Nooooooooo! Why do my stupid shoes and the actual universe hate me!? My shoes stink and I totally don’t have anything that could fix them!
It kind of sucks when you have smelly shoes, plus all of the solutions for them somehow seem to cost a gazillion bucks. Like what gives? You mean I have to go to the store!? But like… smelly shoes… at home… right now…
Amazon’s same-day shipping isn’t going to fix my problem right now, either, and um that’s when I want clean shoes. Right now, please and thank you very very much. I mean, is there an upgraded Amazon Prime option where I can get my smelly shoe deodorizer in the next ten minutes? Via drone or something? Could the Taco Bell delivery guy tack some magical shoe fix onto my order?
Apparently, shoe deodorizers take forever to acquire, so we’re all just doomed to smell like ancient septic gym socks. Yes, it sucks.
Or does it? Perhaps… no, wait, it would be way too magical and amazing if we could have better-smelling shoes with the assistance of items that we already have at home. There’s literally no way in the universe that that’s possible. If it were, well we could all save so much money! So much time, energy, and sanity!
You shall just have to head off to the nearest convenience store and throw all of your money at the altars of the shoe cleaning gods, because of course there’s absolutely no possible way we could have better-smelling shoes with household items. What a crazy thought. Do we look like buffoons to you?
There’s totally a freakin’ way. In actual, and almost literal fact, there are like 5ish. Maybe 6. Depends on your perspective, I guess. Forge on, dear reader, and I’ll tell you all about them;)
1. RIP Smelly Shoes, Because of Rubbing Alcohol
Ok, right, so there are a few ways one might go about doing this, but this is only a wee post about how to clean stinky shoes, not a novel centered around all-encompassing nasal know-how, and we’re just going to be sticking to some beautiful basics.
To deodorize your smelly shoes, soak some cotton balls or rounds in the rubbing alcohol, and then stuff as many as you possibly can into each of your acrid footwear (pretend you're your old supernaturally tall cousin at the family camp-out, who somehow managed to cram an egregious amount of hotdogs into his teenaged self– that, channel all of that).
Leave your now slightly flammable shoes to sit overnight. The rubbing alcohol is going to kill droves of that darn bacteria in your shoes as you snooze.
Oh, did I mention that? It’s not your feet that cause shoes to smell funny (although nobody is laughing– it’s only our pride that’s the punchline).
It’s kind of the bacteria that live in your shoes, and also on your feet. Small, yet mightily annoying, colonies of bacteria live and thrive off of your sweat, so they like to hang out where it’s the sweatiest– *read* your shoes.
So we have to strike at the taproot to tap out the stink. Your smelly shoes are the habitat of the heckin’ hellions (aka the skunk stink-producing bacteria), and so we need to make them uninhabitable to make your shoes fit for society again.
After the rubbing alcohol-soaked cotton balls have sat in the shoes all night, remove and enjoy your lovely, and now-fresh shoes!
A wise word to the wary, however. Rubbing alcohol is good at dissolving bacteria, but it’s also good at simultaneously dissolving adhesives. Be careful with cheaper shoes, as the adhesive may dissolve.
If you choose to go with this particular stink-reducing option, your shoes (of the cheaper variety) may just fall apart. Hey, no hate on thrifty shoes, like those are the actual best-- just maybe not for the rubbing alcohol option, yes?
We truly do want your shoes to survive this cleaning experience, so just make sure to make sure before giving your shoes the genuine and bonafide Captain Jack Sparrow experience (in other words: soaking in alcohol all night).
2. Black Tea Bags Boot the Bad Smells out of Your Boots
Oops, did I scare you with that last one? Are visions of dissolved shoe bindings dancing in your head? Don’t you worry a bit– there are plenty of gentler household products that you can draft into service which won’t and can’t possibly dissolve your clearance shoes (once again no judgment here, dear reader, because this writer practically lives for sales).
For the cautious yet still stinky, there are black tea bags! Yes, beverages for your boots! Ok, well you don’t exactly need a cuppa-- unless you’d also like to brew yourself one to sip on the side, in which case by all means, go ahead and enjoy yourself.
For this option, you’re going to boil a few tea bags (two per shoe should do the trick), and then you'll want to place them right in your shoe. Stuff them near the smelly parts– yes, I am well aware that that’s the entire shoe at the moment– typically, however, the most pungent sections will be the toes and the heel. Share and spread the fresh black tea love, my dear reader.
