Shoe odor is a common problem that many people face. It can be caused by a variety of factors, including sweat, bacteria, shoes made of cheap materials, and other substances that can accumulate inside your shoes. Shoe odor can be embarrassing, uncomfortable, and even lead to foot infections depending on the cause. The good news is that there are several effective methods for eliminating shoe odor. In this article, we will discuss some of the best ways on how to remove shoe odor using both natural methods, as well as showing you which commercial products actually work to fix stinky shoes.
Before we dive into all the different methods for how to stop smelly shoes, I thought that I would mention that sometimes we need to get to the source of the problem beforehand.
Often there is a bigger contributing factor to why our shoes smell in the first place.
There are several reasons why your shoes may stink:
Bacteria: The most common cause of shoe odor is bacteria. Bacteria thrive in warm, moist environments like the inside of your shoes, and can produce an unpleasant odor.
Sweat: When your feet sweat, the moisture can become trapped inside your shoes. This creates a moist environment that is ideal for bacteria to grow, leading to a foul odor.
Poor ventilation: If your shoes do not have adequate ventilation, moisture can become trapped inside, providing a breeding ground for bacteria.
Fungal infections: Fungal infections like athlete’s foot can also cause shoe odor. These infections can cause a foul odor and may require medical treatment to resolve.
Poor hygiene: Poor hygiene practices like not changing your socks (not wearing socks at all) or washing your feet regularly can also contribute to shoe odor.
Environmental factors: Environmental factors like humidity or exposure to moisture can also cause shoe odor. It can even be caused by wearing shoes that are made with cheap material.
In summary, shoe odor can be caused by a myriad of contributing factors. By identifying the cause of the odor, you can take steps to eliminate it and prevent it from returning.
Now it’s time to get on with the odor eliminating part!
How to Get Rid of Smelly Shoes
If you’re wondering how to eliminate shoe odor, there are several methods you can try. Let’s begin with some natural deodorizer for shoe methods, the home remedies, and then go from there:
Cheap Natural Shoe Deodorizer Methods
- Use baking soda for smelly shoes: Baking soda is a natural deodorizer that can effectively eliminate shoe odor. Simply sprinkle a generous amount of baking soda into each shoe (spread it out evenly over the shoe insert) and let it sit overnight. In the morning, shake out the excess baking soda, or vacuum them out with a crevice tool if you wish, and enjoy fresh-smelling shoes. You can also create a baking soda paste by mixing baking soda with a small amount of water and spreading the paste inside the shoes but that will require you to wash the shoes when you are done using baking soda for shoe odor, if you need to know how to wash fabric shoes, check out this tutorial, it’s for washing Blowfish shoes but all fabric shoes are similar. I buy my baking soda in bulk to save money on this method. Make sure you don’t wash shoes made of leather.
- Use activated charcoal for shoe to absorb odors: Activated charcoal is a powerful odor absorber that can effectively eliminate shoe odor (you can read more about how to use activated charcoal to remove odors here). Simply place a few pieces of activated charcoal in each shoe and let them sit overnight. In the morning, remove the charcoal and enjoy fresh-smelling shoes. You can also purchase activated charcoal shoe insert bags or make your own by wrapping activated charcoal in a piece of cloth or paper (inside something breathable) and placing it inside your shoes. Charcoal is kinda messy so keep that in mind as you work with it.
- Use essential oils as a natural deodorizer for shoes: Essential oils are a natural and effective way to eliminate shoe odor. Simply add a few drops of your favorite essential oil to a cotton ball and place the cotton ball in each shoe. Let the shoes sit overnight and enjoy fresh-smelling shoes in the morning. Some popular essential oils for eliminating shoe odor include tea tree oil, peppermint oil, lavender oil, eucalyptus oil, and lemon oil (any citrus essential oil will work too). If you would like to read more about how essential oils can neutralize household odors, go here.
- Use tea bags to remove shoe odor: Tea bags are another natural deodorizer that can effectively eliminate shoe odor. Simply place a few tea bags in each shoe and let them sit overnight. In the morning, remove the tea bags and enjoy fresh-smelling shoes. This method is especially effective with black tea or green tea, which contain tannins that help to eliminate odor-causing bacteria.
- Use DIY shoe deodorizer: You can also get creative and make your own DIY shoe deodorizer by combining baking soda, essential oils, and/or other natural deodorizers. Mix baking soda with a few drops of essential oil (which is my favorite method…I use tea tree oil). Let it sit overnight, and clean them out in the morning.
