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Remedies for Stinky Shoes

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Picture of a man holding up stinky shoes.

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.


Solutions: Remedies for Stinky Shoes

Read and rate the best solutions below by giving them a "thumbs up".

Tip: Newspaper for Stinky Shoes

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

Tip: Removing Odors From Shoes

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

Tip: Removing Smell from Shoes

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

Tip: Deodorizing Sock Shoe Inserts

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

Tip: Salt for Stinky Shoes

Use regular kosher salt or any salt. Just sprinkle in shoes after heavy use, then wear with socks or without. It will kill the odor. Repeat if necessary. If all else fails you need to just toss the shoe.

    By On Point [1]

    Tip: Fragrant Dryer Sheets for Shoes

    Dryer sheet in sneaker.

    To freshen boots, bowling shoes, ski boots, etc., place a dryer sheet in each one when not in use.


    By Monique [100]

    Tip: Dryer Sheets for Shoes

    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

    Tip: Essential Oils for Smelly Shoes

    Put a drop of peppermint or cinnamon oil on some used dryer sheets and tuck them into athletic shoes or work boots. Great for teenage boys!

      Source: From my Grandson's stinky feet!

      By Irishwitch [391]

      Tip: Cleaning Smelly Sneakers

      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!

        By [1]

        Tip: Cedar Insoles for Foot Odor

        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

        Give a "thumbs up" to the solution that worked the best! Do you have a better solution? Click here to share it!


        Here are questions related to Remedies for Stinky Shoes.

        Question: Getting Rid of Smell in Tennis Shoes

        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


        Most Recent Answer

        By Mary [1]01/19/2013

        A Dr Oz guest says to put them in the freezer.

        Question: Smelly New Athletic Shoes

        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.


        Most Recent Answer

        By kristin569311/16/2013

        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's gross.

        Question: Athletic Shoes Still Smell After Washing

        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

        Most Recent Answer

        By Lizzyanny [9]09/25/2013

        Get some Borateem and wash with that. It gets rid of nearly any odor.

        Question: Removing Odors from Sneakers

        How do I remove odors from sneakers?

        By Nativeluv from Sacramento, CA

        Most Recent Answer

        By Tonya [4]09/19/2011

        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.

        Question: Remedy for Moist, Stinky Shoes

        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

        Most Recent Answer

        By Rick09/15/2013

        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.

        Question: Cleaning Smelly Sandals

        I purchased some sandals from JCPenney a few months ago. The brand is Yuu and it says they are made from "man made materials". After wearing them quite a bit they have become smelly and there is a dark imprint of my feet on them. How do I get rid of both the smell and the footprints?

          By Mea M. [1]

          Most Recent Answer

          By Maryeileen [76]05/24/2015

          I do not buy leather or any other animal by-product shoes, etc. Many man-made material shoes can be washed in the washing machine on delicate, and then air-dried. As an alternative, I have had much luck wiping the foot bed with rubbing alcohol and then let dry.

          Question: Odor in New Balance Suede Tennis Shoes

          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

          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!

          Any suggestions?


          Most Recent Answer

          By steven 111/26/2011

          Read my profile.

          Question: Removing Foot Odor from Shoes

          How do I remove foot odor from shoes?

          By T

          Most Recent Answer

          By NewYork2Texas10/30/2014

          I have done this in the past with a pair of sneakers that had even odor eaters running for the hills. Generously sprinkle baking soda all inside of the shoes, then place both shoes in plastic bag. You can put additional baking soda around the inside of the bag. More the merrier. Tie and secure opening. Allow the shoes to be inside the enclosed bag for several days. If they still have a low level of nose holding odor, replace the old baking soda with fresh... and repeat. Works wonderful!

          Question: Stinky Keens

          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

          Most Recent Answer

          By Carol D. [5]08/16/2013

          Try vinegar and water.

          Question: Removing Odor from Shoes

          How do you get a dead mouse smell out of leather sneakers?

          By Barbara from San Antonio, TX

          Most Recent Answer

          By Lindaspy [3]01/31/2011

          Baking Soda. Just pour a little of it in the shoe and let it sit.

          Question: Cleaning a Strong Odor Off the Outside of Shoes

          Today I stepped in something really smelly. I can't quite figure out what it was or what the smell is, but I don't really want to know. I have washed them with the garden hose and then threw them in the washer, but I just can't get rid of the smell. It isn't as strong, but is still there. Does anybody have any ideas?

          By Austin

          Most Recent Answer

          By Diane [2]12/11/2010

          So your shoes are able to go into the washer okay? Then try adding some vinegar (like 1/4 cup) in with the wash cycle--vinegar removes odors and also acts as a disinfectant. The vinegar "smell" will dissipate when dried. (Vinegar is used to rid washing machines of lingering odors, too). After that, you could put them into a plastic bag big enough to tie closed, but add some baking soda to absorb the odors and lay the shoes on their sides carefully, leave sealed overnight.

          Question: Removing Odor from Dexter Shoes

          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!

          By Britney

          Feedback Forum

          Feedback about this article is posted here. Want to contribute? Click above to post feedback.

          By Sandybee04/25/2011

          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.

          By JohnC [2]04/07/2010

          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.

          By its_me781103/16/2010

          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 Koehler [8]03/16/2010

          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.

          By Meemaw [49]03/15/2010

          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.

          By OliveOyl03/14/2010

          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.

          By Cyinda [214]03/14/2010

          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.