Let the black tea bags sit for at least an hour inside of your pungent peds, and then you’ll want to remove them and wipe away the excess fluid.
How, you might ask? Well you see, black tea contains tannins, which kill the bacteria. Tannin compounds are actually rather common in a wide variety of plants (for example, pomegranates). They naturally protect the plant from predators, and can also actually be used in pesticides.
Tannins are a little astringent, meaning that they’re chemicals that shrink or constrict body tissues, and ALSO bacteria!
Tannins are what cause the mouth to feel kind of puckery and parched after drinking tea or red wine, or also when eating unripened fruit. It does the same thing to bacteria but on much grander scale.
Fun little fact for you, the word “astringent” comes from the Latin adstringere, which means “to bind fast.” Bind my shoe stink fast? Yes, that sounds awesome, let's do that stat.
3. Denture Sanitizer Tablets put a Sizeable Dent in Shoe Smell
Whoops did I bore you with that last one? Do you feel like a million years passed before I could get to the point of fixing your footwear funk? *Rip Van Winkle kind of vibes* Maybe you now have a long beard gracing your currently wizened and wrinkled face, dentures, and… denture tablets?
If you do presently happen to have denture tablets in your house, then NEWSFLASH you can totally and most absolutely use them to deodorize your shoes!
Start out by filling up a bucket of water, and then toss a handful of the denture cleaning tablets in. Let the shoes sit for just about ten minutes and then take them out to dry. This is key– you want them to be COMPLETELY dry! Soggy shoes are not for the win, and you just gave them a denture tablet bath, so use some good, plain common sense.
Said denture tablets kill the bacteria in your stinky shoes just as easily as they would the decadently cheesy casserole left stuck in between grandpa’s fake teeth– or at least the bacteria in his dentures, because casseroles are immortal (just ask any midwestern freezer).
Just a note, though– some denture tablets are definitely better than others. There are a few out there that contain persulfate, a toxic chemical (whomever decided to use it to clean dentures, which inevitably go into one’s mouth, was an utter buffoon). Even with minimal contact, persulfate can cause severe allergic reactions.
Yes, it does away with those pesky bacteria with laudable efficiency, however, it is undeniably better to have smelly shoes and be otherwise healthy than to be suffering from the uncomfortable effects of consuming persulfate— clean shoes ain’t worth that, ma’ dude.
Then again, assuming you’re not going about eating your shoes, perhaps you’ll be just fine, even if you use denture tablets that contain a toxic chemical.
4. Newspapers Nix the Nasal Assault
I mean really, if we’re not going to be eating our disastrously smelly shoes anytime soon, then we can reasonably use just about anything to clean ‘em.
How say, newspapers?
Now, I know, I know, that’s crazy! That’s wild! Yes and yes. *That* is also going to be the next household item which could quite possibly clean your stinky shoes!
For this one, you’re going to wad the newspaper into balls, and then gently stuff as many as you can into each of your shoes.
Unlike our past few options for household shoe cleaners, using newspapers is going to dry your shoes out.
We want to do this because sweat is bacteria’s prime rib. Its decadent Ben and Jerry’s phish food ice cream. Its extra cheesy Kraft macaroni and cheese (are you salivating yet? Sorry, I had to pull all the good ones) If we deprive the bacteria of that, well then their smelly selves simply don’t stand a chance.
Using newspapers to dry out shoes works better than other drying materials for one simple reason: you see, newspapers use something called “sizing.”
“Sizing” acts as a sort of glaze to newspapers. It basically makes the paper a little bit water repellent– not a whole lot, I mean like it doesn’t suddenly make newspapers able to go for a swim and come out alright at the end. “Sizing” simply reduces the chances of the newspaper absorbing way too much fluid.
Now, I know what you’re thinking– bruh, you just said this would absorb my foot-funk, and now you’re saying that it’s water repellent? Um…
But ok, here’s the thing– it absorbs liquid, but it just doesn’t let it out. Just like *SLURP* *Le gulp*
What goes in, does not come back out when we use this way cool “sizing” material.
So like when they’re making newspapers, and then printing stuff on them with ink (a liquid) the sizing prevents feathering. “Sizing” is basically how we’re able to read the words printed on our newspapers instead of deciphering enigmatic blobs.
Because of all this awesome absorbency, it’s actually also way better to wipe windows with newspapers, as opposed to a simple cleaning rag (no streaks on our mirrors!), so you're welcome.
5. Vinegar and Water DIY Spray Vaporizes Bad Smells
So you don’t get a proper paper newspaper? Lol, totally feel– emailed newsletters for the win, am I right? Save on that recycling.
