15 Effective Ways How to Remove Odor from Shoes

Nothing more stinky than when your teenage son comes home and takes his gym shoes off in the living room and walks away. Oh goodness, the smell! Unfortunately this is a regular re-occurrence and even leaving his shoes outside doesn’t cut the odor well enough. Besides buying new sneakers, I searched for an easy way how to remove odor from shoes and socks to reduce this stench. I came across some fantastic natural odor eliminating items I actually had around my house.

Whether you have a teenager or not, you may have come across an occasion where you yourself or a family member were unable to wear a specific shoe because the odor would not go away. Or perhaps your shoes would suddenly start to smell at the end of the work day or even midday while out. Many of us have faced these issues, especially during the summertime. Stinky shoes can be a great embarrassment, but you can fix this!

Below are my top tested methods on how to remove odor from shoes. And if you have a teenage son- in your home, hopefully you will appreciate these tips!

How to Remove Oder From Shoes That Stink!

1.    Essential Oils

Essential oils are a great way to remove any unpleasant smell, especially from shoes. All you need to do is apply a few drops of essential oil inside the stinky offender. You can choose to place the oil on a tissue, cotton ball, or piece of paper and leave it in your shoe overnight. (Cotton balls are my go to’s)

This leaves your shoe with a long-lasting refreshing smell. Don’t forget to take out the cotton ball out while in use and toss them back in when you are done wearing. You can use lemon, sage, orange, bergamot, tea tree or tangerine oil as these are some of the best essential oils for eliminating odor- but you can really any smell of choice.

2.    Baking Soda

Baking soda is one of the best natural remedies for getting rid of odor from stinky shoes. You can use baking soda in many ways. The first way is to put one tablespoon of baking soda into each shoe; the amount put depends upon the shoe size, if the shoe is bigger, then put a little more than one tablespoon. Shake your shoe to help spread the baking soda and leave it for a few hours then shake out. You can choose to leave it overnight for better results as well.

Another way you can use baking soda is by creating a mixture. All you have to do is mix two tablespoons of baking soda with 5 drops of essential oil after you have made the mixture apply it into the heel of each shoe. Tilt the shoe downwards and leave it to dry for at least 24 hours. Repeat this at least once every week.

You can also choose to put two tablespoons of baking soda into pretty sachet or an old sock or even coffee filter and make a cute little “scent killer” bag. Just make sure to use clean socks! Twist the item and tie it off right above the bulge with a string or rubber band. Place each bag in the shoe and leave it as long as you can. The longer you leave it, the more odor the baking soda absorbs. Below is my recipe for clean smelling shoes!

Stinky Socks and Sneakers Sachets Recipe:

Items needed:

  • Organza Drawstring bags in your choice of color – You can get these at a craft store or on Amazon for pretty cheap (These make super cute homemade gifts as well)
  • 2 tbsp baking soda
  • 1 1/2 tbsp arrowroot powder or cornstarch
  • 3 to 4 tbsp fresh herbs. Lavender and rosemary are great choices fill the sachet but you can use anything dried from the garden. I used some Lavender Flowers I bought from Amazon that I had left over after making some bath bombs!
  • 10 Drops essential oil

Instructions: Place one sachet in each shoe when not wearing. Use in your stored shoes, or put the sachets in your shoes at the end of each day or after every work out. Also store sachets in your sock drawer to keep feet, socks and shoes smelling fresh.

3.    Black Tea Bags

Black tea bags are super-absorbent as they contain a substance called tannins, which helps to kill all the bacteria present in your shoes.

All you need to do is take a few unused tea bags and place them in your shoes. You can place two to three tea bags in one shoe. I used these Yorkshire Black Tea which was pretty inexpensive. Leave the shoe in a dry environment for at least 24 hours and then check it out. My husband preferred the tea bags to the sachets as he felt the smell was more on the clean and neutral side. He was very pleased with the outcome.

4.    Salt

Salt is a very effective way to get rid of an unpleasant odor. All you have to do is sprinkle a bit of kosher or table salt into your shoes. Continue to do this every night after removing your shoes so that the can instantly absorb moisture and lessen the stinky odor.

Just an FYI- this can leave the bottom of the shoe with little granules of salt- so if these are the “no sock” kinda shoe- I would skip this method. But if you can use super fine salt its barely noticeable.

