How to Clean Smelly Shoes. No matter how clean you are, your feet still produce an unpleasant smell, especially if you wear the same pair of closed shoes every day. It doesn’t matter whether you run, walk or just sit all day, your feet sweat naturally – some people are more than others. Over time, this moisture in your shoes promotes bacterial growth, which – you guessed it – causes them to stink.
While it is helpful to find the right odor remover, it is also important to get to the bottom of the problem. Keep your shoes – and feet – as dry as possible to avoid unpleasant smell. Try to change shoes regularly so that you don’t wear the same pair every day. While you’re at it, make sure you wear socks so they can absorb sweat and moisture before your shoes do.
But when the inevitable strikes, read this step-by-step guide from Carolyn Forte, director of the Good Housekeeping Institute’s cleaning laboratory, to take control of your stinky shoes once and for all.
A step-by-step guide to cleaning stinky shoes
If you notice a strange hint, use it as a sign to clean your shoes well. By treating the smell yourself and disinfecting your shoes with disinfectants, you can solve the problem from the inside. Before cleaning, however, make sure the shoes are completely dry. If they are damp or wet due to daily wear, exercise, or poor weather conditions, fill them with crumpled newspaper and allow them to air dry from direct heat. If the stench persists, try these methods at home:
- Fill two socks with baking soda, tie them off at the top and put a sock in each shoe. Let them sit overnight.
- To get rid of odor-causing bacteria and fungi, spray the inside of the shoe with a disinfectant spray such as Lysol. You can also sprinkle foot powder or baking soda for similar effects. For more natural options, choose the shoe Pourri spray enriched with essential oils or stick Woodlore Cedar Shoe Fresh Inserts into each insole.
- Some shoes, like Rothy’s and Allbirds, are machine washable. Follow the care instructions for optimal results. As a rule, most machine-washable shoes should be washed on a gentle cycle with cold water and a mild detergent. Always allow airing dry.
Just because the smell is gone doesn’t mean your job is done. Prevent future smells by keeping your shoes dry and turning in pairs. If you feel like you’ve done everything you can to get rid of odors and nothing works, it may be time to invest in a new pair of kicks.