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How to Deodorize Shoes

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

Past Topics

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Can You Pair a Black Leather Jacket with Brown Footwear?  -
April 25, 2013
The black leather jacket is timeless, classic, and quintessential male & stylish. But can you wear brown footwear with a black leather jacket? Aaron Marino of alpha m. says yes, yes, yes. The black leather jacket is incredibly versatile, but the brown adds balance. The brown adds richness to the outfit that the black just doesn't do. Make sure your belt is brown too, however. Step outside of yRead More»
Spot Fake Shoe Leather | Men's Shoes -
April 9, 2013
Have you ever found a pair of shoes and inspected them closer to try to determine if they are leather or not? Aaron Marino of alpha m. says if you are buying a quality shoe, you can rest assure that the shoe is leather. If you are looking at more stylized fashion shoes, you may have to question if the shoe is leather or not. If you suspect fishy, it's probably synthetic (creases cleanly, doesn't fRead More»
Work Your Wardrobe Effectively | Creating Men's Outfits  -
March 20, 2013
Have you ever had one of those day where you have no idea what you are going to wear? Aaron Marino of alpha m. starts with the shoes and works his way up. He starts with boots --> cargo pants --> medium gray v-neck sweater --> fabric belt, and boom!, a spectacular outfit for the day! Alpha hopes that this inspires you to step outside of the box. If you are working your wardrobe efficientlRead More»
Rolling Old School in Galoshes | Rubber Boots -
January 25, 2013
Aaron Marino of alpha m. discusses options. He recommends galoshes as the best option. Snow pretty much annoys Alpha. And if you are in a part of the world where it snows often, you have to figure out a way of keeping your shoes from being destroyed. Read More»

Orthotic Shoe Inserts -
January 24, 2013
Pain is never a good thing, especially when it stems from sore, achy feet and interferes with every step we take. Chronic foot pain and its limitations affect millions of men worldwide of all ages, backgrounds, and activity levels; leaving no one exempt from its possible wrath. Foot disorders can be so restrictive that many suffers' lives are impaired due to pain and lost functionality. Fallen arcRead More»
Everything Shoelace -
December 11, 2012
Gentlemen, look at your shoes. Are they lace-ups? If so, are the laces the original laces the shoes came with, or did you replace them? Shoelaces don't seem to be significant enough to spend time or brain cells worrying about, but, no surprise, I'm here to tell you they are! Two skinny strands of fabric or leather; subtle shoelaces have the capability of making or breaking an outfit. Sounds crazy,Read More»
Men's Boot Styles -
December 6, 2012
It's hard to believe it's December already. Cold weather always turns my thoughts to winter garb, and today is no different as I notice how cold my feet are. Sure, I could have been practical and grabbed a thick pair of socks, but, instead, my thoughts went straight to BOOTS! Yes, cold weather and boots make the perfect match, so now's the time for all boot-lovin men to knock off the dirt and brinRead More»
Johnston & Murphy Shoes and Boots -
November 7, 2012
Reference: Johnston & Murphy Gentleman, Aaron Marino of alpha m. is blown away with the good looking shoes and boots that Johnston & Murphy is offering this season. They have timelessly styled shoes and boots. Alpha shows examples. They are sexy and cost a bit more because of the high quality. The prices are around $195 - $395. Matching belts are also a perk with this company. They have gRead More»
To Boot New York | Men's Shoe Company -
August 22, 2012
To Boot New York Nordstrom: To Boot New York Zappos: To Boot New York Aaron Marino of alpha m. shares with viewers one of his favorite men's shoe manufacturers. To Boot New York shoes are handmade in Italy and sell for around $295 to $395. Aaron illustrates some of the quality and sexy shoes that the company designs. They sell men's dress shoes, men's comfortable casual shoes, and men's fashion snRead More»

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