Nothing is worse than having a pair of smelly shoes that stink up the room as soon as you take them off. However, you don’t have to worry about throwing your stinky shoes out.
There are many ways you can easily get rid of smelly shoes (even seriously smelly sports/hiking/military footwear).
Here are a few ways I’ll be covering in this post:
1. Place Smelly Shoes In A Freezer
2. Apply Baking Soda To The Insoles
3. Place Fabric Softener Dryer Sheets inside shoes
4. Use Boot Bananas! (Heavy duty solution for REALLY smelly shoes)
5. Place Tea Bags Inside Each Shoe
6. Stuff Shoes With Citrus Peels
7. Stuff Scrunched-Up Newspaper Inside Each Shoe
8. Soak Shoes In A Vinegar And Water Mix
Now some of those might sound a little weird, but trust me they work. Read on for a guide to getting rid of smelly shoes, full of my top tips and photo instructions!
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10 Ways To Get Rid Of Smelly Shoes
Smelly shoes can ruin your confidence. Suppose you’re wondering if you’ll ever get your shoes to smell good again. Will you have to throw them out? The answer is a resounding no.
Here are 10 hacks for smelly shoes that will work wonders for you.
1. Evenly Apply Baking Soda To The Insoles Of Your Shoes
Baking soda is considered a miracle product. There are so many ways in which it is used around the house. This is another way that you can put baking soda to use. Baking soda will soak up any foul odors and may also kill bacteria that cause bad smells. For this hack to work, measure roughly a tablespoon for each shoe.
You want to ensure that the insole of each shoe is entirely covered by baking soda. Therefore, if your shoes happen to be big and a tablespoon isn’t enough, don’t be afraid to add more. When applying the baking soda inside your shoes, gently tilt both shoes back and forth to ensure that the baking soda spreads across the insoles.
It’s mainly just playing the waiting game afterward, preferably overnight. If your shoes are extra smelly, give the baking soda 24 hours to work its magic. Once the required time has passed, turn the shoes over and tap the bottom so the baking soda falls out.
Some residual baking soda powder isn’t harmful, but if it bothers you, you can vacuum it up. If the method works but not as well as you like, apply rubbing alcohol to the insides of your shoes, let it dry, and use the baking soda as instructed. Viola, your shoes will smell crisp and clean.
2. Dryer Sheets Are An Great Hack To Get Rid Of Bad Odor
Placing a fabric softener dryer sheet into the sole of both shoes will deodorize smelly shoes. This is a straightforward and easy method. You should jump straight into this method if your shoes smell to the high heavens.
Simply take a fabric softener dryer sheet and tuck it into your shoes. You want to ensure that it covers the shoe’s entire insole. Do the same thing to your other shoe. As with many methods, leave the shoes overnight to let the dryer sheets do their thing.
If you’d like to not only get rid of the bad odor in your shoes but also add a pleasant smell, you can spray the dryer sheets with some nice smelling essential oil like citrus or lavender. This hack can be done frequently to actually prevent any future bad smells from happening. Come morning, simply remove the dryer sheets and confidently wear your shoes.
3. Boot Bananas Is An Excellent Deodorizing Product
Sometimes DIY isn’t something you want to do, especially if you don’t have the time or energy. This is where a product called Boot Bananas works great.
It’s perfect for a heavy duty stink fix, if you have seriously smelly shoes (think sweaty sports shoes, hiking boots etc).
They look a bit strange, but stick with me and I’ll explain how they work…
Boot Bananas are made of a 100% cotton fabric skin that holds some awesome active ingredients specifically designed to absorb nasty smells (bamboo charcoal, lavender flowers, essential oils lemon, tea-tree, patchouli and more). They were designed and made by an awesome couple Phil and Alex – Phil is a rock climber and wanted to create a product that would genuinely fix stinky rock climbing boots.
If your shoes smell like they should be stored in a nuclear factory, you’ll definitely want to try them out.
My hiking boots are really bad smelling as I wear them every day to walk my big dog through fields, woods and mud, rain or shine. Embarrassingly, the smell that built up in there could vacate a room. My Boot Bananas fixed that problem for me, it’s as simple as that.
Simply stick them into your shoes and leave them overnight, and they will leave your shoes smelling wonderful. I was actually so surprised at the result.
I really like boot bananas as they save me time having to deodorise my shoes by manually cleaning them every few weeks. I just leave them in my shoes, and forget about them – minimal effort! Check them out here on Amazon and see some of the other excellent reviews – don’t just take my word for it.
You won’t go wrong with Boot Bananas as they can deal with odor in even the smelliest and sweatiest pair of shoes. I love mine and find they work so well!
4. Place Your Smelly Shoes In A Freezer
Nothing can replicate the good feelings you get after a good workout. However, there is an unfortunate side effect: stinky shoes. One of the well-known hacks to get rid of smelly shoes is to put them in the freezer.
No, you did not read that wrong. Placing your smelly shoes in the freezer is an excellent way to eliminate the bacteria that causes shoes to smell bad. So, what you’ll want to do is to put your smelly shoes in a plastic bag.
