How to Get Rid of Foot Odor in Shoes?

Having stinky shoes due to foot odor can be an embarrassing problem. Not only is it unpleasant for you, but it can also be annoying for those around you. The smell comes from bacteria on your feet that thrive in the warm, damp environment inside your shoes. Getting rid of shoe odor requires attacking those bacteria and creating an environment inside your shoes that doesn’t allow odor to develop. With some simple cleaning methods and changes to your foot hygiene routine, you can keep your shoes fresh.

Causes of Foot Odor in Shoes

Foot odor is caused by bacteria on your feet consuming your sweat and producing isovaleric acid, which leads to the unpleasant smell. Several factors allow this bacteria to thrive and produce odor:

  • Sweaty feet – Excessive perspiration provides an ideal damp environment for bacteria.
  • Closed-toe shoes – Tight shoes prevent ventilation and airflow needed to keep feet dry.
  • Bare feet or no socks – Allows direct contact between bacteria on feet and inside shoes.
  • Poor foot hygiene – Not washing feet and toes regularly leaves more bacteria available to cause odor.
  • Exercise – Increased sweat production from exercise makes the ideal conditions for foot odor.
  • Hyperhidrosis – A condition causing excessive foot sweating even without exercise.
  • Infrequent shoe cleaning – Allows odor-causing bacteria to accumulate inside shoes over time.

By understanding what causes foot odor in shoes, you can take steps to address the root causes and prevent it from reoccurring.

Cleaning Shoes to Remove Odor

Regular cleaning of your shoes is key to preventing and getting rid of foot odor. Start by removing the shoe insoles and laces and cleaning the interior of your shoes. Some effective cleaning methods include:

  • Baking soda – Its alkaline properties neutralize odors and absorbs moisture. Spread baking soda generously inside shoes and let sit overnight before shaking out.
  • Vinegar – The acidic vinegar kills bacteria that causes odors. Mix equal parts vinegar and water in a spray bottle and spray inside shoes. Allow to dry completely.
  • Antibacterial spray – Sprays containing chlorine dioxide or alcohol work to kill odor-causing bacteria inside shoes. Spray inside shoes and allow to dry fully.
  • UV shoe sanitizers – These devices use UV lights to kill bacteria and sanitize shoes in just a few minutes. Insert shoes with device closed.
  • Wash shoes – For canvas or cloth shoes, wash them in the washing machine to clean out all bacteria and odors. Allow shoes to air dry completely.
  • Replace insoles – Insoles hold onto odor so should be replaced regularly. Opt for removable insoles you can take out and clean separately.

Be sure shoes are fully dry inside before wearing again. Alternate pairs of shoes each day to allow them to dry out fully between uses.

Preventing Foot Odor in Shoes

Practicing good foot hygiene and choosing proper footwear can prevent foot odor from occurring in the first place:

  • Wash feet daily – Scrub toes, soles and between toes using antibacterial soap to reduce bacteria. Dry feet thoroughly, especially between toes.
  • Rotate shoes – Switch between different pairs of shoes each day to allow them to dry out fully between wearings.
  • Wear moisture-wicking socks – Choose athletic socks that wick away sweat and moisture. Change socks halfway through the day if necessary.
  • Use foot powder – Sprinkle antifungal powder inside shoes and on feet to help absorb sweat and fight bacteria and fungi.
  • Give shoes a break – Take shoes off periodically throughout the day to air out feet and shoes.
  • Wear breathable shoes – Choose leather, canvas or mesh shoes that allow airflow. Avoid plastic and rubber materials.
  • Use shoe inserts – Orthotic insoles or those with odor absorbers can remove moisture and odors.

With some diligence, you can keep your feet dry and shoes smelling fresh. If foot odor persists despite your best efforts, consult your doctor as you may need treatment for hyperhidrosis. Don’t let smelly feet cramp your style or embarrass you. Keep foot hygiene and smart shoe care habits to step out in style.