How To Fight Shoe Odors

One of the most crucial parts of maintaining personal hygiene and grooming is foot care. Although most individuals only pay attention to the outside appearance of their clothing, the inside is just as important. If you have a problem with shoe odor, even if you are wearing a good shirt, fine pants, and premium sneakers, the entire appeal of your ensemble will be ruined.

What is Shoe Odor and What Causes it?

A shoe odor is, as the name implies, an unpleasant smell that emanates from the person’s footwear. To better understand the what’s and how’s of shoe odors, here’s a short list of causes of foot odors.

1. Sweat

Shoe odors could be caused by a number of factors, but the main cause of shoe odor is trapped sweat. Since your feet have thousands of sweat glands, they produce a lot of sweat every day. A foul smell may develop if sweat settles in your socks or shoes. When the sweat from the feet is absorbed into the shoe, a foul odor develops and can linger there for quite a while. The bad news is that shoe odor typically lingers for a long time and can be extremely unpleasant to others nearby. Foot sweat also leads to a common problem most people suffer from – bromodosis (a.k.a. smelly feet).

2. Bacteria

Additionally, bacteria are to blame for smelly feet. On the bottom of your feet, there are numerous different types of bacteria. Your foot produce sweat all the time, and these bacteria feed on it. The bacteria produce an acid that gives feet a bad smell when they feed on the sweat.

3. Fungus

In addition to bacteria, fungus can also contribute to smelly feet. Warm, damp environments are ideal for fungus growth. The environment that fungus grows in is created when your feet sweat a lot inside of your shoes and socks. Athlete’s foot is the popular name for these unpleasant-smelling fungus.

4. Poor hygiene

The feet begin to get dirty and have significant bacterial growth when a person does not take as much care of their feet as they do of their other body parts. As a result, when you wear shoes, your feet sweat, which is absorbed by the interior of the shoe.

5. Wearing the same shoes every day or not changing your shoes frequently enough

It’s terrible for your shoes and maybe harmful to your feet to wear the same pair of shoes every day or to change them out infrequently enough. Shoes must be left to air dry and rest for a day. If you wear the same pair of shoes every day, your foot sweat will destroy them more quickly. Not to mention the possibility of fungal infections and worsening foot odor if your shoes are worn every day and then left off until you put them back on. You maintain the ideal conditions for the growth of bacteria and fungi.

How to Remove Shoe Odor?

Protecting white sneakers. Bleaching shoes. Shoe dyeing. Yellowness of shoes. Devices for cleaning and bleaching shoes.

It happens far too often that people have stinky shoes. It might be annoying when your feet continue to leave an odor in your sneakers, regardless of how clean they are. It might even be outright uncomfortable at worst. Your feet could still smell even if you practice the best foot hygiene. This is partially because your feet have more sweat glands per square inch than any other part of your body. Even if sweat doesn’t smell by itself, those bacterial wastes do. 

Due to the fact that shoes retain sweat and moisture, which creates an atmosphere conducive to bacterial growth, they make the perfect breeding ground for bacteria. But do not worry! Here are some suggestions for getting rid of the bad smells from your shoes.

1. Wash shoes and insoles

Your shoes and insoles can remain fresh by being washed and dried. Heat and detergent, however, can cause the materials to deteriorate. You might need to replace your shoes sooner if glue or adhesives break.

The best way to clean shoes is by hand in cool water. A small amount of a disinfectant, like Pine Sol or Lysol, can be added to the washing liquid.

If you use a washing machine, take the shoelaces off and use the gentle or hand-wash cycle. Then leave it to air dry.

2. Sprinkles shoes with odor-absorbing powders

Talc is used in medicated foot powders to absorb moisture, and they frequently also have scent and deodorant properties to cover up stink. Before and after wearing, a light dusting of medicinal foot powder helps keep shoes dry and stop the growth of fungus.

Baking soda is an alternative choice. Fill your shoes with enough baking soda to cover the soles, then stuff them with newspaper, which will also help absorb moisture and odors. Shake off the extra powder after several hours or overnight, then vacuum your shoes. Baking soda aids in odor absorption and elimination.

3. Use shoe and sandal disinfectant

When you wear sandals and suffer foot odor issues, it can be a big concern. A medicinal powder would be noticeable, and you wouldn’t be wearing socks. A disinfectant spray is one solution.

Additionally, you might be able to clean your sandals by spraying them with a little solution of vinegar or bleach and water. Just make sure the material of your sandals is durable enough.

4. Store shoes in a cool, dry place

The growth of bacteria and fungi will be inhibited by cold temperatures. It will be easier to prevent the growth of bacteria and fungi if you store your shoes in an area that is cool, dry, and well-ventilated.

Alternatively, you could choose to employ the extreme measure of freezing your shoes. However, that can shorten the lifespan of your shoes and deteriorate glues and adhesives.

How to Prevent Shoe Odor?

Madrid Spain. May 6, 2022. Canvas shoes hanging in the sun in the garden. Summer, vacation, resting.


The best line of action is to avoid shoes from ever smelling in the first place. To prevent bacteria from growing and giving your shoes a bad smell, try these following measures.

1. Wear Sweat-Wicking Socks

Your feet and shoes will stay drier if you use socks made of technical sweat-wicking material rather than cotton. Sweat is moved away from the foot by these fibers so that it can evaporate. Cotton holds onto more sweat, creating an ideal environment for bacteria to grow in your shoes.

2. Dry Shoes Between Wearing

Avoid storing your shoes in your gym bag, where they will remain damp for a longer period of time and serve as a haven for smelly microorganisms. Let them air in between wearing.

In order to hasten the drying process, take out the insoles and fill the shoes with dry paper towels. A foot-shaped insert filled with cedar shavings is an additional choice. Put them in your shoes after wearing them to quickly dry them out. These work well for both dress shoes and athletic shoes.

3. Use Copper Sole Socks

When wearing less breathable shoes, simply wicking away sweat might not be enough. Use socks woven with metal strands, such as silver or copper [2], to prevent the growth of bacteria and fungi.

4. Wear Sole Socks or Washable Insoles

Try washable insoles if you notice that when you wear shoes without socks, it causes you foot odor. Look for ones with a latex rubber sole and a cotton terry cloth top. These can be used to cover the insole of your shoe or to replace it. These offer cushioning, moisture absorption, and enough traction to stay in place. To keep them fresh, wash them every three to six uses.

5. Apply Antiperspirant or Deodorant on Your Feet

Marathon walkers utilize this technique to lessen their risk of developing blisters. The majority of the moisture in your shoes comes from your feet’s sweat. By avoiding foot sweat, you can keep your shoes dry and eliminate the possibility of fungus and bacteria growing in your shoes.

To avoid having a negative reaction to the spray, proceed with caution. Test it on one toe or a small patch on one foot to see if there is any redness or rash after a day. 

Although applying deodorant to your feet won’t keep them dry, it will stop bacteria and fungi that cause odor. Do this cautiously to see whether it has any negative effects, same to how you would with an antiperspirant.


Shoe odor is a frequent issue that can be embarrassing. Although it’s ideal to avoid odors, there are ways to eliminate them once they do arise. Try out these approaches to find which ones work best for you. If everything else fails, you might want to get a new pair of shoes for yourself.


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