What Neutralizes Foot Odor in Shoes?

The bacteria on our feet feed on our sweat and shed skin cells, producing pungent odors in our shoes over time. While good hygiene can help reduce foot odor, sometimes that’s not enough to fully eliminate the smell coming from our shoes. Thankfully, there are several effective methods and products available to neutralize and prevent foot odor in shoes.

Baking Soda

One of the simplest yet most effective ways to remove odor from shoes is baking soda. Its alkaline properties counteract acid from foot sweat and bacteria. To use it, simply sprinkle a generous amount of baking soda inside your sneakers, dress shoes, or any footwear prone to developing odors. Let the baking soda sit overnight or up to 24 hours so it can fully absorb odors, then shake out the excess. The baking soda will continue neutralizing odors in your shoes with continued use. For extra smelly shoes, allow the baking soda to sit for 48 hours before emptying.

Activated Charcoal

Activated charcoal has incredible absorbent qualities and has become a popular substance for odor elimination. It works by trapping smelly compounds in its millions of tiny pores. Look for activated charcoal in bags specifically designed to place in shoes. Charcoal shoe bags will contain the loose charcoal bits, allowing the charcoal to absorb odors from the inside of your shoes without making a mess. Let the charcoal bags sit in your shoes any time they are not being worn. The charcoal will continuously soak up foot odor over time, leaving your shoes fresh. Replace the charcoal bags every few months when they stops working as effectively.

UV Shoe Sanitizers

A more high-tech solution for eliminating shoe odors is a UV shoe sanitizer. This device is a box you place your shoes into, using shortwave ultraviolet light to kill bacteria and germs that cause odors. Simply place your smelly shoes inside, close the lid, and let the UV light work its magic. A cycle typically takes 30-45 minutes. UV sanitizers destroy 99.9% of odor causing bacteria in your shoes, leaving them fresh every time. They also kill fungus, mold and other microorganisms that can lead to odors. This makes them ideal for athletic shoes worn to the gym. Be aware that consistent, prolonged UV exposure can degrade shoes over time. Using a sanitizer periodically as needed is best.

Odor Absorbing Insoles

If the source of your shoe odor seems to come more from your feet rather than the shoes themselves, odor absorbing insoles can help. These insoles have a moisture-wicking top layer to absorb sweat and prevent bacteria growth. An activated charcoal layer pulls odor away from feet and traps it in the insole. Antimicrobial treatments also prevent microbe growth. Replace the insoles every 3-6 months for maximum odor protection. Odor absorbing insoles provide all day foot odor control, keeping your shoes fresher. They are also machine washable for easy cleaning.

Disinfecting Sprays

Disinfecting sprays designed for shoes help eliminate odor by killing bacteria inside your shoes. Look for sprays with natural ingredients like essential oils and alcohol that kill germs and leave your shoes smelling fresh. Tea tree oil is a particularly potent antibacterial oil. Spray the disinfectant evenly throughout the inside of smelly shoes. Let them fully dry before wearing again. These sprays both eliminate existing odors from shoe bacteria while preventing new bacteria growth. Use them whenever putting on shoes worn without socks or any time odors start forming. The bacteria killing effects last even after the scent fades.

Moisture Absorbing Products

Excess moisture in shoes from sweat creates the perfect breeding ground for odor causing bacteria. That’s why moisture absorbing products can neutralize foot odor at the source. Shoe powders and deodorizers absorb dampness and sweat inside shoes. Many feature antibacterial properties as well to prevent microbe growth. Silica gel shoe packs pull moisture away to keep shoes dry. Rotate 2-3 packs per shoe, switching them out daily to absorb fresh sweat and moisture buildup. DampRid moisture absorbing buckets also work by placing your shoes on top of the hanging grid over the calcium chloride crystals which draw moisture out of anything above. This prevents that damp environment where smelly bacteria thrives.

Freezing Shoes

Believe it or not, placing shoes in the freezer can help zap smelly bacteria. Freezing temperatures don’t completely kill odor causing bacteria but they do slow growth and colony formation. First, remove shoe insoles and clean the inside with rubbing alcohol to disinfect. Place shoes in a freezer bag then into the freezer overnight. Transfer shoes straight from the freezer bag to a plastic sealed storage bag the next morning. The plastic bags prevent new moisture and bacteria from re-entering shoes after freezing. This freezing method can buy you some time between deeper cleanings to keep shoes fresher.

Proper foot hygiene and rotating footwear are still important for preventing foot odors. But armed with the right tools, you can successfully remove unpleasant shoe smells and maintain fresh footwear. Test out different odor eliminating products and methods to find your best solution. With a consistent routine, you’ll never have to worry about smelly feet or shoes again.