Ready for this year's Turkey Trot, but worried about Smelly Long-Distance Running Shoes? Here's What to Do:

Ready for this year's Turkey Trot, but worried about Smelly Long-Distance Running Shoes? Here's What to Do:

Ok, so Thanksgiving is coming up, and yes we’re all thinking about food. I’m talking soft golden butter rolls fresh out of the oven. Cranberry sauce so floridly pinkish-red that one needs a solid set of sunglasses just to be in its mere presence. Gravy so well-seasoned that it can and should be eaten with a spoon (8-year-old me *definitely* did not try doing that and got in trouble with the parents because apparently, a condiment that’s mostly made up of fat ought not be a soup). I’m skipping over the mashed potatoes because au gratin is where it’s at– why have bland, mashed gak when you could instead be having cheesy scalloped potatoes!?

All of those things, but do you want to know what’s also running through all of our minds? Actual running– heck yeah, I’m talking about all of those TURKEY TROTS that we purposefully signed up for or were strong-armed by family into participating in.

It’s almost tragic– before we can sample the warm smells of a crispy turkey; before we can avoid the funky green bean casserole that’s almost nobody’s favorite dish on the already heavy-laden table (but mom insists that something on it is green). Indeed before all of that, we’ve got to run and give ourselves a deficit of calories so that we can properly enjoy ourselves at the Thanksgiving meal.

I can see it now– the rush of runners. The smell of sunscreen enters your nose as you pick up to a light jog, and… gack, is that cheese? Wait, it’s way worse– oh yes, my most dear reader, it is what you think it is.

That terrible and most-awful scent of smelly shoes. Why oh why can’t we just skip on to the apple pie? At least that smells better– no, amazing. I’ll take apple pie over smelly shoes any day.

There’s literally no need to have smelly shoes on your next Turkey Trot, because there’s absolutely no reason at all that you can’t deodorize your long-distance running shoes in time for the holidays!

Table of Contents

    1. Airing out Somewhere Sunny

    2. Soles Sans Stank

    3. Salt (good for that turkey brine AND saving your stinky shoes!)

    4. Baking Soda (baked goods can share ok?)

    5. Rad Rotation to rangle Rank Runners

    6. Cinnamon is simply FABULOUS

    7. LUMI’s Natural Shoe and Foot Powder

    1. Airing Out (store somewhere sunny)

    Just some shoes soaking up the sun


    So let’s talk about shoes. More specifically, let’s talk about how to fix your smelly shoes. An easy-peasy way to do that is simply to let them air out and store them somewhere particularly sunny and/or arid.


    For real, all you need is some fresh air to save your long-distance running shoes in time for the upcoming (dreaded or anticipated) Thanksgiving marathon. Yep, simple air; cue Johann Strauss’s “Blue Danube Waltz.”

    It all comes down to why your footwear’s got the funk (and why you get dizzy off of the positively radioactive fumes wafting up from said shoes). You see, it’s not your feet that stink– it’s true! The smell that we think of when someone mentions smelly shoes is actually the byproduct of bacteria that merely live in your shoes.

    Sadly enough, said bacteria also kind of lives on your feet (just try not to think about it too terribly much, alright?), because they like to chow down on moisture (which works because um, well, your feet sweat mucho all the time) and then any extra dead skin cells (even wee little bacterium needs protein, it turns out).

    So storing your long-distance shoes somewhere arid and sunny literally is just going to help us dry out the stinky little buggers. Lots of fresh, moving air is just what the bacteria need to shrivel up and evacuate your footwear premise, just in time to be hanging out around the fam for long periods of time, and the last thing we want is for people to ask if that cheesy smell is from the potatoes or *someone’s* (your) feet. 

    2.  Wash the Soles

    Save that sole, and save our nosehairs!


    Ok, so we all know that you can’t very well go on and chuck your long-distance marathon-ready shoes into a washing machine, or at the very least, do so, and expect them to come out alright at the end of the wash cycle (*cue the little beepy jingle your laundry machine makes to signal its done, but this time around imagine the song playing in a way sad minor key).