5.    Citrus Peels

Citrus peels consist of fresh oils, and it leaves a very refreshing smell. You can place fresh orange, lemon, grapefruit, or lime peels into your shoes. Just don’t forget to remove the peels before putting your shoes on.

Leave the peels in overnight and repeat this process every other day for a nice refreshing smell.

6.    White Vinegar

Vinegar is an effective acid that helps to eliminate bacteria found in shoes. You can use white vinegar by mixing 50 percent of water and vinegar. Apply the mixture into your shoe sole and lining.

You can also choose to make the mixture in a spray bottle, and easily spray the mixture inside your shoe, leave it to dry naturally. Check out our DIY Homemade Cleaner with Vinegar recipes- that don’t stink! Repeat this once every week to keep its freshness persistent. This method worked best during the summer months so the shoes dried quickly.

7.    Rubbing Alcohol

Rubbing alcohol is one of the best antiseptics that help to dry out the sources of odor. All you have to do is pour some rubbing alcohol onto a cotton ball. Rub it all over the worn-out parts of your shoe to disinfect the shoe. You can also use a spray. Rubbing alcohol helps to evaporate the smell quickly.

8.    Baby Powder

Baby powder helps to omit any kind of bad odor from your shoes instantly. Before you put on your shoes, apply some baby powder onto your feet, or you can also sprinkle some powder inside the surface of your shoe. This prevents your shoe from producing a smelly odor.

We used Ora’s Amazing Herbal Baby Powder as its synthetic, talc and grain free which uses a natural Kaolin Clay to absorb orders.

9. Cat Litter

Using cat litter as an odor repellent may come as a surprise to you. However, it one of the cheapest and easiest ways to get rid of bad odor. Seriously! It contains many deodorizers that help to absorb odor.

All you have to is line the bottom of your shoe with cat litter and leave it overnight. Dump out the remains and clean your shoe with a cloth in the morning.

10. Fabric Softener Sheets

Fabric softener sheets help neutralize odors in your shoes. They act as a stink barrier. Roll in a dry fabric softener sheet inside your shoe and leave it overnight. Don’t forget to remove the sheet before you wear your shoes. Perform this task daily to lessen and bad odor from your shoes. We used the Love Home & Planet Brand which contain natural essential oils.

11. Soap Bar

Soap bars are often used to wash and disinfect our hands; however, it is an effective way to get rid of odors from your shoe. All you have to do is place a soap bar inside each of your stinky shoes. The soap bar leaves a very refreshing and clean scent. We kept the soap inside the wrappers and it still worked well.

12. Freeze Your Shoes

You can put your shoes into a sealed plastic bag or Ziploc bag and keep it in the freezer overnight. The freezing temperature helps to omit bacteria and the stench from your shoes completely. Who knew! I would only suggest trying this in a large freezer- like an extra one you might have in the garage so that you don’t have to share frozen meats and veggies with stinky shoes. I was surprised but this method worked well actually.

13. Machine Wash

You can wash your shoes in the washing machine to get rid of the dirt that causes bad odor in your shoes. Run your shoes through the washer and dryer. This way, your shoe’s become clean inside and out, and the odor fades away. If you don’t want to wash your full shoe, then just put in the insoles as that is mostly where the odor gathers up.

Sneakers are the best type of shoes to wash in the washing machine just be sure to check for washing instructions.

14. Expose To Sunlight

Sunlight is a natural source that prevents bacterial growth in shoes. So leave your shoes out in the sun to dry and absorb proper sunlight as much as possible. Sunlight gets rid of all the moisture in your shoe and leaves it clean and fresh- I will often use this method along with the spray or essential oil method for double the power.

15. Newspapers

You can make use of old newspapers that are lying around your house to absorb all the moisture in your shoes that cause bacteria. All you have to do is stuff in some small newspaper or paper balls into your shoes. Do this every time you take off your shoes. This worked pretty well on the less potent stinky offenders.

Final notes:

Having stinky feet is not only embarrassing but leaving on stinky shoes day after day is not ideal for your hygiene. Especially for kids feet. Excessively stinky feet or toxic smelling shoes usually is a sign that bacteria is growing which can be unhealthy. It can also be a sign of Athletes foot, fungus or something else which would require a doctors visit.

We hope you found a few good ways how to remove odor from shoes and get the stench out! Let us know which methods you tried and which worked for you and your family! Do you have some additional tips- we would love to hear them.

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