How To Clean Stinky Tennis Shoes

Teen buying shoes

Bacteria building up on your feet and shoes cause foot odor. The bacteria build up is due to moisture and heat caused by running, walking or simply wearing your tennis shoes for long periods of time.

There are several ways to clean stinky tennis shoes. You can try one or several methods described below, until you can find the method that best works for you.

1.    Spray disinfectant

  • Use disinfectant that claims to eliminate bacteria.
  • Try using household sprays or bleach disinfecting spray, especially if your tennis shoes are white. If you have colored tennis shoes, use only disinfectants without bleach.
  • Use anti-fungal spray to disinfect stinky shoes.
  • Vinegar is known to be an alternate disinfectant. Spray enough to cover your shoes to kill growing bacteria.

2.    Use a bleach solution to clean your shoes. Mix 4 cups of water with at least 2 tablespoons of bleach. Dampen a towel or sponge and wipe the insides and outer parts of your shoes. Be careful when working with bleach, to avoid spills and accidents.

3.    Try the washer method. Place your shoes in a washing machine together with a load of jeans or towels. Use regular detergent to wash the load on a regular cycle for washing.

4.    Wash and disinfect your shoes innersoles. Try removing the innersoles of your tennis shoes and hand wash them. Air dry the innersoles and spray strong disinfectant to kill bacteria. If the innersoles are not removable, liberally spray disinfectant on the inner sides of your shoes and dry overnight.

5.    Spray or saturate rubbing alcohol. Directly spray rubbing alcohol with at least 70% proof inside your shoes and saturate with the alcohol. Hang your shoes to dry and when half-way dry, stuff them with recycled plastic bags to stretch the form to the right foot size and avoid shrinkage.

6.    Stick newspaper wads inside your shoes. After each use, wad up enough newspaper to stick in your shoes to absorb foul odor and moisture. Leave the wads inside your shoes overnight or for several hours.

7.    Spray scent of essential oil. Spray the insides of your shoes with Cedar oil, a strong and effective essential oil to use. You can also make your own blend of oils mixing a few drops of various scents.

8.    Place your shoes inside the freezer. Some believe freezing can kill odor-causing bacteria. Try placing your shoes in a plastic bag and place them in a freezer for a few hours.

9.    Sprinkle commercial baking soda. Evenly spread commercially available baking soda inside your shoes. Shake out the excess baking soda powder.

10.    Make odor absorbers or odor eaters.

  • Fill in socks or knee highs with kitty litter and leave them in your shoes overnight.
  • Fill up an old pair of socks with baking soda, seal it and leave it inside your shoe for several days.
  • Place deodorizing powder for a kitty litter box in a coffee filter. Add baking soda and tie the coffee filters and place them inside your shoes.

11.    Sprinkle baby powder. Regularly sprinkle baby powder preferably without cornstarch on the inside of your shoes to keep them dry and avoid sweat from causing bad odors.

To dry your tennis shoes you can:

  1. Use a dryer that reaches temperatures hot enough to kill most bacteria.
  2. Air dry your pair of shoes, by simply hanging them out.
  3. Expose your shoes to the hot mid-day sun to allow the sun’s UV rays to kill viruses and bacteria.


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