How to Keep Your Shoes from Stinking

Nine Methods:Choosing the Right ShoesGiving Shoes a BreakPersonal HygieneBaby PowderBaking SodaFreezing the ShoesUsing SocksInsoles or LiningsWashing the Shoes

Are you bothered by the subtle but growing smell coming from your shoes and feet? Foot smell could be caused by any number of things: overuse of one pair of shoes, bacterial or fungal infection, or lack of aeration, among others. If you want to be rid of that tangy, musky, foul smell coming from your nice kicks, look no further. Read on for a discussion of how to keep your shoes from stinking.

Method 1
Choosing the Right Shoes

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    Wear shoes that fit you. When your shoes don't fit you, your feet could sweat more than usual (aside from being incredibly uncomfortable). Get fitted before buying shoes and don't be afraid to see a podiatrist if your feet begin to hurt you.
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    Wear shoes that have breathable fabrics. It's not a horribly revolutionary idea, but wearing shoes with more breathable fabrics will cut down on foot-sweat and odor. Synthetic fabrics usually do not breathe well. The most breathable fabrics include:
    • Cotton
    • Linen
    • Leather
    • Hemp.

Method 2
Giving Shoes a Break

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    Alternate shoes. Avoid wearing the same pair of shoes two days in a row. This gives them a chance to air out before you wear again.
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    Give your shoes a nice airing out. Your feet need airing up, but so do your shoes. When it's nice and sunny outside, don't hesitate to let your shoes play outside—without you. That's it––give them a nice break!
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    Give shoes the boot. Banish smelly shoes to the car in winter. Leave them out there over a couple of freezing days and nights. Allow them to warm slowly to room temperature before wearing.

Method 3
Personal Hygiene

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    Wash your feet every day or every other day with antimicrobial soap. If fungus or bacteria is what's causing your feet and shoes to smell, it's a good idea to attack the smell at the source. Every day when taking a shower, give both of your feet a good, sudsy wipe-down with antimicrobial or antibacterial soap.
    • Find out if washing your feet every day with antimicrobial soap will dry them out. Washing them every day might leave them dry and cracked. If your feet get dry, moisturize them with after washing and consider washing your feet with antimicrobial wash every other day.
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    Put deodorant on your feet. This might sound weird, but keep in mind that your feet sweat too. Buy a stick of deodorant that is meant only for your feet (that is, don't use it anywhere else) and apply it every morning.

Method 4
Baby Powder

If your feet start smelling when they get damp, then a good way to keep them from getting damp (aside from giving them a breather every once in a while) is to powder them with baby or talcum powder. The powder has a pleasant, but subtle, smell to it and could help your feet from sweating in the first place.

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    Put baby powder or Gold Bond on your feet. Then cover up with socks.
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    Put another layer of baby powder in the shoes. Then wear the shoes.

Method 5
Baking Soda

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    Deodorize with baking soda. Sprinkle a bit into your shoes every night when you take them off. Before you put your shoes on in the morning, take the shoes outside and clap the soles together to get rid of excess powder.

Method 6
Freezing the Shoes

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    Freeze out the smell. Put your shoes in freezer-size sealable plastic bags (one per shoe, if necessary) and put them in the freezer overnight. The cold should kill any fungus or bacteria causing the odor.

Method 7
Using Socks

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    Wear socks when possible. Breathable cotton socks help absorb some of the moisture from your feet, keeping your shoes a bit cleaner.
    • If you're wearing flats or high heels, you can wear socks that won't show. They should be cut so that they only cover the back of your heel, the sides and bottom of your feet, and the front of your toes.
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    • Use running socks. They apply "moisture-wicking" technology which helps to keep your feet dry.
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Method 8
Insoles or Linings

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    Use cedar insoles or chips. Cedar has anti-fungal properties and is often used to deodorize clothes. The insoles would stay in your shoes, while the chips would need to be inserted at night and removed in the morning.
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    Put in odor-control insoles. Odor-controlling insoles can be cut to fit the shape of your sole, and come in several different colors. These work well for sandals, high heels or open-toed shoes.
    • Secure the insole with small strips of double-sided tape or dabs of rubber cement. These will help the insole stay in place while keeping it easily removable.
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    Use silver shoe linings. Linings containing silver are anti-microbial and can inhibit the growth of odor-causing bacteria.
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    Use dryer sheets. Simply place a couple of dryer sheets in your shoes while you use them. These instantly deodorize the smell.

Method 9
Washing the Shoes

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    If your shoes are washable, give them a bath. Either toss them in the washing machine or submerge them in a detergent bath for a gentler clean. Be sure to clean the inside, especially, (the insole, too) and let all the parts of the shoe dry before using again.


  • When wet outside avoid water puddles, this may cause the shoes to smell rotten. Same with mud.
  • Another way to get the stink out is to put some baby powder in the shoe. Of course putting a dryer sheet in the shoe works as well.
  • Always wash and thoroughly dry your feet before putting on your shoes; that will help the prolong life of your shoes, too.
  • Calluses often retain the smell of sweaty feet even after you shower, so gently use a pumice on your feet often to remove excess callus.
  • Try orange peels. At the end of the day, put fresh orange peels in your shoes until the morning and it should get rid of the foot stench.
  • Washing white socks with bleach can help keep them bacteria- and fungus-free.
  • Do not put your shoes in the dryer! It will warp the shoe.
  • Most shoes can be washed in the washing machine or even by hand. Just make sure they are thoroughly dry before wearing them again.
  • There are also some sprays that you can put in your shoes. Follow the instructions on the container so you have a better understanding of the product.
  • Try giving your shoes a break every other day.
  • Baths always help! Remember to bathe every night, and wash your feet. Sometimes it isn't always your shoes.
  • Use a UV light treatment device to kill bacteria inside the shoe daily. This is especially important if you are not wearing socks with your footwear.
  • Freezing your shoe will not kill bacteria and fungus. Most of these can easily be frozen and thawed without dying.

Article Info

Categories: Care of Shoes