With sneakers trending and temperatures rising, we’re ditching our boots for shoes that let us go sockless. But with this switch comes a problem we all dread: the smell. The offending odor is from bacteria that grow on your foot and live (and keep growing!) in your kicks—until you do something about it. So whether you’re rocking boat shoes, flats, or sneakers without socks, here are some clever, inexpensive tips to keep your shoes smelling fresh all season long.
Wash your feet thoroughly
The bacteria on your feet just keep multiplying, so you need to be washing your feet in the shower to help combat the embarrassing odor. When you’re in the shower, lather up with soap on your soles, and don’t forget in between your toes. Rinse, and when you get out of the shower be sure to completely dry your feet (don’t forget the toes again!) before slipping on shoes. You can give them a blast with the hairdryer, too, for extra dryness.
Don’t wear the same shoes two days in a row
We all have a favorite pair of perfectly broken-in flats that we want to rock every day, but wearing the same pair of shoes two days in a row is a recipe for stink. Why? Back-to-back days does not give your shoes enough time to completely dry out from the previous day’s wear. So be sure to rotate your collection so as not to repeat day after day.
Apply a foot powder
If your feet tend to get sweaty no matter what the weather’s doing outside, then prevention is key. Your best bet is apply a foot powder like Squeaky Cheeks ($12; amazon.com) before you put on your shoes so your feet (and shoes) stay dry throughout the day.
Baking soda + coffee filter
Baking soda is a powerhouse at home and can be used to deodorize your shoes. All you need to do is a fill an unused coffee filter with baking soda and secure at the end with tape, staples, or a rubber band. Place the package in each shoe at the end of the day and the baking soda will go to work overnight.
Resealable bag + freezer
Place your shoes into a large resealable bag and place it in the freezer overnight. The arctic temperatures zap bacteria and leave you with a scent-free pair in the AM.
Kitty litter + panty hose
Cat litter absorbs moisture and odors to prevent your home from smelling like…you know. The same can be applied to your shoes. Take worn-out stockings or mismatched socks and fill them with kitty litter. Secure with a rubber band and place in shoes at night to soak up offending smells and lingering moisture.
Rubbing alcohol + spray bottle
Fill a spray bottle with rubbing alcohol and spritz your shoes. The alcohol will kill any bacteria in sight. Just be sure not to overly saturate your shoes—a light mist will do.
We all know the major powers of charcoal for your beauty routine, but charcoal also helps deodorize, so slipping a pair of these Dr. Scholl’s Odor-X Odor Fighting Insoles ($25; amazon.com) into your favorite boat shoes will help the shoe breathe and eliminate any odors.
Foot odor can come from several causes, including a fungal infection such as athlete’s foot, or hyperhydrosis, a condition characterized by excessive perspiration in the hands and feet. Foot odor can also cause your shoes to stink, even after the cause of foot odor has been eliminated. Instead of throwing away your sweaty shoes, try a few home remedies to eliminate the bad odor.
Clean Your Feet
Keeping your feet dry and clean helps prevent foot and shoe odor. To get rid of shoe odor, you have to control foot odor first. Stinky feet develop when sweat, produced by the 250,000 sweat glands in each foot, mixes with bacteria. Keeping your feet painstakingly clean and dry discourages bacteria build-up, absorbs perspiration and gets rid of any odor. Wash your feet at least once a day in warm water and soap. Dry your feet thoroughly, taking care to dry between your toes.
Soak Your Feet
Fill a tub with a quart of warm water, and mix in a half-cup of vinegar or a tablespoon of baking soda. Soak your feet for 15 minutes once a week. Foot soaks with vinegar or baking soda make the surface of your feet more acidic, creating a hostile environment for bacteria.
Keep Your Shoes Dry
Shoe odor is usually caused by bacteria that thrive in the warm, moist, dark environment in the shoe. Decrease the amount of bacteria in your shoes by keeping them dry. Avoid wearing the same pair of shoes two days in a row, because it can take up to 24 hours for the inside of the shoe to dry out completely. If your shoes have removable insoles, take them out when you’re not wearing the shoes. If your shoes get wet, dry them in a sunny spot for a few days, or run them through the dryer. When you put your shoes on in the morning, sprinkle cornstarch or talcum power over your dried feet and toes to absorb moisture, and sprinkle a little inside your shoes after each wearing.
Change Your Socks
Changing your socks a few times throughout the day will keep the insides of your shoes less damp and help reduce odor. Wearing socks made of a natural fiber such as cotton or hemp lets your feet breathe. Natural fibers also absorb sweat more effectively than synthetics.
