Smelly Dance Shoes? How You Can Get Rid of the Smell for Good

Smelly Dance Shoes? How You Can Get Rid of the Smell for Good

July 28, 2022

You know, I might not be a competitive dancer– heck, I wouldn’t even consider myself a long-term one– but I certainly do know the pain of figuring out how to deodorize smelly dancing shoes.

 

I’ve always been the one to take the more scholastic approach to school. I made sure to study hard and to always take the hardest possible classes my schools offered. 

 

But recently my older sibling told me, just as I was signing up for my classes for the upcoming semester that perhaps I ought to spice it up a bit. I should obviously keep the main schedule open for the essentials, but maybe there were some fun classes to try my hand at. For all I knew, there was some cool skill out there I could learn.

 

I decided to give the idea a try, despite the fact that all of my classes had always been for scholastic purposes (excepting band, which I participated in more for the accolades and free pizza than because I was any kind of musical genius) and investigated my school’s available options. 

 

They had “Dinosaurs 101” which seemed fun, but was unfortunately filled to the brim (apparently Jurassic Park had done its job a bit too well). 

 

“Beginning Cheesemaking” followed, but although I enjoy the sharp, tangy food as much as the next person (you can try and pry my Kraft mac ‘n cheese out of my cold, dead hands), I figured that I wouldn’t be doing too much cheesemaking in my lifetime– sadly enough, I’ll probably be leaving that to the professionals.

 

But that’s when it hit me– none of these “fun classes” would be teaching me skills that I would likely be doing professionally at any point in my life. So I decided that the next one I landed on I would include in my upcoming schedule, because life is too short not to learn how to do random things like how to make cheese, am I right?

 

Or tap dancing– because that’s what I end up doing. Or trying, at the very least.

 

Yeah, these are tap shoes, not old lady shoes-- they are *fashion* statements, alright?

 

Had I ever taken any sort of tap dancing class before? No. Had I ever taken any kind of dance class, period? Also no. 

 

In fact, I had used marching band as an excuse to get out of PE back in the day (one of the many benefits of that particular extracurricular, besides the free pizza-- which was also pretty great).

 

I knew next to nothing about tap dancing, or how one should even go about getting into such a sport. I decided to just jump in, and hope for the best.

 

I quickly learned, however, that there was a lot that went on behind the scenes when it came to such a sport. For example– the shoes. Those suckers are freakin’ pricey, even with a student’s discount! 

 

I got myself a pair of tap shoes, and lo’ and behold a few weeks into the whole venture, the darn things started to smell. Like, really really reek. 

 

I mean, what the heck!? Here I was, going out on a limb (where new things are involved) and what am I met with? Uncomfortable, pricy, stinky, and quite frankly ugly old lady shoes!

 

If only I had known then what I know now– no, no, not that I should have gone with the cheesemaking class.

 

How to deodorize smelly dance shoes!

 

And it is possible– I pinkie promise, and double-dog swear!

 

 

1. Deodorize with Deodorant

Does it work for your 'pits? Well, it'll work on your feet too!

 

So you know how we make sure to deodorize our ‘pits beforehand? Well, that works for your feet as well!

 

So let's run into the different types of the typical deodorizers we use for our pits real fast, because I didn’t really know the difference either at first. 

 

First up, there are antiperspirants, which use aluminum as an ingredient, and that in turn blocks the sweat pores on your skin. 

 

Why? Ah, my dear, previously uninformed and stinky friend, your feet smell because bacteria on your feet love to eat up your sweat and the dead skin cells on your feet. It's like their favorite food, and you're a literal buffet after you've worked up a sweat at dance practice.

 

That’s why antiperspirants work– you basically are depriving the smelly bacteria of their fave food source, AKA your sweat. No sweat, no stink.

 

Deodorant on the other hand works to get rid of odor, but not the actual sweat itself. Typically, deodorants use alcohol to make your skin, the smelly bacteria’s habitat, an inhospitable wasteland (that also is now going to smell great, because sans bacteria, your feet won’t stink).

 

Ok, so now that you’ve wisened up a bit, you can pick your fighter– antiperspirant or deodorant. Honestly, maybe just try out whatever you already use for your pits, and save your wallet by saving yourself another shopping trip.

 

Just roll whatever you’ve chosen onto your feet, just as you would your pits.

 

But here's a QUICK TIP FOR THE WISE– antiperspirants and deodorants actually work way better if you put them on right after the shower. If you normally go to sleep right after a shower (hey where are all my night-showerers at?) then you might want to switch up your routine some, and roll on the deodorant or antiperspirant as soon as you’ve toweled off. 

 

Yes, even if the most strenuous (read: “Sweaty”) activity you’ll be doing for the next few hours is sleeping.

 

If you give the sweat-loving bacteria a chance, they’ll build up (in numbers and in odor) which sucks mucho. Don’t do that to yourself and your shoes, and just make sure to deodorize (or “antipersperize”?) your pits and now your feet as soon as your skin is dry and clean, which is the best possible condition for the skin to be in if we want the antiperspirant or deodorant to stick and work.

