How to Remove Bad Smell from Shoes

To remove bad smell from shoes, use baking soda or vinegar. Baking soda absorbs moisture and kills bacteria, while vinegar neutralizes odors.

Shoes are essential items that protect our feet and make us look good. However, they can become smelly due to various reasons such as sweat, bacteria, and dirt accumulation. This can be embarrassing, especially when you need to take off your shoes in public places.

Fortunately, there are several effective ways to remove bad smells from shoes naturally. These include using baking soda, vinegar, tea bags, essential oils, and sunlight exposure. In this article, we will explore each of these options and give you practical tips on how to apply them at home. By the end of this guide, you’ll have well-smelling shoes and feet you can be proud of.

Eliminate Shoe Stink: Your Ultimate Guide to Removing Bad Smell


Understanding The Causes Of Shoe Odor

Every shoe wearer has likely noticed an unpleasant smell coming from their footwear at some point. It’s a common problem that can be embarrassing and uncomfortable. Understanding the causes of shoe odor is crucial to eliminate unpleasant smells.

Sources Of Shoe Odor


When feet sweat, shoes absorb the moisture. Sweat smells unpleasant and encourages the growth of bacteria, leading to foul odors. People who sweat excessively or wear shoes made of non-breathable materials may be more prone to shoe odor caused by sweat.

  • Feet sweat a lot, especially during physical activity or in hot weather.
  • Shoes made from synthetic materials are less breathable than natural materials like leather or canvas.
  • People with hyperhidrosis, or excessive sweat, may experience more shoe odor.

Bacteria And Fungus

Fungus and bacteria thrive in dark, damp environments, making shoes a prime breeding ground for odor-causing microbes. Poor foot hygiene, such as not washing feet regularly and not wearing clean socks, can lead to bacterial growth and an awful smell.

  • Feet and shoes create a moist and warm environment ideal for bacterial growth.
  • Poor hygiene, such as not washing feet regularly or wearing dirty socks, only exacerbates the problem.
  • Fungal infections like athlete’s foot can also contribute to shoe odor.

Poor Ventilation

Shoe odor can also come from inadequate ventilation. Shoes that don’t allow airflow trap in moisture and heat, resulting in an unpleasant smell.

  • Shoes with poor ventilation create a breeding ground for bacteria.
  • Close-toed shoes like sneakers and boots are more prone to unpleasant smells than open-toed shoes like sandals.

Why Some Shoes Smell Worse Than Others

Material composition and quality of ventilation can influence the severity of shoe odor.

Material Composition

Shoes made from synthetic materials, like polyester or nylon, lack breathability compared to natural materials like leather or canvas.

  • Synthetic materials trap moisture inside the shoe.
  • Natural materials allow for airflow, keeping feet and shoes dry and reducing odor-causing bacteria.

Quality Of Ventilation

Shoes that have poor ventilation, such as those with worn-out or obstructed air holes, trap moisture inside and create an ideal environment for odor-causing bacteria.

  • Obstructed air holes can interfere with the flow of air, leading to unpleasant smells.
  • Damaged or worn-out air holes can reduce ventilation and contribute to shoe odor.

Understanding the causes of shoe odor is essential to eliminate unpleasant smells. Following proper hygiene, choosing breathable materials, and investing in quality ventilation can help prevent and reduce shoe odor.

Prevention Measures For Shoe Odor

Proper Foot Hygiene

Proper foot hygiene is essential for preventing shoe odor. Practicing good foot hygiene can help you keep your feet dry and free from bacteria. Some of the key points to remember are:

  • Taking regular showers: Taking regular showers is important because it helps in getting rid of bacteria and sweat from your feet. You should make sure to scrub your feet properly while taking a shower.
  • Drying feet before wearing socks and shoes: It is crucial to dry your feet before wearing socks and shoes. Moisture in your socks and shoes can cause bacteria growth, leading to shoe odor.
  • Wearing clean socks: Wearing clean socks is important to prevent shoe odor. You should always wear socks made from breathable materials such as cotton, wool, or bamboo.
  • Choosing appropriate shoes: Choosing the right pair of shoes can make a huge difference in preventing shoe odor. Some of the essential points to remember before buying shoes are:

Breathable Materials Such As Leather

Choosing shoes made from breathable materials such as leather, mesh, or canvas can ensure proper ventilation. Synthetic materials should be avoided as they trap heat and moisture, causing bacterial growth and odor. Moreover, leather shoes also provide durability and comfort.

Socks And Shoes With Sufficient Ventilation

Shoes with holes or with open-toe designs are great for ensuring ventilation. This feature allows airflow and helps to keep your feet dry. You can also go for shoes with breathable linings or mesh uppers. Wearing shoes that fit properly is also essential for ventilation.

Tight shoes can trap moisture and cause bacteria growth, leading to shoe odor.

