How to Get Rid of Smelly Shoes - Fast and Simple Steps

How to Get Rid of Smelly Shoes - Fast and Simple Steps

After a long day of work, the last thing you want to deal with is the dreadful smell emanating from your favorite sneakers or boots. The stink is not just unpleasant, but it can also be embarrassing. You may have tried various methods to rid your shoes of the smell, but to no avail.

But fret not, because we're here to help. This guide will show you ways to get rid of shoe odor, effectively banishing that lingering stink from the inside of your shoes.

We will reveal tips and tricks that will prevent your shoes from smelling foul, and instead, make them smell fresh and clean. Whether your favorite pair is a sporty sneaker or a rugged boot, our guide offers the best ways to remove that persistent smell.

So get ready to say goodbye to shoe odor and hello to a more aromatic experience each time you slip on your shoes!

What Makes the Shoes Smell?

What Makes the Shoes Smell

Before we go through the methods to rid your shoes of an unpleasant smell, it's essential to understand what causes shoe odor in the first place.

  • Socks and Shoes: When you wear socks and shoes throughout the day, your feet can get sweaty. This is because our feet have numerous sweat glands, which produce moisture. This moisture gets trapped inside the shoes, creating a damp and warm environment.
  • Excess Moisture: This excess moisture inside the shoes plays a significant role in making your shoes smell bad. Wet shoes are not just uncomfortable but also a perfect breeding ground for bacteria.
  • Bacteria Thrive in a Damp Environment: Bacteria thrive in a warm, dark, and moist environment, which are the exact conditions that sweaty shoes provide. When the sweat from your feet soaks into your shoes, it allows bacteria to grow, leading to a stinky shoe.
  • Absorbs Odor: The bacteria that grow in your shoes eat your sweat, producing an acid byproduct that your nose recognizes as a foul smell. Furthermore, the material of your shoes absorbs this odor over time, causing them to smell bad even when they are dry.
  • Shoes Get Wet: Besides sweat, shoes can also get wet from external sources like rain or puddles. This additional moisture can exacerbate the odor problem by providing even more breeding grounds for bacteria.
  • Bacteria Growth: With each wear, the bacteria growth inside the shoes increases, intensifying the smell. Once bacteria have set up a colony in your shoes, they will continue to multiply as long as they have a moisture source.

In short, sweaty or wet shoes create a perfect environment for bacteria to thrive, leading to the unpleasant odor. Now that we know the cause of the stinky shoe smell, we can better address the issue and find effective ways to deodorize our shoes.

Simple Hacks for Removing Smell from Shoes

Baking soda and white vinegar

Now, let's dive into how to remove the smell from shoes with simple hacks you can try at home. Giving your shoes a day off can make a difference!

We'll outline easy steps to prevent smelly shoes and provide tips to keep your shoes smelling fresh.

Baking Soda Technique

One home remedy to remove or get rid of the smell on your shoes, especially for those that are not washing machine washable, involves the use of baking soda.

Start by combining 1/4 cup of baking soda, 1/2 cup of cornstarch, and 1/4 cup of baking powder. Sprinkle this mixture generously inside your shoes, ensuring it covers all areas.

Let your shoes rest for 24 hours. The baking soda will not only absorb the odors but also kill the bacteria causing the smell.

The cornstarch and baking powder work in tandem to absorb excess moisture, preventing bacterial growth in the future. This will make shoes that were once smelly, fresh and pleasant to wear again.

White Vinegar Hack

Another effective method to neutralize unpleasant shoe odor is the White Vinegar Hack. This method is particularly useful when you can't use baking soda. Begin by mixing equal parts of white vinegar and water in a spray bottle.

Lightly spray the inside of your shoes, being careful not to dampen the shoes too much, as excess moisture could worsen the smell. The combination of white vinegar and water will help kill the bacteria causing the foul odor and neutralize the smell.

Allow your shoes to dry overnight. The acidic nature of vinegar acts as a natural deodorizer and will help remove odors.

This method, combined with rotating your shoes and allowing them to fully dry between wears, is an excellent strategy to eliminate odor from your footwear effectively.

Use Essential Oils

use essential oils

If you like a more natural approach, using essential oils is an excellent way to bid farewell to the bad smell in your shoes. This can be a highly effective solution, especially for running shoes which tend to get a lot of wear and tear. Simply put your shoes in a safe space where they won't be disturbed, and apply a few drops of your favorite essential oil to the inner soles.

You can use tea tree oil for its antibacterial properties, or lavender for its pleasing and calming scent.

