How to Get Rid of Shoe Odor

shoe odor

Are you embarrassed to remove your shoes in front of others? Do you wish to throw away your favorite pair of shoes due to the foul smell it transmits? If the answer is yes, the good news is that you do not need to get embarrassed about the unpleasant smell that comes from your shoes. Almost everyone faces the problem of stinky shoes once or twice in a lifetime.

If you have noticed that your shoes smell bad, it’s likely that you want to get rid of the odor as quickly as possible. But before that you need to first understand that reason behind the stinky smell coming from your shoes.

In This Article:

Causes for smelly shoes

Feet often sweat when they are locked inside a shoe for hours at a time. Due to excessive sweating it becomes an ideal place for bacteria to reside that cause the shoes to emit an unpleasant odor. Another reason behind smelly shoes is the materials used for making shoes. Shoes are usually made from synthetic material and have rubber soles and plastic innersoles. These plastic innersoles are the main culprits behind unpleasant stinky shoes.

Simple ways to get rid of the unpleasant shoe odor

The bad smell coming from shoes can be overwhelming and make you wish to throw them away as soon as possible. Well, there is no need to spend money on buying new shoes as there are many simple and easy ways to get rid of the unpleasant odor.

  • To get rid of the unpleasant smell coming from your good pair of shoes, you can stuff the shoes with newspaper. Do this at night and next morning you will find ‘stink-free’ shoes.
  • When the shoes are not in use, place a dryer sheet in each one. This way whenever you need to use the shoes you will not be disheartened with the unpleasant smell.
  • Another simple solution to get rid of the smell coming from your shoes is to throw the shoes in the washer. Keep the shoes to dry in direct sunlight and when dry, double bag them and put them in the freezer overnight. This will kill the bacteria that cause the odor. The next morning, remove the bag from the freezer and place it in the sun, to dry.
  • To get rid of smelly shoes you can use insoles made from cedar material. Such kind of insoles will tackle the cause of the problem and soon there will be no smell.
  • The most obvious way to get rid of smelly shoes would be to wash them thoroughly. Using a soapy detergent and bleach, wash the shoes inside out. Thereafter, keep them under the sun, to let dry them well. Don’t wear them until they are completely dry.
  • You can also use fabric conditioner sheets available in the market to get rid of smelly shoes. All you need to do is place a sheet in each of the shoes and keep them for the night. The next morning, you would be possessing nice-scented shoes.
  • Though this may sound strange, but cat litter has proved effective in getting rid of shoe smell. For this, collect fresh, unused cat litter in a pair of old sock and seal its mouth. Now, put the socks inside your smelly shoes and leave overnight. The litter, a great deodorizer, would absorb all the foul smell, making your shoe perfectly ready to wear.
  • Pour some rubbing alcohol in a cotton ball and wipe the insides of your shoes with the same. Now, leave them undisturbed for a while. The foul smell is sure to fade away.
  • If your shoes are not washable, wipe out the interior with a cotton ball dipped in alcohol to kill bacteria.
  • If your shoes are damp, you may be able to microwave them for 90 seconds to kill the bacteria.

Natural ways to get rid of the unpleasant shoe odor

Fortunately, there are multiple natural ways for smelly shoes using products you may already have at home. Some of the options are:

  1. Baking soda has proven to be an effective odor removing agent. Sprinkle some baking soda in your shoes and let it stay there overnight. The next day, just shake off the soda from the shoes, before wearing them. If this is a recurring problem, you may need to repeat this process every time you wear them.
  2. To get the smell out of shoes, make a mixture of baking soda, baking powder, and cornstarch taken in equal amount. Put the mixture in a pair of cotton socks and stick the socks in the shoes overnight.
  3. Another effective way to get rid of foul smelling shoes would be to use orange peel. Put one or two orange peels in the shoes and leave them overnight. Next morning your shoes will smell great.
  4. Fill each shoe with boiling water and add a small amount of bleach. Let this set for a few minutes. When the water has cooled, dump out the water and wash your shoes. The bleach will kill the bacteria, thus removing the odor.
  5. Add one cup of vinegar to each shoe. This will cause bubbling and fizzing. Let this set and work in your shoes for about 15 minutes. Remove the mixture from the shoes, rinse, and wash following the instructions above.
  6. White vinegar can also neutralize odors and remove bacteria inside of your shoes. In a small spray bottle, mix equal parts vinegar and water and spray the inside of the shoe thoroughly. Let your shoes dry for a few minutes before putting your feet in them for a fresh feeling that will last for hours.
  7. Cut off the ends of an old pair of socks. Fill each piece with about half cup of coffee grounds and tie off the end. Place in shoes overnight to absorb odor.

Choose your shoes wisely

Often the reason behind smelly shoes is wearing a wrong kind of shoes. Wearing tennis shoes, leather shoes, or suede footwear with limited ventilation often makes the shoes smelly. Choose a shoe that offers proper ventilation.

At the same time you need to replace your shoes when you know that you need new ones will also reduce shoe odor. When your shoes are a few years old and you can’t do anything to get rid of the smell, even if you’d tried the remedies above, it’s time to simply invest in a new pair. Also try to alternate between pairs of shoes to give them a chance to dry out and air out in between wearing. This way there will be a less of a chance that either pair of shoes will develop an offensive odor that is beyond repair.

Take care of your feet

After you have eliminated the odor from your shoes, prevent it from returning by keeping your feet clean and wearing socks as often as possible. Try to wear clean leather shoes and cotton socks and change shoes daily. Make sure to wash your feet once but preferably twice a day with an antibacterial soap and use a good quality foot spray at night. Also buy two pair of shoes for wearing on alternate days. To know about how to remove foot odor you can check our previous articles on ‘how to get rid of foot odor‘.

Final Words

To sum up, removing shoe smell is easy if you are ready to put in some efforts and a bit of care. Just follow the above mentioned tips and suggestions and nothing can stop you from wearing favorite pair of shoes for years to come.


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