How to remove smells from shoes

Do your shoes pong? Read these 8 effective tips and learn how to remove smells from shoes and keep your footwear fresh, not funky.

Updated 10 June 2022


AuthorBy Cleanipedia Team

Reading Time5 minutes

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Smelly shoes can be unpleasant and even downright embarrassing when someone asks you to remove your shoes at the threshold of their home. But they don’t have to be a permanent burden.

Knowing how to get rid of bad smells in shoes is easy with the right solutions. Here we give you eight ideas on how to remove odour from shoes.

Washing your shoes is one of the best ways to freshen them up. Check the care label to make sure they’re machine-washable and then pop them in the washer with a good quality laundry detergent.

Why Do My Shoes Smell?

Shoes can often become smelly due to a build up of sweat, making them the perfect place for bacteria to thrive and produce smelly odours. Think about it, your feet are locked inside a shoe for hours at a time – and you’re going to sweat even more if you’re exercising – so it’s inevitable that your shoes will end up smelling.

The materials shoes are made of can also cause odours. If you’re prone to getting sweaty and smelly feet then choose shoes made from breathable materials like cotton or leather and wear sandals in the summer.

How to Get Rid of Odour in Shoes

  • Dry them out. Place you shoes in the sun or near a heater and allow them to dry out. This will help to prevent the bacterial growth that causes odour.

  • Freeze them. Pop your smelly shoes in a large plastic sandwich bag and leave them in the freezer overnight. Take them out of the freezer the next day and allow them to dry naturally. The idea behind this method is that the cold temperatures will kill the bacteria.

  • Wash your shoes. Check the manufacturer’s label or website to make sure your shoes are machine-washable, and then pop them in the machine with a good quality laundry detergent like Persil Non Bio Liquid. Before placing them in the washing machine, it’s a good idea to put them in a mesh laundry bag or pillowcase to protect them during the cycle. You could also wash some dirty towels at the same time to soften any blows the shoes might give to the washing machine drum. Once your shoes have been laundered, leave to air dry before wearing.

  • Add a new scent. One of the best ways to remove smells from shoes is to revitalise them with a much more pleasant smell. Leave fresh lemon or lime peel in your shoes overnight, or squirt a few drops of an essential oil, like lavender, into the soles of your shoes and allow to dry. Both remedies will help to eliminate odours.

  • Baking soda A great natural deodorizer, baking soda can help to absorb bad smells and leave your shoes much fresher. Sprinkle a small amount of baking soda inside your shoes and leave overnight. Be sure to remove the baking soda before wearing your shoes again.

  • Cat litter. Often infused with deodoriser, cat litter is a cheap option to refresh your shoes. Pop a small amount of cat litter in a plastic bag – you’ll need one bag for each shoe – and leave overnight. In the morning, remove the cat litter and throw away.

  • Odour Removers. A specially formulated odour remover spray can be a very effective way to get rid of smells in shoes. Most sprays like this will contain bacteria and/or enzymes that eat away at what is causing the bad smell for a quick fix.

  • Cedar insoles. Cedar wood has natural anti-fungal properties making it a great deodoriser. Place the insoles inside your shoes to help them stay smelling fresh for longer.

There you have it; it really is very easy to remove smells from shoes! Next time your shoes start to pong, don’t just give up on them – try one of the methods above.

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