Have you ever wondered why there are some places in your house that smell kind of strange? It might be your shoes. Why do your shoes stink? Usually it’s because your feet stink. Understandably, washing our feet five times a day and rubbing them with aromatic Eastern oils is not something the average person working a 9-5 can afford to do, though.

Here, then, are 11 simple and effective home remedies for stinky shoes that will get rid of that smell all over the house!

Causes of Stinky Shoes

Before getting on with the treatment, it might be a good idea to find out why your feet have become so smelly. Then you will best know how you can remove shoe odor.

The most common causes of stinky shoes are:

Bacteria is the number one cause of stinky shoes. Once they settle into your shoes, they will automatically stick to the feet every time you wear them, especially if you are not wearing socks. If your shoes are wet or moist, it’ll be a field day for bacteria.

Some people’s feet sweat more than others’. If this is the case, it’s another field day. The bacteria will thrive and multiply exponentially.

A foot illness may be an underlying problem. If you have a wound on your foot and it smells, you should see a doctor about it. It might have become infected, and that’s not going to go away by itself. People have had their feet amputated for stuff like this!

Why Does the Whole House Stink?

The winter was long and hard, but it’s finally over. Then comes the spring, which is cool and moist. Finally, it’s summer, it’s nice and hot – the seasons change, but the stink remains. It seems it’s not enough to just open the windows any more. We recommend placing bars of soap in the different rooms – this is cheaper and easier than air fresheners and will have the same effect.

How to Get Rid of Shoe Odor

11 Simple & Fail-Safe Home Remedies for Stinky Shoes

1. Alcohol – What Bacteria Hate the Most

Bacteria hate alcohol as much as some people love it. It will not only remove the stink of the shoes, but also disinfect the shoes, remove dirt and kill all bacteria.


Required Ingredients:

  • A bottle of ethanol (available in all drugstores)

  • A cotton ball


  • Dab some ethanol on the ball and cover the inside of the shoe. Do not touch the outside, because it might ruin the shoes, especially if they are made out of leather.
  • Leave the shoes in an airy area to make sure the bacteria disappear as soon as possible.
  • Do this process as often as needed because this will stop the bacteria from multiplying.

2. Anti-Odor Socks – An Ancient Remedy

Credit: AliExpress.com

This is something my grandmother used to make and it really works. You’ll be surprised at how effective it actually is!

Required Ingredients:

  • An old pair of socks or pantyhose

  • baking soda

  • some string


  • Cut the bottom part of the sock or hose, put a teaspoon of baking soda in and tie the top with the string, then put in the shoes.

3. Vinegar Baths – Simple and Easy

Apple Cider Vinegar

Apple cider vinegar can help immensely – you won’t believe how great is it. This remedy will make the stink disappear. Vinegar has been used for medicinal purposes for ages - if you can’t get apple cider vinegar, regular vinegar will work just as well.

Required Ingredients:

  • One tablespoon of apple cider / regular vinegar

  • One glass of water


  • Add the vinegar to a glass of warm water, let it cool to room temperature, dab on a cotton swab and rub on the inside of the shoes.
  • Do this several times a day. Stop when the smell goes away because the smell of vinegar can be just as persistent.
  • You can also take vinegar baths, as the title suggests. Soak your feet in apple cider or plain vinegar twice a week.
  • You will need to mix three tablespoons of vinegar into a bowl of water at room temperature and put your feet in for twelve minutes.

Note: Vinegar is also a good way to reduce the stink in the house. All you need to do is fill some kind of container with vinegar and put it in different places around the house. The stink will be gone in a few hours.

4. Baking soda neutralizes stink

baking soda

Baking soda is a great natural remedy because it neutralizes all odors. This is why my grandmother used it (see Remedy No. 2). Baking soda is definitely worth trying because it functions as an antacid, and antacids neutralize smells by destroying bacteria causing them.

Required Ingredients:

  • A tablespoon of baking soda


  • Put the baking soda in a plastic bag, two bags with one tablespoon of soda each, and place in both shoes.
  • Leave overnight. Do this every evening until the smell goes away.

5. Essential oils – Expensive, but Definitely Worth it

essential oils

This remedy is a bit more complicated and costly – you have to get all-natural oils. They are available in specialized stores. If you don’t get all natural oils, the remedy is not going to work.

Required Ingredients:

  • Three drops of virgin coconut oil

  • Two drops of hot mustard oil

  • Four drops of cinnamon oil

  • Four drops of clove oil

  • Four drops of thyme oil


  • Mix the oils and rub on the soles of the shoes. The aroma is very intense. It smells really nice, but do not breathe it in.
  • Repeat as needed.

Note: Breathing this scent in is expressly not recommended if you have heart problems or high blood pressure.

6. The Tannin in Black Tea Works Miracles

black tea

Black tea contains tannic acid, a known astringent that prevents foot sweat. It also works for sweaty palms. Tannin will dry the shoe, killing the bacteria in it.

Required Ingredients:

  • 5 bags of black tea

  • 2 liters of water


  • Bring the water to a boil, put the teabags in for a few minutes, then remove from the stove.
  • Let the tea cool to room temperature and soak your feet in it for half an hour.
  • Repeat once or twice a month only – no need to do it more often because it’s incredibly effective.

7. Baby Powder – A True Multitasker if There Ever Was One

baby powder

Photo Credit: johnsonsbaby.com

Baby powder has multiple uses, one of which is to make your shoes smell nice. For this remedy you will need unscented baby powder because strong scents tend to aggravate the odor.

