Sustainability made simple

This Is How You Get Rid of Smelly Shoes With Tea Bags

shoe deodorizer diy
Foto: CC0 / Pixabay / Valeriia Miller

Looking for a quick and effective remedy for your smelly shoes? With our ten easy shoe deodorizer DIYs, you'll get rid of the odor easy naturally.

No matter how vigilant you might be with personal hygiene, even the most fastidious of us are likely to encounter smelly shoes at some point. Summertime is when it is probably most noticeable since the warmer weather and increased activity will see us sweating more, but even in the colder season, it is still a problem for some. Why? Bacteria are to blame!

That is why proper foot hygiene is essential to keeping your shoes smelling fresh — and for hygiene, washing beats deodorizing: Avoid using antiperspirant or deodorant on your feet as these often contain potentially harmful aluminum chloride.

Here are a few simple tips on preventing heavy perspiration and the resulting unpleasant shoe odor:

  • Be careful not to wear the same pair of shoes all the time.
  • If possible, leave your shoes outside to air-dry after wearing them for longer periods.
  • Most sneakers and sports shoes can be washed in the washing machine at any time. When doing this, dry them properly, at best in the sun.
  • To prevent excessive perspiration, you can rub baby powder on your feet.

In conclusion: there is no need to head to the store and pick up an off-the-shelf shoe deodorizer. You can easily concoct your own DIY shoe deodorizer at home using all-natural products, which will not only neutralize odors but also combat odor-producing bacteria that might dwell in your footwear.

Tip: Make sure to always dry your shoes properly, as a moist interior of shoes is the perfect environment for those smelly bacteria to grow.

1. DIY Shoe Deodorizer Spray

Essential oils are a good way to fight smelly shoes and kill off odor-producing bacteria.
Essential oils are a good way to fight smelly shoes and kill off odor-producing bacteria.
(Foto: CC0 / Pixabay / Skitterphoto)

First up, you can try your hand at formulating your own homemade shoe deodorizer spray. Using a reusable spray bottle, fill three-quarters of it with water, add a quarter cup of vodka (yes, vodka!) and a few drops of your favorite essential oils. Eucalyptus or peppermint essential oils eliminate funky shoe odors, but you can try sandalwood, lavender or tea tree essential oils, depending on your tastes.

Remember that with this liquid-based shoe deodorizer, ‘less is more’, you don’t want to overdo it and completely soak the insoles of your shoes. A light spray and allowing the shoes to dry is usually enough to get rid of odors, and just repeat the process if smells persist.

2. Deodorize Shoes With Tea Bags

The humble herbal tea bag will help reduce funky smells in your shoes.
The humble herbal tea bag will help reduce funky smells in your shoes.
(Foto: CC0 / Pixabay / Humusak)

This one is super simple, and you will wonder why you hadn’t heard of it before. You know that tasty organic peppermint tea you have in the kitchen pantry? Well, grab a few of them and pop two or three (dry of course!) into each of your smelly shoes. Then give them a day or two to work their magic.

You will be surprised how effective this is for most cases of shoe odor. The dried leaves will not only absorb stubborn smells, they will also soak up any lingering moisture inside the shoes, leaving a light and fresh minty scent.

3. Activated Charcoal for Smelly Shoes

Activated charcoal is an effective shoe deodorizer.
Activated charcoal is an effective shoe deodorizer.
(Foto: CC0 / Pixabay / mommyandlove)

So this one is a little unusual because you will be using activated charcoal as a shoe deodorizer. For those of us who don’t know what activated charcoal actually does: ‘activated’ charcoal means that the charcoal has been treated to increase its overall surface area, which makes it even more adsorbent (yes, ad- not absorbent). This means it can attract and help expel diarrhea-inducing bacteria or gases and thereby decrease bloating or filter water by adsorbing toxic material contained in the water.

Activated charcoal has therefore been used since ancient times as a treatment for all sorts of ailments. And here, it doubles as an effective odor neutralizer. All you need to do is take some activated charcoal, pour into some old socks or pieces of fabric, tie them up tightly so the black coal doesn’t make a mess of your shoes, and let them sit in the soles for a couple of days to work their magic.

4. DIY Shoe Deodorizing Sachets

Another quick and easy home remedy for stinky shoes is making up your own deodorizing sachets. Just take some baking soda (is there anything baking soda isn’t helpful for?) and arrowroot powder and place in a small bit of cloth. Add a few drops of your favorite essential oil, fold the cloth and place it inside your shoes.

Much like the tea bag trick, you will need to let the sachets sit for a couple of days inside the shoes, allowing the powder mix to absorb those smells and any moisture fully. And, of course, you can repeat the process if a slight odor remains.

5. DIY Shoe Deodorizer Powder

This is just the messy version of the odor-eating sachets mentioned previously. It will likely get all over the place, but for those particularly smelly shoes, this might be needed to eliminate unpleasant shoe smells. Take your baking soda and arrowroot powder and generously dump them into your shoes. Add a couple of drops of essential oil.

Given that the powders will make contact with every inch of surface inside your shoes, this is good for persistent smells. Let the shoes sit longer than the previous methods discussed here (say 3 or 4 days) before removing them. If all goes well, your shoes should come up mostly odor-free.

6–11: Extra DIY Shoe Deodorizer Tips You Need to Try

Give those old newspapers a second life as DIY shoe deodorizers.
Give those old newspapers a second life as DIY shoe deodorizers.
(Foto: CC0 / Pixabay / Couleur)

6. Kitty Litter

Anyone who owns a cat will know that our beloved creatures are sometimes smelly ones, and kitty litter is a must-have, particularly if you live in a confined space with your feline. Kitty litter’s odor-neutralizing and highly absorbent properties make it a perfect shoe deodorizer.

7. Old Newspaper

A bit like kitty litter, the scrunched-up newspaper is great at soaking up odor-producing moisture still present in your shoes. Add a few drops of essential oil and it can become an effective remedy for smelly shoe.

8. Dryer Sheets

Dryer sheets are normally used in your clothes dryer to help reduce the build-up of static electricity in fabrics during a drying cycle. But they also double as quite effective shoe deodorizers. Much like you would do with old newspaper, stuff a few dryer sheets into your shoes and let them sit for two days or so to get rid of any smells.

9. Orange Peel 

Don’t just throw away your orange peels. Instead, take a couple of larger pieces and pop them inside your smelly shoes. Leave them overnight, and you will be surprised by how fresh they smell the following day. You’d be surprised about the amount of uses orange peel has — from skin care to household cleaning.

10. Cedar

This one is a little more rustic, but who doesn’t enjoy the wonderful scent of cedar? Take a fresh block of cedar (small enough to fit in your shoes obviously), and again, just let your shoes sit for a couple of days. Not only will the cedar soak up smells and moisture, it will leave your shoes smelling forest fresh — and help keep spiders out of your house at the same time.

11. Freezer

You can toss pillows or plush toys into the freezer in order to effectively get rid of bed bugs. This method works the same way with smelly shoes by eliminating bacteria. Simply put your stinky shoes in a bag and freeze them for 24 hours.

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