How to Remove the Smell from Your Shoes

Written by Camilla Jessen

Jun.03 - 2024 6:40 PM CET

It's unpleasant to deal with smelly shoes, but fortunately, there are several tricks to help you remove bad odors.

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The unpleasant smell in shoes comes from bacteria that thrive on sweat from the feet. Sweat has difficulty evaporating because it is trapped by shoes and socks, leading to bacterial growth.

"Microbacteria thrive in places with little moisture, creating a good environment under tight shoes that act as a growth incubator," says Sara Landvik, an expert in microbiology and bacteria, to DR Viden.

According to Landvik, the smell is due to a fatty acid called isovaleric acid, which forms when bacteria on the skin break down foot sweat.

To combat this, you should air out your shoes, whether they are soaking wet from rain or just a little damp after a long day. This inhibits bacterial development and reduces odor.

How to Remove the Smell from Your Shoes

  • Freeze the Shoes: If you have space in the freezer, put the shoes in a bag and leave them in the freezer overnight. This kills the bacteria, reducing the smell.

  • Baking Soda: Sprinkle some baking soda in each shoe and leave it overnight. The baking soda neutralizes the acid, helping with the odor.

  • Baby Powder: Use baby powder as a preventive measure by applying it to your feet before putting on shoes. This keeps your feet dry and can reduce odor, especially if you tend to get hot feet.

  • Cat Litter: Although it might sound unusual, cat litter can eliminate the smell. Fill the shoes with cat litter and leave them overnight or until the smell is gone. Be careful not to overstuff the shoes to avoid losing their shape.

  • Essential Oils: Eucalyptus, tea tree, or clove oil can help relieve the smell. Put a few drops on the sole of the shoe and place some paper inside to absorb the odor. Be cautious with the oil, as it might stain. This trick works best with closed shoes where the sole is not visible.

To prevent smelly odors, it's essential to maintain good foot hygiene. Wash your feet regularly and avoid wearing shoes without socks. Air out your shoes after use, especially if they are damp.

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