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Eliminate Odor from Smelly Shoes and Boots

  • Synopsis: Published: 2014-03-31 (Revised/Updated 2017-02-15) - Handy tips and tricks to help eliminate bad odor from smelly shoes and boots quickly. For further information pertaining to this article contact: Ian Langtree at Disabled World.

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Quote: "Place a sheet of dryer fabric softener into your shoes after wearing. A sheet will last for about a week."

Humidity and warmth in the shoes is what causes the bacteria that create the odor.

Stinky shoes and/or smelly feet can be not only annoying, but a source of embarrassment as well. The proper term for smelly feet is Bromhidrosis (smell of bacteria growing on the body) or Hyperhidrosis (abnormally increased perspiration). It is an unfortunate part of an active lifestyle, as even the smallest bit of sweat can create a pair of smelly shoes.

Although cleaning the shoes regularly will kill the bacteria, and washing the foot prevents them from growing, the reality is that preventing moisture by using a talcum powder is the best solution.

Other steps to help prevent stinky shoes include; washing your feet with an antibacterial soap, by wearing clean leather shoes, cotton socks, and change shoes daily, and use a good quality foot spray at night.

Tips for Getting Rid of Shoe and Boot Odor:

  • Keep a sock full of kitty litter and baking soda that has been knotted at the top in the shoes overnight each evening.
  • Sprinkle a teaspoon of Bicarbonate of Soda into each shoe, shake well to ensure the powder penetrates down to the toe and all over the inside of the shoe, and leave overnight.
  • Add some cloves to your stinky shoes, and stinky drawers for that matter. Tie a handful of cloves in a handkerchief and place in each shoe. Let them sit for a few hours, for exceptionally bad smelling footwear, leave the cloves longer, until the smell is gone. You can do the same for your sock drawer.
  • Place a sheet of dryer fabric softener into your shoes after wearing. A sheet will last for about a week.
  • Place the shoes in a zipper-lock plastic bag and put them in the freezer overnight. The freezing temperatures will kill most of the odor causing bacteria.
  • Break some charcoal into small pieces and place inside an old pair of tights, put them into a pair of smelly shoes or boots overnight.
  • Dry your shoes by putting them near a heater or in a warm sunny spot. Take out the shoe laces and lift the tongue up and out to dry the shoes out faster. By keeping your shoes dry, you help prevent bacterial growth that causes the bad odor.
  • Put a mixture of baking soda, baking powder and cornstarch in a pair of cotton socks and stick in the shoes overnight.
  • Salt has been reported as being effective in canceling out moisture which causes the bacteria in shoes to smell bad. Apply 2 teaspoons of salt into each shoe and they will smell better in a couple of hours.
  • Try soaking your feet in baking soda, soap, and a little white vinegar to help stench as vinegar is a natural disinfectant.
  • Make a pouch out of muslin and fill with bicarbonate of Soda and add a few drops of Tee Tree Essential oil. The Bicarbonate will absorb any odors and the Tea Tree any bacteria.
  • Spray the shoes with a mix of 50/50 white distilled vinegar and water into your shoe lining and soles and let air dry for 30 minutes. Use a hair dryer if you are in a hurry to dry the shoes. Follow up with baking soda in the shoe overnight.
  • Try sprinkling some baking soda in the shoes and let the powder absorb the odor overnight. Empty the powder before putting the shoes back on.
  • Purchase some activated charcoal, split them up into small pieces and put them into bags together with some cotton balls moistened with lavender or eucalyptus oil.

Commercial Products for Smelly Shoes and Boots:

Companies like Tineacide, 2Toms and Dr. Scholl's all sell a foot spray that works as an effective shoe deodorizer.

  • Cedarsoles insoles - The cedarwood that these are made from is a natural antifungal and will help prevent shoe or boot odor.
  • Smelleze Sneaker, Shoe & Boot Deodorizer - Specially developed to adsorb, neutralize, and encapsulate many unpleasant footwear odors on contact. Smelleze will cleanse your sneakers, shoes, and boots of stinky odors and result in fresh, clean smelling footwear. People with foot odor problems will never have to worry about smelly shoes again. As an added benefit, Smelleze can also be used in stored shoes and boots to adsorb moisture and prevent mildew and cracking.
  • Antifungal foot powder and antibacterial sprays - These can be purchased at most local convenience, grocery or drug stores.
  • O-Liminator - A new and easy way to tackle bacteria, odor and moisture buildup. Recommended for use in sports bags, shoes, sneakers, work boots, cars, closets, lockers, athletic gear, or around the house where odors may exist.

Related Information:

  1. Getting Rid of Stubborn Odors in Clothes and Fabrics - Ian Langtree - (Mar 29, 2014)
  2. Get Rid of Stale Cigarette Smoke Smell from House - Ian Langtree - (Mar 28, 2014)
  3. Trimethylaminuria (TMAU) - Fishy Body Odor Causes and Treatment - Ian Langtree - (2014-03-25)

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