As far as embarrassing moments go, having smelly shoes in social gatherings ranks among the very worst.
Indeed, there are few things as embarrassing as having people hold their noses whenever you take off your boots. The shame sticks, and you get remembered as a friend or colleague with smelly shoes.
We’ve all been there before, and thus, we’ve decided to produce the complete guide to deodorizing your shoes to avoid any future embarrassing moments.
Why do shoes smell?
You’ve probably been wondering why your boots smell nice and fresh on some days and like a dead raccoon on others. The answer is simple, really – bacteria. Yes, bacteria; those micro-organisms which make you sick are also responsible for smelly shoes.
How though? You see, your feet, thanks to your boots, are not ventilated like other parts of your body. This means that when our feet get damp, it becomes almost impossible for them to get dry.
Now, according to research, our feet contain about 250,000 sweat glands, which produce close to half a pint of moisture daily. This moisture gets trapped in our shoes, and they, in turn, become a breeding ground for the sticky bacteria we hate.
How to deodorize stinky shoes
So far, we’ve discussed the embarrassment caused by smelly feet and the reason boots get stinky in the first place. But how do we deodorize our shoes?
Below are a few of the cheapest and most effective shoe deodorizers:
1) Sun them
If the smell is caused by moisture, then the sun should be the first shoe deodorizer around. Take your stinky shoes and place them under a good patch of sunlight for a few hours. This method works best when the boots are still damp.
2) Sprinkle baking soda on the smelly insides
As expected, the Swiss-army knife of homemade remedies makes an appearance as a shoe deodorizer. Baking soda deodorizes boots by absorbing the foul odors and drying out all moisture. This makes it effective as well as cheap as baking soda is in almost every home.
To get the best out of this shoe deodorizer, sprinkle it in your boots at least the night before you wear them. And remember to shake them off in the morning. You can even make your very own reusable deodorizer with baking soda. Fill a pair of old socks with about two tablespoons of baking soda, tie them up in a knot and voila! You’re good to go!
You must note, though, baking soda dries out leather over time. This means this option should be used mostly for stinky sneakers and less for your fancy leather shoes.
3) Vinegar spray for smelly shoes
If you forget to use baking soda at night, there’s still a way to deodorize your shoes in the morning. Mix equal parts vinegar with water, spray into your boots and wait for at least 30 minutes.
This homemade spray kills the bacteria responsible for the sticky smell in the first place. Be careful, however, not to spray the outside of the shoes as it could discolor some dyes.
4) Fabric softener for shoe odor
Another easy way to deodorize your shoes is to use fabric softener. Gently tuck a sheet of unused softener inside each boot and leave overnight. The softener neutralizes all unwelcome odors and, as a bonus, deodorizes places you store your shoes as well.
5) Salt helps with stinky shoes
This is another kitchen ingredient that works as a shoe deodorizer. To make this work, sprinkle some salt in your smelly sneakers and canvas shoes. And like baking soda, it would absorb the odors and dry out all moisture.
6) Cat litter
Yes. This isn’t some weird joke. Cat litter does wonders for terrible odors; otherwise, it wouldn’t be cat litter in the first place. To use it as a shoe deodorizer, line your pair with it and let them sit overnight. In the morning, empty the litter and clean the boots with a fresh cloth.
7) Coffee grounds
This is a welcome remedy for coffee addicts. To use as a shoe deodorizer, sprinkle leftover coffee grounds into your footwear and leave for a few minutes to get rid of smells. The coffee must be dry as wet grounds can both dampen and stain your shoes. PS: Try not to use the grounds to make a new pot of coffee when you’re done.
8) Use a bar of soap
This is an effortless but effective way to deodorize stinky shoes. Place a bar of soap in the offending footwear. The soap would absorb all odors and leave a clean, fresh scent as a parting gift.
9) Stuff your shoes with old newspapers
If you’ve ever wondered what to do with the piles of old newspapers lying around, you finally have an answer. Fill up your sticky shoes with old newspapers and leave them to dry out for a few days. As you’ve guessed, the dry newspapers soak up the moisture in the boots and absorb all smells. As a bonus, you can spray some perfumes on the papers before usage. This makes your boots smell extra lovely when you’re done.
10) Try essential oils
Essential oils apart from doing wonders for your body, work as shoe deodorizers too. A few drops of oils like eucalyptus or tea tree oil would do the trick. Get a few drops on a piece of tissue, leave it overnight in your pair, and take them out in the morning. You can also drop the oils directly in your shoes if you decide to do so. Both methods work just fine.
As a final word, we do believe in prevention being better than cure. So while the above shoe deodorizers are good to have and use, we think it’s best to avoid having smelly boots in the first place.
The first way to do this is to prevent water from getting in your shoes. By this, we mean avoiding the rain, snow, and any forms of liquid from splashing on your shoes. You can also wear a good pair of socks to soak up all the sweat from your feet.
By doing these, you’d have already won half the battle against smelly shoes.