Required Ingredients:

  • Unscented baby powder


  • Place the powder on your feet and spread well before putting your shoes on.
  • Do this every time, especially if your feet tend to sweat frequently.

8. Lemon Juice – A Powerful Ally Against Foot Bacteria

lemon juice

You know that lemons are really rich in vitamins and minerals, but did you know they can help against foot odor too? Lemons are a great home remedy, especially if the problem is really stubborn.

Required Ingredients:

  • Some water

  • The juice of half a lemon


  • Squeeze the juice of half a lemon in a glass of water and dab onto the soles of your shoes daily.
  • Don’t forget the water because the juice is very acidic and might ruin the material.

Notes: Lemons are not the only fruit that can help – so can oranges and papayas. You can place lemon and orange peels around the house to combat the odor.

9. Attack the Foot Bacteria with Hot and Cold

You can reduce sweating by alternating foot baths with hot and cold water. Why does this work? Because this way there is less blood flow to your feet.

Required Ingredients:

  • Two containers – one with hot, the other with cold water

  • Ice cubes

  • One teaspoon of lemon juice


  • Soak your feet in the hot bath, then move to the cold one.
  • Put the ice cubes in the cold bath in the meantime, and add the lemon juice.
  • Do this once a day in colder months and twice a day in summer.

10. Lavender Oil – 100% Effective


Lavender oil is an anti-inflammatory antiseptic and 100% effective against shoe odor.

Required Ingredients:

  • Ten drops of all-natural lavender oil


  • Using a cotton ball or cotton swab, dab about ten drops of lavender oil onto the inside of the shoe. It melts very fast, so try to get a thick layer on there.

11. Epsom salt – A Remedy with Immediate and Lasting Effect

epsom salt

Photo Credit: seasalt.com

This is a great home remedy that you may have heard of. It offers a lasting and fast effect. Why does salt water work against foot odor? It neutralizes the acid produced by the bacteria in your shoe.

Required Ingredients:

  • A cup of warm water

  • 1/2 teaspoon of Epsom salt


  • Dissolve the salt in the water and dab on the inside of the shoe until the glass is empty.
  • You can do this as many times as necessary until the odor is gone.

How to Prevent Stinky Shoes

Wear Socks

Wearing socks is the best thing you can do to prevent stinky shoes. The sock will keep the perspiration from reaching the inside of the shoe and attracting bacteria. OK, not all shoes go with socks, but shoe stink is not aesthetically pleasing either. If it is too hot to wear socks, wear thin ones or pantyhose or sandals. Make sure your socks are clean, too.

Do not wear the same pair of socks for days and wash them well.

Don’t always wear the same shoes

Where possible, change your shoes every day. At the very least, avoid using the same pair for three consecutive days. When you are not wearing a given pair, pull out the tongue, loosen the laces and let it dry out if it is sunny, or you can replace with affordable boots at authorizedboots.com

Stuff your shoes with newspaper

Newspaper is the third-best option after baking soda and baby powder. If you don’t have either of these at home, that isn’t an issue. Just stuff your shoes with newspaper – it will absorb your sweat and the bacteria with it. Leave the newspaper in overnight, then throw it away. You should always be using new newspaper for this.

Wear open shoes as often as possible

Wear open shoes as often as you can because they let air in. The air helps evaporate sweat and impedes the growth of odor-causing bacteria. If it is too cold to wear sandals, choose shoes made of natural materials like canvas or leather. These materials let the skin breathe and the feet dry out naturally.

Wash your feet daily

You have absolutely no excuse not to do this. It would be best twice a day – once in the morning and once before you go to bed. Stinky shoes are caused by sweaty feet in combination with bacteria. Use baby soap (not anti-bacterial) to destroy the bacteria before they overrun your feet and shoes.

Eat Healthy

Eat well and healthy. Avoid foods with a strong aroma like peppers, garlic, scallions and onions because the substances that lend the potent flavor enter your bloodstream and eventually accumulate in your sweat, making it even smellier, and the shoe stink - stronger.

Reduce the stress

The more stressed and anxious you are, the more your shoes will stink. Why? Stress increases the production of sweat, enabling bacteria to feed even more.

Use antibacterial spray or antifungal foot powder

Both antibacterial spray and antifungal foot powder can be bought from pharmacies or convenience and grocery stores.


Did you find anything on our list of home remedies interesting? Most of us have stinky shoes, but we do not pay attention to them. The problem is when the smell becomes unbearable – if you neglect it, this is very likely to happen. Do keep our home remedies for stinky shoes in mind and share this article to help other people.

Tell us what you think in the comments section – are there any other remedies you know of? Hopefully you liked this list and can contribute more natural home treatments to it.

(Last Updated On: August 1, 2019)

A qualified doctor, Dr. Kyra Russel Jr. is someone who wears many hats, working also as a health writer, author, researcher, and media medic. She is a master communicator who is passionate about putting convoluted health information into words that make the information widely accessible. Her primary interests are child and adolescent health, women’s well-being, beauty, and nutrition.

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. djm

    thanks ruined my shoes with thyme oil so strong I can not wear them $60.00 sneakers..

  2. Teresa

    Hi, thank you for the tips! I have used alcohol against foot odor before, but the relief is pretty temporary. After a week or so my shoes started smelling again.

    I recently tried cinnamon insoles from a company in Colorado. I did not expect it, but they really, really helped my stinky feet. My feet (and shoes) now have a nice cinnamon smell. I think the essential oil of cinnamon helps to kill the bacteria that cause foot odor. I think that’s worth adding to the list!

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