Ooooh, that smell. Can’t you smell that smell? Ooooh, that smell. Gentlemen, if people sing this Lynyrd Skynard song whenever you take your shoes off, chances are your shoes are in need of deodorizing!
Seriously, we all know just how brutal smelly shoes and boots can be, but what’s a guy to do – after all, feet sweat. Yes, they do, but that doesn’t mean we have to settle for being the guy whose shoes make people run for cover.
Feet perspire, especially in shoes that don’t offer much ventilation. The sweat causes bacteria to grow in this dark, dank opportune environment, and like other bacteria producing areas of the body (underarm and crotch), bacteria stinks! Naturally, no one wants to dispose of any shoes before their time, nor do they want to live with the embarrassment of nasty smelling footwear. Well, fear no more… I’ve compiled a list of remedies that should prove effective in eliminating all evidence of shoe stench and the image wrecking bacteria that lurks within.
• Nothing helps prevent or minimize “that smell” like socks. Most socks are absorbent and that’s just what they’ll do – sop up all that sweat, so it doesn’t end up inside the fabric or leather of the shoe. It’s a preventive that works wonders.
• Don’t wear the same pair of shoes everyday. Wearing the same shoes day in and day out guarantees they’ll smell from the overabundance of bacteria growth. Rotate your shoes, so they have time to breathe and air out.
• Wash your shoes. Toss non-leather athletic shoes, or any shoes that can stand up to water into the washing machine with laundry detergent. Obviously, this can’t be done frequently without damaging the shoes, but it can be done periodically to clean both the inside and outside of shoes.
• Use a commercial shoe deodorizer, which can be found in pharmacies, grocery stores, shoe stores, sporting good stores, and online. Sprays, powders, and even deodorizing insoles are available.
• My favorite way to battle the stink is to freeze-kill the bacteria. Put shoes or boots into a plastic bag, close it up, and place them in the freezer overnight or longer. Take them out the next day and voila – no stench! Unfortunately, this is not a once and done remedy; it has to be repeated as often as needed. Be careful with delicate leathers or other materials that could be damaged by freezing and limit their exposure. No freezer? No problem if it’s winter. Put shoes outside or in the car when freezing temperatures prevail – just keep them dry.
• Want to enhance the effectiveness of freezing odiferous footwear? Generously sprinkle baking soda into the shoes before popping them into the freezer. Baking soda absorbs odors, which will boost odor control. Before putting them on, dump the baking soda out.
• Dryer sheets don’t only freshen up clothes – they’re great for camouflaging shoe odor. Put two or three dryer sheets into each shoe and leave them there until you wear the shoes again. If the sheets lose their scent in the meantime, simply replace them.
• A couple tablespoons of Borax sprinkled into each shoe and left in overnight does a great job of eliminating odors, too. Just make sure to dump the Borax out before wearing the shoes.
• Sachets designed for dresser drawers can help mask shoe odors. Put one in each shoe and leave in until worn again. The downside is most sachets are flowery smelling, which some guys may not prefer. Cedar chips or balls, designed for drawers or shoes, are available and will smell like cedar, not flowers, for those looking for an earthy, masculine scent.
• Charcoal briquettes aren’t just for barbequing anymore! Wipe or quickly rinse the charcoal dust off the briquettes and place two or three in each shoe or boot. Leave in overnight, or until the shoes are worn again. Charcoal’s effective because it, too, absorbs odors.
There are many more odor-eating remedies online, from cat litter to vodka, which seem more involved and messier than the remedies I listed. That’s not to say they don’t work; they’re just more complicated, but please give them a try if you’d like. One thing to consider when deodorizing footwear: it seems to make more sense to kill the odor causing bacteria than to mask it. Masking odors is like using deodorant or cologne instead of bathing to get rid of body funk. Eventually, the bacteria will dominate the situation, causing an event worse odor. Alternating deodorizing and freezing may be the best of both worlds that produce the greatest control. Do whatever it takes to save your shoes and your reputation. None of us want to be remembered as the guy with the stinky shoes!
by Aaron Marino