Ask Belle: The Cure for Smelly Shoes
May 21, 2015
My summer shoes came out of storage last week, and they stink. Time in the plastic tub in my closet was clearly not good for them. I left them outside to air out, but they still smell. Help!
The cause of smelly shoes is almost always bacteria growth. So a sealed, plastic container was not the best way to store them. But there are some easy home remedies for removing the smell, here’s my method.
Step 1. Put your shoes in a plastic zip top bag and place them in the freezer overnight. This starts the process of killing off the bacteria.
Step 2. Remove the shoes from the zip top bags. Then, fill a small spray bottle with a solution that’s 1/4 water and 3/4 vodka. (That’s right, vodka. Or to be more specific, cheap vodka.) Liberally spritz the inside of the shoes.
Pro Tip: Vodka is a great deodorizer. If you have smelly feet, soaking them in a vodka solution will help. and if your dry-clean only clothes get a bit odoriffic in the armpits, spritz them with vodka. It works much better than Febreeze.
Step 3. Place the shoes in a well ventilated area, preferably outside, and allow them to air dry. The drying process usually takes 2-3 hours.
If they still smell (which they shouldn’t), it’s time for the real work.
Plan B. Make a paste of baking soda, dish soap (I like Honest Co. soap.), and a bit of hydrogen peroxide. Then, using an old toothbrush, scrub the inside of the shoes. Finish by wiping up the paste with a paper towel. Air dry outside.
Keeping Things Fresh. If you struggle to keep your shoes smelling fresh, you can make a homemade deodorizing powder. The recipe is 3 Tbsp. baking soda, 1 Tbsp. cornstarch, 5 drops of tea tree oil. Sprinkle it in your shoes and let sit overnight. Dump out the powder before wearing them. If you need a lot of this stuff, I recommend keeping it in the fridge in a parmesan shaker.
Another quick solution? I put a small fan in my closet just to keep the air moving. It keeps my shoes from smelling, and keeps the smell from getting on my clothes.