Cleaning Tips, Guides & Resources

Make Smelly Shoes Fresh and Odourless Again!

make smelly shoes fresh and odourless again customer graphic

If you've ever worn your shoes for extended amounts of time, or there is a particular pair that you use on a regular basis, you've probably had to put up with an unpleasant odour from them at some point. Often caused by bacteria developing within the fabric of the shoes, the smell can be intolerable if not addressed early enough.

While the smell can get overwhelming and make you want to avoid the footwear altogether, there are some very effective ways to get rid of bad odours in shoes, and they are simpler than you'd imagine. These easy methods do an excellent job at fighting bad footwear smells while also maintaining a level of freshness that you have probably been missing for a while! To learn all about them, read on!

4 Effective Methods to Remove Odours from Shoes

close up of pair of low cut dirty green conserve allstars emitting a purple odour

Firstly, it should be mentioned that one of the best practices for eliminating or preventing bad odours in shoes is to leave the footwear out in the sun for a couple of hours. Sunlight is a natural bacteria killer and therefore, helps remove foul smells from your shoes. If you are dealing with a rather strong and persistent odour, an alternative method must be applied in addition to cleaning your shoes, of course. 

Depending on the type of smell and/or material you are working with, one or more of the solutions below can be used to counter bad odours in shoes.

#1 Disinfectant Spray

Since the primary reason for this odour is often caused by moisture in the form of sweat, the smell shows up rather quickly thanks to the quick development of bacteria. At this point, considering an antibacterial spray is a great option. This not only kills the germs causing the smell, but these sprays usually come with fragrances that help mask the bad smell. 

Once you find a good enough antibacterial spray from a pharmacy or drug store, you can go ahead and spray your shoes down. Begin by spraying the inside of the shoe with the nozzle facing the toes; this sprays the disinfectant all over the inside of the shoe for all round coverage. Once done, allow it to air-dry for a few hours before using the shoes again. 

#2 Dryer Sheets

If you have dryer sheets on hand, you should consider using them since they're actually a great way to get rid of bad odour in your shoes. Dryer sheets are developed with liquid softeners, lubricants, and perfumes on the fabric. This is so that your laundry isn't damaged in the dry cycle, is more comfortable when you wear it, and smells pleasant after being washed. 

To use dryer sheets to remove foul smells from footwear, take a sheet, push it into your shoe all the way so that the entire inside of the shoe is covered by the sheet. Once the sheet is in, leave it inside the shoe for a few hours. This should allow enough time for the perfumed smell of the sheet to get into your shoe, and make it fresh again.

#3 Teabags

Black tea is known to have a large amount of tannins concentrated in it. These tannins are a nutrient that is antimicrobial in nature, and hence, an effective option against odour causing bacteria. 

With that in mind, begin by steeping two teabags in boiling water for a couple of minutes. Once done, carefully remove them, and allow the bags to cool a bit so that you can handle them without getting burned. From there, take the moist teabags, and place them into the shoes. The moisture is required since you want it to seep into the fabric of the shoe to allow it to fight the odour better. Proceed to leave the teabags in for an hour or two, depending on how bad the smell is, and then remove them. Once removed, you must air-dry your shoes completely and, by the end of it, there should be no unpleasant smell lingering!

#4 Cat Litter

Cat litter is designed to help fight odours and hence, is a good alternative for the purpose of deodorising your shoes. Containing things like activated charcoal, and baking soda, the odours from footwear can easily be removed using cat litter.

The best way to use cat litter in this manner is to fill up a sock with fresh grains of the same, and push the sock into the shoe. You want to make sure the sock isn't too full to put pressure on the shoe, but full enough to make contact with the entire inside of the shoe. Put a rubberband around the opening of the sock to prevent the litter from spilling out, and give the shoes a good shake after you've put the socks in to make sure the litter spreads out evenly. You must then leave the socks in overnight for the litter to do its job. 

Once done, remove the socks, and check your shoes for any lingering smell. Consider leaving the socks in the shoes longer if you can still smell the foul odour. 

NOTE: It is possible for some grains of litter to come through the sock and into the shoe so you might need to shake out the debris while holding the footwear upside down. 

As mentioned early on in this article, it is important to clean your shoes regularly, as well as to air them out in the sun from time to time. That alone will help keep bad shoe odours in check. Additionally, all the methods shared here today will do a great job at fighting the unpleasant smell in your shoes. Stick to these and you can be confident that you won't have a problem dealing with this foul odour in the future! 

Adriana Aziz is the operations manager at MaidForYou. With over 6 years of experience managing cleaning operations, she knows all the best hacks when it comes to cleaning residential and commercial buildings. With expert experience in managing house cleaning operations, interior design and logistics. She spends her free time with her family and as a freelance food critic.

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