray it inside your shoes when they smell offensive or spray it every night to avoid any lingering smell. 

3. Use Dryer Sheets

Fabric softener or dryer sheets not only neutralize odors but smell very nice. That chemical-laden sheet can make bad smells vanish with no effort.

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They aren’t considered healthy for clothes because of the toxins, but they can actually deodorize shoes like no other. Ball up two or more and stick them up each night in your shoes and say adios to smelly shoes! 

4. Salt and Essential Oils

Sneakers, gyming shoes, running shoes, and even loafers can get pretty smelly during those hot summer days, and if you wear them without socks? Disaster alert! 

Use salt as a shoe deodorizer and sprinkle a little in your canvas shoes to knock down the offensive odor and absorb the moisture. 

If you want a refreshed feel, not just deodorizing, we have essential oils for you! A few drops of essential oil on your shoe, either directly or in a piece of paper, and bam! It’s refreshing. Try to use tea tree, eucalyptus, and oils with a strong aroma for better results. 

5. Paper Trail

Your morning newspaper is worth so much more than we can imagine. It can work overtime and can be used as an effective way to squash and remove shoe odors. 

Stuff a generous amount of crumpled newspaper pages every night in your shoes and eliminate the moisture and the bacteria as well. Also, add a few drops of essential oil in the newspaper if you want, and no more funky smell!

6. Use Cedar Wood

With a strong woody smell, cedarwood is widely used in shoemaking mainly to avoid smelly shoe problems. You can make cedarwood insoles for your shoes.

I know it is not feasible for running or gyming shoes, but you can utilize this for a casual sneaker. This also helps in maintaining the shape while absorbing offensive odors. 

7. Tea and Coffee Hacks

Teabags not only make those refreshing evening teas a hassle-free affair but have several additional uses.

Don’t throw that teabag away after finishing your tea, keep that in your pantry and let it dry. Later, put the teabags in the smelly shoe and keep it overnight. The smell will vanish and your shoe would even smell fresh! 

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For coffee lovers, you can take some ground coffee, put it in a cotton bag or coffee filter, and place it carefully inside your shoe. It would work in a similar way to those teabags and your work is done! 

8. Use Vinegar or Rubbing Alcohol

Just like baking soda, a well-known household item like white vinegar can also deodorize stinky shoes. Dilute distilled white vinegar in a ratio of 1:1 and rub out or spray away the bad smells. You can also apply it with a cotton ball and let it sit for 30 minutes to eliminate the smell. 

Rubbing alcohol can also be used to get rid of stinky shoes. Just spray it evenly on the shoe and your work is done. It not only works as a deodorizer but also helps in disinfecting the shoes. 

Other products like baby powder, citrus peels, and cat litter can help in absorbing sweat and moisture, eliminating the shoe odors. You can even freeze the shoe overnight if none of the above methods are working, but don’t put them directly in a freezer. Seal them in a plastic bag first.


Let’s take about some foot and shoe care which would be the first step towards preventing stinky shoes. I mean it is always better to eliminate the root cause and in this case, it is fungi and dirty feet. 

1. Maintain a foot care routine

It is very important to maintain a proper foot care routine because dirty feet can invite bacteria and fungi. Wash your feet every day, use soap for thorough cleaning and no, I don’t mean the suds dripping down from torso cleaning. 

If feet smell is a real problem, wash them twice a day, and even on days, you might not shower.

Use a pumice stone to exfoliate the bottom of your feet, specifically the heels because it is the favorite spot of bacterias. Use some antibacterial lotion on your feet if needed.

Simply washing your feet every day can keep those lingering smells at bay and I know it is not a tough job.

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2. Maintain a Shoe Care Routine

Just like your feet, you need to clean your shoes as well. Give them a quick sweep with an antibacterial wipe or use the DIY spray after a day’s work before the bacteria takes hold. Wash the insoles regularly and use a damp towel to clean the dirt and grime from the visible areas. 

As mentioned earlier, using cedar shoe trees can also keep the bacteria growth in check and avoid offensive odor. So, a shoe care routine is very important to keep your shoes from stinking. 

3. Treat Athlete’s Foot

A fungal infection like athlete’s foot or toenail fungus that mostly appears together needs to be treated as early as possible. Though such infections don’t require any medical attention, it is better to treat them as early as possible to prevent stinky shoes. 

From DIY remedies to prescription treatment, treating these toe and toenail issues will help in decreasing shoe odor significantly. 

5. Wear Proper Socks

Prevent the offensive odors from infiltrating your shoes by wearing sweat-wicking socks. I mean, technology has advanced so much and we do have socks with sweat-wicking properties.

Say goodbye to your old and lame ones and get a few pairs of these highly effective socks to prevent shoe odors. 

Things to Remember

All these methods are effective and work most of the time if you follow the process correctly. You must be careful with certain ingredients that could harm the shoes like baking soda would not be a good option to treat stinky leather shoes. 

Similarly, if you sprinkle salt but don’t store the shoe in a dry place, it will end up getting damp and moisten the insoles. Several commercial products are designed to kill shoe stank and no doubt they are effective but don’t go overboard with them. The chemicals in it might damage your feet in the long run. 

This was all about effectively cleaning your smelly shoes. Judge your requirement before choosing any of these methods and you will surely get results. After all, who wants their favorite pair of shoes to smell offensive? 

Written by bros

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