 

2. Rubbing Alcohol

Maybe with rubbing alcohol your shoes will smell like shoes, and not like the cheese you could have been making in "Cheesemaking 101", which I totally *don't* regret taking in the slightest, because why on Earth would I want to learn how to make what is possibly the greatest snack on planet Earth?

 

Remember what we said about how alcohol makes the surface of your skin a little acidic, which basically sucks for the smelly bacteria?

 

With a little rubbing alcohol, you can rat out that rank smell from your dancing shoes quicker than it takes all of your dancing teammates to learn the routine (which always seems to be instantaneous, or am I the only one who seemingly took forever to figure out which beat to tap, and which beat to roll?).

 

Here’s how it works– rubbing alcohol is essentially an antiseptic, meaning that it’ll stop tiny microorganisms from growing (that’s a win for us).

 

It also evaporates really quickly, much faster than water because it has a lower boiling temp. at about 82 degrees celsius (not like water’s predictable 100 degrees), which is really great for us, and I''ll explain why in a moment.

 

A little side note that's kind of interesting-- it’s all because of a bunch of way cool sciency shenanigans that we won’t really get into (tragic, I know), but for a quick explanation, it has to do with how while water has the strongest intermolecular forces (and thus evaporates more slowly), isopropyl alcohol (AKA our good ‘ol rubbing alcohol) evaporates way faster because it has weakling intermolecular forces.

 

Like, water apparently ate its Wheaties when it was a kid and grew up big and strong and now won’t let go of its molecules to to the plebeian room-temperature evaporation, and rubbing alcohol is like (*cue Oprah) “YOU get a molecule! And YOU get a molecule! Everyone gets these free-flying molecules!!” 

 

This whole drying thing is like way important, because it also helps your sweat to dry out! This is why it helps your feet not to stink! Right after class or practice try this one out, and let rubbing alcohol help dry out your dance shoes. Rubbing alcohol evaporates quickly, and leaves your shoes sweat free– which rocks, because remember, less sweat, less funky bacteria, less stank. 

 

Also, as a wee fun bonus, the acidity of the rubbing alcohol can help kill off any bacteria currently thriving and jiving inside of your shoes. If you leave the alcohol in longer, it'll be able to get more of the little buggers.

 

Let’s summarize– rubbing alcohol A) Helps to evaporate sweat B) Dissolves bacteria.

 

Pretty cool, am I right?

 

You’ll want to be careful with this one, however. You really can’t go around putting this stuff on your feet (we want to dry out your shoes, not your feet, because dry and cracked feet would really suck).

 

So dip some cotton rounds into the rubbing alcohol, and then stick ‘em right on into your shoes. You’ll want to just leave them there overnight, if you can. 

 

3. Sock the Stank with… a Sock

I looked up images for "strong socks" because like I wanted to help you visualize just how tough socks stuffed with kick-butt deodorizing ingredients can be that shoe stink, but all I got were people working out, wearing socks. What the actual heck, like why can't a free image search engine have more specifics!? Truly tragic

 

Does the mess of rubbing alcohol-soaked cotton balls not appeal to you? That’s totally ok, we have several more options that are a little more mess-free.

 

Socks, ma’ darlin' dear reader! What’s the harm in filing them up with some awesome deodorizing magic?

 

Which would be…?

 

Actually, several things. We’re going to be using a few super amazing smell-defying ingredients to help us fix our stinky dance shoes for good.

 

Let’s start out with baking soda and baking powder. Those magical ingredients that help your baked goods to rise to fantastic heights? They basically are super awesome for absorbing all kinds of liquid and moisture.

 

Baking soda specifically, in its dry form, is also mildly abrasive, so if you ever wanted to go the messier route, it’s honestly good for cleaning all kinds of surfaces. It gently helps scour most surfaces without a butt-ton of damage. You could totally sprinkle this into your shoes, and it could help to deodorize them.

 

But because we just want clean shoes asap, we’re going to keep it all in a sock for some simple cleanup.

 

Baking soda in the sock works because it basically brings your feet to a more neutral state. How? Magic. Faith, trust, and quite possibly a whole lotta pixie dust? Nah– it just brings both acidic and basic molecules to the table (the funk from our not-so-fabulous bacteria friends smells bad because it’s on the extreme end of the pH scale, and our noses don’t like that). Basically, baking soda brings everything back to the middle.

 

Baking powder and cornstarch also essentially do the same thing. They absorb moisture, and help to balance out the pH. Corn starch specifically is especially awesome for absorbing moisture (like your sweat, which will become funky if we don’t dry it out asap) because it’s super finely ground.

 

So get two socks for your two smelly shoes (I guess I need to clarify here that said socks really ought to be a CLEAN pair of socks because do I act like a buffoon? No? Ok, do YOU act like a buffoon? Also no? Alrighty then, let us not act as buffoons would, and use clean socks for this venture, shall we?).

 

Mix together baking soda, baking powder, and cornstarch in a ratio of 1:1:2, and then if you’d like to be extra fancy, you can add a couple of drops of essential oil to the whole mix. Put it all into your socks, and stuff ‘em on into the shoes to leave overnight.

