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Ways to avoid having smelly shoes

Have you been walking around in smelly shoes? Shoe odour is caused by bacteria and fungus, which thrive in dark, moist, and warm environments, making them at home in your sweaty, damp shoes. Here are solid 14 methods for keeping your shoes odour-free and preventing them from stinking.

Why causes your shoes to stink?

When we engage in any physical activity, we sweat, and when the sweat comes into contact with the bacteria on our skin, it produces body odour. The smell in shoes comes from a bacteria called Staphylococcus epidermidis that breaks down an amino acid called leucine in sweat. This bacteria is mostly found on the feet, which gives shoes an unpleasant smell that smells like cheese and can be hard to get rid of.

How to prevent shoe odour

The most effective way to deal with smelly shoes is to prevent them from becoming smelly in the first place. You can prevent bacteria from growing in your shoes and causing unpleasant odours by following these steps:

Moisture-wicking socks

If you want to keep your feet and shoes dry, try switching from cotton socks to socks made of moisture-wicking material that can drain away sweat, like Cool-Max. These fibres absorb sweat and move it away from the feet, where it can then evaporate.

Cotton absorbs more sweat than other materials, creating an environment that is ideal for the growth of bacteria in your shoes.

Let your shoes rest

After a tiring day of walking around, you most certainly need rest, as do your shoes.

It is critical to dry your shoes after wearing them. When allowed to stay damp for longer periods, your shoes become a natural habitat for smelly microbes, which makes them smell bad. Give your smelly shoes some air before wearing them a second time. To make this process more effective, you can remove the insoles and stuff dry paper towels in the shoe to help them dry faster.

Washable Insoles

If you have foot odour when wearing shoes without socks, try washable insoles. The upper is made of cotton terry cloth, while the sole is made of latex rubber. It is used to replace or cover your shoe’s insole. These have a good enough grip to keep them in place while also providing moisture absorption and cushioning. To keep your shoes smelling fresh, wash them every three to six uses.

Deodorant and antiperspirant

The sweat from your feet accounts for the majority of the moisture, which leads to smelly shoes. By using antiperspirants, you can prevent foot sweat and keep your shoes dry, preventing bacteria and fungus from growing in a moist environment. Deodorant will not keep your feet dry, but it will suppress odour-producing germs and fungi. As with antiperspirants, proceed with caution to see if any adverse reactions occur.

Remedy for a smelly shoe

Even with all the precautions there are, it’s difficult to stop your shoes from smelling. So here are a few strategies to rid yourself of smelly shoes.

The power of baking soda

Baking soda can effectively neutralise the odour in any pair of smelly shoes or sneakers. A troublesome pair of slip-ons or lace-ups can benefit from an overnight soak in soda. When you wake up in the morning, empty out the container. However, frequent applications of baking soda to leather shoes can dry them out, so use caution. DIY shoe deodorizers, called “odour eaters,” are easy to make by stuffing the toes of old socks with two tablespoons of baking soda and tying the socks in a knot. When you go to bed at night, put one sock in each shoe. In the morning, take off your socks and bare your feet.

Using fabric softener sheets

To get the smell out of your smelly shoes, you need strong stuff. Put a new dryer sheet in each sneaker and leave them overnight to get rid of smells, then simply pull them out before wearing the shoes. It’s also a good idea to clean and deodorise places like your gym bag, where you keep your shoes. Put a dryer sheet in the bottom of your gym bag and leave it there until your nose tells you to change it.

Salt is not just for cooking

In the summer, if you wear sneakers or other canvas shoes, especially without socks, they will quickly become a breeding ground for unpleasant odours. You can keep your canvas shoes smelling fresh and dry by using salt as a shoe deodorizer. Simply sprinkle a little salt and let the magic happen.

Essential oils

To give your shoes a pleasant aroma, try adding a few drops of essential oils. Experiment with essential oils like eucalyptus, clove, or tea tree to see if any of them help. Instead of putting the oil on your shoe, you might put a piece of paper or tissue with the oil dripping over it inside your shoe for the night.

Shoes don’t get drunk

Spread some rubbing alcohol over the smelly spot on your shoes, and it should go away. The rubbing alcohol will not only act as a natural shoe deodorizer by reducing odours, but it will also help disinfect the shoe and rid you of smelly shoes.

Shoes love a tea break

The tannins in black tea are effective at killing the bacteria that breeds in shoes, which in turn helps to neutralise the odour. For best results, steep the tea bag in water that has been brought to a boil for at least three minutes. To chill the tea, take out the tea bag. It can be used as a natural shoe deodorizer if you put it in your smelly shoe for an hour. If there is any liquid left on the shoe after you take it off, wipe it off.

Baby powder

If you are often bothered by smelly shoes, you can take preventative measures by dusting them with baby powder before putting them on. Rub some baby powder on your feet before putting on your shoes if you are prone to having smelly shoes.

Freeze your shoes

Freezing your smelly shoes overnight is another option if you find that none of the other homemade shoe deodorizer solutions are doing the trick. Place your shoes in a Ziplock bag and seal them shut. The bacteria can be killed by leaving them in the freezer overnight.

The good old washing machine

If your shoes are unclean inside and out, you can try washing and drying them; this is especially effective for sneakers. But be careful, as it’s not safe for the dryer or the shoes if you try to dry them without a special shoe shelf or attachment.


Although it’s a common problem, it can be unpleasant if your shoes start to smell. The easiest approach to getting rid of odours is to prevent them in the first place, but there are also various techniques to eliminate smells once they have developed. Experiment with each of these tactics to find out which one yields the best results for you. If nothing else works, it might be time to buy yourself a new pair of shoes to cheer yourself up.

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