Secure the end of the bag by tying the ends together. Once that is done, find a spot in your freezer where you can place your shoes. Leave them in the freezer overnight. The trick is to put them out in the sun for some time after taking them out of the freezer the next day. You won’t regret trying this hack.
5. Household Vinegar Neutralizes Bad Smelling Shoes
Good old-fashion household vinegar is another excellent way to get rid of bad-smelling shoes. Many people usually add a bit of vinegar when doing household washing, so their clothes smell great. Therefore, it’s no surprise that the same can be used on bad-smelling shoes.
You’ll want to add some vinegar to lukewarm water and leave the shoes to soak for several hours. Household vinegar is incredibly effective as it goes deeper than baking soda. This is because vinegar binds the smell molecules, neutralizing their volatility. Plus, it is also inexpensive.
You can gently wash your shoes after they soak in the vinegar mixture for maximum results. This will help get rid of any stubborn, lingering smells. If you want a more straightforward way, simply pour some vinegar inside your shoes, swirl it around and leave them to dry.
6. Get Rid Of Smelly Shoes With Tea Bags
Although tea bags are generally meant for making tea and others use them as compost, their use isn’t just limited to that. They can also be used to eliminate foul odor in a pair of shoes. Many aren’t aware of a tea bag’s prowess. Any kind of tea will do the trick. Get a pack of tea and remove the tea bags from the packaging.
Place around 5 to 6 tea bags in each shoe. Ensure that the entire insole of both shoes is covered by tea bags rather than just bunching them in one corner.
Leave the tea bags in the shoes overnight to absorb the bad smell.
7. Use Kitty Litter To Get Rid Of Smelly Shoes
This hack may seem like a bad idea. Still, it is surprisingly very effective at removing bad odor and absorbing any lingering moisture. You may be a little skeptical because, let’s face it, no one wants their shoes smelling like kitty litter. However, the trick is to use scented kitty litter.
First, find a container you can place the kitty litter in. This can be a pair of stockings cut down to size, or you can empty tea bags and use those. Fill whichever choice of your container with the scented kitty litter until it is fully loaded. You will have to fill several pouches if you are using tea bags.
Place the filled stocking or tea bags into your shoes. Ensure that you gently jiggle the shoe so the kitty litter gets distributed evenly across the shoes’ insoles. Leave the shoes to sit overnight. Remove the kitty litter in the morning, and your shoes are ready for action.
8. Use Citrus Peels To Get Rid Of Bad Smelling Shoes
Citrus peels are another hack to use when dealing with smelly shoes. Simply peel a citrus fruit, maybe two, if you have bigger shoes or the fruit is small. It could be orange, lemon, or any other citrus fruit of your choice.
Stuff your shoes with the citrus peels and leave them in there overnight. Citrus peels have some essential oils that will help neutralize bad odors.
9. Newspaper Gets Rid Of Smelly Shoes After They Get Wet
Sometimes you’ll have a pair of shoes that got wet and just won’t dry properly. This usually leads to the shoes having a persistent funk. Unfortunately, removing the bad smell isn’t quite as simple as chucking them in your washing machine.
Good old newspaper is a brilliant hack to deal with wet, smelly shoes. First, remove any laces your shoes might have. Then, remove the insoles and go to town with a newspaper. Grab newspaper pages, scrunch them up and stick them inside the shoes.
Next, switch on a dehumidifier and leave your shoes in the room with it for a day or two. This will deal with the inner moisture and bad smell.
10. Talcum Powder Gets Rid Of Smelly Shoes
This hack will benefit both your nose and your closet. Talcum powder is an excellent product to get rid of bad-smelling shoes. You simply need to sprinkle a generous amount inside of your shoes. Tilt the shoes back and forth as you would with baking soda so it evenly covers the insoles.
Set the shoes aside and leave them for several hours or overnight for the best results. Once the time has passed, simply tilt the shoes and shake out the talcum powder, and your shoes should be good to go. The powder will absorb moisture, sweat, and odor, ensuring your shoes are fresh again.
What Causes Shoes To Smell Bad?
Several things contribute to shoe odor.
- If you have feet that sweat a lot, the moisture will eventually lead to a foul odor building up in the shoes.
- Suppose you do not maintain personal hygiene, such as ensuring that you clean your feet before and after removing them. In that case, you will end up with bad-smelling shoes. Bad-smelling feet lead to bad-smelling shoes.
- Suppose you wear the same pair of socks daily without washing them, or they are cheap synthetic socks. In that case, they will usually contribute to your shoes smelling awful.
- Not letting your shoe air out or dry between wearings for 24 hours will make your shoes smell bad. Shoes need to air out and dry out between wearings. Your feet throw off a lot of humidity. Also, wearing the same pair of shoes two or more days in a row will make them smell bad.
- The shoe materials could be synthetic and may have an intrinsic bad odor.
If you want to save your nostrils, the hacks mentioned above are great ways to get rid of bad-smelling shoes. Now that you know what causes bad-smelling shoes, you will be able to avoid putting yourself in a situation where you have to deal with stinky shoes.
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Lorna is a footwear geek and the founder of Wearably Weird. She created a YouTube channel in 2021 for fellow footwear fanatics, dedicated to detail-rich footwear reviews and info. She has a fashion media qualification (awarded in 2011).