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How to Remove Smelly Odors from Shoes

Discover how to remove smelly odors from shoes with this step-by-step guide! Find out how to wash canvas shoes in the machine, prevent odors forming & more.


Reading Time: 2 minutes

Written by Eunice Samson

how to get rid of odor in your shoes

Whether you’re running around playing sport, or walking around in hot weather – odors can quickly develop in your shoes. Follow these useful steps on how to remove bad smells from shoes, and keep them away for good!

Avoid bad smells in your shoes by wearing natural, breathable materials such as cotton or leather, rather than synthetics like rubber, plastic or polyester, which can cause your feet to sweat more.

How to Get Rid of Odor In Your Shoes

Feet can often get sweaty in warm and humid weather, particularly if you’re wearing your shoes for long periods of time, playing sports, or wearing man-made materials that don’t let your skin breathe. But getting rid of bad smells in your shoes doesn’t have to mean buying a new pair! Read on to discover how to prevent and remove the bad odor from your shoes.

1. Prevention is better than cure! Swap out man-made insoles for an odor-control variety, which are designed to promote the flow of air around your feet and prevent the growth of bacteria and fungus – a key cause of smelly footwear. Wearing cotton socks will also keep your feet feeling fresh, and will prevent sweat from soaking into your shoes.

2. Remove bad odors from your shoes after every wear. Stuff your shoes with newspaper to soak up any residual sweat. You can also use a tumble drier conditioning sheet to add a fresh fragrance to your footwear.

3. If you cannot get the odor out of your shoes, give them a wash. Most sneakers and canvas shoes can be given a gentle wash in the machine, but remember to always to check the manufacturer’s instructions first. Protect your machine by placing your sneakers in a laundry bag (or a pillow case if you don’t have one), then machine wash according to the care instructions. A hard-working laundry detergent, such as Breeze, will combat stubborn odors and leave your sneakers looking and smelling fresh.

4. Other shoe types (leather, plastic and rubber) should not be machine-washed. Instead, soak a large piece of cotton wool in rubbing alcohol and thoroughly wipe the insides of the shoes. Remember to do a patch test first on an inconspicuous area to ensure that the material is color-fast.

5. To avoid more bad odors in your shoes, always allow your footwear to thoroughly dry once you have cleaned them.

  • Get rid of bad odors in your shoes between wears by stuffing your footwear with newspaper and scented laundry sheets.

  • Machine-wash smelly sneakers and canvas pumps using a laundry detergent like Breeze.

  • Use rubbing alcohol to clean the insides of non-washable shoes.

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Frequently asked questions on removing smelly odors from shoes

How do you clean melissa shoes and other "jelly" shoes to remove odor?

Jelly shoes, like Melissa ones, are a great choice for summer weather. But wearing shoes in hot weather can make them smelly, so how do you clean Melissa and other ‘jelly’ shoes? Baking soda mixed with some warm water will make fine work of any stains and smells. Rub the paste into the shoes with a sponge or cloth and give them a rinse with a showerhead. Avoid using any alcohol-based cleaner as these can deteriorate the material.

How do you remove the rubber smell from new shoes?

If you have a brand-new pair of shoes but they smell like rubber, you might need some tips on how to remove the rubber smell from shoes. Try air drying them by leaving the shoes outside in a garden, if the weather permits, or a garage. Letting them air out for a day or two can help with getting rid of the rubber odor. This is especially good if you can leave them out in the sun as UV rays will help to neutralize the odor on the shoes. Only leave them out for a maximum of 2 hours at a time as the sun could affect the material. If you don't have the right weather to air dry, you can leave the shoes submerged in a bath of water and white vinegar for one hour and then air dry at home.

Why do Melissa shoes (and other jelly shoes) smell good when new?

If you have just received your new Melissa or other jelly shoes you may be asking, why do jelly shoes or Melissa shoes smell so good? Melissa infuses every pair with a sweet, bubblegum scent to enhance the experience. Other jelly shoe manufacturers may also do this. The smell is not permanent and will become diluted over time.

Originally published