How to Keep Your Shoes from Smelling Bad

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How to Keep Your Shoes from Smelling Bad

It often seems that bad shoe odors come from nowhere, but these smells do have benign origins. Most shoes pick up bad smells from the bacteria living on people's feet. These waste odors tend to get absorbed into shoes, making them smell bad. Women have several options for keeping their shoes smelling fresh, from rotating shoes on a daily basis to using an antibacterial cleanser to wipe down shoes regularly. These methods work for a limited time, but eventually, the shoes become worn out and smell so strongly that they need to be replaced. When this happens, women can find the best shoes at name brand retailers, shoe stores, on shoe retailer websites, and at an online marketplace like eBay.

The Cause of Shoe Odor

Shoe odor is actually caused by the feet, namely, the bacteria that live on human skin. These bacteria in the sweat produced by humans are part of the body's cooling mechanism. Foot odor is stronger than many of the other odors produced by the human body for a couple of reasons. First of all, the human foot contains over 250,000 sweat glands. Over the course of the day, the human foot can produce over a pint of sweat. Human sweat doesn't have a very strong odor of its own, as it is mostly just salt and water. It's the toxins released by bacteria on our skin that creates such a strong smell. Foot odor is exacerbated because most people wear shoes during the course of the day. Shoes trap sweat next to the skin and prevent it from evaporating, providing more sustenance for the bacteria on the skin. This also allows the shoe to absorb the odors released by these bacteria more readily.

Tips to Keep Shoes from Smelling Bad

No one wants his or her shoes to become foul smelling in the first place. Thankfully, there are a few tips available to help those with brand new shoes keep their high heels and tennis shoes from developing an unpleasant odor. Most of these tips must be part of a regular maintenance schedule for them to work in keeping an odor from developing.

Using Inserts

Consider adding an insert to new shoes to absorb foot odors and keep them from being absorbed by the shoes. Odor Eaters is one brand developed specifically for this purpose. These inserts absorb odors with active charcoal and other materials.

Rotating Shoes

Avoid wearing the same pair of shoes for more than one day. This may not be so difficult for women who have several pairs of shoes to choose from for work, exercise, and relaxation. This gives them a chance to air out and helps keep odors from building up.

Wearing Socks

Always wear socks with your shoes, if possible. While it may not be appropriate to wear socks with high heels, it is a good idea to wear socks with all other kinds of shoes, from loafers to running shoes. Socks will wick away moisture from the feet helping to keep them dry. Remember, to wear a different pair of socks each day. This keeps the bacteria from building up in the soft material. Make sure to clean socks with bleach and a good detergent regularly.

Washing Your Feet

Many people neglect to wash their feet in the shower. It's commonly assumed that the feet will get "clean enough" in the soapy water that runs over them in shower. However, bacteria can find many nooks and crannies in the surface of the skin to hide. Be sure to use soap and a scrubber to wash feet clean in the shower. Make certain that feet are completely dry before putting on socks and shoes.

Use Antibacterials

Applying antibacterials to the feet before putting on a pair of shoes can also help kill the bacteria that are on the feet. This is an option for those with particularly bad foot odor or those who are heavy sweaters. Applying baby powder or talcum powder to the feet before putting on shoes is another way of absorbing unwanted sweat.

Air Out Shoes

It may be a good idea to hang up shoes outside on a clear and dry day to help them air out. This is a good option to dry out shoes when they get wet too. If they are wet from the rain outside, use a hair dryer to help dry them, or set them up in a dry spot in the house where air circulates regularly. This also helps to keep shoes from rotting after exposure to water.

Fixing Already Stinky Shoes

Several methods have been developed over the years to help keep shoes from smelling bad. These methods mainly rely on the odor absorbing capabilities of other products and materials to pull odors out of shoes. This usually kills off the smell for a few days at least. Unfortunately, shoe odor is a recurring problem that will keep coming back as bacteria continue to eat the sweat and produce waste. These methods will have to be applied continually as the bad smell comes back.



Cleaning out the Shoes

Wipe down the insides of already strong smelling shoes with an antibacterial cleanser, such as Lysol; works best on leather and faux leather shoes

Freezing the Shoes

Place stinking tennis shoes in the freezer for a day or two; helps remove odors for a few days

Using Kitty Litter

Place a sock or hose filled with kitty litter into the shoe for a day; absorbs the odors within

Using Odor Absorbing Powder

Sprinkle the insides of the shoes with an odor absorbing powder, such as Baking soda, Odor Eaters foot powder, or salt

Call them urban legends if you wish, but the above mentioned tactics actually do work, even though some sound a bit unorthodox.

When to Just Get Rid of Them

The average pair of shoes lasts about 500 miles before needing to be replaced. Some shoes will wear out quicker than others. It's important to take a good look at the shoes to determine whether not they need to be thrown out. If the odor is so strong that it comes back within a day, even with the best cleansing methods, it's time to replace the shoes. When the sole of the shoe is starting to pull away from the body of the shoe, it needs to be replaced. Extremely dirty, worn, and warped shoes should also be thrown out. Another method for determining if shoes need to be replaced by a new pair is to press the cushion midsole between the thumb and index finger. If the sole compresses and returns to its original shape then it's fine. If the sole does not compress or gives very little, then it needs to be tossed. These shoes are no longer providing the proper support for your feet.

Buying New Shoes on eBay

Women's shoes can be found on eBay by clicking the Fashion category, then clicking on All Categories, and then clicking on Women ' s Shoes. The sellers on this auction site list all types of shoes from high heels to tennis shoes. To find specific styles and brands of shoes, you can make use of the search engine on the eBay homepage. Simple enter in the type of item you want, and any related keywords, and select the category desired from the dropdown menu next to the search bar. The search engine will check through the selected category for any listings matching your search terms.

Know the Seller

Buying a pair of new shoes can run into the hundreds of dollars, especially for designer brands. When looking at a pair of shoes on eBay, take the time to get to know the seller before purchase. Looking at the seller's history allows the buyer a chance to see how previous sales went by reading buyer feedback. The seller's history is viewable by clicking on the seller's name in any eBay listing. This takes you to a new page with previous customer comments and ratings, and an average rating for the seller based on these ratings. Read through the comments to see if the shoes provided by the seller matched the description, arrived in good condition, and satisfied the customer. When you complete a purchase and receive a pair of shoes from the seller, be sure to leave your feedback for future customers.


All shoes are prone to developing a bad odor over time. This odor comes from bacteria that feed on human sweat and release foul smelling wastes. These odors imbue shoes and make shoes stink long after they are removed for the day. There are some things that women can do to prevent odors from forming. Even after shoes begin to smell, there are a few things that women can do to remove the odors from their shoes. Eventually, most smells do return to shoes, so the process of cleaning them is one that must be done repeatedly over their lifetime. Occasionally, shoes begin to smell bad no matter what is done to them and they need to be replaced with new shoes. These new shoes can be purchased at a retail store or on an auction site like eBay.