How to Clean and Sanitize Smelly Shoes


Good shoes are often ruined by foul odor and dirt. While cleaning off the outer part of the shoe makes the shoe look fine, failure to clean and sanitize the inside of the shoe makes cleaning the outside pointless. Feet sweat and sweat clogs pores. During the day, your feet are trapped in moist, poorly ventilated areas. Overtime, the inside of your shoe becomes a breeding ground for bacteria and fungus which contributes to problems such as athlete's foot. Eliminate odor and clean your shoes through the use of common household products.

Things You'll Need

  • Soft, dry cloth
  • Dish soap
  • Spray bottle filled with rubbing alcohol
  • Sheer pantyhose
  • Scissors
  • Baking soda
  • Clean the shoes. Before sanitizing the shoes, you must clean off any outer dirt and grime. Gently brush the outside of the shoes with a soft, dry cloth. Pull out any laces. Clean the tongue of the shoe with the cloth.

  • Wet the cloth. Run it under warm water. Add a small amount of dish soap to the cloth. Run the cloth under water once more. Wring it out thoroughly.

  • Wipe the shoes down with the wet cloth. Wipe the tongue of the shoe down with the cloth, as well. Avoid saturating the shoes with water.

  • Pull the tongue of each shoe out so it lays flat against the top of the shoe. Spray the inside of the shoes with rubbing alcohol, then allow them to dry. Spray the inside of the shoes once more with rubbing alcohol.

  • Place the shoes in the sun or a warm place. Allow the shoes to thoroughly dry.

  • Cut a pair of sheer pantyhose off at the ankle. Fill the feet of the pantyhose with baking soda. Ensure that each foot is packed tightly with baking soda. Tie the top of each foot to prevent baking soda from spilling out.

  • Place a pantyhose foot in each shoe. Keep shoes in the sun or warm place. Let the baking soda sit in the shoes for at least 24 hours.

Tips & Warnings

  • After wear, place baking soda bags back in the shoes. This helps keep odors at bay.
  • Try spraying alcohol in shoes at least once a week.
  • Sprinkle your socks or feet with baking powder before wearing shoes. This helps stop odor before it starts.
  • Most shoes are not machine washable. However, certain types of athletic shoes can go through the washing machine. Ensure that shoes put in the washing machine are washed at the lowest setting and in cold water. Tumble the shoes dry on low heat. Check with the manufacturer before attempting.
  • Do not use rubbing alcohol spray on leather shoes. Instead, invest in anti-bacterial shoe powder. Sprinkle the powder in the shoes after wearing each day.
  • Do not use water and soap on leather shoes. Use cleaner specifically designed for leather.


  • Photo Credit Comstock/Comstock/Getty Images
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