8 Tips for keeping your shoes smelling fresher for longer

We’ve all been there. That moment when the waft of smelly feet smell hits your nose, you look around frantically for the guilty culprit, and then slowly come to the realisation that it might be you (or it might not, you’re never quite sure, even when you’re entirely alone).

Is there anything more embarrassing than being in close proximity to others, for example on an airplane or in a meeting, suspecting that your shoes are smelly, and worrying about your neighbour being able to smell your stinky shoes? Likewise, is there anything sadder than having to throw your favourite shoes away because, well, they are just too stinky?

With that, here are my top tips for keeping your shoes smelling fresh for as long as possible.

  1. Don’t walk in the rain

That’s right, if it’s raining outside, don’t leave the house! Only joking. But seriously, if it is raining outside then put your ballerina slippers or loafers away and wear something more waterproof instead, at least until you get to your dry destination. In general, and particularly when it’s raining, it’s important to keep the insides of your shoes clean and dry, because prolonged dampness is a breeding ground for bacteria, and bacteria is the source of almost all bad smells. When it’s raining you want to wear shoes that have good soles and go up as far as your ankles so that rain doesn’t seep into the inside of your soles.

If your shoes do get wet on the inside, then make sure your dry them out before you wear them again. In fact, once you get to your destination, take them off and let them dry out before putting them on again if you can.

For the fashion conscious amongst you, if your waterproof boots are just not trendy enough, then get in the habit of carrying a shoe bag with you that contains your more stylish clogs, to be worn once you get to your trendy destination.

2. Keep your tootsies clean

No, I am not accusing you of not washing, but are you mindful of the excess skin and bacteria that accumulates around the hard edges of your soles and under your toe nails? This dead skin rubs off into your shoes with friction when you walk, giving, you guessed it, bacteria a lovely place to feed and grow inside your shoes.

Treat yourself to a pedicure, or get yourself a pumice stone to slough all that dead skin off on a regular basis, so that these cells don’t end up in your shoes. Trimming your toenails and scraping out the dead cells from under your toenails is also essential for “fresh feet”.

The Body Shop do a great selection of foot freshening products, including this foot file, which is my personal favourite:


Your feet will look more groomed and feel smooth and silky, so it’s a win-win for everyone.

3. Wear Socks

It may be stating the obvious, but socks act as a protective barrier between the insides of your shoes and the moisture (and bacteria) coming out of your feet. If your style of shoe does not look good with socks, then make the effort to find those invisible socks that don’t go beyond the lining of your shoe. My favourites are these ones from Aldo:


Also pay attention to the fabric of your socks. Avoid synthetic materials as these tend to get more smelly more quickly (think sweaty plastic) and go for natural fibres such as cotton where possible.

There is one exception to this rule of course which is sandals and socks. Socks do not need to be worn with sandals unless you are making a serious fashion statement or are stuck in the 70s.

4. Take your shoes off

Like every other part of the body, feet sweat, and the less they can be sweating inside of your shoes (and the more drying time your shoes can have without your feet in them) the better.

Of course, I’m not expecting you to take your shoes off on a night out (beware of broken glass!), but if you work in an office and sit at a desk all day, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to slip your shoes off every once in a while, or have a second pair of shoes under your desk that you can alternate between during the day.

5. Store your shoes in a dry, ventilated place

This takes me to the next subject of ventilation. Yes it might be really convenient to keep your gym shoes in your gym bag, but this is going to be a recipe for one sure thing, stinky shoes and a stinky gym bag.

Give your shoes the honour of being left in a warm dry place so they can dry out sensibly after you have been giving them a battering. Do not, for heaven’s sake, keep your shoes stored in any kind of plastic bag, although fabric bags can be okay as long as they are breathable (and they themselves are left in ventilated, dry place).

6. Wash them if you can

One of the best features of white Converse shoes, apart from their looking very cool of course, is that you can chuck them in the washing machine and they come out looking (and smelling) as good as new. This is often the case of many sneakers or plimsoles. If your shoes are made of canvas or fabric and look like they have seen better days, then think about whether it would be worth risking putting them in the washing machine to give them a new lease of life.

I would recommend this for fashion shoes, but please do not do this with any technical shoes, such as running shoes, where the form of the shoe is essential for the health and protection of your feet. Washing these might damage the integrity of the technology within them, which you have paid so dearly for (don’t do it).

7. Use shoe fresheners

One of my favourite tips to keeping your shoes fresh is to pop some shoe fresheners in them when they are not being worn. Pick ones that stand out and have a fresh smell that is to your liking, and pop them into your shoes whenever you are not wearing them. This is particularly good for boots or trainers. My favourites are these smiley sneaker balls, available from Amazon:


8. Replace them

Of course, all good things must come to an end at some point, and whilst you do all that you can to make your favourite shoes last forever, at some point, you might have to realise that they have reached the end of their road. Dispose of your shoes responsibility — donate them or give them away to be recycled — and treat yourself to something new, so that you can apply all of the above tips from the get-go.

If you found these tips useful and you would like to learn more about Nada or subscribe to her email list, you can sign up at www.icouldicaniam.com