How to Deodorize Your Smelly Running Shoes?

If you’re an avid runner, you know the struggle all too well – taking off your shoes after a long run to be met with an offensive odor. The bacteria, sweat, and dirt that builds up inside your running shoes over time can leave them smelling quite unpleasant. While it may seem impossible to get the stench out of your well-worn kicks, there are several effective methods you can try to deodorize your running shoes and keep them fresher for longer.

Baking Soda

One of the simplest ways to deodorize smelly running shoes is to sprinkle baking soda directly into them. Baking soda is a natural deodorizer and absorbs both moisture and odor. After a run, take out the insoles and laces from your shoes. Then generously sprinkle baking soda over the insides of your shoes. You can use an old spoon to scoop and spread the baking soda around. Make sure to get it into all the nooks and crannies.

Let the baking soda sit in your shoes overnight to give it time to fully absorb odors. In the morning, use a washcloth to wipe out any remaining baking soda. Put the insoles and laces back in, and your shoes should smell fresh and clean. For continued odor absorption, consider leaving an open box of baking soda in your gym bag or near where you store your shoes.


White vinegar is another common household item that helps neutralize unpleasant shoe odors. Being acidic, vinegar helps kill bacteria that causes bad smells. Mix one part vinegar with two parts water in a spray bottle. Spritz the vinegar solution liberally on the insides and outsides of your shoes. Use a washcloth to briskly scrub the vinegar over all surfaces of your shoes.

Let the shoes air dry completely before wearing again. The vinegar smell will dissipate as it dries. The acetic acid in vinegar destroys odor-causing bacteria to leave your shoes fresh. Repeat this quick vinegar cleaning anytime your shoes are smelling rank after a workout.

Disinfecting Wipes

Disinfecting wipes containing ingredients like bleach or alcohol work to kill germs and remove odors. Wipe down the insides and outsides of your running shoes with disinfecting wipes after workouts. Be sure to scrub over the insoles and sides of the shoes too.

Disinfecting wipes help destroy bacteria growth that leads to bad smells. The moisture in the wipes also picks up dirt from your shoes. Let your shoes completely dry after wiping them down before wearing them again. Disinfecting wipes are easy to toss in your gym bag for a quick shoe refresh after a sweaty run.

Freezer Time

Sticking your shoes in the freezer overnight can help significantly reduce odors. The cold temperature helps kill bacteria that causes smells. Simply place your shoes in a plastic bag, squeeze out the air, and pop them in the freezer overnight. In the morning, let them thaw completely before wearing.

Freezing your running shoes works best for lightly used shoes. For shoes that already have a strong, set-in odor, try one of the other deodorizing methods first before using the freezer trick. The cold temperature will help stop bacteria growth and prevent future smells.

Essential Oils

Diluting essential oils in water and spraying them in your running shoes helps mask unpleasant odors. Tea tree, eucalyptus, lemon, thyme, and lavender oils are great choices for their antimicrobial and deodorizing properties. Mix 5-10 drops of your chosen essential oil into water in a small spray bottle. Mist the diluted oil solution throughout the inside of your shoes after workouts.

The natural fragrances of essential oils overpower nasty shoe smells and provide a light, pleasant scent instead. As an added bonus, some essential oils also have disinfecting qualities to help inhibit bacteria growth. Be careful applying undiluted oils directly on your shoes, as they can stain light fabrics.

Deodorizing your running shoes takes a little extra effort, but it extends their lifespan and makes lacing up much more enjoyable when you’re not overwhelmed by smelly feet! With regular cleaning, odor absorbers, and disinfectants, you can keep your running shoes fresh for mile after stinky mile.