Let your shoes absorb the oil overnight, letting the natural aromas work their magic to neutralize the foul smell. When you're ready to wear your shoes again, you'll notice a significant difference - the stench will have been replaced by a pleasant aroma.

Remember to let your shoes dry out fully before wearing them again to ensure the oils don't stain your socks. This method can be applied to all types of shoes and is a quick and easy way to keep your shoes smelling fresh.

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Additional Tips to Prevent Having Smelly Shoes

While the common approach to get rid of the smell is to wash your shoes, it's essential to note that it's not always the best or viable option, especially with materials that can get damaged in the wash. Here are some other preventative measures to ensure your shoes stay fresh:

Wear Socks All the Time

Wearing socks all the time can help absorb the excess sweat, reducing the moisture in your shoes. Furthermore, socks create a barrier between your feet and your shoes, preventing the direct transfer of sweat and bacteria.

Have a Good Foot Hygiene

Maintaining good foot hygiene is critical in preventing shoe odor. Washing your feet daily with antibacterial soap can reduce the bacteria that cause shoe odor. Regularly changing your socks and keeping your feet dry as much as possible can also help in this regard.

Check Your Insoles Regularly

Insoles can be a breeding ground for bacteria and fungi. It's essential to remove shoe insoles regularly and clean them. You can do this by washing the insoles with a mild detergent and letting them air dry. For stubborn odors, consider replacing them.

Stuff Your Shoes with Dryer Sheets

Dryer sheets are an efficient home remedy to tackle shoe odor. After using the shoes, stuff them with dryer sheets. The sheets will absorb the moisture and leave a fresh scent behind. Replace the sheets every night for best results.

Use Kitty Litter

This might sound odd, but kitty litter is designed to absorb moisture and neutralize odors. Fill your shoes with a generous amount of kitty litter and leave it overnight. The litter will not only absorb the odor but will also help to dry your shoes overnight.

Dry Your Shoes Overnight

Ensure that your shoes have ample time to dry out after each use. Leaving your shoes in a well-ventilated area overnight can help with this. If your shoes are particularly damp, you might consider using a shoe dryer or placing them near a heat source to speed up the drying process.

By adopting these measures, you can create a more hygienic environment for your feet and extend the life of your shoes. Remember, prevention is better than cure, so start incorporating these habits into your routine today for fresher, odor-free shoes.

If you're looking for an effective method to preserve the quality of your shoes while adding a layer of protection against moisture, grab our Mink Oil Kit today and experience the difference it can make.


Is it Possible to Remove Odor from Shoes Without Washing?

Yes, it is possible to remove odor from shoes without washing. An unconventional yet effective method is using a dry bar of soap. Place the bar inside your shoes overnight. The soap not only absorbs the unpleasant odor but also releases its fragrance, leaving your shoes clean and fresh-smelling. Please remember to use a dry bar of soap to avoid damaging your shoes.

What types of shoes are more likely to develop odors?

Certain types of shoes are more prone to developing odors due to the materials they're made from or the conditions they're typically used in. For instance, synthetic materials tend not to breathe as well as natural fibers, trapping in moisture and leading to odor over time. Moreover, shoes used for high-intensity activities like running or gym workouts are more likely to become smelly due to increased sweating.

Can shoe odor be a sign of a foot health issue?

In some cases, persistently smelly shoes may be a sign of a foot health issue such as athlete's foot or toenail fungus. Both these conditions can cause an unpleasant odor. If you’re practicing good foot hygiene and shoe care but still struggling with shoe odor, it may be worth consulting a healthcare professional.

Can I use commercial products to remove shoe odor?

Yes, there are several commercial products available to tackle shoe odor. These range from specialized shoe sprays and insoles to odor-absorbing powders and balls. While these can be effective, they may not be as cost-efficient or natural as the home remedies outlined in this guide.

How often should I replace my shoes to prevent odor?

The frequency of shoe replacement depends on the type of shoe and how much it's used. As a guideline, running shoes should be replaced every 300-500 miles or every 4-6 months, whichever comes first. For everyday shoes, if you notice the odor isn't going away with regular cleaning or if the shoe's comfort and support are degrading, it may be time to consider a replacement.


In conclusion, learning how to get rid of shoe odor is a critical aspect of maintaining good foot hygiene and extending the lifespan of your footwear. By implementing the aforementioned strategies, you will not only know how to get rid of foul smells from your everyday shoes but also your old running shoes.

Furthermore, these tips will teach you how to clean your shoes in ways that are both effective and safe for the shoe material. So, wave goodbye to unwelcome odors and enjoy a fresher step

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