Stinky shoes are the absolute worse. I don’t know about you, but I’m that weird person sitting in the passenger seat, kicking off my shoes to get all nice and comfortable. (Especially if it’s any kinda road trip, ok fine if I’m in the car longer than ten minutes.) Every now and then, when I take off my shoes, everyone in the car gets a surprise as a very unpleasant smell fills the air. Once the horror sinks into my consciousness that it’s my feet, I quickly (but discreetly) scramble to throw and soak my shoes back on. Is there a hack for smelly shoes, I ask? Yes, I discovered the solution!

Collage of Smart Solutions for Stinky Shoes

Hack for Smelly Shoes You Can Try

I know I’m not the only one overwhelmed by the smell of stinky shoes and feet. I know that I have tried just about every shoe cleaning method known to man, or should I say woman, so I thought I’d share 15 stinky shoe solutions with you. You can have all of the best solutions to rid yourself of the unwanted stinky shoe “aroma” as well.

1. Tea Bags to help Your Shoes Smell Good

Do your shoes stink up the room after a workout? Let’s not run everyone out of the gym. Put some teabags in those sticky shoes as soon as you take them off. The tea bags will absorb the odor and leave your shoes smelling fresh. Just put them inside of your shoes and say goodbye to stinky shoes! Can be black tea bags or not, depending on your preference.

And the bonus is that you likely already have tea bags at home (maybe in a flavor you didn’t love like black tea) or can get some hands-on it pretty inexpensively!

Tea Bags in Shoes to eliminate odors

2. Customer Deodorizer Pouches for Stinky Shoes

Here’s a remedy for a fresh scent smelling feet. Make your own deodorizer pouches for your shoes. Not only can you customize the size for your shoes, but you can also reuse the pouches again and again. You’ll always have sweet-smelling shoes. Winner!  To make the all-natural basic deodorizer, you will need the following supplies:

  • baking soda
  • essential oils – drops of tea tree oil, lavender, peppermint, or whatever your favorite essential oil might be

stinky shoes 2

Mr. Krabs: I smell the smelly smell of something that smells smelly. 


3. DIY Stinky Shoe Spray

Make a DIY shoe spray with rubbing alcohol, apple cider vinegar, and tea tree oil. This spray bottle mixture will help to kill the bacteria that are at the root of the gross smells. This mixture of home remedies is amazing and works wonders for smelly shoes! Lemon essential oil is a good alternative if you don’t have tea tree oil.

DIY shoe spray ingredients featured together


4. Natural Shoe Deodorizer for those Pesky Stinky Shoes

Don’t like the powder versions? How about a spray one? Mint spray is a natural shoe deodorizer. Every athlete, runner, or mom- well anyone who wears shoes really – should keep a bottle of shoe spray bottle handy.  It is dual-acting foot odor prevention and removal so you aren’t just masking the bad smell, but removing and eliminating it at the source.

It is also safe to spray on everything which helps you banish bad shoe odor for good extending the life of boots, sneakers, gym bags, boxing gloves, ski boots, Uggs, heels, leather shoes, ballet slippers, camping equipment, and cycling gear, and last but not least your running shoes!

.Stinky Shoe Spray and a pair of tennis shoes

5. Dryer Sheet Method Stinky Shoe Help

For just a little bit of odor, put a dryer sheet in each shoe overnight. Your favorite pair of shoes will smell like laundry fresh in the morning. If they are really stinky then tuck the shoes into a plastic bag to concentrate the effects of the dryer sheet. (Get more dryer sheet tips.)

deodorize your shoes with a fabric softener sheet

6. Coffee Filters and Baking Soda for Stinky Shoes

Insert a coffee filter into each shoe and fill it with baking soda to get rid of that stench bad odor. The baking soda will absorb the rank smell. You know that if it works in your fridge, it’ll work in your shoes, too!

I like the ease of this simple stinky shoe solution since everything you need, the ingredients, is right in your kitchen!

men's black loafers with baking soda and coffee filters


Freshen Stinky Shoes Using Common Household Staples

7. Repurpose Things in Your Home to Freshen Stinky Shoes

Fill some socks with kitty litter insole and stick them in your shoes overnight. This is a great way to repurpose your socks that have lost their mates. You know kitty or cat litter is powerful stuff! I would have never thought of kitty litter to make shoes smell great! I mean, who knew we could use kitty litter this way??

kitty litter in tennis shoes for stinky shoes

8. Reuse Orange Peels in Those Stinky Shoes

It’s hard to go anywhere anymore without finding bags of cute little oranges. They make such a handy treat. Start saving your orange peels if you have stinky smelly feet. Place them in your shoes for about 24 hours. The peels will absorb odors and leave a fresh citrusy scent behind. If oranges aren’t your thing – try lemons, limes, or even grapefruit. Any citrus should work.

tennis shoes with lemon peels inside so to freshen stinky shoes

9. Newspaper Hack for Stinky Shoes

What’s worse than stinky shoes? Stinky, damp shoes. Eww. Use crumpled-up newspaper to absorb the moisture, sweat glands, and odor. You can also try placing your shoes on a window seal in the sun, on a drying rack, or anywhere you can find a nice sunny spot. This will help dry those damp shoes from the outside and the inside.

