Woman wearing yellow and purple sneakers

How To Get Smell Out of Shoes: 5 Ways to Fresh It

One of the sad facts of life is that shoes get smelly. Shoes that you wear on a regular basis (like your favorite pair of sneakers) can become especially funky. Unless you have magical feet that don't sweat, smelly shoes are a phenomenon that is essentially unavoidable.

There’s nothing worse than sitting around worrying that other people in the room can smell your sweaty feet, too. Still, sometimes you just aren't ready to retire that pair of kicks.

Aside from just not wanting to drop unnecessary money on shoes, it's also wasteful and harmful to the environment to go through your footwear too quickly! Those running shoes or sneakers you dumped will likely end up in a landfill and take years to decompose, which isn't healthy for the planet.

Instead of prematurely tossing your shoes or accepting defeat and walking around in stinky sneakers, you can follow our tips to get the smell out of your footwear! From baking soda concoctions to new uses for dryer sheets, these hacks are easy to follow and much cheaper than just buying a new pair of shoes.

Read on to find the smelly shoe hack that works best for you, and get those shoes smelling as good as new in no time.

DIY Deodorants

You can avoid dropping unnecessary money on new shoes or even professional-grade deodorizers just by going through your cabinets. There are a couple of quick little home remedies that create extremely effective odor eliminators for freshening your shoes.

Deodorizing Spray

One of the easy DIY deodorizers you can make to spruce up your shoes is a spray. Combine ½ cup of water and ½ cup of white vinegar in a spray bottle, shake well, and voilà! You have successfully created a deodorizing spray to make your shoes smell as good as new.

When you’re ready, give your whole shoe a good spray. Don't forget laces, inserts, and insoles (this is where excess moisture and odor from shoes can really build up). Let them wipe them off with a cloth and let them air dry to see how great this tip works! It only takes about 30 seconds to make your shoes smell fresh and clean.

Baking Soda

Another quick at-home fix requires nothing but baking soda! Baking soda has a reputation for absorbing odors and has been a quick solution for scent removal for years. Many people leave an opened box of baking soda in their refrigerator to collect bad smells; now, you can apply the same logic to your footwear.

It is an old-school technique, but it is a reliable hack! Leave a teaspoon of baking soda on the insides of your shoes overnight. In the morning, you will find that a lot of the unpleasant scent has been absorbed by the baking soda, making your shoes smell nice and fresh.

After deodorizing your shoes, it can be nice to add a fresh scent. You can do this by leaving different things in your shoes overnight, including a scented bar of soap, tea bags, or cotton balls with essential oils.

Dryer Sheets to the Rescue

Though you might not suspect it, your dryer sheets can be a great tool to remove the smell from your shoes.

This hack is straightforward and requires the bare minimum when it comes to effort. All you need to do is take one or two dryer sheets per shoe, bunch them up, and stick them inside your shoes overnight. In the morning, just remove the dryer sheets, and your shoes will smell brand new, perhaps even fresher!

Typically, the purpose of a dryer sheet is to soften your clothes in the drying process and prevent static. They’re also coated with scents that come in handy when it is time to freshen up your favorite pair of KOKOLU comfy knit sneakers.

When you use the dryer sheet trick, the fresh scent fills up your shoes, and the bad odor is absorbed into the sheet. It’s a little tradeoff that makes your shoes smell like clean laundry!

As long as you have access to dryer sheets, this tip is a great way to get the smell out of your shoes. If you do not have dryer sheets at hand, don’t fret! There are plenty more cost-effective ways to fix up those shoes of yours!

Freeze Your Shoes

You're probably thinking, “You expect me to put my shoes in the freezer?” Trust us, this trick will blow you away.

There are odor-causing bacteria present in your shoes, making them smell gnarly. The chilly conditions of your freezer stop microbial and bacterial growth, which will help eliminate the odor from your shoes.

Just throw your smelly shoes in the freezer! If you’re afraid of contaminating your frozen goods (which is valid), put them in a ziplock or plastic bag and leave them in the freezer overnight. We recommend rubbing your shoes with a fresh rag or towel afterward to remove the bacteria that can resurface once your shoes thaw.

This hack leads to absolutely zero waste and costs nothing. It is a speedy and easy way to give those stinky quicks the sprucing up they deserve without using any product!

Repurpose Old Newspaper

We know most people access their news digitally these days. If you’re an old soul and still read print newspapers, you can use some to remove shoe odors.

Take a couple of pages from your local newspaper, crumple it up, and spray it with your favorite fragrance. Then, simply put the crumpled paper into your shoes overnight. When you come back, the bad odor will be gone, and the pleasant scent of your choice of fragrance will take over.

This hack is an awesome way to repurpose those papers before they get tossed in the recycling bin. It’s yet another cost-effective way to freshen up your boots, loafers, sneakers, or any other shoe that might be developing an unpleasant odor. Plus, it’s a cool way to reuse paper that would’ve otherwise gone straight to the trash!

Kitty Litter Hack

Any cat owners looking to remove bad shoe smells have the purr-fect solution right in their house! Kitty litter is a magical thing. It strongly masks the odor that our furry friends produce, but it can be used to remove the odor from more than just what's left in the litter box.

Litter is multifaceted; it can be used for our pets but can also be used to absorb other unwanted spills. Even if you find oil leaking from your car, litter can absorb it effectively (although, we’d also recommend a quick trip to the repair shop).

Much like baking soda, kitty litter absorbs those bad scents — and that certainly applies to shoes, too.

Simply put a handful of litter (about a teaspoon or tablespoon) inside of your shoes. Leave them out, and in the morning, your shoes will be fresh as new! Just make sure that you keep your shoes out of reach from your cat to prevent an even smellier disaster from occurring.

Thoroughly remove the litter from your shoes, and you’ll find the bad odor is gone.

So Fresh, So Clean

No one wants to wear shoes that stink, but the cost of replacing them is just not it. If they’re washable, you can always toss them into your washing machine, but then you run the risk of shrinkage or your shoes becoming misshapen.

These hacks are cheap, easy to follow, and effective. Each tip requires items lying around your home anyways and will work just as efficiently as a cycle in the washing machine.

Overall, it's best to remove the odor and wait for your shoes to wear out. Then, you can purchase comfy, cute, and sustainable shoes made of recycled materials. They may need refreshing now and then, but they'll be a supportive and stylish way to combat waste.


Odor Eater? | The Washington Post

What's that stuff? Dryer Sheets | C&EN

Does freezing food kill bacteria? | USDA