What to Do About Stinky Shoes

skunkThere’s nothing more embarrassing than a stinky pair of shoes. They release their unpleasant aroma with absolutely no regard for who you’re with or where you are, and it just seems to get worse the more you wear them. If you’ve experienced this you may have been tempted to toss the offending pair, but wait! We urge you not to do anything rash…after all, it’s not really the shoes’ fault. We’ve gathered some info on why it’s happening, what you can do to prevent it, and some all-natural products that can help you get on the path to sweet-smelling feet.

The cause of this annoying odor is bacteria. Our feet are covered with sweat glands and when they’re cooped up inside shoes all day, those glands go to work. Dark and damp conditions inside our shoes are where bacteria and fungi like to make home sweet home, but surprisingly it’s not their presence that causes the odor. Yes, it gets grosser. The bacteria consume both the sweat and dead skin cells from our feet, and it’s their waste product that actually starts to smell. Kinda makes you want to take a really REALLY hot shower…

So how do you stop this nasty little cycle? Below are some preventative measures you can take, as well as some all-natural, green (because that’s how we roll) ways to try and get rid of the unwanted bacteria.

  • Wash your feet! It seems obvious, but bacteria can live on your feet and in between your toes, so really give them a good scrub. You can find foot brushes at your local drugstore.
  • Let your shoes dry out thoroughly before wearing them again. Remove the insoles if possible.
  • For you runners out there, definitely remove your insoles completely and let them air dry overnight. You can easily put them back in when you’re ready to use them again.
  • Wear cotton socks because cotton is more breathable than most materials.
  • Go barefoot – While this seems counterintuitive if you have smelly feet, it reduces the amount your feet perspire.

Helpful products:

  • Baking Soda – Everyone knows to stick it in the refrigerator to soak up smells, but if you shake some powder into your shoes, leave them overnight, and tap the powder out in the morning the odor should be significantly reduced. It helps to draw moisture out of the insoles as well. You can find it at your local grocery store.
  • Tea Tree Oil – It’s known as an anti-fungal agent so this is a good option to try and kill the bacteria. Take a few drops and use your finger to spread them around inside your shoe with care taken not to get it on the leather itself. Lemongrass oil is another option known to have anti-fungal properties. You can usually find either of these at any natural foods or homeopathic store.
  • ‘No More Stinky Feet’ – The product claims to be environmentally friendly and it’s non aerosol. A colorless spray, it uses salts to “deactivate” the odor molecules. You can get 2 bottles for under $30 and it looks like it’s gotten good reviews on
  • Lavilin Foot Deodorant Cream – Without aluminum or other “harsh chemicals”, this is another all-natural option. When rubbed on the feet, it claims to eliminate odor for multiple days. Perhaps a good short-term solution while you sanitize your shoes! Find it here.

Is there anything that you’ve come across that we didn’t cover here? If so, please let us know!


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