Hide The Smell
Placing a shoe deodorizer in your shoes, can help your shoes smell more pleasant. You can use a strong-smelling herb such as sage, lavender or rosemary to help hide shoe odor. Sprinkle fresh or dried leaves from the plants into your shoes when you’re not wearing them. Scented oils and essential oils also make good shoe deodorizers, and are less likely to irritate your skin like synthetic fragrances can. Put a few drops of oil such as clove or patchouli onto a cotton ball. Cover the cotton ball loosely in plastic food wrap or waxed paper to keep the oil from staining your shoes. Put the deodorizers into your shoes when you take them off, and leave them in there until you wear them again.
Synopsis : Handy tips and tricks to help eliminate shoe odor and smelling foot from smelly shoes and boots quickly.
Humidity and warmth in the shoes is what causes the bacteria that create the odor.
Stinky shoes and/or smelly feet can be not only annoying, but a source of embarrassment as well. The proper term for smelly feet is Bromhidrosis (smell of bacteria growing on the body) or Hyperhidrosis (abnormally increased perspiration). It is an unfortunate part of an active lifestyle, as even the smallest bit of sweat can create a pair of smelly shoes.
Although cleaning the shoes regularly will kill the bacteria, and washing the foot prevents them from growing, the reality is that preventing moisture by using a talcum powder is the best solution.
Other steps to help prevent stinky shoes include; washing your feet with an antibacterial soap, by wearing clean leather shoes, cotton socks, and change shoes daily, and use a good quality foot spray at night.
Tips for Getting Rid of shoe odor and smelling foot:
- Keep a sock full of kitty litter and baking soda that has been knotted at the top in the shoes overnight each evening.
- Sprinkle a teaspoon of Bicarbonate of Soda into each shoe, shake well to ensure the powder penetrates down to the toe and all over the inside of the shoe, and leave overnight.
- Add some cloves to your stinky shoes, and stinky drawers for that matter. Tie a handful of cloves in a handkerchief and place in each shoe. Let them sit for a few hours, for exceptionally bad smelling footwear, leave the cloves longer, until the smell is gone. You can do the same for your sock drawer.
- Place a sheet of dryer fabric softener into your shoes after wearing. A sheet will last for about a week.
- Place the shoes in a zipper-lock plastic bag and put them in the freezer overnight. The freezing temperatures will kill most of the odor causing bacteria.
- Break some charcoal into small pieces and place inside an old pair of tights, put them into a pair of smelly shoes or boots overnight.
- Dry your shoes by putting them near a heater or in a warm sunny spot. Take out the shoe laces and lift the tongue up and out to dry the shoes out faster. By keeping your shoes dry, you help prevent bacterial growth that causes the bad odor.
- Put a mixture of baking soda, baking powder and cornstarch in a pair of cotton socks and stick in the shoes overnight.
- Salt has been reported as being effective in canceling out moisture which causes the bacteria in shoes to smell bad. Apply 2 teaspoons of salt into each shoe and they will smell better in a couple of hours.
- Try soaking your feet in baking soda, soap, and a little white vinegar to help stench as vinegar is a natural disinfectant.
- Make a pouch out of muslin and fill with bicarbonate of Soda and add a few drops of Tee Tree Essential oil. The Bicarbonate will absorb any odors and the Tea Tree any bacteria.
- Spray the shoes with a mix of 50/50 white distilled vinegar and water into your shoe lining and soles and let air dry for 30 minutes. Use a hair dryer if you are in a hurry to dry the shoes. Follow up with baking soda in the shoe overnight.
- Try sprinkling some baking soda in the shoes and let the powder absorb the odor overnight. Empty the powder before putting the shoes back on.
- Purchase some activated charcoal, split them up into small pieces and put them into bags together with some cotton balls moistened with lavender or eucalyptus oil.
Commercial Products for shoe odor and smelling foot:
Companies like Tineacide, 2Toms and Dr. Scholl’s all sell a foot spray that works as an effective shoe deodorizer.
- Cedarsoles insoles – The cedarwood that these are made from is a natural antifungal and will help prevent shoe or boot odor.
- Smelleze Sneaker, Shoe & Boot Deodorizer – Specially developed to adsorb, neutralize, and encapsulate many unpleasant footwear odors on contact. Smelleze will cleanse your sneakers, shoes, and boots of stinky odors and result in fresh, clean smelling footwear. People with foot odor problems will never have to worry about smelly shoes again. As an added benefit, Smelleze can also be used in stored shoes and boots to adsorb moisture and prevent mildew and cracking.
- Antifungal foot powder and antibacterial sprays – These can be purchased at most local convenience, grocery or drug stores.
- O-Liminator – A new and easy way to tackle bacteria, odor and moisture buildup. Recommended for use in sports bags, shoes, sneakers, work boots, cars, closets, lockers, athletic gear, or around the house where odors may exist.