62 Responses to “Attack the Stinky Shoes”


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  1. Starr Anderson

    So I don’t normally have stinky feet but my beloved Birkenstocks give me the foot funk like nobody’s business. Anyone find a solution for this? I’ve tried vodka sprays, freezing them with baking soda, everything but saying a voodoo chant over them while standing on one foot holding a rubber chicken. Look forward to hearing back! :)

  2. Ariel

    I find that a good vinegar soak (I’ve never needed to heat the water) and a dry-out in sunshine fixes my stinkiest sneakers. Also, socks. They DO make backless socks, and I think adding that removable sweat-soaker would probably help your keds out. I love the tea-tree oil idea, though. :)

  3. Okay, so I don’t really get “stinky” feet, per se. My feet – when “odoriferous” – smell like popcorn. Yes, I’m serious. I don’t know why.

    Anywho, when my shoes get popcorny, I usually spray with melted butter Fabreez. Sometimes, when they’re itchy, I’ll throw in some cornstarch.

    I just got a new pair of shoes that are made from a mesh-like material, so hopefully that will cut down on the popcorn smell in the long run. I also only really where sneakers for work, otherwise I’m in flip flops.


  4. Sarah

    Oh boy! This is an AMAZING post! There is this one pair of flats that I LOVE and will never part with, but…all my friends cringe when they see me coming in them. They are that bad and THAT notoriously stinky. Which is why I haven’t been wearing them. I’d actually like to keep my friends (at least) as much as I’d like to keep these shoes. You may have just saved them and my and my friend’s noses! Bravo, Crunchy! (see what I did there? haha!)

  5. So I have stinky feet, really stinky feet. My mom would make me take my running shoes off and clean my feet before I entered the house (and my running shoes were never allowed in) she bought fancy cedar feet to combat the oder and it just didn’t work. I always thought my foot oder was caused by sweat, because I never wore socks. Still when I wear socks it doesn’t help, and now my youngest has stinky feet, and how they stink. We do vinegar soaks and she washes her feet 2-3 times a day to no avail. I am ready to try felting sole inserts. They are supposed to be absorbant and antibacterial and best thing is if I make 3 or 4 pair then I can take them out and air them out daily. So I am looking for some old wool sweaters at the thrift stores so I can make her a couple of pairs and me a couple of pairs. :P

    • Soak your feet in hydrogen peroxide and spend MONEY on shoes. Cheap shoes don’t breathe. I was COMPLETELY against spending money on shoes, but splurged and bought myself a $35 pair of DCs on amazon (normally 60) and I’ve had them a year and not ONCE have they gotten smelly.

      Soaking my feet in h2o2 killed the peroxide on my feet kept my feet from being smelly with or without socks for a little while. i have to do it about once a month, but it works. In fact, in my smelly cheap shoes the shoes get smelly, the socks get smelly, but my freshly washed feet are still clean. I’ve even soaked shoes IN hydrogen peroxide and it takes the smell away for a little bit, but it always comes back because the shoes are so cheap :(

      Like spending $100 on a pair of jeans. Seems stupid at the time, but when you realize they last way longer and are built WAY better (and make your ass look AMAZING) they’re more than worth having a few pair of.

      • I wouldn’t consider $150 shoes, cheap shoes. I also have an extra wide foot with a high arch (as does my daughter) which means we can only buy expensive shoes. What has helped (and cured) both of our foot odor is to change our diet. We eat a mostly raw whole foods diet (with at least one parsley smoothie a week). No body odor (even after an intense workout) and no more foot odor…..

  6. jill

    We’ve been having this experience in our home. My daughter started work, and she got into the car and ewww, she reeked. Well, we’ve come to the conclusion that maybe it’s a combination of things. The food we eat, hormones, stress, and bacteria. She would get home and wash her feet. She is now using tea tree. I do have a salve made much like yours but we never thought to try it on the feet. So, thanks for the idea and we’ll report back. She can’t put her shoes in the washer, they are dress shoes. Once we figure it out, then I will give the info to one of my other daughters. She once had a pair of slippers that were so bad, so I did like you, I washed, aired, soaked, repeatedly. I think I finally told her they were a lost cause.
    Does this come under the heading “things we never thought we’d share with strangers”?

  7. Sunny

    Love your posts! I used your Moms’ H.U.G. just yesterday to help with my cold. I’ll try this too. I’m a Crunchy Betty in training :)

  8. Shannon

    I don’t really have a problem with stinky feet…but that’s probably becasue I don’t really wear shoes. :)

  9. Carol Anne recommends putting stinky shoes in the freezer for 24 hours, worked for her guys’ shoes. Ken had a dreadful pair and the freezer didn’t work. But it’s not foot odour bad I think a badger peed on them. Or a skunk. I’ll try the vodka spray.

