How to Deodorize Your Shoes
9 hacks that will have your shoes smelling fresh in no time.
Having smelly shoes is potentially the worst of all social humiliations. Even more embarrassing than snorting in public or falling off your chair.
Because unlike most things that sting for just a minute, you simply can’t stop your smelly shoes from following you. The thing about that potent shoe smell? It stinks up a room, car, office cubicle, or a locker room faster than you can say “party of one.”
Help is here. We’ll show you 9 quick hacks to freshen up those footies using ingredients from around the house — from white vinegar to dryer sheets. So you don’t have to live a second more with a mudroom that’s scarier to enter than a landfill on a hot, summer’s day.
Hack #1: White vinegar
Yes, the same ingredient that helps make a tasty salad dressing also frees you from the prison of your own shoe shame. (How versatile!) Dampen a paper towel or cloth towel with white vinegar and rub it all over on the inside of your shoes. Vinegar is a magical everyday ingredient because it breaks down the compounds responsible for that gross-out smell. And don’t worry, if you use a little too much, you can always crumple up a newspaper and stick it in your shoes to soak up the extra moisture. Pro tip: if you don’t want to replace your foul foot scent with another foul scent, let the vinegar dry completely before lacing up again.
Hack #2: Rubbing alcohol
Pour some rubbing alcohol into a spray bottle and give the inside of your shoes a wondrous mist of bacteria-killing, odor-eliminating magic. Kablamo! As the moisture dries, imagine a wavy haze of stink escaping into the sky. Or don’t. But either way, we think you’ll be pretty happy with your musk makeover — and Tim Gunn would probably be pretty stoked, too.
Hack #3: Baking soda
Baking soda is one of those ingredients that has miraculous, seemingly endless uses—from cleaning your bathtub to freshening your mouth. Add deodorizing your shoes to the list, too, because a little sprinkle of it and an overnight set will remove that nasty odor you made when you forgot to wear socks on your morning walk. Just don’t forget to dump the powder before you slip on your shoes for the next jaunt around the block.
Hack #4: Charcoal briquettes
As it turns out, charcoal briquettes have another use beyond grilling up burgers—and we’re not talking about grilling up hot dogs. Yep, stuff a sock with either charcoal briquettes or cedar shavings and leave it in your shoes overnight. You’ll wake up to a scent that’s far more appealingly rustic than the gym-shoe-sweat-smell that you left radiating on the bedroom floor.
Hack #5: Bar of soap
The genius behind leaving a bar of soap in each of your two shoes for several hours may be overlooked. But think of it this way, as the soap absorbs the smells you don’t like, it’ll leave behind a fresh scent you do like, and that in and of itself is pretty amazing.
Hack #6: Febreze fabric
Little in life is as easy as pulling the trigger of a delightfully scented (or not scented) bottle of Febreze Fabric, but in this case, removing the stinky odor of your shoes is. A simple spray will clean away odors of even the most intense treadmill experiences, leaving only your burning quads and a delightful trace of your favorite scent. May we recommend Ocean Mist?
Hack #7: Cotton balls
Okay, we admit it, we still picture cotton balls in a jar on top of our grandma’s bathroom counter. But in this case, we’re giving them a pass. Because eureka! Take a couple of cotton balls and release a few drops of essential oil on top, then leave them inside your shoes overnight. Unless, of course, you don’t like a citrus scent as much as the smell of your feet stuffed in wool socks all day. Said no one ever.
Hack #8: Dryer sheets
The same way you like your clothes kissed by the scent of a fresh dryer sheet, you’ll like your stinky shoes perked up, too. Stuff one or two good quality dryer sheets into your shoes and go to bed. Wake up to the refreshing scent of not your sweaty feet.
Hack #9: Mr. Clean Magic Eraser
We hate to be finicky but shoes have all kinds of creases and folds, creating endless opportunities for dirt (and bad odors) to glom on. If you have leather shoes, take a Magic Eraser and travel it across all those sneaky, dark places, eliminating dirt and grime that hide so easily. And don’t forget to wash your shoelaces — you’d be surprised how a little tumble in the washer can change your scent trail for the better.
So that’s it. Our roundup of the best and brightest ways to take the stink out of your shoes. We highly recommend trying any of these methods to freshen up your footwear because unlike so many things that you can outrun, your feet aren’t two of them.