How to Eliminate Odors from Your Shoes

How many times have you taken off your shoes, only to send everyone else running from the room, holding their noses? The odors that develop in our footwear can be horrible, but most people have no idea how to eliminate them.

How many times have you taken off your shoes, only to send everyone else running from the room, holding their noses? The odors that develop in our footwear can be horrible, but most people have no idea how to eliminate them.

The reason our shoes smell is simple. Bacteria. These stinky little critters multiply rapidly under the right conditions and your footwear just happens to contain the perfect environment. Hot, dark and damp, our sneakers breed bacteria, and therefore, odor.

Remedies for foot and shoe odor abound. Everyone has their own sworn cure for bad smelling sneakers, and most of them work to a certain extent. Here, we include the best ways to eliminate odors from your shoes. However, it is also important to maintain good foot hygiene to prevent the smells from returning too quickly.

Wash your feet thoroughly every night and change your socks daily. Going without socks is a big no-no, since sweaty feet are the primary cause of smelly footwear and the socks absorb a great deal of the dampness, preventing a sudden surge in smell. Commercial foot powders or sprays have been used successfully, but if you want a cheaper way to keep your feet dry, try sprinkling them with talc powder before putting on your socks.

  • Freeze your shoes. By putting them in a Ziploc bag and then into the freezer overnight, you will kill the bacteria with the cold. This treatment should be repeated weekly or as needed.
  • Swish rubbing alcohol around inside your shoes and then dump out the excess. Very few bacteria will survive the scathing alcohol treatment, and it will evaporate quickly, leaving sweet-smelling footwear behind. Just don't smoke while you do this, since rubbing alcohol catches fire very easily.
  • Having two pairs of shoes is another option. Use one pair one day, the other pair the next. Leave the unused pair to sit in the sun, or put a cedar shoe tree in the footwear to absorb moisture. This lets the resting pair dry out before the bacteria colony can get hold.
  • To stop odors before they start, spray the inside of your footwear with a silicon waterproofing spray. This will help insulate the shoe and prevent it from soaking up sweat.
  • Baking soda is a famous bad smell eliminator. Sprinkle this inside your sneakers at night, shake them around a bit to distribute the powder and leave until morning to soak up most, if not all, the nasty smell.
  • There are numerous foot sprays on the market that work just as well for footwear. These tend to be more expensive than home remedies and run out quickly, so they might be more of a last resort for the budget-minded.
  • Try a combination of two or more of the tips above. For example, use baking soda AND freeze the shoes.

By treating your shoes frequently, switching between two or more pairs and maintaining your feet nice and clean, you might not banish shoe odor forever, but you can certainly reduce it.