How to Clean Stinky Shoes and Make Them Smell Better

How to clean stinky shoes

Do your shoes have such a disgusting and embarrassing smell that they have become unpleasant to wear?

Does everyone look at you when you take your shoes off? Don't worry, it's not your fault and you're not alone.

Various day-to-day activities such as running, exercising, and working all day leave your shoes with a bad smell.

However, there is no need to panic. This article will teach you how to clean stinky shoes and make them smell better.

In a nutshell, it is not actually about the shoes but the sweat produced by your feet that gets into your shoes.

Sweat-soaked shoes create a friendly environment for fungi and bacteria to grow. These organisms stink up not only your shoes but also your feet. Let’s look at the different methods on how to get rid of them.

Using a Washing Machine


There is nothing better than a thorough wash to clean stinky shoes. You can take a moist cloth to clean your shoes daily. Then let a washing machine do the job for you on a weekly basis. 

  • A washing machine will remove the excess dirt and mud from the inside of the shoes
  • Use a specially formulated detergent that cleans and kills germs
  • You can add a small amount of antibacterial product such as Dettol
  • Dry your shoes under the sun, which is a natural germ-killer
  • Clean your socks the same way

Though most shoes are machine washable, be sure to check the manufacturer’s instructions first.

Some shoes require a specific type of detergent. For example, powder detergent may leave some residue on breathable mesh fabric, which can cause irritation.

In this case, it is better to use liquid detergent. Thus, it is advised to read the label on your shoe first.

How to clean stinky shoes and make them smell better

How to Clean Stinky Shoes

1

Baking Soda

Baking soda is a natural deodorizer. You can sprinkle it inside your shoes and leave it overnight to do its magic.

2

Tea

Tea is a common household ingredient. Rather than just throwing away used tea bags, put them inside your footwear. It will absorb all the unpleasant odors in a couple of hours.

3

Dryer Sheets

Wrinkle some dryer sheets and stick them into all the closed toe shoes in the back of your closet. Next time you break out a rarely used pair, you will not have to worry about any lingering odors. Alternatively, you can use freshener sheets.

4

Baby Powder

Apply baby powder both on the walls of your shoes and on your feet. The powder does a pretty good job of soaking up sweat and preventing your feet and shoes from stinking. You can also use a specially formulated antibacterial powder.

5

Avoid Cotton Socks

Do not wear cotton socks if your feet sweat easily. Instead, use synthetic socks that soak up and lock the sweat within.

6

Vinegar

You can spray a mixture of water and vinegar inside your shoes every day. In just a couple of hours, it will absorb any smells and make your shoes fresh again.

7

Salt

Just like baking soda, salt is also very helpful. Sprinkling a small amount in your shoes will resolve the stink. It is the fastest possible trick to deal with the bad odor.

8

Freezer

Bacteria cannot survive in low temperatures. Pack your shoes in a zipped plastic bag and put them in a freezer overnight. This will kill not just the germs but also the bad smell. 

9

Lemon

Lemon contains a high amount of citric acid. Citric acid is antibacterial, hence you will benefit from adding some lemon or orange peels in your shoes. 

10

Essential Oils

Some natural essential oils like lavender are considered a top remedy for stinky shoes. They do not only suppress the odor but also kill the root cause, i.e., the germs and bacteria.

11

Change Insoles

Make it a habit to change the insoles every three months. Insoles become flat after much use and full of stinky fungi if regularly exposed to sweat. A frequent change of insoles will prevent bad odors and increase the lifespan of your shoes.

12

Change Socks

Even if you wash your socks daily, they start to host bacteria after a few months. Thus, it is a good idea to change your socks every three months or so.

13

Alcohol

Alcohol is the greatest enemy of bacteria. It acts as a disinfectant, killing bacteria and removing dirt at the same time. Alcohol itself may have an unpleasant smell, but it quickly evaporates after killing bacteria and fungi.

  • Fill a spray bottle with equal parts alcohol and water 
  • Spray inside your shoes and cover with paper
  • You can also apply the mixture on the surface of the shoe using a cotton swab
  • Leave overnight and the odor will be gone the next day

Your Turn

Ignoring the stink coming from your shoes may lead to more serious health and social issues. Because the feet are regularly exposed to germs, there is a good chance of getting an infection. Your social life and repuation may also suffer because of your stinky shoes. 

Now you know what's causing your favorite shoes to smell bad and how to deal with it. Simply changing shoes is not the solution. 

Take good care of your shoes and they will last longer. Again, it is not so much about the shoes, but the sweat produced by your feet. We hope that you learned something new from this article!

About the Author