How to make your shoes smell fresh

Cheesy shoes are well-loved shoes, but you'll do yourself (and your housemates) a favour if you banish the pong

Young girl entering through the door of the house and making a mess on the floor with her grandmother watching her.

A walk in the rain, sweat from a workout session – dampness in your shoes can make them smell less-than-fresh. We’ll show you how to get rid of shoe odour using various methods, and how to stop shoes smelling in the first place.

The easy way to remove smell from shoes

Want to know the simplest answer to how to get rid of shoe odour? Check the care label on your shoes to see if they are machine washable. If so, simply pop them into your washing machine! Follow the instructions on the label as to what temperature, detergent and setting to use. To help protect them, pop them in pillowcase or mesh laundry bag.

As dampness is one of the main cases of shoe odour, you’ll need to air dry them quickly. As soon as the cycle has finished, pop them next to a radiator, or ideally in sunlight on a hot day. Filling them with absorbent kitchen paper will help to dry the inside of your shoes faster – remember to replace the paper towels after a few hours, once they’re damp all the way through.

The cold way to get rid of shoe odour

If you can’t machine-wash your shoes, there’s another simple way to get rid of shoe odour, which involves a kitchen appliance – the freezer! The icy temperatures should help kill the bacteria. Just put your shoes in a large plastic sandwich bag and pop them in overnight.

Again, you’ll need to let them air dry naturally before wearing them.

Remove shoe odour overnight with these leave-in options

In addition to using the freezer option, you can also refresh your shoes overnight by placing something inside them to soak up the smell. Here’s how to remove odour from shoes overnight in two ways:

  • Baking soda. Sprinkle a small amount into your shoes and let its natural deodorising properties soak up the bad smells overnight. Remove all traces of the powder before putting your shoes back on.
  • Cat litter. Place a small amount in two plastic bags and leave one in each shoe overnight, so its deodoriser can get to work. Dispose of the bags in the morning.

DIY smelly shoes remedy

If you find it hard to remove smell from shoes, then you can try disguising the odour with a more pleasant (and stronger) scent. You’ll be back in the kitchen for this one, but raiding your fruit bowl this time! Pop the peel of a fresh lemon or lime in your shoes overnight for a citrus zing.

Essential oils are another smelly shoes remedy that’s easy to administer. Simply spritz a little of your chosen oil into your shoe and leave to dry before wearing. Bear in mind that some essential oils need to be watered down first, otherwise they can cause skin irritation.

How to prevent odours

Prevention is better than cure, so it’s worth knowing how to help stop shoes smelling in the first place. Here are three methods to try:

  • Wear shoes that are made from breathable materials (such as leather and cotton) or allow your feet to breathe by wearing sandals in hot weather.
  • Rather than sticking to the same shoes every day, switch them up and alternate your pairs. That will allow for some essential airing-out time between uses.
  • If your shoes get wet, filling them with sheets of absorbent kitchen paper to soak up excess moisture will help them to dry off quickly.


Plenty The Original One is super absorbent and strong, soaking up dampness without falling apart.

Now you know how to remove odour from shoes, you can kiss goodbye to smelly soles and bring your favourite pairs back to their pleasant-smelling best.

Did you find this article helpful?Thanks for your feedback!