That’s all of the ways that I know how to deodorize shoes naturally, so let’s move on to some of the more “commercially available ways to deodorize those shoes.
What are the best commercial products for removing shoe odor?
If you’re looking for commercial products in your quest of removing odors from shoes, there are several options available. Here are some of the best shoe odor removal commercial products, and how to use them:
- Odor-Eaters Insoles: Odor-Eaters Insoles are designed to absorb moisture and odor, keeping your shoes smelling fresh. To use, remove the existing insoles from your shoes and replace them with Odor-Eaters Insoles.
- Dr. Scholl’s Odor-X Odor Fighting Insoles: Dr. Scholl’s Odor-X Odor Fighting Insoles are designed to eliminate odor and absorb sweat. To use, remove the existing insoles from your shoes and replace them with Dr. Scholl’s Odor-X Odor Fighting Insoles.
- Lumi Outdoors Natural Shoe Deodorizer Spray & Odor Eliminator: This is a deodorizing spray that is designed to eliminate shoe odor. To use, spray the inside of your shoes with it and let them dry completely before wearing.
- Kiwi Fresh Force Shoe Freshener: Kiwi Fresh Force Shoe Freshener is a spray that is designed to eliminate shoe odor and leave your shoes smelling fresh. To use, spray the inside of your shoes with Kiwi Fresh Force Shoe Freshener and let them dry before wearing.
- Sof Sole Fresh Fogger: Sof Sole Fresh Fogger is a deodorizing spray that is designed to eliminate shoe odor. To use, shake the can well and spray the inside of your shoes with Sof Sole Fresh Fogger. Let them dry before wearing.
When using commercial products to remove shoe odor, it’s important to follow the manufacturer’s instructions carefully. In general, you’ll need to remove the existing insoles from your shoes and apply the product directly to the inside of the shoe. Let the product dry completely before wearing your shoes again. Be sure to store the product in a cool, dry place when not in use.
How to prevent shoes from smelling?
Now that you know how to get your shoes all fresh again. The next thing that is good to know is how to prevent future shoe odors from making a comeback, or even just how to keep new shoes smelling fresh.
Here are some tips for preventing shoes from smelling:
- Wear moisture-wicking socks: Moisture-wicking socks are designed to keep your feet dry by wicking away sweat and moisture. By wearing these types of socks, you can prevent moisture buildup inside your shoes, which can lead to odor-causing bacteria.
- Alternate your shoes: By alternating your shoes, you give each pair time to air out and dry completely between wearings. This can help to prevent moisture buildup inside your shoes, which can lead to odor.
- Use shoe trees: Shoe trees are inserts that you place inside your shoes to help them retain their shape and prevent moisture buildup. Using shoe trees can also help to eliminate odor-causing bacteria.
- Clean your shoes regularly: Regularly cleaning your shoes can help to prevent odor-causing bacteria from building up inside. Use a mild soap and water to clean the inside and outside of your shoes, and allow them to air dry completely before wearing.
- Store your shoes in a dry place: Storing your shoes in a cool, dry place can help to prevent moisture buildup and odor-causing bacteria from growing. Avoid storing your shoes in damp areas with no moving air such as in basements or garages (or the trunk of your car).
- Deodorize your socks regularly: If you’ve always had a stinky foot issue, you may need to get in the habit of sanitizing your socks once a month (or more if needed). You can easily do so by following my tutorial on how to clean and disinfect clothes.
Incorporate these tips into your daily routine to keep your shoes smelling fresh and clean as long as possible by preventing the odor causers in the first place.
That’s really all that I have to share with you all today. I hope that after reading these methods, you now have a better understanding of how to remove shoe odor. Whether you prefer natural remedies like baking soda and activated charcoal or prefer commercial products like shoe deodorizer sprays and inserts, there are several effective methods to eliminate shoe odor so it’s good to know that you’re not limited to just one option.
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Other good resources for how to get rid of smell shoes:
Here’s how Nike.com suggests removing shoe odor.
Here’s what Health.com has to say about shoe odor removal.
Wikihow has some photo tutorial on how to get those shoes smelling better, found here.
To check out all of my cleaning and laundry tips, go here.
Here are some direct links to some of my posts I think you will find super helpful too:
*This post was originally shared to this blog on 03/24/2023, and has since been/will be continually updated to improve user experience, as well as to make it as shareable as possible across the social medias.