The smell of stinky shoes can be overwhelming and make you want to throw them away. There are a number of good ways to remove and prevent the odors. This is a guide about removing odors from stinky shoes.
Read and rate the best solutions below by giving them a "thumbs up".
To get the smell out of shoes, I put a mixture of baking soda, baking powder, and cornstarch in a pair of cotton socks and stick in the shoes overnight. It works like a charm.
By Sherry from Onset, MA
To get rid of smelly feet and stinky shoes you can use insoles made from cedar material. For example special Cedarsoles made from antifungal and fresh smelling cedar wood. It tackles the cause of the problem, foot bacteria!
By Casey from Chicago, IL
Sure, there are many things you can do to try and remedy the long-time battle of the "stinky shoe". You can mix various concoctions, sprinkle dust, make magic potions or whatever, but why not invest that valuable time somewhere else? Want to get rid of the stink? Stuff the shoes with newspaper. That's right. Newspaper. Shoes should be "stink-free" come morning!
Source: I'm the grandmother of the boy with the world's stinkiest shoes!
By FranFran from Zebulon, Georgia
If you have someone who has sweaty feet all the time, here is a solution to get rid of the smell in their shoes. Throw shoes in the washer. Once dry, double bag them and put in the freezer overnight. This will kill the bacteria that causes the odour. Once thawed and dry, spray with vinegar, rubbing alcohol or Pinesol. Cover entire inside of shoe. Once dry, dust with powder. Works well.
By coville123 from Brockville, Ontario
To freshen boots, bowling shoes, ski boots, etc., place a dryer sheet in each one when not in use.
By duckie-do from Cortez, CO
To freshen boots, bowling shoes, ski boots, etc., place a dryer sheet in each one when not in use.
Make shoe inserts from old socks. Stuff each sock with fiberfill or cotton from old pillow or stuffed toys, add a small amount of baking soda to help absorb odors, and machine stitch or hand stitch the opening closed. Loop an old string or shoelace and hand stitch it to the straight end of the sock and use it to pull the inserts out of the shoes when you're ready to wear them. Hang them to dry between uses.
By Monica from Cortez, CO
To get the stink out of your tennis shoes use tea tree oil. Put the shoes in the washing machine. Set the water level to low. Add 2 teaspoons of tea tree oil. Let agitate for a minute and then let them soak for 15 minutes. Then add a little laundry detergent and and turn the machine back on and let the washing cycle finish. Your shoes will come out odor free!
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Here are questions related to Remedies for Stinky Shoes.
How do you get a dead mouse smell out of leather sneakers?
By Barbara from San Antonio, TX
Baking Soda. Just pour a little of it in the shoe and let it sit.
I can not get the odor out of my son's New Balance suede tennis shoes. The bottom of the inside of the shoes have a flannel feeling fabric. I have:
1. Sprayed with Kiwi Fresh Force shoe freshener
2. Washed with baking soda, vinegar, detergent, spray and wash, etc.
3. Left outside for days to air out. Even the animals don't want to run off with them....lol
None of his other shoes smell like this. He marched in these at band camp and I suppose he sweat excessively in them. The just have a really rank odor that resembles the odor that happened one time when the towel underneath the dog's water bowl didn't get replaced when I was flat on my back from an injury. The guys let it go and it got full of mold or mildew underneath. Ew...gross. Anyway, the towel washed fine. But I sure can't get these shoes to stop stinking. They sure are clean though!
By steven 111/26/2011
Read my profile.
I bought my son a pair of leather Jordon's at the Finish Line 2 months ago. They smell like cat urine and we have no cats! I have washed them, let them dry, and stuffed them with newspaper. I also bought a new shoe deodorizer and the shoes still smell like cat urine, to the point the shoes make my house smell like cat urine. What do you suggest for me to resolve this problem? Thank you.
By Rhonda M.
