We all love our shoes, and some of us have a closet full of them. But what can you do about smelly shoes? Maybe you have foot odor problems, or you walked through something you should not have. (I am sure we have all been there). No matter what caused your stinky shoes, just how do you clean smelly foot wear?

Keep or Toss?

Some people will use this as a great excuse to buy new ones, but what if you have not had them very long and they are your favourite? Then you may find it is worth trying to clean them.

All you need to decide is if you have the time and patience to try cleaning your smelly foot wear, or whether you just toss them. If it is a foot odor problem, then it will happen again, and it would be worth trying to see if you can save yourself money and keep your shoes.

How to Clean Them

This formula works well, but you do need to be patient. All you need is an afternoon and a cup of baking soda and 3 or 4 cups of warm water, a soft absorbent cloth and some newspaper or newsprint.

Mix the baking soda into the warm water, and then with newspaper or plastic on the counter (this works well in a laundry room) carefully take out any laces or anything that can come off.  If you have inserts in them, take them out.

Get rid of any loose dirt on the outside of the shoes, such as mud or any offending material that may be causing the stinky smell in the first place.

Take a soft cloth or soft scrubbing brush and now soak it in the baking soda mixture, and then lightly wring it out and basically get right inside. If this is the worse area, due to foot odor, then get right in there with the wet cloth, let it get good and wet. Don't dunk them in the water, but get them wet enough inside to neutralize the odor. Just a wipe inside is not usually enough.

Then wipe down the outside as well.

Once you are satisfied that you have given them a good wash. You can then give then a light rinse with a cloth and clear warm water. Take a dry absorbent cloth and soak up any water inside and then wipe down the outside.

Now find a nice dry spot and stuff your shoes with newspaper or white newsprint. Newspaper is good for absorbing odors as well. The paper will absorb the moisture, so make sure and really stuff it inside to help dry any moisture and to retain the shoes shape. You can also try some of the shoe dryers on the market now, they work quite well. PEET Shoe Dryer M97-FSB Original 2-Shoe Electric Dryer


PEET Dryer M97-FSB Original 2-Shoe Electric Dryer, Black
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this is perfect for getting them dried.

Let them Dry

Leave them for a day or two, and then carefully pull out the newsprint and see if they are dry and check to see if you have cleared the offending smell. With foot odor, the baking soda usually does a good job of getting rid of built up odors.

If the shoes have turned out well, and are now dry, then treat yourself to foot odor inserts and place them in your shoes, as well as new laces if you need them. If they are leather shoes, then treat the leather with a good conditioner designed for leather shoes.


Your shoes will be as good as new. If foot odor is the problem, then invest in a few pairs of the odor eater style inserts and change them regularly, to keep your shoes as fresh as possible.

If you ever get your shoes wet, such as getting caught in the rain, then you can try stuffing them with newspaper or newsprint to soak up the dampness, which can also cause unpleasant odors.

If you take care of your shoes, they should last you a good long time. Also see How to Stop Sweaty Feet