How to Remove Stinky Odors From Shoes

by Contributor ; Updated September 28, 2017

Over time, our shoes can develop bad odors, and we'll consider throwing out our favorite tennis shoes just to save ourselves some embarrassment. These odors come from bacteria growing in the dark, damp corners of our shoes, and sometimes from fungus that's been transferred from a foot infection. You can reclaim your stinky shoes, however, with a few cheap home remedies.

Spray down the insides of your stinky shoes with a disinfectant spray like Lysol, or one made specifically for footwear. This is the first step to reclaiming your shoes, as you want to kill the odor-causing bacteria.

Find an old pair of panty hose or thin socks. Cut the panty hose so that each foot is about six inches long or so. Fill the hose or socks with charcoal and tie the ends. Aquarium charcoal (activated) is the most effective in removing stinky odors from shoes.

After each use, stuff the baggies of charcoal into your shoes and leave them there until the next use. The charcoal will absorb any new odors as they appear.


  • Wadded up newspaper is also very effective at removing odors. Try to wear cotton socks when possible. They keep the sweat from accumulating in shoes, and sweat causes the stinky bacteria to thrive.

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  • "The Doctors Book of Home Remedies for Men"; Jack Croft; 2000

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