9 Genius Hacks That Keep Sockless Shoes Fresh

Close up of female legs Wearing sandals and Jeans on Green grass at warm sunny day
Maria Varaksina/Moment/Getty Images

If I had to guess, I’d say I have roughly six pairs of socks. They’re just not something I need very often — I wear boots from Christmas to New Years, and then try to stretch my flats and canvas sneakers the rest of the year. My problem then becomes keeping my sockless shoes smelling clean and fresh, especially when those hot summer months finally roll around.

Trying to keep sockless shoes from smelling is a really common problem that just about everyone experiences, especially when the temperature is rising. Feet start to smell because there are more sweat glands there than anywhere else on the body, and they’re secreting moisture all the time — not just when it’s hot or you’re exercising, although those things definitely up the fluid-factor. You’ve also got a bunch of tiny microorganisms that inhabit your skin everywhere (called skin flora), which keep things balanced by fighting the bad bacteria that cause dryness, breakouts, and fungal infections. When the bacteria on your feet starts to break down the sweat molecules, that’s when you can get a foot odor in your shoes.

However, it’s extremely important to use natural solutions when it comes to keeping feet and canvas shoes dry and fresh. Not only is the skin on your feet super absorbent, but you also want to keep those beneficial bacteria alive — because without them, you’ll end up with even more odor problems than you started with. Ahead, nine easy tricks for sporting your favorite shoes sans socks.

Keep Feet Fresh And Exfoliated With A Tea Tree Scrub

Tea Tree Oil Exfoliating Scrub, $15, Amazon

Keeping feet clean is half the battle. Tea tree oil is an absolutely awesome natural remedy for keeping feet free of odors that linger in shoes later, as it has highly antibacterial and anti-fungal properties. This tea tree exfoliating scrub is especially effective because, along with tea tree, it utilizes white willow bark to gently buff away old skin and activated charcoal to pull out dirt and impurities. Its natural botanicals moisturize feet, while the essential oils inside leave refreshing fragrances behind. Reviewers love how gentle, cleansing, and awesome-smelling it is, but don’t be fooled — even though it’s natural, this stuff packs a serious punch.

Like Little Tiny Air Purifiers For Your Shoes

Natural Bamboo Charcoal Bag, $10, Amazon

I’m entirely in love with using natural bamboo charcoal bags to purify the air in my home, but these ones are specifically made to fit right inside your shoes. They’re made from 100 percent organic activated charcoal, which absorbs moisture, smells, and bacteria without any chemicals or hassle. They can be used again and again for up to two years, and all you have to do to "renew" them is place them out in the sunlight to rejuvenate. One excited reviewer says, “These are probably the coolest and most useful little things that ever came in a package! When it says they absorb odors, man do they ever!”

...Or Absorb Odor And Moisture With Cedar Insert Bags

CedarFresh Shoe ReFresh Cedar Inserts, $6, Amazon

Cedar shavings are another cool little trick when it comes to absorbing odor, and these CedarFresh inserts are packed to the brim with them. They come in little cotton pouches that are exceptionally good at absorbing moisture and odor while your shoes are sitting on your floor overnight. That means that by the time you put them on in the morning, they smell and feel like new. They also help keep your shoes in shape, as the pouch can be tucked into the toe area to stop the material from crushing and creasing.

Try A Natural Absorbing Powder With Essential Oils

Natural Body Powder, $15, Amazon

This natural body powder is a lot like the generic foot powders on the market, except instead of chemicals like talc, it’s got essential oils like lavender, vetiver, and clary sage, as well as antibacterial ingredients and super-absorbent properties. While it’s a great trick to control moisture in shoes, reviewers also use it under their arms, behind their knees, and on their inner thighs to prevent chafing.

Use Extra-Absorbent Foot Inserts

Kalevel Ice Silk Bamboo , $10, Amazon

People use charcoal to absorb odors in everything from air purifiers to composting bins, so why not stick these charcoal and bamboo inserts in your shoes to keep your feet feeling extra fresh? These bamboo inserts are made from soft and comfortable sweat-wicking fabric that absorbs moisture and odor all day long with antibacterial properties. They’re also available in 11 different sizes, so you can tweak when your shoes run small or big.

A Great Shoe Spray For On-The-Go Travel

Organic All Natural Deodorizer, $9, Amazon

For a fungus-fighting spray with zero synthetic toxins or phthalates, check out this organic and all-natural deodorizing spray. Instead of all that nasty stuff, it’s got freshening ingredients like citronella oil, lemon, and jasmine. It also comes in a non-aerosol recyclable aluminum spray bottle, which makes it awesome for travel. Not only is it light and small, but it won’t crush or leak inside your bag. It’s non-sticky, non-greasy, and non-staining, so you can use it on your shoes as well as all your sports gear.

Or Get The 'Sockless Look' From Super-Absorbent Bamboo Socks

Q.T. Bamboo Invisible Sock Liners, $17, Amazon

Not only is fabric woven from bamboo much softer and lighter, but it’s also antibacterial and much more absorbent than cotton. These Q.T. Bamboo liners won’t show while you’re wearing flats or Toms, but they will absorb sweat while fighting odor. They’re softer and way more comfortable than other no-show socks, and reviewers say that, unlike other brands that end up crumpled at your toes by the end of the day, these durable anti-chafe socks actually stay on your feet.

Get A Fresh Minty Scent With This Essential Oil Spray

Aurorae All-Natural Deodorizing Shoe & Foot Spray, $15, Amazon

This all-natural solution is made without any chemicals or toxins. Instead, it uses all highly-effective essential oils like peppermint, tea tree, eucalyptus, and thyme to overcome odor while also offering a relaxation scent. It’s great for everything from tennis shoes and flip-flops to ballet flats and leather shoes. Reviewers love the fresh minty smell and the fact that it doesn’t leave a residue. One says, “It seems like I have a cooling mint-y sensation for at least four hours. My feet felt refreshed and deodorized.”

When In Doubt, Wash Them Out

Polyester Sneaker Wash and Dry Bag, $7, Amazon

The awesome thing about canvas shoes is that they can be washed like the rest of your clothes. The not-so-awesome thing about canvas shoes is that they sound like a live animal trying to get out of your washing machine. This sneaker wash and dry bag attaches to the door of your washer to keep shoes secured during the cycle. It can also be attached to your dryer, if you prefer not to let them air dry. One reviewer calls this, “one of Amazon’s hidden success secrets,” and someone else says, “I highly recommend this wash bag to anybody who hates the sound of clinking shoes in the washer.”

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Images: Maria Varaksina/Moment/Getty Images; Amazon (9)