 

Once again, you can also just sprinkle some of this deodorizing mixture straight into your shoe, but be it upon your own head (and feet, I suppose) the resulting mess.

 

4. Essentially *just* Essential Oils

 Totally *not* like pickle juice, in the slightest;)

 

Or, do all of those aforementioned ingredients just sound way stressful to you? That’s totally fine, like I absolutely get it– I mean, if I were going to all of that effort of measuring and mixing stuff together I’d hope to get something like a cake or maybe cookies at the end of it all.

 

So here we’ll just be using one ingredient– well, one ingredient, and then some cotton balls, but let’s admit it, cotton balls don’t exactly count as a spare ingredient, yes?

 

Essential oils, if you’ve somehow been living under a rock since they’ve become super popular in some circles, are basically awesome-smelling bits of plants suspended in oil, and then people spray it on stuff to make it smell like the plant (note that it’s like really minute compounds from the plant– like, really, really minute– oh, who am I kidding, this is just a watered-down explanation I'm trying to give you– it’s pickle juice. Just *essentially* (pun totally intended) pickle juice). 

 

*Kind of* like pickle juice– essential oils are a lot like pickle juice, but instead of vinegar, a regular oil is used to be the carrier of the plants’ smells.

 

You want your pungent peds to smell like peppermint? Boom, there’s an essential oil for that. Looking for something to cut into your stinky dance shoes’ ratched smell? Rosemary, lavender– literally, just take your pick.

 

There are a gazillion million different options out there, and you just have to follow wherever your bitty little heart (and nose) leads.

 

A tip to the wise (and awesome-smelling), lemon essential oils, or really any kind of citrus (ie orange, lime, grapefruit, etc.) will really take the edge off of your dance shoes’ stink!

 

Just put a couple of drops on some cotton balls, and let it all sit overnight. When you wake up, you and your previously funky shoes will smell like some kind of magical, woodland fairy escapee from Barbie’s enchanted forest.

 

5. LUMI’S (pretty freakin’ amazing) Lemon Eucalyptus Natural Shoe Deodorizer

 

Ya’ know, all of that sounds really difficult. I mean, like with all of the new TV shows up and ready to stream, and that one great new takeout place I've been meaning to try, plus like actually *being* a dancer (and by that I really mean I somehow or another didn’t fail “Tap Dance 101, and am practicing for funsies), there’s like actually zero time to do any of those other options. Literally zero, yet my stinky dance shoes still need fixing.

 

LUMI is quick as well as effective, with their Lemon Eucalyptus Natural Shoe Deodorizer. This small, family-owned business sources only the highest quality ingredient (bam), is made in the USA (double-bam), and NEVER EVER like they totally wouldn’t even think about testing on animals (*BOOM* yes, that was in fact the sound of your mind being blown).

 

It’s also multi-use, so like yes you’ve got stinky dance shoes, but do you also perhaps have a smelly garbage disposal? How about the bathroom? Can you think of anything that could use a good, maximum strength refresher? LUMI has got your back, ma’ dude.

 

There are just about 19,000 folk on Amazon who have given it an average 4.4 star rating (with 10,000+ of those being a perfect 5). Jillann here says that she uses her dance shoes for 8+ hours, and thanks to LUMI’s Lemon Eucalyptus shoe deodorizer, all is well.

 

Ya' go to Jillann!!!!!!

 

Simply give your shoes a spritz, and that’s it! 

 

I’m literally not kidding, that’s actually all there is to it. Spritz, and then be on your merry way, smelling awesome as you do. Did I mention that this stuff was awesome?

  

I mean, all of the stuff that we’ve talked about today is pretty freakin’ awesome, although LUMI kind of does steal the show.

 

A quick review just because, though.

 

First up, we’ve got in our lineup to save our smelly dancing shoes, the classic deodorant option. Or antiperspirant. Whichever floats your boats and saves you from the wack wafts of your dance shoes. Put it all over your feet (preferably straight out of the shower) and then you’re done and congratulations you now smell awesome.

 

Rubbing alcohol does the job with some cotton balls soaked and then left in the shoes overnight.

 

Baking powder, baking soda, and cornstarch in a sock will deodorize your smelly shoes just as effectively, and ok also, did I mention that this option can totally deodorize your socks too? If you’ve got socks that the washing machine just isn’t getting all of the funk out of (been there, and  smelled that, oof), then this option can get two birds one stone– so basically you’re welcome:)

 

Essential oils are up next, and just like the rubbing alcohol you’re going to want to round up some cotton rounds and drop some of your chosen favorite oil, and then leave that to hang out overnight.

 

And lastly there’s LUMI, which is, as aforementioned, completely and most absolutely freakin’ amazing. Their Extra Strength Lemon Eucalyptus Natural Shoe Deodorizer will fix your smelly dance shoes for good, and then you can get back to figuring out how to be a super amazing dancer– which, I mean, you may already be. The rest of us mere mortals are still trying to pluck up the courage to sign up for “Tap Dance 102,” but until then, I promise to be very impressed by you, and your awe-inspiring talent, dear reader, as you dance away without worrying about your (previously smelly) shoes.