Slipping into a fresh pair of shoes is so satisfying—they have that crisp color, comfy feel, and new-shoe smell. But for many people, this satisfaction is interrupted after just a few months of wear, when the shoes begin to smell.
Moisture build-up is the leading cause of unwanted odors in shoes. How does moisture end up in your shoes? In most cases, your feet get warm and produce sweat. Other times, it’s because rain or snow gets in and sits beside your warm feet. When heat and moisture are trapped in inside your shoes, they become breeding grounds for bacteria—stinky bacteria.
The good news is that you can get rid of shoe odors and prevent them from building up again. Here, we break down the most effective ways to do so without damaging your shoes.
Shoe trees are great for maintaining shoe structure, but some can do more than that. Our shoe trees are crafted from red cedar wood that’s naturally deodorizing and absorbent, so they help to keep your shoes smelling fresh and feeling dry. Plus, they’re safe for all boots and sneakers, regardless of material.
To use shoe trees, just slide them into your shoes between each wear.
Baking soda is the ultimate deodorizer. Here’s why: it has a basic pH level, meaning it reacts to acidic molecules. So when it comes in contact with sweat, it responds by neutralizing the acidity of that sweat, thus helping prevent it from fostering bacterial growth.
Note that we only recommend using this method with shoes made from and lined with canvas or synthetic materials, as baking soda has a tendency to dry out leather shoes and suede shoes.
The baking soda method is easy: simply sprinkle a generous amount into your shoes and allow it to sit for several hours. Then, pour it into the trash and vacuum out any remaining particles. By then, the bad shoe smell will be gone.
Dryer sheets (also known as fabric softener sheets) are a smart alternative to baking soda. But it’s important to consider that unlike baking soda and shoe trees, dryer sheets tend to conceal rather than neutralize odors. For that reason, we recommend using them only to address mild odors.
Insert a few dryer sheets into your sneakers or boots at the end of the day, and allow them to address the odors overnight. This method is safe to use on leather, suede, canvas, and synthetic shoes.
If you don’t have dryer sheets on hand, consider dispensing a few drops of your favorite essential oil (we like lavender, tea tree, or eucalyptus) directly onto two cotton pads or tissues. Place one inside each shoe.
Some websites will recommend using damp tea bags or cat litter to treat bad odors, and we advise against both because they can leave behind even more odors and ruin materials like leather and suede. These are simply not the wisest remedies for smelly shoes.
TIME FOR A FRESH PAIR?
Now that you’ve learned how to keep your shoes odor-free, you can shop for a new pair of Koios without having to worry about whether they'll end up smelling.
To learn more about caring for your Koios, check out our Care Guide.