If smelly shoes discourage you from going on a walk or going on your daily morning jog, here are some tips on how to get smell out of shoes. Finding products that eliminate smells from your shoes is helpful but it’s essential to understand the cause of smelly shoes. Whether you’re going on a walk, going for a run, or just sitting down, your shoes can release a nasty odor.

What causes the stench in my shoes?

The short answer is sweat. Your feet sweat naturally. Moisture promotes bacteria growth and that is the main cause of stinky shoes. Your feet can still produce an unpleasant odor no matter how clean your feet are. Did you know that there are up to 250,000 sweat glands on your feet that produce up to half a pint of sweat a day? That’s crazy.

The sweat on your feet is different from the sweat on the rest of your body. This is because your feet are enclosed in shoes or socks all the time. As mentioned before, moisture trapped in your socks or shoes creates a breeding ground for bacteria and it reeks! This harbors the funk that gets stuck in your shoes. When your shoes continue to carry such bacteria, it can lead to blisters and athlete’s foot.

Before you freak out about how gross feet and bacteria can be, remember that sweat is natural. Now you’re wondering how to get smell out of shoes and here are some simple steps. It’s fairly simple and you’ll surely defeat any harboring bacteria in your shoes before throwing them away.

How do I prevent shoes from smelling?

Prevention is key when you’re deep in the hole of the stinky shoe problem. You need to practice proper foot hygiene and proper shoe care. Make a mental note of these steps before putting your running shoes on and walking out the door.


  • Thoroughly wash your feet – use mild soap and wash between the toes. Remember to dry your feet thoroughly. This step prevents smelly feet.
  • Apply foot powder – if your feet always sweat, apply foot powder to keep them dry throughout the day.
  • Use Moisture-wicking socks – these socks suck all the moisture from your feet to keep them dry and to avoid blisters and athlete’s foot.
  • Dry your shoes – dry your shoes between each wear. Storing them in your gym bag makes them stay damp and houses smelly microbes.
  • Put deodorant on your feet – this seems like a weird thing to do but using a non-fragrance deodorant inhibits odor-producing bacteria and fungi. Many marathon walkers put antiperspirants on their feet to prevent blisters. Do a patch test on one foot or a toe and see if it gets irritated after 24 hours.
  • Use washable insoles – replace your shoes’ insoles with a washable insole that grips well enough to stay put. These insoles should absorb moisture and cushion feet properly. Wash them after three to six uses.


  • Don’t wear the same shoes two days in a row – wear different shoes throughout the week to reduce bacterial growth.
  • Don’t reuse socks – this is a no brainer. Use clean socks! If your feet get excessively sweaty throughout the day, don’t be scared to use another pair.
  • Don’t store your shoes inside – shoes have residual sweat in them after you use them. Store them out under the sun for quicker drying time and less bacterial growth.

How do I get rid of the bacteria?

There are different ways to get rid of the smell. Bacteria cause the smell and there are different ways to get rid of bacteria.

  • Freeze your shoes – the freezing temperature inhibits the growth of germs and fungi. Place them in a plastic bag and freeze them overnight.
  • Use a rubbing alcohol spray – spraying rubbing alcohol on your shoes absorbs the moisture allowing it to dry out the shoes.
  • Use vinegar and water – mix equal parts of white vinegar and water and put it in a spray bottle. Spray it on the lining of the shoes and the soles. Air dry them for at least half an hour.
  • Clean sneakers regularly – wash the insoles, laces, and shoes.

Remove the leftover stench after eliminating the bacteria. There are some quality odor killers and shoe deodorizers in the market but, that isn’t the only solution. Did you know that you probably already have the tools to keep your shoes fresh? Save your money and use these common household items to make your shoes stay fresh longer.

  • Baking soda and a coffee filter – this is arguably the best ingredient to combat smelly shoes. Fill an unused coffee filter with baking soda and secure it with a rubber band or staples. Place it in each shoe and leave it overnight. The coffee filter helps prevent a messy cleanup.
  • Charcoal – charcoal helps deodorize your shoes and helps them breathe. Place small pieces in an old pair of tights and put them in your shoes overnight.
  • Fabric softener sheets – tuck a sheet into each shoe and leave it overnight.
  • Essential oils – try using a couple of drops of essential oils in your shoes that give off a refreshing scent. Go for oils with antibacterial properties like tea tree oil. Use a drop on a piece of paper or tissue if you don’t want to put the oil directly on the shoe. Leave it in overnight.
  • Black tea bags – black tea has tannins that kill the germ built up in your shoes. It also helps remove the stench. Place the teabag in hot water for 2-3 minutes before removing it. Wrap the cooled tea bags in some tissue paper and place them on your shoes for an hour.

These are just a few items you can use to remove the smell and keep your shoes fresh. You can make your own shoe deodorizer with these ingredients. Another essential part of keeping your shoes fresh is keeping them dry. Eliminate moisture in your shoes with these items.

  • Kitty Litter – this absorbs moisture and odors. Fill up some old socks or tights with kitty litter and secure it with a rubber band. Place it in your shoes and leave it there until the smell is gone and the moisture has dried.
  • Newspapers – crumple up some old newspapers and stuff them in your shoes to soak up any moisture.

Know When to Say Goodbye To Stinky Shoes

Try these easy steps and if your shoes still smell bad, it might be time to get rid of them. Sometimes shoes are beyond repair because they are infested with bacteria. It’s difficult to draw out the microbes that live in the inner and outer linings, fabric, and soles. Don’t use them anymore. Don’t use them for chores or walks. If they’re starting to fall apart and hurt you while you use them, just get new ones.

As runners, it’s important to keep your shoes in tip-top shape. Save your shoes and your feet from smelling bad. Prevent any odor by keeping your shoes dry, rotating through pairs, and getting rid of bacteria. You won’t have any more problems running when you take care of your shoes. Buy investing in the best running shoes, your feet will thank you for it. When choosing running shoes, be sure to check out our running shoe fit tips.