Cleaning shoes

How to Keep Shoes Smelling Fresh and Clean

Mary Smith
By Mary Smith. Updated: March 11, 2022
How to Keep Shoes Smelling Fresh and Clean

It may not be the most pleasant confession that you have read, but to varying degrees we all have smelly shoes. Some people find that the smell can be very intense, while other people notice a less obvious but equally annoying smell.

What we do know is that this problem occurs because our feet sweat and our shoes provide an ideal environment for the growth of bacteria. It is possible to stop your shoes from smelling bad by taking some simple measures and taking a few simple steps, so at OneHowTo we've given you all the tips you need to keep your footwear nice and fresh!

You may also be interested in: How to Remove Bad Smells From Shoes With Vinegar

Steps to follow:


Before explaining how to stop your shoes smelling bad it is important to understand why this unpleasant phenomenon occurs. Firstly, we know that our feet sweat, being a moist and normally dark area. This area of our body becomes the ideal place for the formation and accumulation of bacteria. When some of them decompose they are partly responsible for the bad smell.

These conditions can be made worse by the use of inappropriate footwear made from materials that will not allow our feet to breathe. The same thing happens when we use socks or stockings made from materials that do not allow for adequate ventilation.

To reduce the bad smell in your shoes it is important to learn how to prevent smelly feet, so it is recommended that you:

  • Wash and dry your feet thoroughly and regularly.
  • Watch out for foot fungus or athlete's foot. If it appears it is important to treat it as soon as possible as it increases the odour in the area.
  • Always use cotton socks that allow your feet to breathe properly. Also make sure that the thickness of your socks is appropriate for the season.
  • Choose shoes made of quality materials that allow your feet to breathe properly. Plastic shoes should be avoided completely as they are not breathable.
How to Keep Shoes Smelling Fresh and Clean - Step 1

Once you follow the basic rules to keep your feet healthy you can implement the necessary measures to stop your shoes smelling bad. To start it is very important to always deodorise your feet using a specialist foot deodorant. This product will help to reduce sweating in the area and thereby prevent odour which can then be transferred to the shoe.

From the first time you wear your shoes, get used to putting some shoe deodorant in them, this will ensure that they stay fresh for longer.


In order to stop your shoes smelling bad, however much you may love a pair of shoes, it is very important that you alternate them frequently because it is the only way you can ensure that they are properly ventilated, significantly reducing odour. If you wear the same shoes every day it is much more likely that they will begin to smell much quicker than if you alternate them with other shoes.

How to Keep Shoes Smelling Fresh and Clean - Step 3

Besides trying to keep your shoes cool while you use them, it's very important that you ventilate them properly once you take them off. Avoid putting them away immediately and leave them in a cool, breezy place for at least a couple of hours. This way any sweat will evaporate and the accumulation of unpleasant odors is minimised.


Like any other piece of clothing that is used frequently, shoes also require cleaning and not just on the outside. Cleaning your shoes inside will help to remove dirt that accumulates in the area and will give them a fresher smell. In the case of leather shoes or sandals, you can use a damp washcloth with soap or a wet cloth to remove the dirt. If the shoes are made of canvas or are sports shoes they will need a deeper clean. In our articles how to clean canvas shoes we explain in detail the proper way to get a perfect result.

How to Keep Shoes Smelling Fresh and Clean - Step 5

If you want to stop your shoes smelling bad then always wear socks when you are using canvas shoes, trainers or closed footwear. Only sandals and open shoes are designed to be worn without socks, and you should avoid wearing socks with them as your feet will feel hotter and will sweat more, which will increase odours.

How to Keep Shoes Smelling Fresh and Clean - Step 6

If you have a couple of very problematic shoes then you can use a special odour controlling insole that reduces unpleasant smells and keeps your footwear fresh and perfect. And if it's too late to follow all these recommendations and some shoes already have an intolerable smell, then we invite you to read our articles how to remove the bad smell from trainers, which explain the best tricks for getting rid of this quickly and easily.

If you want to read similar articles to How to Keep Shoes Smelling Fresh and Clean, we recommend you visit our Home cleaning category.

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I tried it, but I was washing my shoes whilst I was doing this and I think it would be purr - fect wen it is dry!
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How to Keep Shoes Smelling Fresh and Clean