  10. Haley

    The World’s stinkiest Feet award should probably go to me! I HATE, HATE, HATE wearing socks. They make me feel clostrophobic. But anyway I have 2 pair of running shoes and a pair of Merrell lightweight warm weather hikers that STINK and the hubs won’t allow them in the house. I occasionally wash them in the washer and they smell *better* for a few hours then they head back to Stinkytown. I took this de-stinking method a step further and treated the entire shoe to this treament not just the insoles. Like a spa day for my fav shoes. All three pairs are drying currently. But they seem VERY fresh.

  11. I have had to get rid of cute shoes that were perfectly wearable except for the stink. :( It’s always shoes that I can’t wear socks with. The socks seem to prevent or at least slow down stinkiness for me. Unfortunately I can’t wear socks with all my shoes and the cute ones wouldn’t survive your Rx above. I will definitely use it for sneakers and my wool slippers though! And the Bravo Charlie balm will be used all summer around here, I just know it!

    I finally broke down and got a pair of crocs last year. They are anti-bacterial so they rarely build up any stinky but if they do, I can stick them in the washing machine or dishwasher. And yes they are ugly. And yes they are like walking on clouds.

    (You might also file this post under “Crunchy Kids”… :) Just a thought!)

    • Now, see, I hated crocs with a passion (had to wear them while in Culinary). I thought they were the absolute most uncomfortable shoes in existence. I don’t understand how anyone can think that they’re comfortable. I must have weird feet.


      • Thankfully there are so many different kinds of shoes out there for all our weird feet, huh! Feet are just inherently strange… so are belly-buttons.

      • I had a pair of them for years and they were very comfortable. They last forever it seems until the soles wear out. I wore them everywhere, even while gardening, they were the best.

  12. Ladeedah

    My brother has foot odor that is positively toxic. He has to wear dress clothes to work and found that only pure cotton socks (hard to find in black and brown) cut down on his foot funk. So try white cotton with no spandex.

    Two other suggestions: You may have read that if you have old luggage that smells musty, the solution to taking out the odor is to crumple up regular newspapers and close up the suitcase. A few days later, open up and no more odor. I have used this. Second suggestion comes from me googling how to get musty and other odors out of old books. I saw several suggestions to put the books in a trash bag with a few pieces of regular charcoal with the books and tie the bag. A few days and the charcoal absorbs any odors. You know how activated charcoal absorbs 100’s of times it weight in gases, toxins, etc. Worth a try. Just don’t use charcoal briquettes that have lighter fluid or other binders. I know you have activated charcoal on hand, so maybe put a tablespoon of it in the center of a coffee filter and close with a rubber band. You could put one bag in each toe of the shoe and use them over and over.

  13. Amy

    One thing that cuts down on stinkiness for shoes & feet in our house – mix together baking soad & cornstarch. If you have one, put in a sealable container with a shaker top (empty spice jars work well), otherwise a ziploc bag or jar with lid. Put next to shoe rack. Sprinkle on feet and in shoes EVERY SINGLE TIME before you put your feet in and immediately after taking your feet out.

    This helps prevent shoes from developing stink, at least in our house.

    Another thing that helps is removable insoles – have more than one pair of insoles for each shoe so you can alternate them, that way you can air out or wash between wearings.

  14. I have this little container of “shampowder”–dry shampoo, made of half and half cornstarch and baking soda, with tea tree and lavender essential oils added. It works great.

    One day I discovered it also makes a great natural underarm deodorant.

    Another, I discovered it’s a fabulous stinky-shoe powder.

    I may use it to wash the car…

  15. Margie

    While attending bible college, I had these great hiking boots that I wore all the time. I didn’t notice any smell until one day, my then boyfriend, now husband, and I were sitting on a couch in the lobby, and we took our shoes off to put our feet up, and he asked me to put my shoes back on! AHHH! slightly embarrassing, considering the dude is a 6+ foot 200 pound man who resembles a viking, and lil ol ME has the foot odor problem?!? it’s good to know that love conquers all, including funky feet.

  16. Jen

    Bless you, Leslie. Uh, I don’t know if it’s shoes or feet, but both of mine reek. Now I know there’s hope. (I’ll bet the shoe god is named Nike. Hahaha.)

