Simple Ways To Get Rid of Stinky Shoes

Now that spring has finally arrived, soccer has also started. With both kids in soccer, it is sometimes a rush to get from one practice or game to another. Last night was a perfect instance of this. We had to pick Grady up early from his soccer practice, in order to make it to Zoe’s soccer game in the next city over.

Oh, the Smell

Since we were going directly from one field to another, I grabbed my son’s sandals so he could change out of his soccer gear and cleats into something more comfortable. As we were driving, I suddenly started smelling an odor. I was wearing flip-flops and first thought was, is that my feet. I even said something to my husband, but we quickly realized that it wasn’t my feet but my son’s feet sitting behind me. In reality, this wasn’t the first time. For some reason, my son’s shoes have always had an odor issue. I don’t know why but his feet sweat a LOT.

A big cause for shoe odor comes from sweat absorbing into your socks and then shoes. This gives a perfect environment for bacteria to grow, thus causing the smell. I know that is gross and you probably didn’t really want to know the details, sorry! It does sometimes help to know in order to guide you on how to solve the problem. So now, I have finally realized that I need to figure out how to solve the shoe odor problem.

Solutions for Stinky Shoes

I searched the internet looking for solutions for shoe odor. I came across quite a few different ideas. I decided to give a few options a try. I chose ones that included items I already had on hand, as well as how easy they were.

Baking Soda & Essential Oil

For my son’s tennis shoes, I thought I would give the baking soda and essential oil a try. It is a really simple solution.

I grabbed a couple of coffee filters, baking soda, and tea tree oil.

Coffee filter, tea tree oil, and baking soda sitting on a counter
  • Add 5 drops of tea tree oil to the baking soda and gently mix it in the coffee filter
Coffee filters with a mixture of baking soda and tea tree oil inside
  • Gently place the coffee filter with the baking soda mixture inside the shoes and leave overnight (or at least 12 hours)
Running shoes with coffee filters inside sitting on a counter
  • Gently remove the coffee filter in the morning and toss it

Results – After removing the coffee filters carefully, I am happy to say the stinky shoe smell is gone! I think next time I would use less tea tree oil. It left a residual smell in the shoes although it’s definitely an improvement!

Black Tea Bags

I thought I would try another option to see which worked better. So for his soccer cleats, I used black tea bags.

Lipton tea bags sitting on a counter
  • Simply place 2 tea bags in each shoe
Soccer cleats with Lipton tea bags inside sitting on a counter
  • Place the tea bags towards the toe of the shoe as this is where most odors come from
  • Let them sit overnight or for at least 12 hours
  • Toss tea bags and wear your fresh shoes
  • You can use fresh tea bags or used tea bags
    • If using used tea bags, make sure to dry them out before placing them in the shoes

Results – My husband gave me kind of a funny look as I picked up my son’s cleats this morning and stuck my nose inside. I then asked him to do the same, which he nervously did. I am happy to report that there was no smelly foot odor! Hooray!!!


Febreeze is another option if you have it on hand. You can obviously use it for more than just shoes. I ended up spraying it on his shin guards as they always have the same sweat odor.

Soccer shin guards and a bottle of Febreeze sitting on a counter

Results – While I can’t say if Febreeze will work as well on shoes, it worked great on his shin guards.

Even More Solutions

There are even more solutions that I didn’t try but maybe they are better options for you.


  • Simply leave the shoes in the freezer overnight
  • Allow them to thaw and dry before wearing.
  • You can put them in a pillowcase if you are afraid the shoes will leave dirt in the freezer

Orange Peels

After you enjoy a juicy orange, you can use those leftover peels. Not only will it remove the stinky odor, but it will also leave a pleasant citrus smell.

  • Place the orange peels in the shoes
  • Let them sit overnight or for at least 12 hours
  • Toss orange peels

Dryer Sheets

  • Cut a dryer sheet in half
  • Place one half in each shoe
  • Leave the dryer sheet there until you are ready to wear your shoes


Here are a few tips to help prevent stinky odors in your shoes.

  • Make sure you wear clean, dry socks
  • Wash your feet well, especially after workouts or any activity that causes your feet to be sweaty
  • Store your shoes with scrunched up newspaper or cedar chips
  • Allow your shoes to dry after wearing before storing them away
  • If possible, let them sit in the sun

If you would like a few additional options, you can visit

 New Life for Stinky Shoes

So, if you are like me and have a child with stinky feet or smelly shoes of your own, there is help! Before you toss your shoes out because of smell, give some of these solutions a try to give your shoes a new lease on life. If your shoes have a really intense odor, you may need to try a couple of these options.

I would love to hear which of these solutions worked best for you. Or do you have another product or solution that you have come across that works amazing! I would love to hear about it. Please comment in the section below.

Now that your shoes are like new, check out my posts on How To Remove Grease Stains With A Simple Ingredient or Easy Way To Remove Yellow Sweat Stains From Clothes.

34 thoughts on “Simple Ways To Get Rid of Stinky Shoes”

  1. Awesome tips Julie! The smells are already gone. I do feel like they got somewhat trapped in my carpet, so once I finished using the tea bag solutions in my shoes, I got a professional carpet cleaner to come in and give my home the reset it needed. Thank you so much for sharing.

  2. I have tried the Fabreez in my husband’s work boots before, not very good. Came out smelling like flowers and feet. Have used baking soda for a while now.

  3. Wow love this idea for reusing old tea bags on stinky shoe odor! That’s an ingenious way to use them one more time before they end up in the landfill! I drink tea every morning (and reuse the bags a couple times), but am definitely going to start adding this to my routine now too : )

  4. I knew about the baking soda and coffee grounds. The tea tree oil and tea bags was something new for me. I will try anything and everything to get rid of stinky shoes.

    1. The tea tree oil definitely worked. Personally, I would only use a couple drops because while my son’s shoes didn’t smell like rotten feet, they had a very strong tea tree oil smell.

  5. OMG, talk about perfect timing! My husband left some shoes on our back porch this week and when the kids and I came home one afternoon we all looked at each other like “what is that smell?!” and I threw the shoes outside. I’ll definitely have to try this on those shoes. Thanks for sharing!

  6. I’ve tried the baking soda with essential oils but never heard of using tea bags! I’m definitely going to try this on my kiddos stinky soccer shoes!

  7. I can’t (yet can) believe I am putting this out into the web-iverse…my feet are the purveyors of the funk. ALL THE TIME. It’s annoying. I am going to consider strapping my feet in essential oil and coffee filters. My feet won’t stick and I will relatively good for environment, right? *sigh*

    1. While my son’s shoes are the biggest offenders in our house, I will admit that mine have also caused some odors at times. And that’s definitely a half glass full outlook 🙂

  8. Thanks for the tips! I have a 2 year old boy so I know these will come in handy. I also have a piece of furniture that has been around smoke, so I think I will try this in that too!

  9. I’m a marathoner and ultrarunner, so I’m the stinky shoe offender in my house. I’ve tried baking soda with good success, but I like the tea bag idea…no potential mess.

    1. It worked great and definitely easy to clean. I just tossed the tea bags when I was done but I wondered if I could have used them again in the shoes at another time.

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