How To Get Rid Of Shoe Odor

Whether you work in a hot and sweaty environment, spend lot of time exercising, or simply have genetics that make you more prone to smelly feet, removing odor can be tough once it's had time to sink into your shoes. But rest assured, there's no need to trash your favorite sneakers just because you don't know how to get rid of shoe odor. Below, I've listed the best tips and tricks for managing shoe smells. Most involve either one or both of the following elements:

  1. Odor neutralization: Lots of the methods below neutralize odors by manipulating pH levels or using antimicrobial substances to fight the bacteria and fungi that cause unpleasant smells. They typically involve applying a substance (like essential oil, baking soda, or even black tea) and letting it sit in your shoes for an hour or more.
  2. Moisture management: Another strategy for reducing odor is to dry out your shoes if they're damp or wet, or use items that absorb moisture and prevent bacteria from thriving. Activated charcoal bags work great for soaking up moisture, though if you regularly come home with wet shoes from rain, snow, or other elements, it might be worth investing in a boot dryer.

With all this in mind, take a look at the tips and product recommendations below to learn how to get rid of shoe odor once and for all.

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1. Spray Your Shoes With Essential Oils

One of the simplest, most effective ways to get rid of shoe odor is with a deodorizing spray — particularly one that uses essential oils. This powerful shoe freshening spray features lemongrass, eucalyptus, peppermint, and tea tree oils, all of which offer antibacterial or anti-fungal properties. That means this spray actually helps fight the bacteria and microbes that cause odor in the first place. Just be aware that some essential oils can be toxic to pets, so you'll want to use caution (or opt for another solution) if you're a pet parent.

2. Use Bamboo Charcoal Bags To Absorb Extra Moisture

Rather than spraying deodorant or essential oils into your shoes, another option is to soak up the sweat and moisture with the help of activated charcoal. These simple yet innovative bamboo shoe bags eliminate odor by absorbing sweat particles and acting like scent-neutralizing sponges. They're made with pure, odorless charcoal and free of any perfumes or fragrances. For an extra effective treatment, place them in the sun for several hours before use to help activate the charcoal.

3. Sprinkle Baking Soda In Your Shoes

This trusted, time-tested technique is an "oldie but goodie." Before you go to bed, simply sprinkle a generous amount of pure baking soda (aka sodium bicarbonate) into your shoes and let it sit overnight. By morning, the odor will be virtually gone. The baking soda works by neutralizing the pH levels inside your shoes and causing the odor to disappear. Just keep in mind that baking soda can dry out leather, so be careful when applying it to your dressier shoes.

4. Try Special Odor-Eliminating Insoles

Using odor-eliminating insoles is another great trick for reducing foot smells. Like the shoe bags above, this pair from Odor-Eaters relies on activated charcoal to neutralize unwanted odors. They are particularly effective, according to reviewers on Amazon. "This is the ONLY thing that I have found to help with my husband's smelly feet," wrote one customer. "With these in, I didn't even notice him remove his shoes for 20 mins! And no smell!!"

5. Stick Boiled Black Teabags In Your Shoes

This simple strategy is easy, affordable, and works exceptionally well. Just put two bags of black tea in boiling water for five minutes, remove them, and them let them cool down for another five minutes. When you're done, place one in each shoe and let them work for about an hour. The tannins in the tea will kill the bacteria that cause the unwanted odors.

If you don't have any at home already, this 50-pack of black tea from the Republic of Tea is a great, cost-efficient choice. As a bonus, reviewers say it tastes great as regular drinking tea, too.

6. Wear Moisture-Wicking, Antimicrobial Socks

To help reduce moisture and prevent odor before it makes your shoes stinky in the first place, try wearing antimicrobial socks. These Balega no-shows are the perfect option. They're constructed with Drynamix polyester, a moisture-wicking fabric that pulls sweat from your skin and transports it to the outer layer of the material so it can dry more easily. On top of that, it's also woven with special antibacterial silver ions that neutralize odor, keeping your feet fresh and free of unpleasant smells.

7. Use A Boot Dryer When Your Shoes Get Wet

Keeping your shoes dry is a fantastic way to reduce odor and help them feel fresh. This clever boot dryer machine, which is fairly budget-friendly given the technology, can be left near your door; when you get home, you simply put your shoes on the rods and flip the switch. It dries even the wettest boots or shoes in roughly one to two hours. "Kills bacteria/odor really well," wrote one Amazon fan, "[...] no more buying sprays to cover that part."