tennis shoes stuffed with newspaper to help them dry

 10. Stinky Shoe Freezer Method

We recommend putting them in a plastic bag first (a great way to repurpose those plastic bags from the grocery store), but putting your shoes in the freezer is a surefire way to get rid of odors. You need to leave them there for a day or two for the cold to kill all the odor-causing bacteria.

shoes in a plastic bag to go in freezer to rid the stinky smell

11.  Coffee Grounds Hack for Stinky Shoes

Coffee grounds can freshen everything from shoes to garbage disposals! If your household doesn’t drink coffee or you would rather not dig out the small number of grounds from each of your coffee pods, you can stop in at your local coffee shop. Most coffee shops will have bags of coffee and espresso grounds that they will happily let you take for free. I love the smell of coffee…so when I grab the bags of grounds I also use my mate-less socks (and if needed some cheap cotton muslin) to make bags of “odor absorbers”. These are good anywhere there is a stinky smell: under the seats of the car to absorb musty odors; the area that houses the kitty’s litter box; under the sink of the bathroom.

The coffee grounds that you pick up at the coffee shop may be damp, if that’s the case pour some out into a shallow plastic storage container and allow them to dry before you used them to freshen up your shoes or making your odor absorbers. Put the coffee grounds in aluminum foil first before adding them to your shoes; or  You don’t want a wet, mushy mess on your hands (or feet).

coffee grounds in a paper filter

12. Bar of Soap Stinky Shoe Hack

Put a bar of soap in each shoe to get rid of the foot funk. I would probably recommend that you buy some cheap bars of soap at the dollar store and keep it on hand just for this purpose. You’ll probably have the best success with the stronger smelling bar soaps. It’s also a great way to freshen drawers and closets.

men's black dress shoes and a bar of white bath soap

13.  Natural Bamboo Charcoal Shoe Deodorizers

Natural Bamboo Charcoal Shoe Deodorizers work well in gym bags, diaper pails, and lockers as well as shoes. The activated charcoal absorbs foul odors, and these bags are reusable. As a bonus, they will absorb the funk from that gym bag when you have the shoes on your feet.

tennis shoes in a reb gym bag

14.  Use The Dishwasher to Freshen Stinky Shoes

Did you know you could put your shoes in the dishwasher? Yep, it’s true. I think that this is the one that I’m probably less likely to use, but when you think about it – it makes perfect sense. Those dishwasher racks come in so handy.

If I did use this method I’d probably run the dishwasher a cycle without dishes to just clean things up before I moved on to the plates. But, hey clean shoes and a clean dishwasher – a two for one. (More Things You Can Put in the Dishwasher)

shoes on the top shelf of a dishwasher


15. Clean Stinky Shoes in the Washing Machine

And if all else fails, toss your shoes in a mesh bag or pillowcase, and put them in the washing machine. If you choose to use a pillowcase I have found it’s best to close the end up with a hair tie.

I’ve tried the tie-the-knot in the pillowcase method, and every single time I’ve tried it the pillowcase comes undone. If you do choose to tie it, or knot it, I hope you have better luck than I do. (Get more laundry hacks here.)

If you don’t have either a mesh bag or a pillowcase, you want to use – this is not the job for the guest linens ? – then another laundry idea is to toss the shoes in with a load of towels. Just don’t forget to not use the bleach on that load, and maybe the highest heat setting isn’t the best idea. But the towels will help muffle the sounds of a thousand running feet as the shoe wash.

blue tennis shoes in a neon green laundry bag

More Stinky Shoe Tips & Hacks

Don’t let stinky shoes, and feet catch, you off guard anymore. By taking a few simple and effective preventative measures you can control even the worse of the worst funky foot smells:

  • If you do get caught in a spring shower, and your shoes get wet, find a well-ventilated area (preferably in the sunshine) and (if at all possible) allow them to completely dry before you next wear them.
  • Always remember to take your shoes out of your gym bag, or your child’s school bag, as soon as you get home. That dark cool space becomes the perfect place for shoe stink to grow and multiply.
  • If you typically wear shoes without socks, experiment until you find no-show socks you like. You can try spraying your feet with spray deodorant to help keep your feet from sweating in the first place. If you carry spray-on deodorant in your purse anyway, this is a perfect two-for-one way to use it.
  • Most foot funk is caused by sweaty feet and eventual bacteria growth (in the shoes). Even something as simple as a dryer sheet can make a huge difference in limiting the. Which tricks, tips or stinky shoe hacks do you think you’ll try first?

collage of stinky shoe freshners

More Stinky Shoe Hacks and Tips From One Crazy House:

  • These tips for cleaning sneakers are perfect for stinky shoes or just worn-out shoes. Learn how to remove the smell by using vinegar, baking soda, and more.
  • There’s more to stinky shoes than a pair of baking soda and a bit of airing out. Discover alternative shoe storage ideas and of course stinky shoe hacks.
  • These shoe tricks will help shoes fit better and smell better. We even share a way to turn shoes into slippers.
  • Tired of storing your shoes in an unseemly pile? Learn about clever ways to organize your shoes, you won’t believe what stinky hacks some people came up with.
  • If you love shoes and never want to throw them away, but they have already lost their magic, then here are some useful tips that will help you fight the unpleasant feet odor, keep your shoes clean and make them look like new.
  • There’s more to shoe boxes than just using them as shoe boxes. Here are some outside-the-box ways you can use shoe boxes and some stinky shoe hacks.

Which of these stinky shoe hacks did you try out? Did it work?

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