smelly shoes; tips on what to do to remove bad smell from shoes from mold smell to odor eaters - (2023)

Over time, it can happen that bad odors can be smelled in shoes, this can vary from a musty smell to sweaty feet and even mold, especially if theshoesbecome moist. No one likes smelly shoes and it may take some time to find a solution that actually helps.

Maybe you've already tried everything? There are several ways to remove bad smells from shoes, if one does not work, the other will most likely work. At our house, the Shoefresh shoe freshener and shoe dryer is a great success!

Table of contents toon

Stinky shoes

Children who play outside, take a brisk walk that means you have to go through the mud, sweaty feet or shoes that have become completely wet. Do you want to know how to solve this, how to avoid the nastysweet scentscan make it disappear without having to throw the shoes in the trash?

Then there are several tips and solutions possible. Good preparation often means half the work, this also applies to the bad smells that can linger in your shoes. Do you want to prevent smelly shoes; then it is important that you also act preventively.

Read also:What can you do about smelly sportswear?

How do smelly shoes arise?

Smelly shoes are caused by bacteria growing in the warm and humid environment of the shoe. This is a great breeding ground for them. Did you know that your feet contain more than 250,000 sweat glands that keep your feet moist when your feet get too hot? This is especially the case on hot days or if you wear thick socks.

If the shoes are not goodventilatethis moisture remains present and absorbs into the fabric, giving bacteria plenty of opportunity. This can also be a cause if your shoes are damp from the rain, so it is important to dry them well.

Tip: Do you suffer from sweaty feet? Then leather shoes can help you better than fabric shoes. We have listed a number of tips for you, from home, garden and kitchen solutions to handy machines. it's a matter of trying out what works best for you.

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Baking soda

Baking soda can be found in many homes; you can use this for different resources. Baking soda can also be the solution for dirty, smelly shoes. You sprinkle a layer of baking soda in the shoes, leave them overnight and then you can remove or vacuum the powder. The bad odors have disappeared like snow in the sun!


Now you can initially think, 'yuck! vinegar?!'. Yes vinegar! The agent that doesn't smell good can make the bad smells disappear in your shoes. You mix a cup of water with a few drops of dishwashing liquid and a few tablespoons of vinegar.

Use two clean (towel) cloths, put them in the mixture and make sure they are soaked. When these are soaked you put them in the shoes, leave it overnight and the job is done.

Coffee pods

Coffee has the ability to extract moisture and neutralize bad smells. This is why it can be an ideal solution to make the odors disappear in your shoes. Place a clean and dry coffee pod in each shoe. The next day the odors have been absorbed into the coffee pod and you will no longer be bothered by it!

In the washing machine

First clean the shoes by hand as best as possible, then put the shoes in a washing bag or pillowcase and tie it closed. A few towels in the washing machine act as a shock absorber for your shoes.

You then wash the shoes at a maximum of 30 degrees and then let them dry at room temperature. So no tumble dryer!

Keep in mind that this is not recommended for all shoes. Leather and suede shoes are best kept far away from the washing machine, these materials are not suitable for this.

Canvas, cotton or synthetic (sports) shoes can usually be washed in the washing machine, whether or not in a laundry net. Make sure that all loose parts such as laces are firmly attached or have been removed beforehand.

In the freezer

Another option to remove the odors is to put your shoes in the freezer for a night. The bacteria that have manifested themselves in your shoes do not like cold and then become inactive and stop multiplying.

Then let it slowly return to room temperature, above the heating moisture can enter again or the sole can melt. However, if you defrost the shoes, there is a chance that the bacteria will become active again and continue to grow and the shoes will therefore continue to smell.

Experiences with Shoefresh Shoe cleaner & air dryer

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As I mentioned in the introduction, we are very satisfied with the Shoefresh shoe cleaner in our house. It may be an expense, but it is well worth the money. It has been used every day since we got it.

Whether it concerns the children's sports shoes, shoes that have become wet after a rain shower or the leather shoes of the hubby who also quickly suffers from smelly shoes.