          Archive: Removing Odor From Shoes

          Is there any way to remove odor from shoes. The shoes are still like new but they smell terrible from sweating feet, etc.


          Archive: Removing Odor From Shoes

          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. it's humiliating.

          C A M from Roy, UT

          RE: Removing Odor From Shoes

          I have nuclear bomb smelling shoes too. I found if I alternated shoes a few times a week it helped. I use cheap stick deodorant on my feet when it is very hot out. I make an effort to scrub my feet everyday. I use peppermint foot odor spray on my feet (Dollar General - about $1.50) and sometimes peppermint cream (same price). The fabric softener sheets really work, also baking soda, baby powder, newspapers, and the like. Good luck. (06/19/2008)

          By mulberry204

          RE: Removing Odor From Shoes

          The best thing to do is remove the laces and soles from your shoes/trainers and put them all in a single pillow cushion. Put a small towel in there too and then put on a single 40 or 50 degree wash. Make sure you put more than the average dose of washing powder or tablets in the machine too. if the shoes/trainers are really smelly and previous washing has not worked then it is best to exactly repeat this procedure again immediately after the first time. After this the smell will be completely removed and the trainers will be like new. Just be careful you don't sweat in them too often again or you will have to repeat this whole procedure again. (06/21/2008)

          By sh00ta

          RE: Removing Odor From Shoes

          I put rubbing alcohol on a cotton square and wipe out the insides of the shoes that are not washable. (06/22/2008)

          By Maryeileen

          RE: Removing Odor From Shoes

          Mr Fix It, on WGN radio tells that he has not found an odor that FRESH WAVE will not remove. Google FRESH WAVE and read about it. Comes in spray or crystals (06/22/2008)

          By WIsgal

          RE: Removing Odor From Shoes

          Some shoes/boots hold more odors than others. Alternating shoes allows shoes to dry out. What worked for me was placing the shoes/boots on large rocks in the hot sun for the day when possible. This allowed the shoes/boots to dry out well. In the winter months, I would place them near a heat source to dry out. Also, if there are inserts in the shoes/boots, take them out to dry along with the shoes/boots. (07/02/2008)

          By Georgeanne

          RE: Removing Odor From Shoes

          I have found that if you fill the offending sneakers with boiling water and then add a little bleach (bathroom bleach is fine) you will kill 100% of the bacteria that cause the odour. Even the worst sneakers can be cleaned like this, and it doesn't seem to damage them.

          I just took two things that kill bacteria (heat and chlorine) and applied them. I would imagine that zapping the shoes in a microwave for 30 seconds would have the same effect, but haven't tried that yet. (07/15/2008)

          By Toby

          RE: Removing Odor From Shoes

          It is true that some peoples' feet do smell, more than others, but it is also true that a lot of the new man-made materials in joggers, for instance, are the source of the problem. I only have one pair of shoes that smell, a pair of Diana Ferrari joggers. They don't have much ventilation and I think that that also, plus the sweat, causes the problem. (08/01/2008)

          By Lee

          RE: Removing Odor From Shoes

          Depending on the type of material I usually soak the sneakers in a bucket of hot water and diluted bleach, let it soak several hours, or overnight and then thoroughly rinse with cold water. Fresh smelling shoes! I hate dirty shoes so I always throw them in the washing machine when they get too dirty. For that I put in a scoop of Oxyclean and use Spray and Wash for the insides of the shoes. Gets them real clean! (10/02/2008)

          By Kate

          RE: Removing Odor From Shoes

          Rubbing alcohol! Douse tennis shoes in it, let soak for a couple of hours. Wash in machine! Presto, no trace of any odor! Kills all the bad stuff! (10/16/2008)

          By Nikki

          RE: Removing Odor From Shoes

          If you wear flats or tennis shoes without socks 24/7, you are bound to get bad foot odor. I would recommend choosing different shoes, or only wearing shoes like these once every two weeks. This helps them air out. (11/05/2008)

          By Selena

          RE: Removing Odor From Shoes

          I had this problem also. I found a product called BioWorld Odor Neutralizer that has helped a lot. I keep it around the house for other odors as well but when my shoes start to smell, I just spray it on and leave it overnight. By the morning, there is no more odor! I do have to do this offend, especially during the summer time, because it is a reoccurring odor and no odor remover will take care of the smell forever. But it has worked out great for me. I used to throw away several pairs of flip flops during the summer but not anymore! (01/09/2009)

          By Lillian

          RE: Removing Odor From Shoes

          Hey Roy, if you want a natural treatment, just try special cedarsoles (for example Zederna insoles). For me they worked perfectly. The woodside absorbs any moisture and prevents my feet from getting other foot diseases. Maybe try this! (05/21/2009)

          By MichelleJohn

          Archive: Remedy for Stinky Shoes

          How do you get rid of a smell in tennis shoes?


          Archive: Remedy for Moist, Stinky Shoes

          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. The shoes should be dry or very close to dry and any odor should be gone.

          By Beth B. from Lee, FL

          Archive: Removing Odor from Shoes

          My husband has a problem with very smelly


          Archive: Remedy for Stinky Shoes

          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.

          By Dwedenoja from New Creek, WV

          RE: Remedy for Stinky Shoes

          Try alcohol and your favorite scent of essential oil. Cedar oil is effective, but strong and not always pleasant to all that smell it. A nice blend of oils is good, a few drops of each. Shake it up, spray inside the shoes to coat and let dry. Spray directly on feet after a shower, let dry and then put on clean socks. Hope it works for you. (01/12/2010)

          By hennessygirl