How to Remove Odor from Shoes – The Easiest Ways You Should Know

If shoes could speak, they’d probably shout out how much they need cleaning. But they can’t. So, it’s up to you to pick them up and give them a ‘bath’ especially when you notice some kind of odor oozing from them. When shoes smell, they lay a foundation for embarrassing situations because you just can’t imagine the thoughts people will have when they sniff the damage that is the odor from them. You can do something about them though, with the right solutions geared towards removing odors from your shoes.

How to Remove Odor from Shoes

Why Do Shoes Have Odor?

It’s easy to point to one or two causative factors straight off your head but if you don’t know the actual cause(s), you’d be fighting a lost battle. The reasons shoes have odor include but are not limited to:

  • The Build-up of Sweat – The human body is an amazing specimen including the foot which has a total of more than 250 sweat glands. It’s then only natural that such sweat glands secrete sweat which can lead to a build-up of bacteria, causing them to thrive and give off bad odors. The longer your feet stays in a shoe, the higher the chances of your shoes developing smelly odors.
  • Shoe Materials – Shoe materials play a big role too and often make the difference between having shoe odors or not. Something too thick for someone who sweats a lot is never ideal. A breathable material like cotton will be okay. Better yet, in summer conditions, wear a sandal if you’re likely to get odors.
  • Intense Physical Activity – Athletes will easily identify with this because of their lifestyle and career. With such activities, odors are never far away from shoes. Let them dry off after each session rather than leaving them in corners of your home.

None of the mentioned reasons for shoe odors are permanent though. The following proven methods show you how to remove odor from shoes.

1. Baking Soda Works a Treat

Sounds strange, doesn’t it? But it does really work. Imagine coming from a jog outdoors, taking your shoes off and a rash smell immediately hits your nose. As inconvenient as this sounds, you can step into your kitchen, get a hold of the baking soda and use it to great effect. Here’s how to use it.

  • Get a coffee filter and add a few spoons of baking soda into the center.
  • Add some drops of essential oils if you want some scent.
  • Close the filter and tie it with a runner band.
  • Place the soda sheet in each of your show overnight. This will absorb the odor and any moisture.

If you don’t want to make a soda sheet, you could still mix the ingredients, leave in a powder form and apply to the shoe. Let it work overnight then take it out.

Don’t forget to take it out before putting on your shoes.

2. Expose Your Shoes to Sunshine

As age-old as this sounds, it works a treat and certainly needs no steps or formula to follow. Sometimes moisture builds up in the shoes and it’s not a mystery when your shoes stink or give up a repressive odor you can’t cope with. Simply take off the laces, and let the tongue be exposed to the sun. Also, if there isn’t enough sunshine, you can keep them near a heater. Heaters are just as effective at keeping your shoes dry. A big advantage of exposing your damp or odor-filled shoes to the sun is preventing the growth and spread of bacteria. You wouldn’t want to get infections from your shoes.

3. Wash Your Shoes

This sounds simple enough but if you don’t do it right, you’ll ruin your shoes or always have a recurring stink from the shoes. Doing it right could limit how often you’d have to give your shoes a good wash down. So, make sure you…

  • Remove the lace, insoles and shake your pair of shoes to make sure there’s no debris or particle hiding.
  • Check your shoes for manufacturers label to see what method of washing is preferable. They could come with instruction to use washing machines or hand washing.
  • If a washing machine can be used, it’s best you put them in a mesh laundry bag so that they’re protected during the cycle when washing. A pillowcase for this purpose isn’t bad either.
  • After washing, air them out to dry properly before you put them on.

If you don’t have a machine, you can use a soft sponge or a cloth fit for that purpose and some detergent to wash. For dirtier areas, a firmer brush might come in handy.

4. Cotton Balls and Essential Oils

Using cotton balls is almost akin to the baking soda method. But this time, you only need a few drops of any essential oil you choose (a sweet, strong scenting one). Apply a few drops of the oil to the cotton balls, insert them inside the shoes and allow them to stay overnight. You’ll have a transformed pair of shoes without the odor to deal with.

5. Freeze Your Shoes

Freezers already have more conventional uses but they do help to get rid of odors. No need to fret. You’re not mixing your shoes up with your edibles or something that might get spoilt. Not even remotely.

  • Get a sealed, zip-locked bag, insert your shoes and make sure it’s sealed before placing it in your freezer.
  • Leave overnight in the freezer.
  • Take them out in the morning and leave under the sun or to dry outdoors naturally.

This method, via the freezing temperature, helps to kill the odor and the bacteria that causes it. Consequently, your shoes smell fresher.

6. Apply Rubbing Alcohol

Rubbing alcohol is a tried and tested method to deal with a lot of stale things and shoes with odor is no different. Whether you choose to spray it or put a few drops on the affected areas, it will help to curb the stink. Further, rubbing alcohol is very much a natural shoe deodorizer.

Rubbing alcohol is also an antiseptic liquid which means you won’t be get infected by bacteria any time soon. Because it quickly evaporates, it leaves you the choice of putting your shoes back to use almost immediately. Every form of moisture leading to terrible odors from your shoes will be dealt with.

7. Use a Citrus Peel

Citrus plants or fruits come in handy for a variety of purposes especially when you’re the soda-loving kind of person, or use them as part of recipes for your baking and cooking needs. But did you know the back/peel of such fruits including lemon, oranges grapefruit and lime, help your shoes achieve better scents? They possess essential oils and thus, have great scents to rival and eventually neutralize the odor from your shoes. Take the peel of any of these fruits, preferably orange or lemon, and place them in your shoes. Leave them there overnight and your shoes should be good to go in the morning!

8. Use Black Teabags

Use Black Teabags for removing shoe odor

Black teabags work a great because of the ingredients with which they are made. They contain tannins which have a huge impact when it comes to getting rid of bacteria that have built up in your shoes and which causes terrible odors to form. Here’s how you can put them to good use ridding your shoes of bad odors.

  • Get a black tea bag and put it in boiling water and leave for at least two minutes.
  • Take the teabag(s) out and leave to cool for a little while.
  • Place it in your shoe for and leave for about one hour after which you take the teabag out. You could leave it overnight if you choose.
  • Clean any liquid residue left by the teabag. Your odor-filled shoe would be naturally deodorized by the teabags.

Ways to Stop Odor from Recurring

Ways to Stop Odor from Recurring

  • Give your shoes a break – If you have a favorite pair, you must consider giving it a break. Never wear it consecutively if you know odors will be a regular theme. This is because they need to dry off, so you’re better off rotating your shoes.
  • Use foot powder – With the number of sweat glands in the foot, foot powder will help to curb moisture and build-up of odor in your shoe. Apply some before wearing your shoes.
  • Keep your feet clean – The best way to do this is by washing them. Bacteria builds up fast especially when your shoes have odors. When you shower, take time out to wash your feet and ensure they are dry before putting on another pair of shoes.
  • Use socks – When you have a comfortable pair of socks between your feet and shoes, chances of odors forming are limited. Try to wear fresh pairs when you wear another shoe. You’ll feel much better with no odor to worry about.


These steps provide treatment guide to help you remove odor from your shoes. They all work a treat and may apply to different circumstances. But the bottom line is using these steps properly will mean less upturned noses in your home and when you visit people.

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