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How to get rid of the new synthetic shoe smell

Updated February 21, 2017

Synthetic shoe leather is a great way to enjoy the appearance of real leather in a form that's not only cheaper, but made without the use of any animal products. However, since synthetic shoes are made from chemically treated plastic, they usually come with a strong chemical smell that can be both unpleasant and overwhelming when the shoes are new. Though the smell will fade in time, there are ways you can help speed up the process and reduce or eliminate synthetic shoe smell.

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  1. Wash the shoes if they are waterproof. Use a washcloth dipped in warm water and hand soap and wipe the shoes down, then dry them. Repeat the process a few times. This will get rid of some of the chemical residue on the surface of the shoes.

  2. Air out the shoes. When you're not wearing or storing the shoes, place them in a well-ventilated area with lots of air movement (such as near a fan or an open window) to expose them to air. This will speed up the natural process that will remove the smells.

  3. Pack the shoes in newspaper when they're being stored. Paper, especially newsprint, is highly fibrous and naturally absorbs odours, so keeping paper in close contact with your shoes will reduce the chemical smell.

  4. Apply baking soda to the shoes. Baking soda absorbs odours of all kinds, neutralising smells. Either dust with soda in powder form or apply a mixture of baking soda and water to the shoes. Leave the baking soda on the shoes for several hours, then dust or wipe away.

  5. Powder the shoes with odour-absorbing foot powder. This will also help neutralise any foot odour that may result from the non-porous environment often created inside synthetic leather shoes.

  6. Place the shoes in a paper bag with some charcoal overnight. This treatment will absorb smells and airborne chemical residue.

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Things You'll Need

  • Soap and water
  • Washcloth
  • Newspaper
  • Baking soda
  • Paper bag
  • Odour-fighting foot powder
  • Charcoal

About the Author

Lauren Vork

Lauren Vork has been a writer for 20 years, writing both fiction and nonfiction. Her work has appeared in "The Lovelorn" online magazine and thecvstore.net. Vork holds a bachelor's degree in music performance from St. Olaf College.

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