  17. Allison

    I had a horrible foot odor in a pair of shoes (they were Merrells, too–I don’t know what it is about their insoles!) and tried everything antibacterial to get rid of the funk. After I wore those shoes, the smell stayed on my feet for days, no matter how much I washed them. I even tried Lysol in my shoes in a moment of desperation.
    The one thing that worked for me was an anti fungal cream. I had no athletes foot symptoms at all, and no reason to expect a fungus, except that all the treatments for killing bacteria didnt work. I used the cream, and right away noticed a difference. The smell hasn’t completely left my shoes, but it’s MUCH better. Anyway, if nothing else is working, it’s worth a try.
    Yours in stinkiness,

  18. Daisy

    I don’t know why, but for some reason every time I wore my cute blue Chuck Taylors, my feet would stink like crazy. I found out my sister had the same problem with her Chucks so we concluded there must be something weird about the soles because neither of us had that kind of stank with any of our other shoes. I tried cedar inserts, baking soda, everything I could think of and finally I just gave up and quit wearing them.

    On a related note, I tried Lush’s Pied de Pepper foot cream (years after I got rid of my Chucks) and although I liked the scent, I found that the cinnamon & clove turned my socks faintly red. After I finished the little pot, I didn’t bother buying a new one.

    My best recommendation for stinky feet is wool socks. I used to hate wool because I had some cheapie wool socks growing up, so as an adult I avoided all wool like the plague. Then I discovered Smartwool and good merino wool which is soft and doesn’t itch at all. Even better, it wicks moisture (ahem, meaning sweat) away from your skin and is naturally antibacterial so it doesn’t stink even if you wear the same wool stuff for a week while you’re hiking through the woods sweating like a mofo. I now swear by wool. I have wool socks, pants, t-shirts, tank tops, even underwear. Most of it feels like soft stretchy cotton. I scour the internet for sales because I can’t stomach paying full price (it’s quite pricey) and I love every piece I have. I know wool socks aren’t possible with every pair of shoes, but wear them when you can!

  19. Madeleine

    Okay, so I have ballet class at least 6 times a week, and my flat shoes and pointe shoes and just my general ballet bag smells like stinky shoes, and my Mum has been getting after me to do something about it. Any suggestions?

    • Mia Maria

      Fellow Ballet Dancer here:
      okay, for the dance bag, lavender or cederwood sachets really help, and you can put them in your shoes. also, make sure you air out your shoes whenever possible. this will help both with stink and with making the pointes last longer. just don’t do it in a room you plan to spend lots of time in. all dancers have this problem and it will never go completely away, but I hope this helps. Good Luck!

  20. Mary

    For me the cedar thing really works incredible! I bought special cedarsoles online and after a few days my smelly problems are already gone. I can only recommend these insoles instead of any home remedy.

  21. tracy

    So I’ve just created a batch of your Bravo, Charlie Balm. Mine is a more translucent color than yours, but it smells interesting. The odd bit is that my feet are extremely oily all day. It’s kindof uncomfortable. Also, walking around with oily feet before putting my shoes on is getting oil all over my bathroom floor, and I discovered this morning as I almost lost my footing, that it’s gotten quite slippery. Did I do something wrong? I’m not going overboard on the balm or anything, just dip my fingers in a few times for each foot and careful not to dip any.

    • Mia Maria

      Maybe you have well moisturized feet. if you are having this problem maybe you should make it a water foot splash instead of oil balm. just a thought…

  22. Kat

    Try activated charcoal sachets.

  23. Chleo

    I work in retail and sometimes I cant wear socks with my shoes (tights or sandles) The worst thing about it is that there is so much dirt and dust collecting behind the register where I stand my shoes absorb it like a spounge. This makes for really stinky shoes and feet. Ive tried absolutely every store bought method and even some homemade ones and nothing helps, every time summer comes around my feet sweat like crazy. ugh… shoes go stinky way too fast! Ive already tried half your methods, and they only added to the smell. Does anyone have any more suggestions??

  24. Sayraye

    i have always had stinky feet, and the best thing i ever did to cut down on odor, was to wear socks. works great in winter and fall, not so great for summer tho. ive tried the black tea foot wash, and its never seemed to help. I think ill try the home-made deodorant on my soles, that sounds super helpful.

  25. I have croc type slippers without removable linings. I wash them but they still smell. Without anything around here to use, it’s a challenge to keep them smelling good.

  26. Rachel11313

    I have had these skateboarding sneakers for 4 years. My friend had them for 5 years before me. I would buy another pair, but these are oh-so-comfy, and I can never seem to find another pair that fits me(I am size 11:/ ) So anyways, these shoes stink to high heaven. I cannot wait to try this, because I love these sneakers! :D

  27. Tammy Moncrief

    I have always had swamp feet, and even when my feet are clean the perspiration darkens the insoles – especially bad for leather ones. I have used the tea soak for years, and any kind of powder and odor eater insole known to man. I have yet to try the vodka spray. Recently I have taken to spraying them with dollar store lysol a ‘la bowling alley.

