Ugghh, shoe odor is disgusting, and it’s even worse when other people can smell your stank-ass shoes!
Shoe odor is nasty and one of the worse things to happen to your shoes.
Some odors are more difficult to cure than others, and some can be done in a matter of 5 minutes.
But whatever the case, I’m here to help you cure your stinky shoes so you can happily go about your day.
Anyway, lets get right into this article as I explain some of the best ways to remove shoe odor.
What Causes Shoe Odor?
Shoe odors are a buildup of fungi and bacteria.
One foot has literally 250,000 sweat glands, and they perspire about half a pint of sweat per day!
And you know what bacteria loves?
Hot and humid areas.
Our shoes are a massive breeding ground for bacteria to grow, which is a huge problem for those that ignore it.
That is what’s causing the nasty smell to come from our shoes.
That’s all there is to it.
It’s bacteria multiplying in a damp environment.
The more we ignore it, the more bacteria that grows and the smellier it gets.
Prevention is Better Than a Cure
As with anything in life, prevention is always best. It’s better to prevent something now before we are faced with an even bigger problem.
And in this case, we are faced with incredibly smelly shoes that should never be taken off around anyone else!
Prevention really is the best way to stop something like this in the first place.
As mentioned above, sweat buildup is the #1 cause. Leaving the sweat inside the shoe and wearing them again the next day?
Now that’s nastiness on a whole other level.
But the average person does not know that.
So I’m here to help you.
The best way to prevent bacteria growing in the first place is to dry your shoes after you wear them.
This is especially true for walking shoes, running shoes and everyday shoes.
There are numerous preventative tactics, but my favorite are:
- Refrigerator vent
These are all safe and non-damaging ways to dry your shoes, and I go into detail on how to do them here.
Other methods like the dryer machine are simply harmful to your shoes and will do more damage than anything else.
Pro tip: Don’t wear the same shoe everyday. Alternative shoes every few days to give other shoes plenty of time to dry.
Should You Use Shoe Deodorizers?
Most people usually purchase some cheap shoe deodorizer online and think that’s going to eliminate all their stinky problems.
But the fact of the matter is, these only cover up the smell and do not eliminate them completely.
This does not get to the root of the problem which is the bacteria that’s growing inside the shoe.
Deodorizers do not kill bacteria, they only smell good which is designed to overpower the smell.
In my opinion this is a waste of time because no matter how many times you use the deodorizer, bacteria and fungi will still grow.
Yes use them for a quick fix but no more than that.
There are more effective ways at tackling odors and I will explain how below.
Does Washing Shoes Remove Smell?
Yes, washing shoes is a great way to remove shoe odor.
This should eliminate the bacteria almost completely as laundry detergent is designed to neutralize odors.
However, there is a very fine method that you should follow to not ruin your shoes in the process.
I have a full guide on washing shoes here.
Now that we have all that out of the way, lets get into the good stuff!
5 Best Ways to Remove Shoe Odor
Freezing Your Shoes
Perhaps the most easiest way but also more time consuming is freezing your shoes by putting them in the freezer overnight.
The reason for this is that bacteria is what’s causing your shoes to smell.
Below freezing temperatures actually kills bacteria and stops it from growing.
This trick WORKS and it’s one of the easiest ways, but sometimes (depending on the severity of the odor), it does not remove the smell completely.
How to: Put your shoes in a large ziploc bag, ensuring the bag is large enough to fit a shoe inside of each one. Close the bag and leave it in the freezer for 24 hours. Give the shoes adequate time to dry before trying them on
Baking soda is renown for eliminating bacteria and freshening up shoes.
People have been using baking soda for years to eliminate odor, especially when it comes to shoes.
Why does it work so well? Well the fact that it neutralizes acids and bases.
It reacts with the bacteria and kills it, to say the least.
How to: Sprinkle a thin layer of baking soda inside the shoe until the insole is completely covered and leave it there overnight. The next day, pour it out and put your foot inside.
It’s okay if there’s still some baking soda left, it will not damage the shoe and will actually keep them smelling cleaner for longer.
This method isn’t as good as removing odors as other methods because they don’t actually kill the bacteria, they simply overpower the smell.
However, they are still a great way to remove odors nonetheless.
They are good for a “quick fix” when you don’t have baking soda or enough time to use other methods.
How to: Place dryer sheets inside your shoes and leave overnight. Remove the dryer sheets in the morning, wear the shoes, and Bobs your uncle, or Mary’s your aunt.
Baby powder works similar to the dryer sheets because they act as a moisture-absorption more than anything else.
Baby powder does not necessarily kill odors but it does absorb moisture which is a breeding ground for bacteria in the first place.
Again, this is more of a quick fix/temporary solution rather than eliminating the problem altogether…but a great alternative if you don’t have baking soda.
How to: Sprinkle a thin layer of baby powder inside the shoe just as you would with baking soda. I prefer leaving it overnight, but if you’re pressed for time, you can wear them right away.
Rubbing alcohol is good but not great, as it’s more of a preventative tactic.
Rubbing alcohol evaporates quickly and helps evaporate other sources of moisture as well.
So it’s a fast way to dry out your shoes after finishing a long day on your feet.
Although this is not the end all be all when it comes to killing odors, it’s certainly one to have in your arsenal as a great preventative.
How to: Spray the insides of your shoes with rubbing alcohol after or before using them. Give the alcohol a few minutes to evaporate before putting them on again.
Methods You Should Avoid!
There are many methods out there that can actually do permanent damage to your shoes, or they are simply a waste of time.
I’m going to explain below why you should not do them.
Keep in mind that some of these are facts and some are my opinion.
Putting shoes out in the sun – Direct sunlight can warp, discolor and soften the glues that your shoes are made of
Bar of soap over night – Waste of time unless you have at least 3 bars of soap for each shoe
Lemon peels – Little effectiveness. There are way better methods that give more bang for your buck
Cotton balls with essential oils – Not every effective
Black tea bags – Again, not that effective and will require a handful of teabags for each shoe. Not to mention that your shoes are going to be wet afterwards and will need some drying out
What is the Best Shoe Odor Eliminator?
I am not a fan of using cheap deodorizers that you can get online.
And I do not care about ineffective methods that do little to nothing.
I’m all about doing it once and doing it properly, because in my opinion, that is the best way.
What do I do?
Well I prevent my shoes from smelling in the first place by drying them after every use and alternating my shoes to give them adequate time to dry properly.
But when they do start smelling, I like putting them in a ziploc bag and storing them in the freezer for 24 hours.
If I want to get a little more combative against the odor, I use baking soda because it’s a tried and true method and an easy one that doesn’t require much effort and time.
So those are my favorite methods and my best recommendations if your shoes are too far gone and need some stank-removing asap.
To conclude this article I would like to remind again you that prevention is key.
I have some of the best drying methods here that will help you stop your shoes from smelling for as long as possible.
Then it’s just a matter of using 1 of the 5 methods above when they do begin to let off some odor.
And that concludes this article about removing shoe odors.
Please let me know in the comments below what your favorite method is and why.
Thanks for reading and have a great day!