Smelly Shoes: Get rid of odours and make your shoes last longer

Smelly shoes are the epitome of a bad smell; once you’ve got them, they won’t go away. But in a time where most of us are trying to waste less, you don’t want to be throwing out your old footwear because of a little stench – especially when you can easily spruce them up and make them feel good as new again.

But how can you get rid of smelly shoes, exactly? From what causes them to the remedies you need to know, we’ve got you covered…

What causes smelly shoes?

All that heat in an enclosed shoe is bound to result in sweating – but sometimes, even sandals get smelly. The answer is generally due to the 250,000 sweat glands each foot has, which encourage bacteria – particularly if you’re wearing the same shoes regularly.

Surprisingly, though, it’s not actually the sweat that causes the smell. Bacteria that lives on the skin eats the feet’s sweat, producing isovaleric acid, causing the odour. Athlete’s Foot can also contribute.

How to prevent smelly shoes

There are steps you can take before you even start wearing shoes, to minimise the smell. The NHS advises:

  • Using a spray deodorant or antiperspirant on your feet.
  • Putting medicated insoles, which have a deodorising effect, in your shoes.
  • Using a foot powder to absorb sweat.
  • Trying socks for sweaty feet – some sports socks are designed to keep feet dry, and you can get special antibacterial socks.
  • Wearing leather or canvas shoes, as they let your feet breathe, unlike plastic ones.
  • Always wearing socks with closed-toe shoes.

It’s also not advisable to put shoes on immediately after showering – water between the toes can encourage bacteria. Also, where possible, let your shoes breathe somewhere ventilated for 24 hours between wears.