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How to Fix Stinky Shoes

My feet sweat a lot, and my kids' feet sweat a lot.

I wear Crocs or flip flops 99% of the time, so my shoes aren't a problem, but my kids shoes are perpetually stinky.

It's really embarrassing to sit in library story hour with a toddler who takes her shoes off and makes everyone in the room gag. Thus, I've started addressing the odor at home.

I've read all sorts of home remedies including:

  • stick a dryer sheet in each shoe as soon as you take them off (we don't buy dryer sheets)
  • fill the foot of pantyhose with cat litter and cut and tie it. Put these in your shoes every time you take them off. (I haven't worn pantyhose in 15 years. And also, I don't want the shoes to smell like cat litter.)
  • put the shoes in the freezer overnight to kill the stink-causing bacteria (seriously? I'm not putting these foul-smelling things in the same freezer as my food.)
  • stuff each shoe with newspaper as soon as you take them off (we don't get the paper)
  • alternate shoes so that you never wear the same pair more than every third day (this is a nice idea and would most certainly work, but I'm not buying my toddler three pairs of sneakers)
  • soak them in boiling bleach water (I am not trying this ever, just on principle. Boiling bleach water?!)
  • rub them inside with rubbing alcohol (I didn't have a reason for not trying this. My idea was less work, so I tried it first.)

As I said above, I had an idea.

Baking soda fixes just about everything, so I buy it in bulk.

I filled the offending shoes about an inch deep with baking soda, and I left them overnight.

how to fix smelly shoes

In the morning, I dumped the baking soda into the sink (and washed it down, obviously). There was a little baking soda residue inside, but the stink was gone. I wouldn't say the shoes smelled like roses, but they didn't emit an offensive odor.

Have you ever heard the saying, If you continue to do what you've always done, you'll continue to get what you've always gotten.?


I continue to stick Allie's feet into Allie's shoes without socks, so they get stinky again in a couple of weeks. I just repeat my baking soda treatment when the smell becomes overwhelming.

Do you deal with stinky shoes?

© 2013 – 2018, Tara Ziegmont. All rights reserved.

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4 thoughts on “How to Fix Stinky Shoes”

  1. Have you tried the sun? It works well with my cloth diapers. Get them wet and let them dry in the hot sun. The sun kills bacteria and gets out stains (from white things) idk about colors.

  2. I highly recommend a Peets Dryer. Get the dual pair dryer and rotate shoes. Always keep a pair on the dryer and rotate frequently. My six year old daughter had the same problem. I promise you will notice a difference within a few weeks of placing her shoes on the dryer overnight. The dryer will last for many, many years. The dual pair may not seem necessary now, but if she starts a sport or dance activity you’ll wish you had the dual dryer (I learned this the hard way and will be buying the dual dryer as soon as possible). There really isn’t a need to get the more expensive version with the fan.

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