There’s nothing quite like a baseball game. From the little leagues to the majors, baseball has definitely earned its keep as America’s proverbial national pastime.
From the sizzling hot dogs to the sizzling of our behinds as we sit on the hot seats that have been roasting in the hot summer sun for literal hours (you know what I mean– it’s why one should always bring a cushion or at least sit on a bag or something), baseball has, for years, been an integral part of our summers.
The loud calls of the peanut vendors, others selling salted popcorn and sweet swirls of pink and blue cotton candy. The songs, chants, and earworms blasted over the loudspeakers.
There are the oldies, like “Take Me Out to the Ball Game” (which, as we all know, is the sole reason crackerjack snacks are even still around these days) and then some musical newcomers (that none of us really know the words to, but that we’re still jumping up for and screaming to anyway).
The crack of the bat as it hits the baseball, sending it soaring over the freshly mowed green of the field. Fans cheer, and commentators speculate over every move.
Or maybe it's all for little league. Camp chairs are parked around a smaller field. The smell of sunscreen suffuses the air, and also… shoe funk?
Oh yeah– and the smell is a problem for the major leagues as well.
As baseball season winds down in these last few weeks, you might be thinking to yourself that you can just stash your well-loved cleats back in the closet until the next season, but to whomever is reading this, a public service announcement– DON’T!
You and I both know that your shoes smell. You and I both also know that most baseball cleats wouldn’t survive a trip through the washing machine.
So what’s a baseball player have to do in order to deodorize their shoes for good?
There are actually lots of options, but in order to keep this article from going overtime (like so many games I could mention), we’ll just stick with the following.
1. Clean ya' Darn Shoes
Ok so this first one is going to likely seem so obvious that it’s stupid– but for real, cleaning your baseball cleats may in fact be one of the most important things you can do in order to keep your shoes from smelling.
See, you know that foot funk? It doesn’t actually come from your foot. The funk originates in bacteria that live on your foot… and also your shoes.
Said bacteria simply thrives off of dead skin and even just a little moisture, both of which happen to be fully stocked in your shoes– especially after a baseball game.
To make smelly matters worse, dust and grime get in and around your shoes, mixing with the sweat and dead skin cells, giving said bacteria a perfect little hiding spot to keep stinking everything up.
You’re not going to be able to entirely eliminate the bacteria just by cleaning out and around your shoes on a consistent basis, but it certainly is going to help.
Say it with me now: fewer bacteria will result in less funk.
That’s our anthem now– seriously, let’s get it emblazoned on t-shirts or something. Maybe paint it as a Pinterest-approved artwork made out of recycled planks of wood, as if we were styling a wall ornament that read: “Live, Laugh, Love,” and then we'll add glitter, or draft a friend who can do calligraphy.
In the meantime, we’ll get to cleaning up our shoes. First thing’s first– when you’re actually at the baseball game, make sure to clap your shoes after taking them off– we all take off our cleats before we go onto concrete right? Right!?
Make sure to do that– cleats can get easily damaged by concrete. Also, the sooner your shoes are off, the better, because you’ll be depriving the bacteria of their primary source of moisture and dead skin cells– which, if you will recall, is your feet.
So, take your shoes off, and then clap them together a few times to shake off the main part of the dirt. Then get some soapy water (mild soap– we don’t want to damage our cleats, remember?), then scrub the shoe all over with a toothbrush that you don’t care about.
Gently clean with a rag, and then let the cleats air dry. Just leave ‘em outside, or wherever is convenient– as long as they’re completely dry before you put them back on, because bacteria love moisture, and putting your sweaty feet back in will just add to the bacteria’s staying power.
And if you’ll care to recall: fewer bacteria will result in less funk.
2. Wash the Insoles and Laces
It's difficult to wash baseball cleats, because they generally tend to be made up of synthetic or real leather, and those materials just really aren’t suited for a trip to and through Water World.
BUT certain parts of your baseball cleats are more than capable of taking a trip through the washing machine! The insoles and the shoelaces, specifically.
The insoles are basically just the pad of material that’s touching your foot (and thus basically plays host to the most bacteria, as compared to any other part of the shoe).
Yeah, so insoles really stink, but thank the baseball gods above, because they’re also generally machine washable– or at least not explicitly opposed, as the rest of the cleats will most likely be, so yay for us.
You might be thinking that the shoelaces won’t have a lot of the funk, but remember how we literally just were talking about in the previous option of (gently) cleaning your whole shoe?
Yeah, so shoelaces harbor a whole lot of grime and gunk, and we really just don’t need that kind of gross in our lives. Especially if that gack holds on tightly to funky bacteria, which we’ll do anything to evict from our trusty cleats.
So chuck your shoe soles and shoe laces into a laundry mesh bag or even just a simple pillow case, and then clean (and deodorize!) the whole kit and caboodle on the cold and delicate settings with your washing machine.