Using Foot Powder

Foot powder can be an effective way of preventing shoe odor. Foot powder works by reducing sweating, neutralizing odor and providing a refreshing feel. Some of the key points to remember while using foot powder are:

  • Types of foot powder: There are several types of foot powder available in the market such as talcum, cornstarch, baking soda, and medicated foot powder. You should choose the one which suits your skin type and preference.
  • Best practices for applying foot powder: You should always apply foot powder on clean and dry feet. Make sure to sprinkle a sufficient amount of powder on your feet, especially on toes and soles. You can also apply powder inside your socks and shoes to prevent shoe odor.

Practicing proper foot hygiene, choosing appropriate shoes, and using foot powder can go a long way in preventing shoe odor. These simple steps can help you keep your feet dry, clean and free from bacteria, ensuring that your shoes remain odor-free.

Home Remedies For Removing Shoe Odor

Bad shoe odor can be a real problem, not only for you but also for the people around you. It can be embarrassing, and it can even make you feel self-conscious. However, there are several home remedies for removing shoe odor, and some of them might surprise you.

In this section, we will explore some of the most effective ways to get rid of that foul smell coming from your shoes.

Baking Soda

Baking soda is a highly effective way to eliminate shoe odor. It is easily available, inexpensive, and safe to use. Here are some key points to remember when using baking soda:

  • Sprinkle a generous amount of baking soda inside your shoes, making sure to cover the whole sole.
  • Leave the baking soda inside the shoes overnight, preferably for 12 to 24 hours.
  • Afterward, remove the baking soda by tapping the shoes upside down over a trash can or garbage bag.


Vinegar is another great option for removing shoe odor. It is a natural disinfectant that kills odor-causing bacteria and fungus. Here are some things to keep in mind when using vinegar:

  • Mix equal parts white vinegar and water in a bowl.
  • Dip a clean cloth into the mixture and squeeze out the excess.
  • Wipe the inside of your shoes with the damp cloth.
  • Let your shoes air dry for several hours.

Precautions to take:

  • Do not use undiluted vinegar inside your shoes as it is too strong and can be harmful.
  • Test the vinegar solution on a small and inconspicuous area of your shoes before using it on the entire surface to ensure that it does not damage the material.

Cat Litter And Tea Bags

Cat litter and tea bags might sound like unusual ways to remove bad smell from shoes, but they actually work quite well. Here’s what you need to know:

  • Fill an old sock with cat litter or used tea bags.
  • Tie the sock tightly and put it inside your shoe.
  • Leave it inside the shoe overnight, preferably for 12 to 24 hours.
  • Remove the sock and dispose of the contents.

Precautions to take:

  • Use unscented cat litter, or it may leave a new smell in your shoes.
  • Do not use wet tea bags as they can leave stains on the shoes.

If you’re struggling with stinky shoes, these home remedies can help you get rid of the odor quickly and easily. By using baking soda, vinegar, cat litter, or tea bags, you can eliminate the smell in no time and breathe easy again.

Try out each method, and see which one works best for you.

Commercial Products For Removing Shoe Odor

Are your shoes giving off an unpleasant smell? You’re not alone! Many people face this problem and have successfully tackled it with the help of commercial products. Here are the three most popular types of products:

Insoles And Inserts

Insoles and inserts can be extremely useful for preventing shoe odor. These products are designed to absorb moisture from the feet and keep them dry, which helps to prevent bacteria growth and foul smells. Here are the key points:

  • Types of insoles and inserts: Athletic, odor-control, cushioned, and gel.
  • Athletic: Ideal for running shoes, these insoles offer arch support and extra cushioning.
  • Odor-control: These insoles and inserts are specially designed to absorb moisture and eliminate odor.
  • Cushioned: Provide extra padding and cushioning, ideal for those who spend long periods on their feet or have foot problems.
  • Gel: These inserts help to distribute weight evenly, reducing pressure on the feet and preventing foot and back pain.

How To Choose

When choosing insoles or inserts, consider the type of shoe it will be used in, the level of support and cushioning required, and the odor-fighting properties. Some things to look out for include:

  • Breathability: Choose insoles or inserts with breathable materials to prevent moisture buildup.
  • Sizing: Ensure that the insoles or inserts fit correctly in your shoe.
  • Arch support: Choose a product with appropriate arch support to prevent discomfort or pain.

Odor-Eliminating Sprays

Odor-eliminating sprays are a quick and easy solution to eliminate bad smells from shoes. These sprays work by killing bacteria that cause odor, leaving shoes smelling fresh and clean. Here are the key points:

  • Types of sprays: Antibacterial and deodorizing sprays.
  • Antibacterial: Kills bacteria to prevent odor and foot infections.
  • Deodorizing: Mask the unpleasant smell with a refreshing scent.

How To Use Them

Here’s how to use odor-eliminating sprays:

  • Remove the insole or insert from the shoe.
  • Shake the can and spray the inside of the shoe.
  • Wait for the product to dry completely before putting the shoe back on.