Never fear though, because I pinkie-promise that you can still save your smelly shoes.
The household item helping us out today is vinegar! And a little bit of water as well.
Get yourself a spray bottle, combine one part vinegar and one part water, and just give the whole thing a little shake. Spritz away at the offending shoes, and then you should let them sit overnight.
Don’t worry, the watered-down vinegar is still acidic enough to show the funky bacteria what for. The only thing you might need to worry about is smelling a bit like… well, vinegar.
If need be, just give your vinegared shoes a thorough rinsing, or if they’re machine washable, count your lucky stars and then feel free to chuck the shoes in.
Make sure that your shoes are dry before slipping them on again, but other than that, you’re done! Smell-free! And also still not broke! Yay!
Unless you don’t have vinegar, in which case this is a terrible idea for you-- my most sincere, utter, and complete apologies.
Also, like what the heck!? Why do you not have vinegar? How do you cook and clean, in general?
I mean, I get it, I also do not generally keep a butt-ton of the sour stuff on tap, but still, I know a lot more well-prepared people who do, and maybe I should emulate them ("maybe"). Kudos to them and all– I guess the rest of us ill-prepared goobers will just have to suffer through life with horrifically stinky and gag-worthy footwear. Life can certainly suck at times for us ill-prepared folk.
Assuming that you’re like me and all of these household items are not easily found within your household (sorry mom), perhaps we change course and look in an entirely different direction.
If absolutely all else fails, we can turn to the professionals, agreed? This is the part where you nod and say firmly and with absolute conviction, “Yes, totally, you seem to know your smelly shoes [what funny thing to say, btw], and I think you’re full of fabulous ideas.” Why thank you, I do so appreciate it;)
When one is lacking in their common household cleaning products, there’s LUMI. Their Lavender Tea Tree Natural Shoe Deodorizer is amazingly simple to use, and somehow or another, it also has the nerve to be effective. What gall-- indeed, such bold and impudent behavior.
This fab product earned a 4.4-star rating and over 800 5-star reviews on Amazon (*cue all of the applause*). The company is a family business, made in the US, and is never tested on animals (can I get a “HECK to the FRIK-FRAKIN’ YEAH!” for mama nature!?).
700+ spritzes are in each and every bottle, so like you get the bang for your buck.
Even once you’ve managed to beat the freaky footwear funk (which you totally will with this), LUMI can be used for a boatload of other purposes. If you’ve got not-so-amazing smells wafting up from your garbage, your bathroom, your little cousin after soccer practice, any of those things, you can spritz ‘em with LUMI’s Lavender Tea Tree Natural Shoe Deodorizer (maybe not the cousin– unless you really don’t like them much, in which case… okay, def not the cousin, but make sure they hit the showers asap).
SO, there were 5 things I bravely and perhaps naively assumed you have in your lovely and fine home.
But, for all I know, you only had like 2 ½ of them, so we’re going to squeeze LUMI in there as well, because it is technically a household item, or at least it should be, because it’s that awesome.
And then, dear reader, there were 6ish HOUSEHOLD ITEMS to clean your shoes! Shazam!
The extraordinary and most spectacular transformation of deodorizing your stinky shoes is just within reach!
First, we have rubbing alcohol (and the assistance of cotton balls and or rounds) overnight, followed by black tea bags (have a beverage and lose the funk), then even denture tablets (surely grandma wouldn’t mind sharing?).
Not to top the denture cleaning (a steep task, understandably), there’s an easy-peasy vinegar/water DIY spray (really, it's a humble flex because it’s just a spritz), and then there’s LUMI’s Lavender Tea Tree Natural Shoe deodorizer (oops this is totally way more of a humble flex because you don’t even have to mix anything– flower powerrrrrrr).
Smelly shoes? Nah, not on your watch. With these 6ish ways to deodorize shoes, you simply have no excuse to smell anything other than like your most fabulous self.
Hopefully, this won’t be too terribly difficult in the sense that you won’t have to go further than your kitchen pantry or cleaning closet. Quite possibly Amazon or the nearest convenience store, but that’s why there are 6ish options for ya’ to choose from. Options for the win.
You can and should completely deodorize your smelly shoes with one of these options. Maybe try two, or go crazy and rotate between the whole lot of them! Seriously, I mean, stinky feet are honestly the actual worst.
And these 6ish suggestions for deodorizing your shoes can take ‘em!