    BUT you want to know what certainly can go through the wash? The sole! Not… soul, um I don’t think I’m qualified to give advice on that (like… don’t forget to scrub behind the phantasmic ears? IDK dude I ain’t a ghostbuster– although I also ain’t afraid of no ghost, m’kay?). Nah, I mean sole, as in the padding in your shoes that your feet typically rest right on top of.

    The soles of the shoes are going to hold a fair bit of the bacteria that normally makes your shoes so stinky, so we’re going to have to take care of them ASAP. The soles of your shoes can easily take a trip through the wash without a whole lot of ill side-effects, unlike your shoes– which we really rather wouldn’t disintegrate before we have a chance to kick butt at the Turkey Trot, am I right?

    Or perhaps you’re hoping to have a good excuse not to run? I mean, a fair excuse to excuse yourself could totally be “Whoops, the washing machine ate my shoes, lol!” I mean who knows– you’d get to eat popcorn and cheer all of the more athletically inclined folk on.

    But if you’re really determined to take your place in Turkey Trot glory (sans-stinky shoes, of course), just go ahead and chuck your stinky sneakers’ soles into the wash, but then FOR THE LOVE OF GRAVY AND ALL OTHER GOOD THINGS make sure to let the darn things dry!

    If you wear the soles while still soggy and squishy you’ll just be feeding the bad-smelling bacteria even more fodder, so yeah, just make sure to give your soles enough time to dry out, ya’ hear?

    3. Salt

    Season your shoes like you season your Thanksgiving main course


    Of course, however, it can all get a bit tedious when one is making sure that their shoes (and soles) are completely dried out before use. I mean, who’s got the time for that? With Thanksgiving, we’ve got family coming into town, overly excited pets, and quite possibly (but definitely not in your case, because I am positive that you’re just a fabulous chef in the kitchen) a not-quite defrosted turkey in one corner, some burning cranberry sauce in another, and wait why are the mashed potatoes on fire!? Can they even do that?

    Save the stress for the things that might need it– which is not going to be your shoes on my watch.

    SALT is the next option we’ve got up on our list, and it’s literally just so easy to use to deodorize your smelly marathon shoes. I mean, it’s also kind of like those deals when you get two for the price of one– you’ll get to season everything well and have deodorized the rank runners!


    I mean, now don’t go forgetting the pepper or onion or anything, because just salt is way too plebeian, and far beneath a surely magnificent chef, such as yourself– although salt certainly isn’t a bad place to start, for your food or your funky footwear.

    Salt, you see, is literally the bad-smelling bacteria’s worst nightmare. It absorbs water like there’s no tomorrow, leaving said bacteria without a key ingredient for their musty mayhem.

    Simply dust a couple of tablespoons of salt directly into your shoes. That’s it! Or, if you’re looking for an easier method of cleaning up you can put the salt into a sock, tie it off with a rubber band or something like that, and then stuff the sock into the stinky shoe.

    Leave it all for at least overnight, but longer if you’ve got the time (Turkey Trots tend to be morning adventures, so make sure just to plan in advance).

    4. Baking Soda

    Baking soda= actual magic, tbh


    A similar option to salt (if you’re opposed to using up all of your needed seasonings before the big meal on Thanksgiving) is regular old baking soda! Similar to salt, baking soda is simply amazing at absorbing any and all kinds of moisture (so the sweat from all of your morning jogs to prepare for the big run totally counts).

    Oh yes, literally just baking soda! I’m talking about that magical ingredient which makes all of our baked goods rise, helps to make soft pretzels (it’s what gives the pretzels their unique flavor and texture– a unique Thanksgiving treat for those who are looking for a more unique spread this year!), and is literally all-around just THE holy grail of ingredients. Like, basically almost anything delicious probs has a 99.99999% chance of including baking soda on its list of ingredients.