My son's Under Armor football cleats, Nike and Adidas basketball shoes smell like cat pee. From what I understand, it's not the inside of the shoe, or sweaty feet. It's the outside, the material and glue. My son has casual basketball and running shoes that he wears and they don't smell at all. I keep wondering if it's not the synthetic stuff they use to make the shoes lighter. It seems to be the ones that have the netting material. Real leather doesn't smell like that, but it's heavier and not used in performance athletic shoes. I just make sure that they aren't left in a bag. When they dry out, the smell fades. They need to fix it...it's gross.
How do I remove odors from sneakers?
By Nativeluv from Sacramento, CA
I've heard that you can stuff them with newpaper and set outside over night and that helps. It's not a permanent fix though you may have to do it once a week or so.
Does anyone know if it safe and effective to use the disposable silica gel bags (found in new shoes) to absorb sweat and odour in running shoes in between uses?
By JOFA508 from Toronto
Silica gel is perfectly safe just keep it in the little baggies. As per poison control it is practically non toxic. The warning on the baggies state "do not eat" reason they put that on there because it is not food and people have mistaken them for sugar or salt. They do very well to adsorb moisture.
What can you put in shoes to make them smell less? My grandson stays in his tennis shoes. I would like something that he could slip into his shoes at night, that would help get rid of the odor. Thanks.
By Cookie 17 from Roanoke, VA
A Dr Oz guest says to put them in the freezer.
I have a pair of Keen watershoes that I wore kayaking. They were soaked and I left them in a hot car and now they smell like cat pee! I have left them out in the sun for 2 days, washed them with baking soda/water and put dryer sheets in them. I love these shoes, but I can't stand the smell! I would appreciate any help. Thanks!
By Linda H
By Carol D.08/16/2013
Try vinegar and water.
I went to Arkansas and I got my Jordan's all wet. I threw them in the washer, but it seems that the odor of the inside is just worse now. It's part of the shoe, if that makes any sense. If anyone has a way to get rid of the odor please help me.
By Raul from Bartlett, TX
Get some Borateem and wash with that. It gets rid of nearly any odor.
I have some Dexter boat shoes. I have worn them a lot! They smell very bad. I tried putting deodorant on them, spoting with perfume, and also foot powder, and they still smell! Please help :) I can't stand it. I love these shoes!
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Special inserts made from original cedar wood are the only thing I can really recommend. They have a very long-lasting menthol-like (moreover antifungal) effect... the fresh aroma lasts for about three months.
By wendy wallace09/23/2010
For future reference to PREVENT your next pair of new unstinky shoes from becoming stinky, you need to eradicate the odor causing bacteria that are part of the normal flora growing on your feet. This process will also eliminate foot odor. Start by spraying or rubbing regular ole' rubbing alcohol onto your feet twice a day for a week or two, then once a day for a week or two, then a couple days a week. By then, you should only need to apply alcohol a few times per month. Adjust according to your stinkiness. I promise this works.
The most elegant way to remove odor from badly smelling shoes is to use a UV shoe sanitizer. UV light is proven to kill microorganims. No bacteria = no odor. UV shoe trees or shoe sanitizers are sold online. They are not cheap. I got mine at the local DPM office to help with chronic shoe odor caused by sweat.
I agree with NotWrong - Freezing will kill the bacteria & the smell. I just let mine come back to room temperature indoors & they're good to go!
By Mary Koehler03/16/2010
Try spraying them with Fresh-Wave. go into Google, read about Fresh-Wave, and find out where you can buy it in your area. There are several forms. Spray, crystals, and liquid for washing clothes, Maybe you can use a punch, and make a couple small holes in shoes near instep for ventilation.
Put each shoe into a plastic grocery bag and place into the freezer overnight. Then place the outside in the sunshine or in a place to complete dry before you wear them. This works for any kind of shoe this kills the bacteria.
If possible, remove the innersole and wash it by hand, air dry and spray with Lysol (or generic equivalent). If it's not removable, spray the inside of the shoe liberally with the Lysol spray and let it dry overnight. This may need to be repeated a few times.
The odor is caused by bacteria that has soaked down in to your shoes & will never come out (unless you could wash & bleach the shoes, then maybe you could remove the odor)...
