Stinky Shoes? The Secret to Eliminating Shoe Odor for Good

Stinky Shoes? The Secret to Eliminating Shoe Odor for Good

January 25, 2021

When you mix sweaty feet and shoes, you create the perfect environment for stinky bacteria to take over.  But don’t worry, with these tips and tricks you’ll be able to prevent and eliminate your shoe odor for good.

Whether you just got back from a run or a long day at work, you take off your shoes and get hit with a serious case of cheese foot.

There’s no need to be embarrassed, or think that you have a problem.  Shoe odor happens to everyone even if you practice great hygiene. 

We’ll explain why this happens as well as how to get rid of the odor and prevent it in the future.

Why do my shoes smell?

Whether you can smell someone's shoes on a plane, or just in your mudroom, having stinky shoes is always a nuisance.

So why do your shoes get so smelly?

The simple answer is: bacteria.

Bacteria love nothing more than nestling down in a warm sweaty shoe; it's the perfect environment for them.  

The bacteria in your shoes, socks, and on your feet will start feasting on dead skin cells and oils from your skin.  They will then turn around and excrete waste in the form of acid and sulfur compounds.  This is what really causes the smell.

What will really blow your mind is that your feet have over 250,000 sweat glands, and can produce over a pint of sweat per day.  Mix that with some socks and shoes and you've created a bacteria breeding ground!

How to eliminate shoe odor & prevent it in the future

Now that you know about the bacteria factory that your shoes can be, let's talk about what you can do about it.

The two main concepts are: eliminating the bacteria and creating a worse environment for them to grow in.

We'll go into further detail on both, but all shoe odor eliminating methods are going to fall into those two categories.

Step 1 - The Easy Stuff

Following these first practices will make every other method a lot more effective.

Rotating Shoes

It's nice to get a new pair of running shoes, but if you wear them everyday the stink is going to compound.  Give your shoes a break and use another pair. 

By giving your shoes a break it will give them time to air out and dry out between uses.  This can really help to prevent your shoes from getting funky before it's too late!

Wearing good socks

For some people just changing socks can also make a big difference.  Wool socks can make a big difference because they don't trap moisture the same way that cotton socks do.  Some people also find that polyester just doesn't mix with their skin and can be extra smelly.

Wash your shoes

If your shoes are machine washable, throwing them in the wash machine with a towel can sometimes do the trick.  Just make sure to let them air dry and do not put them in the dryer.

Most running shoes are machine washable, I like to throw a towel or two in with them just so they don't bang around too much.

Step 2 - Bacteria Warfare

Let's get ready to kick some bacteria butt!  Sanitizing your stinky shoes will make a huge difference, here's how to do it.

If your shoes aren't too bad and you don't want to spend any money, some rubbing alcohol should do the trick.

Rubbing alcohol

Fill a small container with a bit of rubbing alcohol.  Then use some cotton balls to soak up all the rubbing alcohol that was poured.  Then place the alcohol soaked cotton balls into your shoes.  Try to cover as much area as possible and leave your shoes overnight.  Remove the cotton balls in the morning and then give your shoes another hour or two to full dry out.

Extra Strength Shoe Deodorizer Spray

If your shoes really stink, or the rubbing alcohol didn't quite do the trick, we recommend trying our natural extra strength shoe deodorizer.  This spray contains the strongest ingredients that have amazing antibacterial and antifungal properties to effectively sanitize your shoes.

Spray your shoes at night, 1-3 sprays each should do the trick, then leave them to dry and air out overnight.  If you can leave them outside, that works even better.  This will leave your shoes smelling fresh and clean in the morning.

You can buy it directly from our store, or it's even a little cheaper on Amazon.


Step 3 - Keep them Fresh and Dry

The final step is to prevent bacteria from forming in the future.  This works especially well if you're starting with new shoes, or if you've already effectively sanitized your shoes.

The best way to prevent bacteria is by keeping your shoes dry while you're wearing them throughout the day.  This will create a harder environment for the bacteria to grow in.

Wear good socks!

We already talked about this in the easy stuff section, but wearing some good wool socks will really help keep your feet dry and prevent bacteria from forming.

Use a good shoe powder

Shoe powders are great at eliminating moisture and can be used in your shoes or directly on your skin.

For a powder that's touching your skin we recommend using a talc free natural powder.

You can buy one directly from our store, or cheaper on Amazon.

Newspaper and Kitty Litter

The final way to help dry out your shoes is to either stuff them with some newspaper or kitty litter.  You'll want to do this after you've worn them.

The downside to both of these is that you're not really preventing moisture, you're just absorbing it after.  That's why we think the powder is a better solution, but these tricks can definitely help as well. 

The newspaper is straight forward, just bunch up some news paper and stuff your shoes until they're full. 

This will absorb a lot of the moisture in your shoes and help dry them out more thoroughly.

Kitty litter might seem a little weird, but it's designed to absorb odor and moisture.  Grab an old sock or some pantyhose and pour in some kitty litter.  You'll want to pour in just enough to fill your shoe.  Once you have your kitty litter bag, stuff one inside each shoe, and leave for a few hours.

This kitty litter will help absorb any moisture in your shoes and absorb some of the odors as well.