Air dry just like last time. We may be able to use a machine to wash (parts of) our shoes, but dryers spell death for basically all kinds of shoes, so let’s just not risk it.
3. Soak the Cleats
Speaking of our poor smelly cleats not doing too well in laundry machines, well… you can wash them by hand. Soak the shoes, specifically.
Because you can *kind of* wash your stinky shoes in order to deodorize them. Once again, just don't use a machine. Washing by hand totally works just fine.
Like, really, really carefully. I mean, ok so most baseball cleats (smelly or otherwise) are made out of some form of synthetic material (ie faux leather) and they simply don’t do all that great when submerged underwater for too long.
I mean, baseball cleats are fabulous shoes, but look elsewhere for the next Katie Ledecky or Michael Phelps. For real, don’t expect to go swimming anytime soon wearing your cleats.
But they can for sure and without a doubt handle a few minutes submerged in order to take on the old cheese smell wafting up from your shoes– no problemo, easy as pie.
Honestly, this option for deodorizing your shoes is pretty simple. I mean, not simple like just kicking back and watching the game (with a loaded cheesy chili dog in one hand and a fluorescent slushie in the other), but nonetheless, relatively simple.
All you have to do is get a bucket or large container of water– to be honest, a bathtub would work alright if you’re fine with sticking your shoes in there– and fill it with generally warmish water.
Make sure that it’s not too terribly hot just because, as aforementioned, it’s most likely that your baseball cleats are made up of some kind of synthetic material, which usually means plastic, and hot water and plastic don’t play nicely. Seriously, it’d be worse than separating a helicopter parent and the poor referee during some kind of misunderstanding during the little league season.
So warm water, a little bit of a gentle soap swirled in (let there be bubbles), and then allow everything to sit for about five to eight minutes.
And I mean no longer than eight minutes, because any more than that, to be frank, and you'll be better off going barefoot to your next game because your cleats will likely be hanging on by just a thread if they soak for too long.
Afterward, let it all air dry.
4. Store in a Sunny, Airy Place
Alright, you may have noticed that we’ve mentioned, “let it all air dry” an actual gazillion times, and so yeah, there’s a totally valid reason for that.
So do we all remember how we talked earlier all about the stinky bacteria in your shoes (here’s to hoping they strike out sooner rather than later)? The bacteria, if you’ll recall, likes to chow down on dead skin cells and moisture (read: your sweat) like it’s a fresh packet of sweet and salty cracker jacks.
Now, you’re going to sweat (especially if you’ve just used the baseball cleats for a game) and the dead skin cells are just a part of having feet, BUT we can make sure that the bacteria doesn’t get its hands on the sweat in the first place.
How do we go about doing that, one might ask?
Simple evaporation, my dear, (yet quite possibly) smelly reader! A little bit of sunshine, and a whole lot of fresh air will easily freshen up your shoes in no time flat.
Oof sorry that makes your stinky shoes sound like plants-- like, sunshine plus fresh air equals success. For real though, it actually works. A little bit of sunshine and moving currents of air work wonders against the smelly bacteria, and will leave your favorite set of cleats smelling better than ever.
After your game (or practice, if you’re wearing your cleats then as well), simply make sure that you store your shoes outside. That’s quite literally it. The sunshine will help to evaporate any moisture that the bacteria might have otherwise gobbled up, and the toasty temps will make your shoes a wee bit more inhospitable for the bacteria.
That’s not to say that this is a fool-proof option, but seriously, as long as it doesn’t rain (in which case, why are we even thinking about baseball), then keeping your shoes outside in perpetuity shouldn’t pose too much of a problem.
And your shoes will also not stink, which will be better than any kind of home run.
5. Rotate Your Shoes
But maybe you live in a place where it just rains a lot (is indoor baseball a thing now?), and storing your stinky shoes outside isn’t exactly a great option. Totally all good– I get it, I mean summer thunderstorms are going to beset even the best of residential locales. Hail and July are basically synonymous in my part of town, so trust me when I say I understand that you perhaps, as the case may turn out to be, not be the most eager to simply abandon your shoes to the elements on any sort of regular basis.
Fortunately for the smelly lot of us, there are other options for deodorizing your smelly baseball shoes that aren’t going to have to involve the great outdoors. In fact, this one literally just requires an extra set of shoes.
The thing is, the consistent intake of your sweat and dead skin cells is what gives those bacteria the oomph they need, unfortunately, to stink up your cleats.
BUT if we were to rotate between sets of shoes, we’d be able to give the bacteria a break from their prime buffet (aka your very own two feet). This is going to give the bacteria half of the nutrition and fodder they need to produce that noxious funk, and give your shoes (and feet!) twice the opportunity to smell great!