You could try spraying rubbing alcohol directly inside of your shoes until they are fully saturated then let them dry. The alcohol should saturate the leather & may kill the germs.This may work. Buy the stronger proof of rubbing alcohol. It cost twice as much, but will work better & also evaporate quicker. When the shoes are half-way dry, put recycled plastic bags on you feet then put the damp shoes on to stretch them to your foot size again so the leather won't shrink from being wet.
A second idea, if the Alcohol doesn't work, you can at least try leaving your shoes out in the hot mid-day sunshine because the sun's UV rays kill bacteria & viruses.
---> But there is a much better solution to future foot & shoe odor:
My ex-husband had the worst, stinky feet in the world when I married him. His shoes were so bad that I can't even describe it! ...We tried buying the fancy odor-reducing socks & nothing worked. Until I found the secret. And that is, that dye in socks makes your feet sweat & smell more. So only buy white socks! Then each time you wash your socks bleach them. The bleach kills the bacteria that causes the odor. When I started bleaching my husbands socks every single time they were washed (& he also bought brand NEW shoes) he never had a foot odor or shoe odor problem again! The only bad thing is, your socks will wear out in half the time because of the bleach... But having no foot odor will be totally worth it!
* Also, I've read to never use corn starch in you shoes because the corn starch is a food product & can cause bacteria & fungus to form (baby powder without cornstarch is okay).
Thrifty Fun has been around so long that many of our pages have been reset several times. Archives are older versions of the page and the feedback that was provided then.
Is there any way to remove odor from shoes. The shoes are still like new but they smell terrible from sweating feet, etc.
Grandma B from Coshocton, OH
By Suzanne S.
I always remove the laces, and wash the laces by hand, plus that opens up the shoe more for better washing. I also lift out the insole (if it's removeable...and it usually is) and let it float free in the washer also. My favorite way is to wash one pair with a load of light colored towels. Once the washer is full of soapy water you can take a scrub brush and work on any really dirty areas just using the soapy wash water. Don't use any other cleaner. I once decided to spray a dirty spot with 409 cleaner. The cleaner caused the rubber sole to turn a beige color instead of white! I also don't use any chlorine bleach. Don't wash white shoes with dark items, for example blue jeans. You will likely get streaks of blue on your white shoes)!
I always put the regular amount of liquid fabric softner in the last rinse too. I think it helps condition the leather and keeps it nice. I washed all the "good" brands (Nike, Reebok, Addidas, Converse, etc) of shoes and never once had a problem. I washed them about once a month and they usually wore them for a year or so. I think washing them actually helped them last longer because perpiration makes the leather rot and crack.
I always air dried the shoes which takes a day or two, but it is well worth it to NOT have STINKY shoes! I never tried this on the cheaper vinyl athletic shoes so I honestly don't know if they could withstand this or not. I found that buying the more expensive shoes (but buying them on clearance a year or more later) was actually cheaper in the long run as they did not wear out nearly as fast as the cheap variety. I hope you will have the courage to try this. It really does eliminate the stinky shoe problem in my house. (02/06/2005)
By Anna from Maine
Foot powder, baby powder, baking soda, corn starch or whatever...or just give your feet time to dry before putting on socks. (11/18/2005)
1. Bowling shoe disinfectant, it actually will kill the bacteria, make sure you thuroughly dampen your sneakers with the stuff and let it dry, brunswick makes a good one.
2. Lysol, (not the foaming kind) this is a kill all disinfectant, It worked great for me, however while the can says it kills athletes foot fungus, (not of particular interest for the stinkiness) it does not encourage using it on clothing.
