How To Deodorize Smelly Shoes

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If you’ve got teens, you need to know how to deodorize smelly shoes. Even if you don’t have teens, you may still want to know how to get rid of that odor because, let’s face it, stinky feet are only funny to kids. Here are four ways to get the funk out.

Why Shoes Smell Bad

That horrible odor is the result of bacteria multiplying in the damp environment of a sweaty shoe. To get rid of the smell, you need to destroy the bacteria. To keep the smell away, you need to deprive the bacteria of a place to live by wearing socks that will absorb your sweat, not wearing the same shoes day after day, and giving your shoes a chance to air out as often as possible.

How To Deodorize Smelly Shoes

  1. Wash them. Shoes made of fabric can be tossed in the washer with a couple of towels and run through a warm/warm cycle using your normal laundry detergent. (Or make your own.) Skip the fabric softener and use white vinegar which will kill the odor-causing bacteria. Tumble tennis shoes in a dryer with towels, and allow other shoes to fully air-dry.
  2. Sprinkle with a homemade deodorizing powder. Combine 3 tablespoons baking soda, 1 tablespoon cornstarch and 5 drops of tea tree oil until thoroughly mixed. Sprinkle this liberally into your shoes after wearing and allow it sit overnight. The powders are both powerful damp- and odor-absorbers, and the tea tree oil’s antiseptic properties will kill odor-causing bacteria. Just be sure to dump the powder out before wearing.
  3. Stuff them with newspaper overnight. Newspaper does a wonderful job of soaking up sweat, and the less sweat in your shoes the less they’ll smell. Keep a stack of newspaper in your closet to stuff into your shoes after wearing and leave it there until the next time you’re ready to slip them on.
  4. Freeze them. As crazy as it sounds, sticking your shoes in the freezer is a great way to deodorize them since the smell-causing bacteria can’t survive the chill. Of course, it’s best to slip your shoes into a plastic bag first so you don’t get dirt all over your freezer and food. Then, leave the shoes to freeze overnight. Defrost before wearing!

To deodorize super smelly shoes, combine all four steps: wash them then let air-dry. Sprinkle the powder in, then stuff with newspaper and freeze. After defrosting, your shoes will smell as fresh as the day you bought them!

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  • Zack

    I like the idea of sprinkling the shoes with a deodorizer, but why use baking powder instead of baking soda?

    • Katie B of

      Typo. Sorry.

  • Gabriel

    Uhh… Great post, but freezing doesn’t kill most bacteria or fungi.
    I’ll definitely try the homemade powder idea though!

  • KP

    Or just use Napthalene balls (Air/room freshners). Kills all the smell in no time. Powdering n sprinkling in shoe will help while traveling as well.

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