Well-worn shoes are rife with bacteria that inevitably make them smell bad. You can choose to wear shoes that are designed to be hygienic, but that can only do so much. Stinky shoes are a fact of life, but you can minimize the odor and avoid public embarrassment.
Cause of Smell in Shoes
There are about 250,000 sweat glands on your feet that can sweat as much as half a pint every day, according to the San Diego Podiatric Medical Society. Combine that level of moisture on your feet with the enclosed nature of shoes, and you have the ideal environment for bacterial growth.
Some people sweat more than others, which is why some people’s feet don’t stink as much. Other factors like how breathable the shoes are, how long and often they’re worn, what kind of socks are worn, and so on also affect how much they will stink.
Removing Smell Out of Shoes
The simplest thing to do is to give the shoes a whole day to air put to let the smell dissipate. This works most of the time, so it’s a good idea to have a backup pair of shoes in case you need them.
But if they still stink, then you’ll have to take the following measures.
It’s better to keep your shoes from stinking in the first place instead of having to clean them after every single use.
First of all, make sure that your feet are clean before you put your socks and shoes on. Wash them thoroughly, especially on hot days. Dry them completely before wearing your shoes.
Store your shoes where there’s ample ventilation so it can air-dry. If your shoes tend to get a lot of moisture build-up, put it out in sunlight to be sure. If they’re washable, then clean them regularly, especially after intense physical activity.
Wear them with moisture-wicking socks that absorb sweat away from the shoes.
2. Kill the Bacteria
Sanitize your shoes to kill the bacteria that cause bad smells.
One method of deodorizing smelly shoes is to put them in a plastic bag and slip them into the freezer overnight.
You may also use a spray to eliminate the bacteria and remove the odor from your shoes, either with rubbing alcohol or a 50/50 white vinegar and water mixture.
3. Remove the Smell
Upon killing the bacteria, you must then remove the smell left over by them.
Baking soda is the classic odor remover as it can neutralize the acid produced by bacteria. Charcoal can also be used as it can absorb the toxins that cause odor.
4. Keep Shoes Dry
Once you’ve killed the bacteria and removed the smell, you’ll have to store them properly and keep them fresh.
You can place a bar of soap in your shoe overnight to have it absorb whatever odor is left and leave behind a clean scent. You can also add a few drops of essential oils in a cotton ball and leave that in your shoe overnight.
5. Throw Away the Shoes
If the above steps are still unable to eliminate the undesirable odor, then perhaps it’s time to get new shoes.
Unfortunately, there are times when shoes are beyond any rescue. They’re festering with stubborn bacteria inside the deepest parts of the shoe, which can’t be removed even after multiple cleanings.
Get a new pair of shoes, regularly do the steps mentioned above, wear the right socks, and keep your feet clean. With proper maintenance, you won’t have to deal with smelly shoes ever again.