There are several reasons that your feet and shoes may begin to smell. Some of these reasons include bacterial infections, fungal infections, overuse of a pair of shoes or lack of aeration.
It is estimated that approximately 12% of all bacteria on the human body can be found on your feet and easily transfers to your shoes. Brevibacterium is a bacteria that is found on our feet which when in contact with sweat creates an acid that releases a foul odour. This is why shoe maintenance is so important to remain odour free.
If you do not properly maintain your shoes they will eventually give off a foul odour and will also make your feet smell bad which can be very embarrassing.
This article will examine some homemade remedies to cleanse your shoes of any foul odours. These methods are helpful, however, to get the best results it is advised to take your shoes to a professional shoe cleaner. This is especially the case with expensive shoes such as suede, leather and high end running shoes.
Cleaning your Shoes with Baking Soda
One way to keep your shoes from stinking is by sprinkling some baking soda into them at night before you go to sleep and removing the baking soda in the morning before your put the shoes on.
Baking soda is a natural deodorizer and it also has antibacterial properties. This is why you find baking soda as an ingredient in other cleaning products such as mouth wash, environmentally friendly deodorants and as a sink cleaner.
The way that baking soda works is that it neutralizes bacterial acid, which is what’s creating the smell in the first place.
Be careful when using baking soda with leather or suede shoes. If baking soda comes in direct contact with the leather or suede it may dry up all of the moisture making them look dry and crusty.
Baking soda can work well for people with minor foot odours, but in reality it’s antiseptic properties are mildly effective against most bacteria. It is good for absorbing odours but not very effective in killing the bacteria that actually creates these odours.
A more powerful method than using just baking soda is to mix it with hydrogen peroxide and dish soap. This will create a solution that absorbs the odour with baking soda, kills the bacteria with hydrogen peroxide and gives the shoes a fresh scent with the dish soap.
Washing your Shoes
Probably the most obvious method for keeping your shoes looking and smelling fresh is to wash them. There are two main ways that you can do this; Use soap and a brush or throw them in the washing machine
Scrubbing with a brush and soap
The brush and soap method is more effective but also more time consuming. In order to properly clean your shoes with this method and not damage them you must use a soap that doesn’t have any powerful chemicals in it that may affect the colour or material of your shoes.
Also make sure to choose a soft brush so that you don’t scratch the exterior of your shoes. When using this method it is important to thoroughly clean the inside of the shoes as that is where most of the odour-causing bacteria will be found. Once finished scrubbing you should let the shoes air-dry fully or use a blow dryer to speed the process up.
Putting your shoes in the washing machine
This is definitely the easiest option when cleaning your shoes but can also be one of the most harmful to your shoe. This method is very straightforward.
All that is required is to put your shoes in the washing machine with some detergent and let them air dry when complete. It is recommended to only use this method for older shoes to avoid damaging a new more valuable pair.
Freezing your Shoes to Kill Bacteria
Another odd and cheap method to get rid of odour in your shoes is to put your shoes in the freezer overnight. If you are going to do this it is recommended to first put the shoes in a sealable freeze bag to keep them out of contact with your food.
This method does not absorb the odour, like in the baking soda method, but instead it actually kills the odour-causing bacteria. The extreme temperature in your freezer is cold enough to kill any bacteria that you would find on your feet. Once this bacteria is dead, which should happen over night, there are no more stinky acids being produced and the smell should go away.
It wouldn’t be a bad idea to also freshen up your shoes with a nice smell when you’re done with this method. Some suggestions to do this are to use febreeze or a dryer sheet.
Using Teabags to Mask the Odour
A great and unique homemade shoe deodorizer that may sound odd but actually works pretty well is to use flavoured tea bags. The best part about this method is that you have a large variety of scents to choose from such as peppermint, lavender or fruity scents.
In order to use this method all you need to do is choose the flavour that you would like your shoes to smell like. Once you have your desired scent of tea, place 2-3 tea bags into each of your stinky shoes, let them sit for a day or so and voila! Your shoes will smell great again.
The reason that this method works so well is that tea bags are very absorbent. So as the tea bag sits in your shoe, it is not only releasing a great aroma, it is also absorbing moisture from your shoes which is the catalyst for odour-causing bacteria to grow.
The only downside to this method is that there are no anti-bacterial elements to it. Your shoes will smell great, however, the bacteria will still remain in your shoe and will begin releasing odour again eventually. This is a great quick fix but it should be complemented with some sort of anti-bacterial powder or spray before adding the flavoured teabags.