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How to clean the inside of stinky shoes & flats

Updated February 21, 2017

When your feet sweat, they activate odour-causing bacteria. The bacteria-laden sweat transfers to the inside of your flats or shoes, resulting in an unpleasant, stinky smell. Rather than toss your shoes in a garbage bin, you can clean the inside of them to get rid of the culprit. Once you deodorise your shoes, you can work toward keeping the inside of your footwear dry and odour-free so you won't have the same problem again.

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  1. Mix 1 tbsp of white vinegar with 5 tbsp of water in a small container. Remove the insoles of the stinky shoes if possible.

  2. Dip a sponge in the vinegar and water solution and squeeze it gently to remove excess liquid. Wipe the insoles with the sponge to clean them. Allow the insoles to air-dry in a well-ventilated area.

  3. Rinse out the sponge under clean, running water and then dip it back into the vinegar and water solution. Wipe the insides of the flats or shoes with the sponge. Place the shoes in a well-ventilated area to air dry.

  4. Sprinkle the insides of your flats or shoes with baking soda after each wearing to deodorise them. Spray the inside of the shoes with a shoe disinfectant spray instead, if you don't want to use baking soda.

  5. Tip

    To combat stinky odours, place a piece of cling film in the bottom of each shoe. Dip two cotton balls in your favourite essential oil and place one cotton ball on the cling film in each shoe. Leave the cotton overnight, or until you wear the shoes again. Slip cedar blocks inside your flats or shoes to help combat odours. Sprinkle table salt in canvas shoes to absorb existing odours. Don't forget to dump the salt into a wastebasket before wearing the shoes.


    Avoid wearing the same pair of shoes two days in a row. Give your shoes at least one day to air out before wearing again.

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Things You'll Need

  • 1 tbsp of white vinegar
  • 5 tbsp of water
  • Container
  • Sponge
  • Baking soda
  • Shoe disinfectant spray

About the Author

Cynthia Measom

Based in Texas, Cynthia Measom has been writing various parenting, business and finance and education articles since 2011. Her articles have appeared on websites such as The Bump and Motley Fool. Measom received a Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of Texas at Austin.

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