In the beginning I was still a bit hesitant; would this really work but everyone in the house is excited. And I also hear from other mothers who have this device that they recommend it.

The advantage of this is that they do not just dry the shoes, so that the smell (temporarily) disappears, as with most of the above tips. But the shoes are also really cleaned.

The device also works very conveniently; you just put it somewhere where it won't get in the way and connect it to the mains with the plug. Then you put the shoes over the stands and it turns on automatically.

By default it is set to 5 minutesto cleanwith ozone (you can manually extend it to 10 minutes) and then dry for 20 minutes. Ozone is a special compound of oxygen that ensures that the shoes are sterilized and therefore really clean.

A minimal amount is used for this, but you may smell this. That is why it is useful to place it in a separate room that is well ventilated, for example.

Drying is also important because fungi love a moist environment, so if you quickly suffer from sweaty feet, you will also suffer from smelly shoes more quickly. By drying them properly you ensure that they have less chance, and you may even have fewer problems with smelly shoes.

After 1x use you can already notice some difference, if you really have shoes that smell very bad then it is advisable to do this once every day for two weeks to get the inside completely fresh again. You don't need anything else besides the device and cleaning is also very easy.

Afterwards you can put the shoes back on immediately, so you don't have to wait until everything is clean or dry again as with the above remedies or get everything at home such as sprays or deodorizers, balls etc that are not equally good for the environment.

There is also a solution for small shoes and slippers or sandals that do not fit over the device; there is a special bag for this that you put over the stand to ensure that the ozone can clean the shoes and that they are dried properly.

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In addition, there is a very handy mini version that you can take with you when you go on holiday or that you can use for rollerblades, for example. Ideal if it rains on holiday, then you can go out with dry shoes the next day.

Curious about whether you are also enthusiastic about this handy device? You can now try the Shoefresh at home for free for 30 days without paying in advance. If you do not like it and you return the device within the term, you only pay the shipping costs to return the device.

If you like it, you still pay the purchase amount after the test period.

You will find more informationhereon the Shoefresh website.

New soles

If really nothing helps at all; by regularly replacing the soles of your shoes, bacteria have less chance to settle. This gives bacteria less chance, which reduces the chance of bad odors. In addition, this regular change is also good for your shoes.

There are several tips to get your shoes fresh and clean again and the tips are definitely worth trying! When the washing machine works for one person, the coffee pods may have a very good effect for another.

In any case, one thing is certain, after trying one or more of these tips, the bad smells will have disappeared from your shoes or those of the children!


This is also the case with baking soda, coffee pads, the washing machine and vinegar.

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Smelly shoes; tips on what to do to remove bad smell from shoes from mold smell to odor eaters - ›

You can use Odor Eaters shoe inserts or spray the inside of your shoes with an antibacterial spray like Lysol or rubbing alcohol. Sprinkling foot powder inside your shoes will also help, as will clean socks and feet!

How do you get mold and mildew smell out of shoes? ›

Sprinkle a sufficient amount of baking soda inside the shoes, ensuring all areas are covered. Leave the baking soda in the shoes overnight, allowing it to absorb the odour. Shake out the excess baking soda and use a soft brush to remove any residue. Repeat the process as needed until the smell is gone.

What kills odor causing bacteria in shoes? ›

Soap. Another home remedy to remove sneaker odor is to drop a bar of soap into each shoe and leave it overnight. Soap kills bacteria and the smell they produce. Plus, soap is porous, so it'll absorb the smell and replace it with a clean, soapy scent.

How do you get rid of toxic smell in shoes? ›

Home Remedies for Removing Odor from Shoes
  1. White Vinegar. A spritz of white vinegar can fight bacteria and neutralize smells in shoes. ...
  2. Fresh Lime or Lemon Peel. To get rid of the bad odor, try leaving a fresh lime or lemon peel in the shoes overnight. ...
  3. Tea Bags. ...
  4. Baby Powder. ...
  5. Freeze the Shoes. ...
  6. HOCl Fogging.
Oct 17, 2022

How do I stop my shoes from smelling musty? ›

Baking soda is a great natural option that is used in lots of products, such as cat litter, to absorb odours and moisture – which is why it is handy for freshening up smelly shoes. We would recommend combining two tablespoons of baking soda with four or five drops of a bacteria-fighting essential oil such as tea tree.

