How to get the stink out of leather shoes

Leather shoes easily absorb odours, especially when they become wet. While leather shoes look stylish, they often absorb odours like the smell of smoke and sweat. A few methods exist when it comes to removing the unpleasant odour from leather shoes. Often leather shoes will need to be dried out before you can clean them to remove odours. Common household cleaning products will help to reduce and eliminate the foul smells that your leather shoes have absorbed.

Let the shoes air out. If you just wore the leather shoes, your sweat has more than likely saturated the shoes. If the shoes become wet, they will also have a strong odour. Place them at room temperature between 21.1 and 35.0 degrees C and avoid direct heat.

Remove the odour with distilled vinegar. Fill a spray bottle with one part water and one part vinegar, and spray the solution inside and outside of the leather shoes. Wait 10 minutes, and then dry the shoes off with a washcloth.

Sprinkle 2 tablespoons of baking soda into each shoe. Allow the baking soda to set overnight, and turn the shoes over the next day to tap the baking soda out. If you worry about exposing your leather shoes to the baking soda, place 2 tablespoons of baking soda in the toes of two old socks. Tie the socks in a knot and place them into each shoe. Leave the shoes to set overnight.


Condition the leather. Leather conditioning will remove the odour, and it will help to preserve the leather colour and sheen. Purchase a leather conditioner from a convenience store and apply it according to the directions. If you cannot find leather conditioner, use linseed oil to remove the smell. Use a high quality linseed oil and massage it into the leather and fabric of the shoe with a washcloth.


Do not apply baking soda directly to the leather shoes too often because frequent exposures will dry out the leather. Do not leave the shoes out in direct sunlight, near a fireplace or place a blow dryer too close to the shoes because this will cause the leather to crack.

Things You'll Need

  • Distilled vinegar
  • Spray bottle
  • Washcloth
  • Baking soda
  • Old socks
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About the Author

Angela LaFollette holds a Bachelor of Arts in advertising with a minor in political science from Marshall University. LaFollette found her passion for writing during an internship as a reporter for "The West Virginia Standard" in 2007. She has more than six years of writing experience and specializes in topics in garden and pets.