If you’ve got teens, you need to know how to deodorize smelly shoes. It’s that, or learn to love opening windows even in the dead of winter.
Teens aren’t the only ones whose shoes stink, though. People who are on their feet all day, people who wear sneakers or tennis shoes to exercise, and people who wear heavy work boots all deal with foot odor. Even slippers and house-shoes begin to smell.
How to Get Rid of Smelly Shoes
Why Shoes Smell Bad
Your feet contain 250,000 sweat glands! When those sweat glands are stuck in a shoe that’s not ventilated, the sweat and warmth create a breeding ground for bacteria.
Horrible shoe odor is the result of bacteria multiplying in the sweaty environment of your shoe. To get rid of smelly shoes, you need to destroy the bacteria. These tips on deodorizing smelly shoes and the homemade, all-natural shoe deodorizing powders below, will help.
How to Clean Smelly Shoes
Deodorizing Canvas or Fabric Shoes
Shoes made of fabric can be tossed in the washer and laundered in a warm (not hot!) cycle using your regular laundry detergent. To deodorize smelly fabric shoes, add 1 cup of white vinegar to the rinse. Don’t use fabric softener, though — its surfactants can trap bacteria in your shoe.
Tumble freshly-washed tennis shoes in a dryer with towels. If you can’t stand that banging sound, slip them into a bag that fits over your dryer’s door. Or place them outdoors in a sunny spot to air-dry — sunlight is a great way to get rid of smelly shoes!
Deodorizing Leather or Suede Shoes
Spritz the Homemade Shoe Deodorizing Spray (below) onto a clean, dry cloth and wipe the shoe interior. Use a different clean cloth to wipe away any remaining spray, so your shoe does not stay damp.
Alternatively, you can deodorize smelly leather shoes using a disinfecting wipe. Be sure to follow with a damp and then a dry cloth to remove residue because the disinfectant may cause skin irritation.
Deodorizing Cork Insoles
Make a paste using a few drops of water and the Homemade Shoe Deodorizing Powder (below). Dip an old toothbrush into this paste and rub it over the cork insole. Wait 5 minutes then wipe the paste away using a clean, damp cloth.
Once all the paste is gone, press a dry cloth onto the insole to remove any moisture.
Deodorizing Smelly Shoe Inserts
People who spend a lot of time on their feet often find that an orthotic insert helps reduce foot and back pain. (I love these supports the most out of all the ones I’ve tried.)
To deodorize shoe inserts, slip them out of the shoes and wash them in a sink full of warm, soapy water. Drain and refill the basin with 2 cups water and 1 cup white vinegar. Let them soak for 5-10 minutes then rinse, gently press the insole to remove as much water as possible, and allow them to air-dry away from direct sunlight before putting them back in your shoe.
How to Make Shoes Not Smell Bad
- Wear socks to absorb moisture. If you don’t like the look, try a no-show sock that won’t ruin your style.
- Don’t wear the same shoes two days in a row, so they have a chance to dry between wearings.
- Clean your shoes at least once per season using the appropriate method above.
- For longer-term storage, stuff shoes with newspaper to absorb sweat. You can optionally sprinkle them with shoe deodorizing powder first.
- Some people report that freezing shoes overnight (wrapped in a plastic bag) is a great way to eliminate shoe odor.
Homemade Shoe Deodorizing Powder
The dry ingredients in this homemade deodorizing powder are odor absorbing, and the tea tree oil’s antiseptic properties help the kill bacteria that cause smelly shoes. Dump out the dust before wearing your shoes.
3 tablespoons baking soda
1 tablespoon cornstarch
5 drops of tea tree oil
1. Shake or stir until thoroughly mixed.
2. Sprinkle shoe deodorizing powder liberally into your shoes after each wearing and let it sit overnight. (You might want to keep a shaker can of this mixture in the laundry room for regular use.)
3. Dump the powder out before wearing.
Homemade Shoe Deodorizing Spray
Some people swear by deodorizing smelly shoes with Febreze after each wear. If you don’t have skin allergies or sensitivities to corn, that’s worth a try. Here’s a homemade, all-natural shoe deodorizing spray if you’d rather DIY it.
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup white vinegar
5 drops of tea tree oil
1. Lightly mist shoe insoles after each wearing.
2. Let your shoes air dry.
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