How Do I Keep My Shoes From Smelling

How to Keep Your Shoes From Smelling


Do you often find yourself embarrassed by the unpleasant odor emanating from your shoes? If so, you’re not alone. Many people struggle with keeping their shoes smelling fresh and clean. Fortunately, there are several simple and effective strategies you can employ to eliminate shoe odor and keep your footwear smelling great.

Why Do Shoes Smell?

Before we delve into the solutions, it’s important to understand why shoes develop unpleasant odors in the first place. The primary culprit behind smelly shoes is bacteria. Bacteria thrive in warm, moist environments, which is exactly what your shoes provide. Additionally, sweat and dead skin cells can accumulate in your shoes, providing a breeding ground for bacteria. The combination of moisture, warmth, and bacteria leads to the unpleasant smell that we all know too well.

1. Proper Ventilation

Air circulation is key to preventing shoe odor. Whenever possible, allow your shoes to air out and dry completely. This can be achieved by removing them immediately after use and placing them in a well-ventilated area. Avoid storing your shoes in an enclosed space, such as a plastic bag or a shoebox without ventilation holes.

2. Wash and Dry Your Feet

Keeping your feet clean and dry is an essential step in preventing shoe odor. Wash your feet thoroughly with soap and water, paying extra attention to the areas between your toes and the soles of your feet. After washing, make sure to dry your feet thoroughly, especially the spaces between your toes, before putting on your shoes.

3. Wear Socks

Wearing socks acts as a barrier between your feet and your shoes, absorbing sweat and preventing it from directly contacting the shoe lining. Opt for breathable socks made from natural fibers such as cotton or bamboo. Avoid synthetic materials as they can trap moisture and worsen shoe odor.

4. Use Foot Powder or Deodorant

Applying foot powder or deodorant to your feet before putting on your shoes can help absorb moisture and neutralize odor. Look for products specifically designed for foot odor and follow the instructions for application.

5. Rotate Your Shoes

Wearing the same pair of shoes every day can contribute to odor buildup. Give your shoes a chance to air out and dry completely by rotating them. By wearing a different pair of shoes each day, you allow the previously worn pair to dry out thoroughly, reducing the chances of odor-causing bacteria growth.

6. Clean Your Shoes Regularly

Regular cleaning can help eliminate odor-causing bacteria from your shoes. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for cleaning specific shoe materials. For leather shoes, wipe them down with a damp cloth and use a leather conditioner to keep them soft and supple. For sneakers, remove the laces and insoles, and wash them separately. Use a mild detergent and scrub the shoes gently with a soft brush or sponge. Allow them to air dry completely before wearing them again.

7. Use Baking Soda

Baking soda is a natural odor absorber and can help eliminate shoe odor. Simply sprinkle a generous amount of baking soda into each shoe and leave it overnight. In the morning, tap out the excess baking soda and your shoes should smell fresh. Alternatively, you can place a small fabric pouch filled with baking soda inside your shoes to absorb odors over time.

8. Freezing Your Shoes

Extreme temperatures can kill odor-causing bacteria. If your shoes are particularly smelly, you can try freezing them overnight to eliminate the bacteria. Place your shoes in a plastic bag and seal it tightly before putting them in the freezer. The next day, remove them from the freezer and let them thaw at room temperature. This method can be effective for eliminating odor, but keep in mind that freezing may affect certain shoe materials, so use caution.

9. Use Odor Absorbing Inserts

There are various odor absorbing inserts available in the market that can help eliminate shoe odor. These inserts are specifically designed to neutralize odors and provide a fresh scent. Simply place them inside your shoes when you’re not wearing them to absorb any lingering odors.

10. Store Shoes Properly

When not in use, proper storage of your shoes is essential to prevent odor buildup. Avoid storing your shoes in a damp, dark, or poorly ventilated area. Instead, opt for a well-ventilated space where they can air out properly. Consider using shoe racks or shelves that allow for air circulation.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

1. Why do my shoes smell so bad?

Shoes can smell bad due to the buildup of sweat, bacteria, and moisture inside them. These factors create an ideal environment for odor-causing bacteria to thrive.

2. Can wearing socks help prevent shoe odor?

Yes, wearing socks can act as a barrier between your feet and the shoe lining, preventing direct contact with sweat and reducing odor buildup.

3. Can I use regular deodorant on my feet to prevent shoe odor?

Yes, you can use regular deodorant on your feet to help control odor. However, specific foot deodorant products are formulated to combat odor-causing bacteria more effectively.

4. How often should I clean my shoes?

The frequency of shoe cleaning depends on several factors, including how often you wear them and the type of shoes. As a general rule, it’s a good idea to clean your shoes every few months or when they become visibly dirty or smelly.

5. Can baking soda really eliminate shoe odor?

Yes, baking soda is a natural odor absorber and can help eliminate shoe odor. Sprinkling baking soda inside your shoes and leaving it overnight can help absorb the unpleasant smell.

6. Can freezing my shoes really get rid of the odor?

Freezing your shoes can be an effective method for killing odor-causing bacteria. However, it may not completely eliminate stubborn odors, and it’s important to consider the material of your shoes before attempting this method.

7. How often should I rotate my shoes?

It’s recommended to rotate your shoes every other day. This allows each pair to properly air out and dry before being worn again, reducing the chances of odor buildup.

8. Can I use shoe deodorizing sprays?

Yes, shoe deodorizing sprays are designed to neutralize odors and refresh your shoes. Follow the instructions on the product for the best results.

9. Are there any natural remedies for shoe odor?

Yes, in addition to baking soda, you can try using essential oils or vinegar as natural remedies for shoe odor. However, test these remedies on a small area of your shoes first to ensure they don’t cause any damage.

10. What should I do if my shoes still smell after trying these solutions?

If your shoes continue to smell despite your best efforts, it may be a sign of a more serious issue. Consider replacing the insoles, seeking professional cleaning services, or consulting a podiatrist for further guidance.


Don’t let smelly shoes ruin your day or embarrass you. By implementing these simple yet effective strategies, you can keep your shoes smelling fresh and clean. Remember, prevention is key, so taking steps to keep your feet dry and your shoes well-ventilated will go a long way in eliminating shoe odor. With a little effort and consistency, you can say goodbye to smelly shoes for good.

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