So get yourself a second set of baseball cleats so that you can give your first set the time off it needs to literally deprive the bacteria of its regular all-you-can-eat buffet. Normal indoor airflow will likely be enough to dry out the sweat and moisture from the OG cleats in the meantime, and by the time you take them out to bat again, they’ll be ready to go and ready to run in!
6. White Vinegar Foot Soak
But honestly, I get that buying multiple baseball cleats isn’t exactly the best for the wallet, and duh, if I’m going to be spending extra cash on anything, it’s going to be signed baseball memorabilia or good tickets to the best games.
This next option for deodorizing your stinky baseball cleats shouldn’t break the bank. In fact, you probs already have everything you might need already in the pantry.
White vinegar, water, and some kind of tub to soak your feet in. Vinegar is naturally super acidic, meaning that the funky bacteria calls foul the moment it comes into contact with it. Introduce a little bit of vinegar, and BOOM the bacteria doesn’t stand a chance.
Basically, all you need is vinegar and warm water. No need for it to be scalding– we’re trying to get rid of the bacteria, if you’ll remember, not the poor pads of your feet. Warm is fine, and then white vinegar, which honestly could live on your pantry shelf for ages, so totally feel free to just get a huge jug of the stuff if you don’t already have some– truly, this stuff could outlive us all without even trying (that’s how acidic it is).
Your shoes won’t have to deal with the bacteria that were just chilling on your feet, and you can finally just focus on the game instead of the foot funk!
Ok but if you find that the previous options still just aren’t what you’re looking for, might I suggest this wee little gift from what baseball gods there may be?
LUMI’s Citrus Tea Tree Natural Shoe Deodorizer is a simple, natural, and high-quality spray for… well literally any kind of shoes, bathrooms, or any kind of kitchen (even if it was just used for the pizza party after the game).
Got bad smells? Spray away. Seriously, there are like 700+ sprays per bottle, so you totally get your money’s worth (unlike that one game last season, where the ref totally made the wrong call, and… *deep, calming breaths*... breaths full of an awesome citrus smell, once you get LUMI ;) ).
LUMI’s Citrus Tea Tree Natural Shoe Deodorizer has an average of 4.4 stars from reviews on Amazon, and over 1000 5 star ratings on Amazon. People are literally raving about it. Just read this review from Terri, whose grandsons’ cleats were stinky one moment, and citrus-fresh the next:
LUMI’s Citrus Tea Tree Natural Shoe Deodorizer is all-natural and absolutely only uses the highest quality ingredients. Seriously, it’s free from animal cruelty, proudly made in the US, and is also family-owned– you may all begin applauding now, crying tears of joy, and/or shooting off fireworks, because seriously this little bottle deserves all of that, and then some.
Simply take LUMI’s Citrus Tea Tree Natural Shoe Deodorizer and spray it directly into your baseball cleats, and then you get to call it a day.
Yeah, that’s it. Literally, all you have to do in order to deodorize your shoes is spray away. Give the cleats a little spritz and then you’re free to take yourself out to a ballgame. Nothing crazy-difficult, no fine print– just citrus awesomeness.
Now that’s what I call a home run!
ALRIGHTY THEN let’s just do a quick review of everything we’ve just talked about. Treat this as a pre-game pep talk, of sorts.
WHO’S GOING TO HAVE SHOES THAT SMELL AWESOME!? That’s right: YOU! YOU ARE GOING TO HAVE SHOES THAT SMELL AWESOME!
Ok, so the first thing we talked about was really just generally cleaning off your shoes after you’re done using them. Dirt, sweat, dust, the whole lot of it tends to harbor the stinky bacteria that makes our feet stink, and so a simple way to make your shoes smell better is to just keep your shoes clean! If this one sounds kind of difficult, don’t worry! It just takes a rag, a toothbrush, some mild soap and water, and then just scrub away until your shoes don’t look like you just… well, played in a dirt field while wearing them.
On this trend of cleaning, we can also wash the insoles and laces in a machine washer on the gentle and cool cycle, and then leave it out to air dry.
Although you can definitely soak the whole cleat in some mildly soapy water for about 8 minutes, and then air dry after that. Remember: No longer than 8!
Store in a sunny and airy place perpetually is also going to help keep your shoes smelling fresh. Bacteria don’t take well to all of that exposure, and before you know it, your shoes will be stink-free!
Rotating your cleats will give one set a break so that you can keep on enjoying baseball without utterly stinking up one set of shoes (I mean breaks are totally an important part of all athletics).
A white vinegar foot soak can do the trick as well, as you take two parts warm water and one part white vinegar to soak your feet in for about 30 minutes
LUMI’s Citrus Tea Tree Natural Shoe Deodorizer will be one the easiest on this list, as you spray and call it a day! More time for you, and more time to go and enjoy the sport that you love! One of the easiest ways to deodorize baseball cleats!