How to get rid of odor from shoes

Smelly shoes make for embarrassing moments. Odorous shoes can cause a whole room to smell, making it uncomfortable to remove them around others. Odour is often caused by bacteria in the shoe reacting with the remnants of perspiration left behind. While some shoes, such as gym sneakers, are more likely to smell bad than others, all shoes can develop a bad odour over time. Getting rid of the odour and preventing its return makes your shoes seem like new.

Loosen the laces on the shoe every evening, if applicable. Pull the tongue out and allow the shoes to air out every night. Bacteria does not grow on a dry surface, so airing the shoes helps inhibit the growth of these odour-causing organisms.

Sprinkle baking soda in the shoe every day after you remove them. Baking soda absorbs smells and helps freshen the shoe.

Cut the foot from a pair of pantyhose. Fill the pantyhose with kitty litter, or use equal parts baking soda and litter. Tie the end of the pantyhose closed. Place these homemade scent absorbers in the shoes every night.

Replace the insole in the shoe. The insole absorbs the most sweat and is likely the cause of much of the smell. Replace with a gel insole, if desired, as these are less likely to absorb odours.

Wash your shoes. Wash canvas and other machine-washable shoes in the washing machine, then set them in bright sunlight to air-dry. Clean non-washable shoes with a damp cloth. The sun helps neutralise remaining odours that are left after washing.


Always wear socks with your shoes. Socks help prevent sweat and odours from transferring into the shoe from your feet. Fabric softener sheets help neutralise some shoe odour. Place these in the shoes when you aren't wearing them.


Baking soda may dry out leather shoes and lead to cracking.

Things You'll Need

  • Baking soda
  • Pantyhose
  • Kitty litter
  • Insoles
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About the Author

Jenny Harrington has been a freelance writer since 2006. Her published articles have appeared in various print and online publications. Previously, she owned her own business, selling handmade items online, wholesale and at crafts fairs. Harrington's specialties include small business information, crafting, decorating and gardening.