Shoe Care & Comfort

What’s the Best Way to Sanitize & Deodorize Shoes?

The idea of dirty, smelly feet – or more specifically – dirty, smelly shoes, has long been the source of jokes and cliches. When you think of unpleasant-smelling shoes, you might think of gym sneakers, or a particular type of person wearing the shoes, etc. But, for as much as we might joke about foot odor, it can be a very real problem.

The odor itself is one thing, and in this article, we’ll look for the best way to sanitize & deodorize shoes. But, if you’ve recently had any foot issues, like toenail fungus, etc., making sure your shoes not only smell good but are sanitized, is important in making sure the toenail fungus doesn’t return.

If your shoes seem to smell no matter what you do, and you can even smell the strong odor emanating from them while they are on your feet, it’s probably about time to give them a good cleaning and remove the stink. First and foremost, you should take into consideration just how bad not only the smell might be, but the shape of your shoes.

While most shoes can be cleaned, others are ‘beyond repair,’ and it’s usually nothing more than good judgment that can know the difference between the two. If your shoes are beyond the point of freshening up, it’s time to throw them out.

When it comes to finding a good way to clean stinky shoes, it’s important that you follow the process in two steps: First, you clean, then you freshen them up. There’s no point in having a pleasant-smelling shoe if bacteria is still hiding away in the fabric, potentially ready to cause more harm to your feet when you wear those shoes. So, by sanitizing your shoe first, you can be sure it’s safe to wear. At that point, deodorizing it is just a bonus (likely for you, and everyone around you).

How to Sanitize Your Old Shoes

Sanitizing means you’ll be getting rid of all bacteria, microorganisms, and any fungus that may be in your shoes. If you’ve dealt with foot or toenail issues in the past, it could be the result of one (or more) of those components, so removing them is important for the health of your feet.

Cleansing your shoes isn’t as difficult as it may seem, and there are some popular at-home solutions you can try for yourself, likely using some ingredients you already have on hand.

  1. Washing Machine – It seems sensible enough, right? After all, you toss smelly, dirty clothes into the wash, so why shouldn’t shoes be any different? Wash them alone, preferably inside a pillowcase, at the highest (hottest) temperature your washing machine can reach. Studies show that temperatures have to reach about 140 degrees to efficiently and effectively kill off bacteria, so you want that water to be hot. One downside of this method is that some shoes simply aren’t made for the washing machine, and could get ruined. Gym shoes and sneakers are probably safe for this method, but things like high heels, dress shoes, etc. may not hold up to it.
  2. Steam Clean – Whether your washing machine has a steam method, or you have a handheld steamer, steaming can take care of bacteria quickly and with absolutely no mess. If you use steam, however, make sure you don’t try it on shoes that cannot get wet, and make sure your temperatures are high enough.
  3. Rubbing Alcohol – It is one of the most effective at-home solutions for killing bacteria in your shoes. Simply dab a Q-Tip or small cloth into the alcohol, and run it around the inside of your shoes. Rubbing alcohol dries very quickly and shouldn’t leave any odor behind.

Best Way to Sanitize & Deodorize Shoes

Once your shoes have been fully sanitized, you can start to concentrate on getting rid of the smell. Again, there are many at-home solutions you can try when it comes to making your shoes smell better, including:

  1. Cat Litter – Maybe the idea of putting cat litter in your shoes sounds a little strange, but think about the purpose of cat litter; to absorb odors. Pour a bit of cat litter into a couple of old socks, and stick the socks into your shoes overnight. The cat litter should absorb a good bit of the smell.
  2. Charcoal – Charcoal works similarly to cat litter, and you can use the same method. It’s used in a lot of air filters for this very reason.
  3. Insoles – some specifically made insoles work to deodorize shoes, including things like cedar or bamboo, that work to combat the odors and absorb them.
  4. Foot Powders – If the home remedies aren’t working as well as you would have liked, there are plenty of effective foot powders and shoe deodorizers on the market. You simply sprinkle the powder into your shoes, and it will absorb and get rid of the stench.

One thing you never want to do when trying to deodorize your shoes is just ‘cover up’ the smell with a fragrance or air freshening spray. Masking the odor won’t work in the long run, and may even create a stronger smell due to the chemicals of the fragrance mixing with the foot odor.

New Technology to Sanitize & Deodorize Stinky Shoes

The simple at-home remedies above can be very effective, though some may work better than others depending, again, on the condition of your footwear. Some people are more prone to ‘smelly feet’ than others, and if you’ve had any bacterial infection or toenail fungus, it’s always a good idea to take as many extra precautions as you can when it comes to making sure your shoes are clean.

There are several incredible products available to provide safe, environmentally-friendly, and effective solutions. If it’s a common problem for you, or you’re worried about the idea of bacteria sticking around in your shoes, these products can be a wonderful solution.

One of the most popular on the market is the StinkBOSS, working as both a sanitizer and deodorizer in one. StinkBOSS circulates ozone molecules to get rid of harmful bacteria and odors within your shoes. It’s a completely closed-in model, and you don’t have to do anything but put your shoes in, set the cycle, and walk away. The same ozone technology is used in hospitals and sterile environments across the world, and products like the StinkBOSS deodorizer are making it available for home use.

Some similar sanitizing products and deodorizers work the same way, too, including the SteriShoe Ultraviolet Shoe Sanitizer. It uses a slightly different method from the StinkBOSS, and instead of putting your shoes in an enclosed environment, the SteriShoe sanitizes your shoes from the inside using ultraviolet light. It works the same way an insert might, but instead of simply absorbing odors, it uses clean, effective technology to remove them, and sanitize your shoe. One of the great things about this sanitizer, and others like it, is its ability to fit almost any type of shoe. Those heels, loafers, and dress shoes you’re not able to put in the washing machine? This is a perfect solution that can be used again and again.

Best Way to Sanitize & Deodorize Shoes

When you’re looking for the best way to sanitize & deodorize shoes, make sure to look at the process it uses. Choosing a product that stays away from harmful chemicals will always be the safest, and smartest way to go, so don’t be afraid to do a little research of your own when it comes to finding the best solution for you and your shoes.

Keeping Shoes Clean & Free from Bad Odors

Some people are more prone to smelly shoes and feet than others, but as you can see, there are plenty of solutions when it comes to not only getting rid of foul odors in your shoes but sanitizing them as well, eliminating any possible bacteria that could be growing inside the fibers.

If you’re someone who does experience ‘stinky’ shoes, or you’ve had any foot infection, toenail fungus, etc., it’s a good idea to sanitize your shoes regularly, for your well-being. Bacteria can hold on and linger deep within fibrous areas, so making the investment in a sanitation method that works, and using it often is a great way not only to increase the longevity and life of your shoes but keep your feet healthy and smelling better than ever before.