How to Get a Terrible Smell Out of Men's Tennis Shoes

by Mary Ylisela

If you're greeted with an unpleasant odor every time you take off your tennis shoes, there's more than just your feet occupying your sneakers. Stinky shoe smell comes from odor-causing bacteria that thrive on the moisture and sweat that accumulate inside your tennis shoes. Terrible shoe smell doesn't have to remain a constant problem. You can avoid embarrassment and the social stigma that comes with consistently smelly shoes by treating your tennis shoes to remove the odor and prevent it from returning.

Items you will need

  • Vacuum
  • Newspaper
  • Spray bottle
  • White vinegar
  • 1/2 cup baking soda
  • Bowl
  • 4 drops cedarwood essential oil
  • Spoon
  • 2 socks
  • 2 rubber bands
  • Laundry detergent
Step 1

Vacuum the insides of your tennis shoes with the hose attachment to remove dirt and dust.

Step 2

Spritz a crumpled up piece of newspaper with a spray bottle full of undiluted white vinegar. Place one vinegar-sprayed newspaper ball inside each tennis shoe immediately after taking them off. Set your shoes in a well-ventilated area for two hours to allow the newspaper to absorb moisture while the vinegar neutralizes the smell.

Step 3

Remove and discard the newspaper.

Step 4

Pour 1/2 cup of baking soda into a bowl. Add 4 drops of cedarwood essential oil. Stir the two ingredients until the cedarwood fragrance is blended into the baking soda.

Step 5

Spoon the cedarwood oil and baking soda mixture into two socks. Secure the ends of the socks with rubber bands to prevent the baking soda mixture from falling out.

Step 6

Slide the socks into your tennis shoes each night to absorb odors overnight.

Step 7

Wash your tennis shoes once or twice each month, depending upon how frequently you wear them. Launder them in the washing machine with laundry detergent and warm water. Fill the shoes with newspaper to hold their shape before allowing them to air-dry completely.


  • Use a different fragrance of essential oil to suit your preferences. Or you can use the baking soda without the addition of an essential oil. Sunshine and fresh air naturally remove terrible shoe smells. Let your shoes air out after each wearing.

Photo Credits

  • Leonard Mc Lane/Digital Vision/Getty Images

About the Author

Mary Ylisela is a former teacher with a Bachelor of Arts in elementary education and mathematics. She has been a writer since 1996, specializing in business, fitness and education. Prior to teaching, Ylisela worked as a certified fitness instructor and a small-business owner.