FASHION Shoes and Accessories

How to Wash Stinky Shoes

Written by Allison

Here’s how to wash stinky shoes so they don’t ruin your life (and closet).

Your New Year’s resolution to work out is great and all but after a month of actually hitting the gym you may be facing a smelly problem. There are actually a ton of ways how to wash stinky shoes that don’t involve ruining your washing machine. Getting the stank out of shoes is easy enough, but be aware they may never have that new shoe smell again (this is up there with deep questions like “Can you wash wool?” which, by the way, you can).

Air ’em Out

One of the best ways to stop shoes from getting stinky in the first place is to wear socks, and to let your sweaty shoes air dry after you’re done at the gym. No tossing them in your gym bag for hours. If you have a porch or balcony where you can leave your shoes outside to air out? Even better. Just let them air and dry out completely and give them a whiff to see if you need to actually wash your smelly shoes.

Dryer sheets

You can also mask the scent of smelly shoes with unused dryer sheets. Just place one dryer sheet in each shoe and leave it in there till you need to use your shoes again. This is a great option to pair up with the air-out session to really make a dent in your shoe smell.

Baking soda

Baking soda is an incredible deodorizer. Seriously, if you have almost anything that needs to not smell, just try sprinkling some baking soda on it. Spoon an even level of baking soda on the entire inside of your shoes and let them sit for a full 24 hours or more. Shake out all the baking soda before you wear again. Some people even say baking soda is good for your hair, too.


Vinegar also is a scent-removing power house. You just need to mix it with water in a spray bottle. Opt for a one to one ratio if your shoes are very smelly, or do a two to one ratio of water to vinegar if they just need a bit of deodorizing. Spray down your shoes and let dry to get the vinegar smell out. Vinegar is also a great remedy for chronic dandruff, so buy a giant bottle.

Change laces

If you stepped in something funky and can’t get the smell out, try replacing your laces with new ones. It could be that the laces took to the muck more than the rest of your shoe.

Wipe down

Wiping down your shoe with soapy water and a rag can help to remove a lot of dirt and gunk that could be stinking up your shoes. Try this option before tossing your shoes into the washing machine.

Washing machine

When worst comes to worst and your shoes are at the last ditch effort before replacing them, just toss them in the washer. And maybe buy some ear plugs if you’re putting them in the dryer too. Shoes in the washer and dryer can be pretty unpredictable, there is no concrete way to know if they will wash well. If you’re concerned about the upper of the shoe shrinking, don’t put them in the dryer. Wash your shoes alone with soap, dry them, and see if your shoes still stink.

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About the author


Bio: She's a New Orleans based beauty writer, nail polish hoarder, and doughnut enthusiast. When she isn't camping out in her local coffee shop for hours on end, you'll probably find her taking selfies in front of every colorful wall she's ever seen. Follow along on Instagram @allisonmarieschmidt.

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