Best and Easy Home Remedies for Smelly Shoes
Even if you invest in odor-killing socks, and keep your feet as clean as possible, you still may be left with shoes that…well…stink. If you have owned your shoes for a long time, they will eventually start to smell funky, even if your feet don’t!
Instead of throwing away your smelly shoes, here are some inexpensive remedies to get rid of odors. In fact, you may already have many of these ingredients already sitting in your pantry!
But first, we should learn what causes shoe odors, and how to prevent this from happening to your precious shoes after you’ve cleaned them!
What causes shoe odors?
Shoes can begin to stink for several reasons, but they are all tied to the same basic problem: bacteria. Regardless of how it happens, once bacteria are allowed to grow in your shoes, they will smell terrible. Some things that cause bacteria and smells to grow in shoes are:
In most cases, the smell in your shoes can be easily cleaned and you can go back to wearing them with no problem. Depending on how bad the smell is, you can usually find a solution that will work well for you. Here are just a few that I’ve found that work wonders for people, and are easy enough to try at home!
Common Home Remedies for Stinky Shoes
Remedy #1: Kitty Litter
This remedy is a pretty common one found online – and for good reason! Kitty litter is meant to kill odors and soak up moisture from your cats, so why wouldn’t it work on other odors as well?
To try this method, I think the easiest way to do it is to fill a thin sock or nylon pantyhose with kitty litter and insert into your shoe. Leave it overnight, and by morning your shoes should smell great!
You can easily make several kitty litter “socks” to insert in all of your shoes, and it’s a pretty inexpensive material. Once you’ve used it overnight, you can toss out the kitty litter and replace with a fresh batch. If this method works, consider making several of these and keep in your closet to insert into your shoes as you wear them!
Remedy #2: Extreme Heat / Cold
One thing bacteria hate is extreme temperatures. If you can get your shoes really hot or cold, it could kill the bacteria that are causing the odor!
Before using this method, check to see which method will be best for your shoes. For example, using extreme heat on leather or plastic shoes could ruin them. If you have an expensive pair of shoes, and you’re not sure if this option will work for you, ask a trusted dry cleaner or cobbler first.
If you’re going to use extreme cold, this method is super easy! Just place your shoes in an airtight bag and place in the freezer overnight! The extreme cold kills bacteria, and should fix the odor problem pretty easily.
If you want to go with extreme heat, throw your shoes in the dryer on high heat for 30-60 minutes. To keep them from banging around, I suggest putting them in a dryer-safe laundry bag first.
Remedy #3: Baking Soda
Another common homemade option, baking soda is great at soaking up moisture and killing bacteria. Sprinkle a generous amount of baking soda into your shoes and leave overnight to soak. In the morning (or whenever you want to wear them again), dump out the baking soda and vacuum out any excess. It’s that simple!
If you frequently suffer from smelly shoes due to excess sweat and moisture, it’s a good idea to do this every time you wear them. In fact, leave a box of baking soda in your coat closet so you won’t forget! Sprinkling in a little before putting them on in the morning can also help keep your feet dry during the day as well!
Remedy #4: New Insoles
I know this isn’t really a “homemade” option, but if nothing else is working, try replacing your shoe inserts or insoles. There are several kinds on the market that are made of antibacterial materials that will prevent odors from coming back. Many inserts that come in your shoes are terrible at wicking sweat or preventing odors, so upgrading them could be a relatively inexpensive and easy option. If your shoes are older, this is a good idea anyway because they are probably worn out and not supporting your feet properly anyway!
Look for insoles that use copper or silver fibers, which work better and last longer than charcoal inserts. There are also inserts made of things like cedar planks that could work too!
Remedy #5: Water + Vinegar
Vinegar is a great way to get rid of almost any kind of odor in your home. I use a spray bottle of half water, half vinegar, to get rid of smells on upholstered furniture, cabinets, rugs, and outdoor furniture. I also soak shoes and stinky workout clothes in a mixture of hot water and vinegar to eliminate odors.
To use the vinegar option, first make sure the shoe fabric won’t bleed onto other parts of the shoes or the area you’re leaving them to dry. Next, in a spray bottle put 1 part vinegar and 1 part water. Spray the insides of the shoes generously (and outsides if they are fabric and won’t bleed), and leave to sit until dry.
In addition to keeping baking soda in your coat closet, keep a bottle of this around to spray down your shoes each time you wear them!
How do I prevent future odors?
Now that you have properly cleaned your shoes and removed the smell, it’s time to think about how to prevent this from happening again!
I can’t guarantee your shoes will stay odor-free forever. However, if you can figure out the source of the smell, you can easily prevent it from getting worse in the future.
Here are some things you can do to prevent further shoe odors: