Got Smelly Golf Shoes? 7 Cheap Ways to Eliminate the Odor

Got Smelly Golf Shoes? 7 Cheap Ways to Eliminate the Odor

*Sighs* I remember the first time I went putt-putt golfing. It wasn’t pretty. 

I was five years old and the local bowling alley had an arcade, a restaurant, and a mini golf course, complete with a lil’ windmill, a cute creek, and practically anything else a young, aspiring golfer might enjoy.

At five years old, my parents deemed me ready to try my small hand at the (miniature and pizza-scented) green. I was… perhaps… not quite ready, because about partway my young self was starting to feel rather bored.

The calls of the bright and buzzing arcade were simply too exquisitely enthralling for my tiny mind to ignore. There were french fries and chicken nuggets back inside! Also, did I mention that this place had bowling?!

Tears began to overflow as frustration overcame my wee self. After (what I felt was a gallant effort of) about half the course, I hurled my mini golf club into the nearby creek.

Perhaps I ought to have waited a few more years to develop some more patience to have tried out golfing, even if it was the miniature variety.

Years later, my elementary school sponsored a field trip to the local country club so that we might gain an introduction to golf under a more professional setting.

Weary, considering my last attempt at golf had resulted in the attempted drowning of my club, I, along with my class, dutifully learned the basics of the sport. 

I remember absolutely nothing about the field trip, except for the part where the instructor told us to “Stick those tail feathers out!” as we leaned into proper golfing form, and also the fact that my best friend had brought some “Chicken in a Biskit’ Crackers.” They were delicious.

I mean, a solid success on all accounts in my book– no clubs were thrown, nor creeks harmed in the trip!

Needless to say, I am perhaps not the most qualified of golfers. Indeed, I likely rank in the lowest of the low of this very generation. 

I do, however, know an absolute ton about deodorizing shoes-- and golfing shoes certainly, like any other footwear, sure need it.

Whether you use molded grips, spikes, cleats, or heck, flip flops for all I know, read on to learn how you can deodorize your golfing shoes with ease and plenty of success!

Table of Contents

    1. Fresh with a Freezer

    2. Smell Rad Thanks to Rubbing Alcohol

    3. Crazy Smells don’t Stand a Chance with Corn Starch

    4. Cloves Smell Great, Duh

    5. Essential Oils are Essentially Amazing

    6.White Vinegar for the Win

    7. LUMI’S Natural Shoe and Foot Powder

    1. Freezer

    *like a popsicle*


    Let’s tackle the strangest one first– the freezer. Yes, good sirs, mesdames, and any golfer with slightly smelly shoes, I am, in fact, telling you to stick your shoes in the freezer.

    There is an absolutely legitimate reason for it, I assure you. You see, ok so you know how you feel like it’s your feet that smell? That’s totally wrong– it’s not your shoes, nor your very own two feet that are funky. 

    It’s bacteria that lives on your feet, and get all over your shoes, and well… yeah, it’s the bacteria that stinks. No need to feel alone– literally every human being that’s ever existed faces the same exact, stinky problem.

    So, basically, if we want to deodorize your golfing shoes, we want to put the bacteria in their place so that we can get you out on the green and smelling fresher than the actual lawn itself (seriously, Glade or Yankee or someone needs to get on making a golfer’s green candle happen).

    The low temperatures found in freezers, you see, will be able to help us tone down the bacteria. It, like say a hibernating bear, or perhaps a teenager before 1 PM, only has one goal, and it’s somehow not smelling horrific (although, now that I think about the bear and teen… maybe it should be). Said goal, is in fact sleeping, not moving, even for an offering of food.

    The cold temps basically are bad for the bacteria, and if they’re not doing so… hot (you know you love the puns), then they won’t be busy stinking up your footwear.

    So to deodorize your golfing shoes, stick ‘em in a plastic bag (let’s keep the ice cream and shoes separate, m’kay?), and then stick that bag in the freezer. Leave it in there overnight, and repeat as often as necessary to show the bacteria whose boss (it's you, btw).

    2. Rubbing Alcohol

    Nose hairs everywhere, beware


    Another way that we can go directly after the bacteria that make our golf shoes stink is simple rubbing alcohol.

    Yes, the stuff that’s enough to singe off your nose hairs is also strong enough to take care of the smelly little suckers bent on making you and your shoes smell like radioactive cheese.

    What’s also super nice about rubbing alcohol, is that its shelf life is literally infinite– ok, maybe it’s more like a few years, but still, you’re for sure going to get your bang for your buck if you get like the bargain Costco or Sam’s Club tub of the stuff.

    Rubbing alcohol takes care of the stinky bacteria in your shoes by essentially drying them out.


    Yeah, yeah, I know it doesn’t make sense that a literal liquid is capable in any way shape or manner of drying something out. 

    Rubbing alcohol can dry bacteria out by breaking down their wee little proteins, and so the tiny buggers can’t hold their shape anymore and lose their protective membranes (like a burst water balloon, if you will), and promptly dry out faster than chapped lips on the open green.

    For real, rubbing alcohol, besides being enough to take out an ox, is all you need (and some cotton rounds) to get rid of your shoe’s funk for good.

    To use rubbing alcohol to fix stinky golf shoes, just get some cotton rounds or balls, saturate with rubbing alcohol, and then stuff it all into your shoes. Leave it overnight, or even just when you’re not using the shoes for best results.

    3. Corn Starch

    This stuff also makes for fabulous fried chicken and pancakes, if you didn't already know


    And onwards and upwards to corn starch. Well, I mean, all of these options are great, so maybe rather than “upwards,” we’ll just say like… adjacent. 


    Yeah, adjacent, like the golf shot you swore you could totally get in one swing, but like actually couldn’t. Not that that happens often, given your expert and most supreme golfing skill, of course;)


    Corn starch is essentially just really good at absorbing moisture, which, if you’ll care to recall, is one of the things smelly bacteria like to chow down on best.


    It’s extraordinarily fine ground, and that’s what makes it the perfect material to absorb said moisture. And remember, the less moisture we’ve got lurking about in our shoes, the less stink we’ll have to worry about later when the bacteria gets its tiny hands(?... unsure if bacteria even have hands… I suppose they wouldn’t) on it.


    You’ve basically got two options in one when it comes to using corn starch to deodorize your golf shoes. Numero uno has us simply dusting the corn starch directly onto our feet before putting on socks or shoes. 


    The corn starch will as a result be able to absorb the moisture right as you sweat it out, so the bacteria won’t even have a moment to even try and get at it. Make sure that when dusting the corn starch on to be thorough, and get primarily your heel and arch, but also between the toes and such. Leave no room for mercy or stink!


    The second option has you just putting the cornstarch in a sock and then leaving it overnight to absorb the moisture. This option might just be a tad easier to clean up, and you won’t have to worry about dusty footprints or anything.


    Either or works just fine, so dust the foot or use a sock– either way, cornstarch can deodorize your golf shoes easy-peasy.

    4. Cloves

    Smells like faaaaaaall


    And it can be difficult to keep your mind on the game when your shoes literally smell rank. I mean, one moment you’re about to ace that one shot to glory, and then the next you’re gagging over the smell of your very own two feet– an easily solvable issue when you’ve got cloves on hand.

    Now, I know that cloves totally don’t get all of the good rep that, say, cinnamon or mint get, but cloves are one of the most fabulously smelling spices out there, and can totally be used for a myriad of purposes, one of which extends to deodorizing your golf shoes.

    Cloves, if you’ve never had the pleasure of seeing a handful of whole ones, look slightly like a game of jacks. All short and spiky, but they also literally smell like happiness distilled. I mean like, autumn smiles, Yankee candles burning for hours, pumpkin spiced lattes, literally all things good. I mean, seriously, cloves actually smell god-tier level amazing.

    Plus, chances are you already have some. Cloves kind of just are one of those things that appear on the ingredients list for baking (typically baking– cooking savory sometimes will call for it, and if a recipe does, prepare for it to rock, ok?), and usually said recipe only (unfortunately) calls for like a ¼ teaspoon, and you buy it, then stuff it into the back of the spice shelf, and promptly forget about the whole thing.

    Well, dust it off or buy whole or powdered cloves asap, because they’re definitely an amazing and easy solution to fix stinky shoes.

    Simply wrap the powdered or whole cloves in some kind of porous material (ie cheesecloth, which will work great here, but socks will totally work as well), and leave in your shoes overnight, at the very least, and for longer if you want to really pack a punch.

    5.  Essential Oils

    Smell like a botanical masterpiece-- not old cheese, good reader


    Another easy way to take on the stink emanating from your poor (yet undefeated!) golf shoes is to use essential oils.

    The idea is about as clean and straightforward as it gets– we use tiny minuscule parts of plants and suspend them in oil, and then when you use that oil on something else, whatever wonderful scent imparted from the OG plant also gets transferred.

    Like, think of pickle juice. I mean, maybe not the vinegar bit, but like… oh, you know very well what I mean. Essential oils and pickle juice kind of follow the same line of thinking.

    What’s nice about essential oils is that it helps the scent of one little piece of the plant stretch a whole lot further. Rather than using up and possibly wasting a whole lot of the plant you’d like your shoes to smell like, we can simply use essential oils to spread the botanic love. So, like the cloves we chatted about earlier? You could just find an essential oil for that, and it would likely last a whole lot longer than the original form of the spice itself. Pretty cool, right?

    If you want to use essential oils to deodorize your golf shoes, all you need is a bottle of your preferred essential oil and some cotton rounds or balls. Start out by simply putting a few drops on each cotton round (enough rounds to cover the sole of each of your shoes); a little goes a looooooong way when it comes to essential oils (seriously, we want you to smell fresh, not like a vandalized perfume store). 

    Then stick the cotton rounds into your shoes and leave overnight. For best results, get the essential oils in there a bit earlier to give them the time to make your shoes smell like cloves, peppermint, or whatever the heck else you’d like your shoes to smell like. No judgment here– just shoes that smell freakin’ amazing.

