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Three Ways To Clean Smelly Shoes That Don’t Involve A Washing Machine

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Do your shoes stink? If you can’t put them in the washing machine, how the heck do you get them smelling fresh again? I’ve got you covered with three proven methods for how to clean smelly shoes – no washing machine required!

I don’t know about you, but I have stinky feet. No matter what I wash or spray them with, if I go sockless, my shoes eventually start to stink. And most of my shoes can’t go in the washing machine. So what to do?

I’ve found three methods for cleaning smelly shoes that actually work.

Do these at your own risk; different shoes can react in different ways, and I am not responsible for ruining your shoes! But I’ve been using these methods for years without a problem.

How To Clean Smelly Shoes With Vodka

My kids think it’s absolutely hilarious that I have a spray bottle marked “Vodka,” especially since I don’t even drink. And many of you will probably cringe when I tell you that I clean my shoes with the good stuff, just because so many people have brought it to parties at our place and if it isn’t consumed at the party, it just doesn’t get used.

But you can totally use the cheapest vodka you can find for this task. Put it in a spray bottle and mark it clearly. I prefer glass spray bottles.

This method works with any kind of shoe, really, but it’s especially handy for nice shoes that you can’t get wet on the outside. If they’re really nice shoes, you might want to cover the outsides with some plastic wrap, taped in place with blue painter’s tape.

  1. Spray the insides with vodka and let the shoes air dry (make sure you’re not near any open flames!)
  2. Dry them in the sun if possible, in front of a fan if not

Hopefully I don’t have to tell you NOT to put alcohol-laden shoes into a clothes dryer or oven to dry! But don’t.

Once they’re dry take a good sniff, you should be pleasantly surprised. If you’re not happy, try a second round. If a second round doesn’t work, spray the vodka into your mouth until you’ve stopped caring about your stinky shoes.

How To Clean Smelly Shoes With Baking Soda and Water

This method is really great for flip flops and other rubbery or foamy shoes. I have a pair of Oofos slides (very comfy if you have foot issues, BTW!) that I wear around the house all day, and not always with clean feet. Since they’re mostly open I really didn’t think they’d take on any smells. Clearly I was underestimating the strength of my smelly feet, because after about a month I could no longer put them on when my feet were actually clean for fear of transferring the stink back to my feet.

You need three things for this method: a big plastic bag (big enough for your shoes, obviously – these work really well, but if you can’t get these, use one smaller bag for each shoe), baking soda, and water. In warm weather I do it outside. If you do it inside you might want to put the bag in a tub, or sink, or bucket, just in case it leaks.

  1. Sprinkle about half a cup of baking soda into the bag (you can just eyeball it, this isn’t a recipe)
  2. Put the shoes in and fill with water, enough to cover the shoes
  3. Get as much extra air out of the bag as you can, especially if your shoes float, like mine
  4. Close the bag tightly and leave for about twelve hours, turning over once or twice to make sure that every part of the shoes get soaked
  5. Empty the bag and give the shoes a good rinse
  6. Leave them in the sun to dry if possible, or in front of a fan

Incidentally, I also wash my hair with baking soda. It’s pretty useful stuff.

How To Clean Smelly Shoes In A Freezer

This method doesn’t work as well as the other two, but it does have a positive effect and is better than nothing for shoes that just can’t get wet in any way.

Put the stinky shoes in a plastic bag (again, these work really well) and close tightly. Double bag them if that makes you feel better about putting stinky shoes next to your ice cream. Leave them in the freezer for at least 24 hours. If it doesn’t work, console yourself with the ice cream.

And there you have it! Three ways to clean smelly shoes.

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Faylinn Byrne

Wednesday 7th of August 2019

Wow, I never realized that you can leave your shoes in the freezer for 24 hours and that could help clean the smell out. My youngest son does not enjoy taking his shoes off very often, and he tends to sweat a lot in them. I will have to find new shoes that will be comfortable for him to keep playing and running around.

Uzair Aslam

Saturday 27th of April 2019

it is a good technique to deodorize shoes. thanks for sharing

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