• my shoes smell, what's a good way to deodorize them?

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  • I'm not looking for chemicals...

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    Question by wayne

I haven't used them, but I've seen a lot of different charcoal-based inserts that are supposed to absorb odor. This AskMetafilter thread might be helpful too: http://ask.metafilter.com/23149/How-do-I-clean-my-stinky-shoes

Answer by Camille Cloutier

You could also try the red cedar shoe tree that was recommended not long ago. It has the added bonus of keeping wet leather shoes well formed!

Answer by Oliver Hulland

I have a spray bottle of a liquid called Vest-Guard Odor Eliminating Spray. The label says "Eliminates body odor on clothing and body armor." Works pretty well.

Answer by Joe Stirt

For what it's worth, the Vest-Guard label says "Safe," Non-Toxic," on the front; on the back it says "Safe to skin, hair and eyes." It continues, "Our patented formula alters the basic structure of odor-causing compounds, while simultaneously inhibiting bacterial enzymes from producing more odor-causing molecules."

I know the questioner specified "I'm not looking for chemicals" so this substance, whose ingredients are not listed on the container, probably won't make the cut.

Answer by Joe Stirt

Baking Soda or Alcohol based hand sanitizer gel, rubbed inside the shoe with a paper towel and left to dry 2-4 hours.

Answer by brechelle

Placing a clothes machine dryer/anti-static sheet into the shoe and leaving it overnight has worked well for me in the past. Not sure if this truly removes the odor or just masks the odor.

Also you may not know that many shoes can be safely washed in a washing machine. The issue is drying the shoes safely, be careful not to use high heat. I have never washed conventional shoes, but do wash my Vibram Five Fingers. The VFFs are then air-dried.

Answer by jeremiah rogers

A local dry cleaner (near me( offers to clean old and stinky shoes now...check around your neighborhood for a dry cleaner that does the same

Answer by bill hutchison

No offense to the previous contributors, but these suggestions will not work (perhaps other than the Vest Guard).

The one thing that absolutely will work is:

A solution of 3 parts white vinegar and 1 part water sprayed quite liberally inside and outside the shoe. It will not stain or fade anything.

Place the shoes outside preferrably in the sun. As the solution dries it will take the odor with it. This has been the most dead simple and effective trick for anything odor-related. I got this tip from a car dealer who (in treating smoker's cars) places shallow dishes full of vinegar inside a car and let's the fumes evaporate. We've used in on the entire house with EXCELLENT results. I'm talking about spraying it on pretty much everything in the house that's not glass. Walls, floors, carpet, linens, mattresses, etc. It is amazing how well it works. The end result is that once the fumes have evaporated, there's literally no smell whatsoever.

The house (and your shoes) will smell like vinegar for a bit, so this is something you do when you can leave the house for several hours.

If you don't believe me, here's a simple test: Soak a large dishrag in full white vinegar. Place it on your return air vent, secure it so that it's either held by the pressure or mechanically, and turn on the air (just the fan will work). Go to work, whatever, leave for several hours and when you come home your house will smell like nothing at all. Just fresh air. You may have to open the doors/windows to clear the final remaining vinegar fumes, but once that's gone there's just no smell whatsoever.

Answer by jladdsmith

I've used a product similar to Oxi Clean on sneakers with success. I fill a small bucket or tub with warm water, dissolve the chemical in the water, then submerge the shoes overnight. I usually need to weigh them down so they stay submerged. When they're done, I rinse them well and set them in front of a heater vent or fan to dry. I probably wouldn't use this on shoes made from natural leather.

Answer by graham curkendall

The more pairs of shoes you have and rotate through the more each pair has a chance to dry out and stay odor-free.

Answer by mattohara

Put them in large freezer bags, and leave them in the freezer overnight. Seriously. This will kill off the bacteria that produce the smell in the first place. Afterwards, keep your feet cleaner (always lay a FRESH towel on the ground when leaving the shower to dry off) and use fresh socks.


Remove the insoles and either 1. scrub them well with soap and water, rinse, let dry, then place back in the shoe. 2. Remove the insoles, throw them out, and replace with new insoles.

If your shoes are fabric, you can wash them on gentle cycle in the washing machine and then air dry/dry in the sun. This works better if you remove/replace the insole and wash/dry it separately.

Answer by katezegreat

Vinegar + cheap alcohol:

Day 1: Spray liberally with neat synthetic white vinegar. Allow to dry.

Day 2: Spray liberally with cheap spirits (alcohol). Allow to dry.

Note that synthetic white vinegar is nothing like as smelly as apple cider, french, etc vinegars. It’s all the impurities in those which make them smelly and interesting to cook with. Although it’s food safe I wouldn’t use synthetic white vinegar for cooking but it’s perfect for de-stinking stuff.

I bicycle 100s of km per week and live on the equator, so this problem is one I have spent plenty of time thinking about!

Answer by vinevinvin
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