    6. White Vinegar 

    Nose hairs really just can't win


    But maybe you literally just want the smell gone. I get it, like you merely want your nice golf shoes to be exactly how they were the day you got them, back when your only worry was what snacks you’d bring with you on the green and where you and the golfing crew would be doing brunch. 


    That’s where vinegar comes in. This stuff is literally acidic enough to send the smelly bacteria sprinting for the (rolling, obviously freshly mowed, and green) hills. I mean, like acidic acidic, like this is the stuff that normally is capable of singing off your poor nose hairs after just one whiff. 


    I mean, it’s not like you’ll be drinking it, and the tangy smell definitely fades after a while, but the stank for sure won’t be coming back (unlike that ball you thought had made it up the incline, but kind of didn’t and is now cruising right on back toward your feet with a sad little roll).


    White vinegar works (and honestly any other kind of vinegar you have on hand– literally apple cider, whatever… Ok maybe not balsamic, because you might stain your shoes. Good, sirs, mesdames, and golfers everywhere, balsamic is literally just too good, save it to put on veggies and bruschetta-- what the frik’ are you doing putting it to work cleaning your shoes? Plus, that stuff is expensive as all get out, so go cheap with the plan stuff when it comes to deodorizing your shoes, you hear?).


    White vinegar, like the rubbing alcohol option, messes with the fats and proteins in the cells of the bacteria, so we’re going to work with the vinegar pretty much the same way.


    Get some cotton rounds or balls, and saturate with your vinegar of choice (not the balsamic, you utter goose– that particular vinegar, as we've discussed, is absolutely not an option, alright?). Leave overnight, or if you’d prefer, get the vinegar to work right after you’re done with your golfing for the day.


    7. LUMI’S Natural Shoe and Foot Powder


    But if you’re looking for a set-it-and-forget-it kind of option, LUMI’S Natural Shoe and Foot Powder is going to be the hole-in-one for you. It’s absolutely one of the more simple options out there, and trust me when I say that it’s totally one of the most effective ones as well. Your golf shoes will def never smell the same again (and we’re all thankful for that!).

    LUMI is a small, family-owned business that makes all of its products in the good old US of A, never tests said products on animals (yes, even those dreadfully annoying little rabbits that just never seem to leave the green and are now the unofficial mascot), and LUMI also only uses the highest quality natural ingredients.

    LUMI’S Natural Shoe and Foot Powder is one of the best products out there for preventing odor by preventing moisture in your shoes. It uses all kinds of ingredients that are simply amazing for your skin, for example, zinc oxide, kaolin clay, bentonite clay, and what have you.

    Plenty of people say that it’s supes amazing, giving it an average of 4.6 stars on Amazon and over 600 perfect 5 star ratings. A. Santiago here says that LUMI’S Natural Shoe and Foot Powder provides a great value for the cost and that a little def goes a long way:


    Goooo A. Santiago!!!

    Simply tap some of LUMI’S Natural Shoe and Foot Powder into your shoe, and you’re good to go! This stuff works quickly and actually prevents the funk before it ruins your game.

    Ok, so like any proper game of sports, we need to tally everything up at the end. A summary if you will, for how to fix stinky shoes for good.

    We first have the option of the freezer, which will help to put the smelly bacteria we’ve been chattering on and on about in its place. The low temperatures will make sure that the bacteria can’t produce more funk, and in the meantime, this option is literally one of the easiest out there. Put your shoes in a ziplock bag or perhaps a pillowcase, and just leave them in the freezer until your next round.

    Rubbing alcohol will basically give your golfing shoes a breather from the rank bacteria; though, I wouldn’t say to inhale too deeply yourself, unless you want some singed nose hairs, because this stuff is rather smelly. I mean, potent, I guess-- it’s way better than that weird old cheese smell that may be emanating from your golf shoes at this point, so… anyway, saturate some cotton rounds or balls with the rubbing alcohol, then stuff them into the offending shoes, and leave at least overnight.

    Corn starch will go so far as to actually absorb the moisture from your sweat, essentially depriving the bacteria of its all-you-can-eat buffet. Dust your feet, shoes, or just stuff a sock with the cornstarch, and then leave that in there overnight. 

    Cloves, whole or powdered, work to deodorize your shoes and make you smell like a baking miracle, so just dust your shoes, or fill a sock and then leave it for as long as you’re able.

    Essential oils take tiny bits of plants, suspends ‘em in oil. A little dash of this stuff, ASAP, will have you smelling like sugar, spice, and all things nice– seriously, cloves, mint, rosemary, whatever you want, really. Drop some of the oil onto some cotton rounds or balls, and let them sit in your shoes overnight.

    White vinegar works a lot like the rubbing alcohol would have– saturate some cotton rounds or balls, leave overnight, and then smile, ma’ dear (but tragically smelly) reader, because the bacteria won’t be back.

    Finally, LUMI’S Natural Shoe and Foot Powder will work to prevent the funk by absorbing the moisture (read: your sweat) so that you can go out and enjoy your game without having to worry about the reek. Tap a little into your shoes, and call it a day! A good day to golf, that is:)

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