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  29. Stinky Feet Champion

    Keep the suggestions coming. I’ve tried them all, and nothing has worked for me. My feet always sweat and stink. I especially would like info on de-stinking shoes, cuz’ I can’t afford to keep replacing them (even my loser stinks because of shoes) – and NO , o do NOT buy cheap footwear.

  30. Stinky Feet Champion

    That was supposed to say “even my **closets** stink” … Good ol’ spellcheck.

  31. Justin

    Hi. I was wondering if you thought of just buying a new pair of shoes? If I wasn’t poor that’s what I would do but alas it is not so. Did you have success in regards to riding your shoes of stench or did you make them smell more? I’m skeptical.

  32. Mia Maria

    You have no idea how icky my ballet bag can get. and mine is not the worst. I combat it with two VERY LARGE lavender sachets and whenever the soles come un-glued from my flat shoes I wash them, but I can’t do the shoe treatment on ballet shoes without ruining them. especially pointe shoes. the vodka spray is great for normal shoes though, and I always use it on shoes I just bought from goodwill in case the last wearer had nasty feet. I greatly respect that you have the self confidence to mention this to us. thanks a lot!

  33. Erdwin Clausen Jr.

    All you have to do is take your shoes and wrap them in a garbage bag, tie it shut, and freeze your shoes in a freezer over night. Take out and let set until dry and the smells will be gone. Works for me every time. If it doesnt work for you, maybe you can soak them in a pot of warm water that has tea tree oil in it. Tea tree oil kills ANYTHING on contact!

  34. Tutugirl

    At home we use DryPointe Shoe Inserts, they use silica to dry the shoes and keep them smell free.

  35. It’s summertime and sometimes the heat causes stinky feet. Stinky feet cause stinky boots. Wash your boots while treating the leather right – Leather-Clean is the ONLY product that allows you to really wash leather in water.

    We’ve been hard at work, and are excited to announce that our product is ready to go!

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  39. Tat

    Do a tea bath for your feet and you won’t have to go to war with smelly shoes. Just boil a kettle of water, add 4 tea bags of black tea (any cheap kind will do) and soak your feet for 15 min. Repeat 2-3 times a week. It stops your feet from sweating, therefore smelling.

  40. These are all great tips! I only resorted to conventional foot sprays and powders and would love to give all these a try and see which one works out the best for me. Thanks.

  41. Rebecca

    I scanned through the comments and didn’t notice whether this has been asked — so please forgive me if I’m being redundant. Why do you call the tea tree oil/lemon oil mixture Bravo Charlie Balm?

    • Jason

      “Bravo” and “Charlie” are B and C from the phonetic alphabet. The phonetic alphabet is used by the military to communicate without confusing the letter B “bravo” with the letter V “victor”, for example. I am fairly certain Crunchy Betty is using the phonetic alphabet to refer to her “war with [her] shoes.”

  42. Jason

    As a man, I have a higher tolerance for smell than my wife. For our entire relationship my feet have been bearable. But I recently changed my footwear choice and my feet responded for the worst. It got to the point where I offended myself, and that is saying something. And my poor wife… I made some BC balm for my feet before they go into the boot as well as the shoe spray for when I take my boots off. I wanted to post a comment to validate you as a miracle worker! Fun fact: I got my wife to smell my socks for the first (and I’m sure the last) time ever! She was amazed by the complete absence of smell.

    I thank you, my wife thanks you, our marriage thanks you!

  43. Nadine

    So I know this is an old thread but my shoes are killing me. I just got these Jordans for my birthday not even a month ago and theyre setting off an awful smell. I’m a medical assistant so I need tennis shoes but I refuse to wear anything other than Jordan shoes. I honestly think that certain socks can trigger smelly feet/shoes. I’m gonna try the cornstarch trick, wish me luck.

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  1. […] Remove odor from shoes: Combine water and vodka in a spray bottle and then mist on the inside of your shoes after wearing. The vodka will get rid of odor-causing bacteria and the smell will disappear once they’re dry. You can also add an essential oil to the mix for an extra boost of freshness. […]

  2. […] Remove fragrance from shoes: Combine H2O and vodka in a obscurity bottle and thereafter obscurity on a inside of your boots after wearing. The vodka will get absolved of odor-causing germ and a smell will disappear once they’re dry. You can also supplement an essential oil to a brew for an additional boost of freshness. […]

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