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10 Smart Tricks to Keep Your Shoes Stink-Free

Things like bacteria, sweat, and other foot problems or injuries can cause your shoes to smell. Make them last longer and stay fresh with these home remedies.

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Baking soda

A smelly shoe or sneaker is no match for the power of baking soda. Liberally sprinkle soda in the offending loafer or lace-up and let it sit overnight. Dump out the powder in the morning. (Be careful when using baking soda with leather shoes, however; repeated applications can dry them out.) You can also make your own reusable “odor eaters” shoe deodorizer by filling the toes of old socks with 2 tablespoons baking soda and tying them up in a knot. Stuff the socks into each shoe at night before retiring. Remove the socks in the morning and breathe easier. Try these other brilliant uses for baking soda.

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Fabric softener sheets

Deodorizing sneakers calls for strong stuff. Tuck a new dryer fabric softener sheet into each sneaker and leave overnight to neutralize odors (just remember to pull them out before wearing the sneaks). It’s also a great idea to deodorize places where you store your shoes, such as your gym bag. Drop a dryer sheet into the bottom of a gym bag and leave it there until your nose lets you know it’s time to renew it. Use dryer sheets to freshen these other items.

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Salt

Sneakers and other canvas shoes can get pretty smelly, especially if you wear them without socks in the summertime. Knockdown the odor and soak up the moisture by occasionally sprinkling a little salt in your canvas shoes as a shoe deodorizer.

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Essential oils

Drip a few drops of essential oils into your shoe to give them a refreshing smell. Try using eucalyptus, clove, or tea tree oil. If you don’t want to put the oil directly on your shoe, drip it onto a piece of paper or a tissue and put that in your shoe overnight. Try these other genius uses for essential oils in your home, too.

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Rubbing alcohol

Pour rubbing alcohol over the dirty or worn part of your shoes to help with the stink. Not only will the rubbing alcohol reduce the smell as a natural shoe deodorizer, but it will also help to disinfect the shoe.

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Black teabags

Black tea contains tannins, which will work to kill the bacteria that builds up in your shoes and helps to eliminate the smell. Put the tea bag in boiling water for 2-3 minutes. Remove the tea bag and let it cool. Place it in your shoe for about an hour for a natural shoe deodorizer. After you remove it, clean up any excess liquid left on the shoe. Here are some other black tea benefits you’ve never heard before.

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Baby powder

Using baby powder is a precautionary step that you can take before putting your shoes on to keep them from smelling. If you find that you are prone to having stinky shoes, rub baby powder on your feet before slipping them on.

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Cat litter

This may seem a little bit strange, but cat litter contains a lot of deodorizers and absorbs liquids. Line the bottom of your shoes with cat litter and let it sit overnight. Dump it out in the morning and wipe down your shoe with a damp cloth to give it a final clean. Find out how to transform your worn-out sneakers into brand new ones.

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Freeze them

If you’re finding that none of these other home shoe deodorizer remedies are working to remove the stench from your shoes, you can freeze them overnight. Put your shoes in a plastic sealable bag. Leave them in the freezer overnight and it will kill the bacteria.

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Machine wash

You can try running your shoes through the washer and dryer if they are dirty on both the inside and outside; this works especially great for sneakers. If you don’t have a dryer shelf or attachment for your shoes, avoid putting them in the dryer because it could damage the machine. Learn more ways to clean every type of shoe.

 

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Morgan Cutolo
Morgan is the Assistant Digital Managing Editor at Reader’s Digest. She graduated from the University of New Hampshire in 2016 where she received her Bachelor of Arts in Journalism. When she’s not writing for rd.com or keeping the 650+ pieces of content our team produces every month organized, she likes watching HGTV, going on Target runs, and searching through Instagram to find new corgi accounts to follow.