How to Get Rid of a Stinky Smell in Shoes

Sweat-soaked athletic shoes can quickly develop funky odors.
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If taking off your shoes can clear out a room, it’s obvious your funky-smelling kicks need some serious TLC. While some smelly shoes may be destined for the trash collector, others can be salvaged with some intense deodorizing techniques. Eliminating moisture as well as the aroma is the key to winning the battle. Once your shoes return to a non-toxic state, you’ll have to keep up the odor fight, as sweat and bacteria accumulate daily.

Unlace the shoe and look at the inside bottom to locate the insole. Grasp the edge of the insole and pull upward to remove it from the shoe. Repeat on the other shoe and discard the insoles.

Fill the bottom of each shoe with 1 to 2 inches of baking soda. Tilt the shoe back and forth to ensure that the baking soda fills the toe of the shoes as well as the heels. Let the shoes sit overnight to allow the baking soda to absorb the odor.

Hold the shoes over a trash can and dump out the baking soda. Tap the bottom of the shoes firmly to dislodge as much of the baking soda as possible.

Purchase new insoles for the shoes that are the same size as the old ones. Insert them into the bottom of the shoes, ensuring that they are pushed fully into the toe area and lie flat at the sides of the shoe.

Sprinkle 1 teaspoon of an odor-eating foot powder into the shoes before you put them on each time. If you don’t have odor-eating powder, use talcum powder.

Fill two lightweight socks with 1 cup each of baking soda. Tie a knot in the top of each sock to keep the baking soda from spilling out. Insert one sock into each shoe every night before bed to absorb excess moisture and odor. Remove the socks each morning.

  • Do not keep your shoes in a closet, which does not have adequate air circulation. Instead, place them in a hallway or another area with good air flow. This allows any sweat or rain to dry out completely, thus preventing the growth of bacteria that causes odor.
  • To add a pleasant scent to your shoes, insert a fabric softener sheet into each shoe at night along with the sock with the baking soda.

Kimberly Johnson is a freelance writer whose articles have appeared in various online publications including eHow, Suite101 and Examiner. She has a degree in journalism from the University of Georgia and began writing professionally in 2001.