How to Remove Bad Smells from Your Shoes?

After a long day of running around in your favorite pair of exercise shoes or dress shoes, it’s not uncommon for them to develop an unpleasant odor. Perspiration and bacteria build-up can cause shoes to emit a foul stench over time, but you don’t necessarily have to give up on those once-beloved sneakers or leather loafers just yet. With a little time and elbow (and baking soda) grease, it’s possible to minimize or remove stubborn odors from shoes that seem beyond hope.

Whether you wear sneakers to the gym daily or kicked your work heels off after a long day at the office, a bit of shoe odor is natural and expected. But once that stench becomes unbearable, it’s time to take action. Treating your shoes with common household ingredients can help attack odor-causing bacteria and restore freshness.

Start by evaluating the type of shoe – canvas, leather, suede, etc. This will determine the cleaning method, since some materials are more delicate than others. Make sure to check any care instructions from the manufacturer too. Then, gather materials like baking soda, lemon juice, white vinegar, tea bags, newspaper, and more. Combining odor-absorbing baking soda with antibacterial white vinegar, for example, creates a simple yet potent deodorizing shoe spray.

While baking soda and white vinegar make an effective DIY deodorizer, that method won’t work well for shoes made of suede or leather. Try stuffing those shoe types with crumpled newspaper or unused dryer sheets to absorb moisture. Tea bags placed inside shoes overnight can also absorb sweat and odor-causing bacteria with their tannins. But be careful of staining – avoid leaving soaked tea bags in for too long.

After treating shoes with a DIY deodorizing spray or desiccant stuffing, always let them fully air dry. This prevents new bacteria growth that can bring back the odor you just got rid of. Placing shoes in a sunny spot speeds up the drying process, and sun itself helps kill bacteria – just avoid prolonged heat which can damage and prematurely age materials.

You should also disinfect the shoe’s inner lining and insoles on occasion. One way: mix a teaspoon of Lysol Laundry Sanitizer with two cups of water and use a cloth to evenly distribute the solution inside. Let sit for 5 minutes before drying your shoes thoroughly. But don’t submerge your whole shoe in the cleaning solution or repeat this too often, as it could degrade certain materials over time.

Try this step-by-step process when treating your smelly shoes:

  • Determine type of shoe material and remove laces and inserts. Inspect interior lining for removable odor sources like old socks.
  • Apply DIY odor-eliminating spray or desiccant stuffing like baking soda or unused dryer sheets and tea bags. Target sweaty spots like heel and toe. Stuff aggressively without distorting the shoe shape.
  • Allow shoes to dry fully in a sunny place or by a fan, at least 24 hours. Avoid heat to prevent material damage or cracking.
  • Disinfect interior lining with an antimicrobial solution like Lysol Laundry Sanitizer diluted in water. Dry shoes fully before wearing again.
  • Going forward, allow shoes a full 24 hours between wears. Rotate pairs to reduce repeat odor issues. Always remove socks overnight after exercising. Consider cedar shoe trees to maintain shape and absorb moisture.

With some time and the right techniques, you can tackle shoe odors head on. Combining odor absorbers and antimicrobial treatments can minimize those embarrassing smells while extending the life of your footwear. Just remember that prevention plays a major role too – rotate pairs, remove inserts to dry fully between wears, and wash socks regularly. Your shoes and nose will thank you!