What kills the smell of mold and mildew? ›

Odor absorbers like baking soda, charcoal briquettes, and kitty litter are all effective in keeping mildew at bay. Fill a large container about halfway with your chosen deodorizer and leave it to work its magic in whichever rooms you've been encountering issues with mildew. Replace every month or so.

Can mold be washed out of shoes? ›

In a clean container, mix equal parts cool water and rubbing alcohol (isopropyl alcohol). Use a clean white cloth dipped in the mixture to wipe down the leather. For shoes, use a cotton swab to clean crevices. Finish by wiping the leather with a clean cloth dipped in water.

What is the most powerful odor eliminator? ›

Unlike any other product on the market, Spray 420 delivers the world's strongest odor eliminator in a dry, CFC free aerosol spray. It's the best way to eliminate and remove smoke and other tough odors from any area.

What kills shoe bacteria? ›

Rubbing alcohol is efficient at getting rid of germs and bacteria on many different surfaces and is safe to use on most types of shoes. A good rule of thumb for a shoe sanitizer spray is to use a three-to-one concoction of rubbing alcohol and water. Gently rub a damp cloth on the outside of the shoe.

How do you get rid of fungal bacteria in shoes? ›

The best way to disinfect shoes from athlete's foot is to use a UV shoe sanitizer. However, you can also use hydrogen peroxide and baking soda to get rid of fungus from athlete's foot. Vinegar is also effective at slowing down fungal growth in shoes.

What is a home remedy for smelling shoes? ›

Leave a fresh lemon or lime peel in your shoes overnight or squirt a few drops of any essential oil such as lavender into the soles of your shoes and allow the shoes to dry. Both remedies will help to eliminate odors. If your shoes are washable, bath them.

Can you completely remove smell from shoes? ›

A completely free hack to remove odor from your shoes is to place them in the sun. The heat and light from the sun will kill the odor-producing bacteria, leaving your shoes smelling completely neutral.

Does vinegar get rid of smelly shoes? ›

The vinegar helps to kill bacteria that cause shoes to smell and the smell of vinegar soon vanishes once it has dried. Mix a solution of 50% water 50% white vinegar in a spray bottle. Spray the inside of your shoes and allow to dry. If you are in a hurry use a hair dryer.

Does putting dryer sheets in shoes work? ›

Tame the Odor of Stinky Shoes

For closed shoes, just tuck an unused dryer sheet down into each shoe and leave it overnight. If you need to remove smells from sandals, flip flops, or other open shoes, wrap the dryer sheet around the part of the shoe that touches your foot and tuck it underneath the bottom.

Can mildew shoes be saved? ›

Rinse with a clean cloth and plain water, then let your shoes dry outside. After the shoes have completely dried, wash them with a rag drenched in warm soapy water, and rinse in the same manner as before. Let the clean shoes air-dry outside one more time, then they should be good as new!

How do you get rid of mildew smell ASAP? ›

If you've removed mold or mildew in your bathroom, but are still experiencing certain smells, here are three steps to getting rid of it:
  1. Step 1: Remove all rugs and decorations. ...
  2. Step 2: Soak affected areas with apple cider vinegar. ...
  3. Step 3: Spray your bathroom with essential oils.
Feb 1, 2022

Does mildew smell ever go away? ›

Does the Smell of Mildew Go Away? Mildew, moldy, and musty odors are some of the toughest odors to get rid of once they've set. If left alone, the smells might fade over time, but likely won't completely go away on their own. To get rid of the smells, you've got to also get rid of the fungal growth that's causing it.

Can mildew smell be washed out? ›

Wash With Baking Soda

Once you've washed your clothes with vinegar, fill the machine with warm water one more time and add one cup of baking soda. This process will neutralize the remaining mildew odor, making your clothes smell like nothing at all.


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