    Same situation as salt– you need to get a couple of tablespoons of the baking soda, dust up your stinky shoes (give ‘em a really good shake just to evenly coat everything on the inside), or alternatively get a sock, stuff it like a turkey, and then tie it all off.

    Leave overnight, but if you want to really pack an olfactory punch you ought to leave the baking soda in your shoes for a wee bit longer. It’ll start to clump up if it’s been in there too long, but usually by then the baking soda has worked its deodorizing magic, and you’ll be all good to go just in time for your holiday marathon!

    5.  Rotation

    Ah which one, which one?


    The next method for deodorizing stinky shoes we’ve got for ya’ is common rotation. Literally just switching out your marathon footwear every so often so that you can give those poor shoes the break we all know they deserve.


    I mean, just think about all of the last-minute cardio workouts we’ve been trying to cram in the weeks before Thanksgiving (because we may or may not have been slacking, and um, well the Halloween candy, although it didn’t fit in with the regimented training diet, was really quite delicious).

    So your shoes need a break. Do you remember all of the smelly bacteria we were chatting about just a couple of paragraphs ago? For real, those stinky little buggers love nothing more than when you give them a constant, never-ending stream of food– AKA the moisture from your sweat and the dead skin cells from your feet. 

    Just think of wearing the same shoes every day as providing a free ticket to an all-you-can-eat buffet for the stinky bacteria. They’re just going to intensify the already positively radioactive stench emanating up from your rank runners, and we all know that nobody needs or wants that.

    So put a stop to all of the bacteria’s stinky shenanigans by taking your feet out of the equation! Just for a little while– enough so that your shoes can get a real good breather before having to put up with your morning slog around the neighborhood’s cul-de-sac for the 500th time in a row. Seriously– even just alternating between two sets of sneakers can help to prevent the stink!

    6. Cinnamon

    Is that a pumpkin spice latte or is it your shoes!?


    This next one will hopefully not just get rid of the stink, but leave behind a delightful odor that we’re all familiar with, and probs love to pieces. Oh yes, I’m talking about pumpkin spice, ma’ dear reader! Well, specifically cinnamon, but the details are simply that, am I right? Pumpkin spice is pumpkin spice– *cue all of the gospel choirs, cheering crowds, and whoops is that confetti?


    Do you want your shoes to smell better than a fall candle? Will you and your (presently terrifyingly rank) trainers be coming for Yankee as the top of the heap in all things that smell amazing? Do you want everybody to ask “Who’s got the Starbs pumpkin spice latte?” when you walk into the room? How about replacing the sweaty old cheese odor with something that’s very nearly like walking into a Krispy Kreme store when the hot and fresh donuts sign is out?


    You answered yes to all of those questions– admit it. Even someone with the attention span of half a gerbil (*raises hand* because I’m guilty as charged) knows that cinnamon smells way better than sweaty feet.


    All you have to do is dash a couple of tablespoons of cinnamon straight into your shoes, give ‘em a good shake to evenly coat everything, and then let it hang out overnight before you clap out the spice. If you’d like to go for easier cleanup, just use that sock option we went over with a few of the earlier options– stuff the sock with cinnamon, tie it off, stuff the sock into the stinky shoe, and wait overnight.


    And totally feel free to leave the cinnamon in longer if you’d like! Your shoes won’t mind (trust me) and it’ll give the cinnamon longer to work its great-smelling magic!


    7. LUMI’s Natural Shoe and Foot Powder


    The last option we have for ya’ in how to deodorize your long-distance running shoes is actually probs the most simple of the whole lot. For the rest, you’ve had to worry about socks, making sure the shoes are completely and most definitely dried out before use, amongst all kinds of other things, but no more!

    When you use LUMI’s Natural Shoe and Foot Powder it literally is just as simple and straightforward as it gets. LUMI is for sure one of the best products out there for literally preventing foot odor because of how it puts a stop to moisture in your shoes, and ok beyond that the ingredients are actually fabulous for your skin, like bentonite clay, zinc oxide, kaolin clay, etc. etc.