Deodorizing Pouches And Bags

Deodorizing pouches and bags are affordable and eco-friendly alternatives to commercial products. These products work by absorbing moisture and odor from shoes, leaving them smelling fresh and clean. Here are the key points:

  • Types of pouches and bags: Charcoal, cedar, and bamboo.
  • Charcoal: Absorbs moisture and odor, leaving shoes fresh and dry.
  • Cedar: Helps to repel insects and absorbs moisture, preventing odor.
  • Bamboo: Natural and eco-friendly, these pouches absorb moisture and eliminate odor.

How To Use Them

Here’s how to use deodorizing pouches and bags:

  • Insert the pouch or bag into the shoe.
  • Leave them inside the shoe overnight or for a few days.
  • Replace the pouch or bag every few months or when it stops working effectively.

Commercial products offer a variety of ways to eliminate bad smells from shoes. Choose a product that suits your needs and preferences, and follow the instructions carefully for the best results.

Proper Maintenance Of Shoes To Prevent Odor Build-Up

Bad-smelling shoes can be a nightmare. It’s essential to maintain your shoes to prevent odor buildup and keep them smelling fresh. Follow the below tips to learn how to clean, dry, and store your shoes properly for maximum freshness.

Cleaning And Drying Shoes

Cleaning shoes can be a great way to prevent odor buildup. Here are some best practices for cleaning your shoes:

  • Use a soft brush or cloth to wipe away any dirt or dust from the surface.
  • Mix a mild cleaning agent with water, dip the brush or cloth into the solution, and scrub the shoes carefully.
  • Rinse the shoes with cold water and let them dry for several hours.

Drying shoes is just as important as cleaning them. Here are some tips to dry your shoes correctly:

  • Remove shoe laces and insoles to let them dry separately from the shoes.
  • Stuff crumpled newspaper or paper towels inside the shoes to help absorb excess moisture and speed up the drying process.
  • Avoid using a hairdryer, sunny windowsills and drying machines, as these can deteriorate the materials and cause damage to your shoes.

Storing Shoes Appropriately

Storing your shoes correctly can help prevent odor and damage. Here are some tips for storing your shoes correctly:

  • Choose a storage location that is cool, dry, and dark, as humidity and sunlight can cause damage and odor buildup.
  • Make sure the area has proper ventilation to prevent mold and mildew growth.
  • Store your shoes in a shoe bag or box to keep them clean and dust-free.

Follow these guidelines to ensure your shoes stay fresh and odor-free all year round. Proper maintenance of shoes is the key to happy and healthy feet!

Frequently Asked Questions Of How To Remove Bad Smell From Shoes

How Does Bad Smell Occur In Shoes?

Bad smell occurs in shoes when sweat and bacteria build up inside the shoes. This combination leads to the production of foul-smelling odor.

Can Vinegar Remove Bad Smell From Shoes?

Yes, vinegar is an effective natural ingredient that can remove bad smell from shoes. Simply mix equal parts of water and vinegar, and spray the inside of your shoes. Let it air dry.

How Can I Prevent Bad Smell In My Shoes?

To prevent bad smell in your shoes, always wear clean and dry socks. Allow your shoes to air dry completely after each use and use foot powder to control moisture and bacteria.

How Does Sunlight Help To Remove Bad Smell From Shoes?

Sunlight helps to naturally remove bad smell from shoes by drying out any moisture and killing bacteria that can cause the bad odor. Simply place your shoes outside in the sun for a few hours.

Can Baking Soda Remove Bad Smell From Shoes?

Yes, baking soda is an effective natural ingredient that can remove bad smell from shoes. Simply sprinkle some baking soda inside your shoes and leave it overnight. In the morning, shake or vacuum out the remaining baking soda.


To sum up, bad odor from shoes can be an uncomfortable situation that can be easily managed by following some simple steps. It is essential to maintain proper hygiene and care for your shoes to prevent any unpleasant smells from building up.

To remove the bad smell, there are different techniques you can try, like using baking soda, essential oils, or placing them in the sun for some time. Avoid using harsh chemicals or overdrying techniques that can damage your shoes. By taking preventative measures and using natural methods, you can save yourself money and extend the life of your shoes while keeping them fresh and smelling great.

Don’t let bad smell ruin your day; try these tips and enjoy the benefits of clean and fresh-smelling shoes.

Daniel Methews
Daniel Methews
Daniel Methews is a cleaning expert with a wealth of experience and knowledge in the field. With his expertise in various cleaning techniques, he has become a trusted specialist in the industry. Daniel's mastery lies in the art of vacuum cleaning, where he excels in utilizing the latest advancements in technology to ensure impeccable results. Additionally, his skills in stain removal are unparalleled, as he possesses an in-depth understanding of different types of stains and the most effective methods to eliminate them. Daniel Methews is dedicated to providing top-notch cleaning solutions, leaving spaces spotless and customers satisfied.

More from author

Want to stay up to date with the latest news?

We would love to hear from you! Please fill in your details and we will stay in touch. It's that simple!