Anyway, suff like bounce, kitty litter, cornestarch, baby powder, and every foot powder i have tried, have been conqured by my offensive afluvian microbes. moreover some actually combine with the stench to create a special super funk, I swear you can see the stink lines wafting out of my sneakers, really bad stuff. (03/29/2006)
By shoe shiner
By m hope
By Grandma Margie
----> I read somewhere that if your feet smell to wear only white socks because white socks don't have dye in them, & the dyes cause your feet to sweat & smell. So we bought all white socks & every time I washed them, I added bleach to the wash. This worked miracles. I also washed his tennis shoes in the same load (with bleach). His feet & shoes never smelled again! Bleaching his socks really worked. What a change! If for some reason, you don't want to buy all white socks & bleach them. At least wear the bleached white socks as much as possible. You'll be very happy with this solution! Bleach kills the bacteria & helps you avoid getting athletes foot & other not so nice foot infections. Bleach, doesn't cover up the smell, it kills the bacteria that causes the smell...
Other ideas that could help:
----> To de-smell the shoes you have: First start by washing them (& add bleach if you can as this disinfects and immediately cuts out the odor). If you can't wash the shoes, sprinkle in baking soda. You can either wear them with the baking soda in them, or shake out most of the baking soda before putting your shoes on. You can also buy a pair of Dr Shoals charcoal foot pad inserts.
---> If this doesn't work, take 2 tiny cups, lids or any small containers that will fit in your shoes, fill each container with straight white vinegar. Leave undisturbed at least 24 hours. The white vinegar will take the odor out (the vinegar works for taking musty odors out of dresser drawers or cabinets as well)
---> You can also take cut up nylon stockings filled with new cat liter & hang them in your closet, or stuff a sock or nylon filled with new cat litter in your shoes. This helps to take out odor and mildew. The cat litter is super absorbent. Cat litter in nylons works great for keeping your car trunk dry and must free too!
---> One more hint: With 6 in our household & each having many white socks. I simply bought 6 different colored permeant pens & marked a small dot or line on the toe of each white sock when new so each would know what sock was theirs. (09/18/2006)
By Dr Bou
By Crazy Lulani
By Cornell Undergrad
---> REALLY! This works EVERY time... of course it does help if you first start out with either clean or new shoes... but even if you don't, just bleaching your socks will make all the difference. The bleach disinfects the socks & kills the smell-causing germs & helps get rid of athletes foot too!
*** Bleaching does shorten the life of the socks... so it helps to buy quality socks. But compared with the price of those fancy "non-stink" or "charcoal" socks... Bleaching is a down right cheap way to go!
*** The reason you wear WHITE socks is because the dyes in the socks make you feet sweat more because there's often a reaction to the dyes, and also, because you can only bleach light color socks.
-----> I SWEAR THIS WORKS! (my ex-husband had shoes that smelled so bad, you could smell them from across the room... No kidding!... we tried EVERYTHING! & by just simply bleaching his socks during EVERY wash, the smell was gone FOREVER!... No muss, no fuss! (06/20/2007)
At the shoe repair place I used to go to, I asked about smelly shoes. The person there told me to get newspaper, and put it inside the shoes. "Nothing will work permanently", I was told. Tried it for a couple days, turning it or replacing it. It seems to help absorb the moisture. I live in Hawaii, and that's just not a good place to have feet in shoes all the time.
I also inquired about why some shoes smell worse than others. I was told that it depends on the dying process. Some dyes or the process makes the shoes more prone to smelling bad. I guess it's like how some laundry detergent makes me smell like I have bad B.O.
I have many pairs of Cole Haan shoes that are near 20 years old, and they don't smell, but those that have padding, or "man made uppers" which absorb the sweat tend to go bad in a short time. I've learned to not buy those, and just stick with full leather. I actually spend less money and time on maintenance. (07/06/2007)
By girlly girl
How do I get rid of shoe odor? The commercialized sprays aren't cutting it at all. We're talking room-clearing nuclear clouds emanating from around my ankles every time I take a step.
To get moisture or stink out of shoes, fill two old socks with baking soda and knot at the ends. Shove deep into the shoes and let them sit overnight.
To get the odor out of stinky shoes and sneakers, wad up newspaper and stick in the shoes. Leave several hours or overnight. Odor gone and it is a green idea.
I wash my tenny shoes and even after I take them straight out of the washer they still stink so bad and make my feet stink as well. What can I do to take the stinky odor out of them?