How to Freshen Smelly Shoes

Odor-causing bacteria thrive in dark, damp spaces, which makes your sweaty tennies an ideal habitat. You'll need to wipe out the smelly bacterial population to achieve truly odor-free shoes. Follow these few easy steps to get your shoes smelling fresh as new.

Examine the shoes. Are the insoles damp and causing the odor? Remove them and dry them. Or replace them with insoles formulated to kill bacterial growth, available at drugstores.

If the shoes are slightly damp, place them in the sun or near a heater and allow to dry thoroughly. Remove laces and lift the shoes' tongues to fully air out the shoes.

Put the shoes in a zipper-lock plastic bag and place them in the freezer overnight. The freezing temperatures will kill most odor-causing bacteria.

If odor remains after the freezing, pour baking soda into the shoes and leave it in overnight to absorb the odors. Or use products designed to remove shoe odor, which are available at supermarkets and drugstores.

If all else fails, go to a pet store and purchase an odor remover such as Nature's Miracle that contains enzymes or bacteria. The enzymes and bacteria in these products literally eat away the source of the bad odors. Follow the instructions carefully as you apply the product to your shoes.


Dry shoes thoroughly after they become wet to prevent smelly bacterial growth. If your feet sweat a lot, wear lightweight cotton socks that allow your feet to breathe. You can also try odor-absorbing foot powder. And invest in two pairs of athletic shoes so that your shoes can dry out.

Things You'll Need

  • Odor Remover With Enzymes Or Bacteria
  • Baking Soda Or Shoe Odor Products
  • Odor-controlling Insoles
  • Zipper-lock Plastic Bag
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