    So you're not entirely sure about LUMI’s Natural Shoe and Foot Powder just yet? No worries, plenty of Amazon customers can help you make your decision, as they’ve given the product a fantastic 4.6-star rating, with over 600 perfect 5-star ratings! User Hayley N. here talks about how the product is actual “magic” that saved their running shoes after they went through a “tough mudder”:


    Applause for ALL of what this reviewer said  ^^^^

    And ok LUMI itself is also just kind of cool too– like they’re a small, family-owned company, they never test on animals, and all of their products are also produced in the US. Those skin-friendly ingredients from earlier? LUMI only sources the highest-quality and all-natural ingredients for their products on top of all those other fabulous shenanigans we chatted about.

    Just tap some of LUMI’s Natural Shoe and Foot Powder into your long-distance running shoes and you’ll have odor-free footwear before you know it!

    Before do anything else though, (like sitting down to write our grocery list for the food-filled week-- AKA the Costco Quest right when the doors open) let’s just summarize everything, because even before the post-food coma that we all get after the big Thanksgiving meal I’ve got the memory of a turkey. SO, here's how to quickly and easily deodorize your smelly shoes:

    First up is airing out your footwear with sunshine, fresh air, and um yeah that’s literally it! This option is supes speedy, and totally effective at getting rid of that funk. Store your poor shoes somewhere they can properly air out, and show the stinky bacteria who’s boss!

    Washing the soles of your smelly shoes will also help to do the bad-smelling bacteria in, and for good. Just because your shoes aren’t exactly washer-safe (just take my word on that, yeah?) it doesn’t mean we can’t feel free to go on and chuck the soles in! Simply make sure to dry ‘em out afterward, and you’ll be all good to go.

    Salt will actually take care of all that extra moisture for you, and can also actually  absorb the OG sweat that the bacteria loves to chow down on, and then make your shoes a wee bit rank in the first place. Dry out the stinky lil’ buggers with a dusting of salt in your stinky shoes, or stuff a salt-filled sock in if you’d like to go for an easier cleanup. Leave overnight, or longer if you’ve got the time (which you totally might not, because that turkey ain’t going to stick itself in the oven, and we all know that the perfect pie takes an absolute eon of flawless preparation).

    Baking soda can also help to fix your stinky shoes (if you’d like to save the salt for the turkey brine), with just a few tablespoons dusted straight into your shoes (don’t forget to give it all a good shake to evenly coat the insides) or use a baking soda-filled sock to keep things simple (which we all know is needed during this crazy-busy holiday week).

    Rotation is another option we've got for helping to save your funky footwear from olfactory oblivion because ya’ remember that rank bacteria? The ones that go after your runners with no remorse and produce all kinds of stank? Well, just like anything living they’ve got to get their square meals a day, so when you deprive ‘em of the moisture from your sweat and the dead skin cells on your feet for a little while you’re more than sure to evict the little buggers from your podiatric premises. 

    Cinnamon is for most of the autumn lovers out there, and great for all of the people who want to get rid of the pungent smell in their long-distance running shoes quickly and easily. Put a few tablespoons of this lovely-smelling spice right into your shoes, give them a wee shake to just evenly coat everything, and then leave overnight or for even longer to really give your stinky shoes time to smell like pumpkin spice instead of the radioactive cheese thing you had going on before.

    LUMI’s Natural Shoe and Foot Powder is our final option for how to deodorize smelly long-distance running shoes, and it couldn’t be more simple! Just dust it right on into your shoes and afterward totally feel free to high-five yourself because you’ve just done it! No more smelly shoes! It’s gone like that last slice of grandma’s apple pie after everybody had thirds, and we couldn’t be happier for you.

    That’s it! Go forth and run your Turkey Trot without a single darn worry about stinky shoes (or walk really enthusiastically:) No judgment here– just great-smelling footwear).

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