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Stinky Shoe Solutions

Since we moved to the country, down a dusty gravel road, I have become an expert in all things dusty and dirty.  To give all this dirt a good home, I even set aside a room in our home and named it in honor of the great outdoors, "The Mud Room".  (Yes, I lead a glamorous life.)  An even though dirt/mud has a room named in its honor, it doesn't have the presence of mind to stay contained in one room - but instead moves freely throughout my home. 

One thing that has stayed put in this room is the collective stench of smelly shoes.  I found this little video clip (45 seconds of funny!) and thought it was a good depiction of the effect of my mud room/stinky shoe room.  Go ahead - laugh a little. 

As hard as it is to believe to me, it seems my running shoes (the many pairs) have been a big contributor to this ambience in this room.  Many long runs, wet trails, rainy conditions...etc, etc...it all adds up.  So I am on a mission to fight all that is smelly and evil in this room and return it to its prestigous Mud Room status - minus the stink.  I have armed myself with some great tips from ehow, how to clean, thriftyfun, tipnut, startsampling.  Here is a sampling of the top ideas:

1.  Wash your feet.  Ok, I do this - swear.  This was the top tip on all the lists - wash your feet with soap and water.   Check.  Got it.  Easy one.  Now - my kids feet - that is a different story - they are continually dirty - makes it clear why their cute little shoes smell like a small but rancid animal has taken up residence deep inside.  One other tip mentioned that bleaching socks each washing helps too.   Soaking in black tea was mentioned - but its a "nope" on my list. 

2. Baking soda sprinkled in the shoe.  Seems to be a favorite of many because it isThis_stinks  cheap, safe and environmentally safe.  Alum, baby powder, and foot powders were also in this group of tips.  There were a couple tips about swirling a shot of rubbing alcohol around the shoe and letting it dry to kill odor and bacteria.

3.  Freezing your shoes.  Many, many suggestions of putting shoes in the freezer to freeze out the odor causing bacteria.  Some variations suggested putting them in plastic bags and then freezing.  Others - throw them out in winter.  There was some mention that USC did a study and this was the number one solution.  I couldn't find it - so we will leave that as a internet myth. First, I can't believe this works (my shoes are smelly in the winter and I regularly freeze to death) and second, this is gross - no can do for me!  Could you imagine cooking dinner for your family and one of them saying, "gee, hon, dinner has a different taste - what did you try?"   "Oh, just a subtle marinate of my running shoes."  Ick!

4.  Amazing household products.  Many tips on using "Bounce" dryer sheets in shoes, Febreeze sprays, Clorox Antibacterial sprays/cleaners, rolled up newspapers, etc.  Worth a shot if you have them laying around.

5.  Kitty litter.  Bag up a little (unused) litter in panty hose or netting and place in your shoes to attract moisture and smell.

And my favorite tip - although I probably won't try it - came from the Start Sampling link:

"charcoal also helps absorb odors. but not the bricks that or premoistened with lighter fluid. unless they are real bad then add them and a lit match."

Alright, I am armed and I am going in.   If you don't hear from me in a few days, call my husband first and then 9-1-1. Better let them know to send the hazmat crew.  In the meantime, if you happen to fight the battle of stinky shoes in your house, feel free to send your tips my way.

Photo by camnlo4130


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Art Dinkin

Be sure to keep a pair of "old stinky's" in the garage so you don't ruin a good pair when we run the Living History Farms outing. :)

Michael Day

You must learn to become one with the dirt. I imagine shoes in the feezer would work because they would simply be in the freezer where you couldn't smell them! The nasties that likely cause the smell would shrug off a trip to the freezer with no problem and would come back like gangbusters once back in the mud room. But, I suppose putting them in the freezer after EVERY run would not give the shoes time to fester... It is the price we pay...

Kent A

Unfortunately, I know all too well about the LHF Race. After running that race, it isn't just from foot sweat that your shoes stink - especially from the last creek crossing. That's the beauty of the race. It's an excuse to finally throw away that ratty, worn-out pair of running shoes that the inner pack rat couldn't bare to part.


haha...well thank goodness I've never had a problem with the stinky shoes. My fiance, however, could use your tips. I think some people are just prone to stinky feet! Thanks for the tips :)


My main concern about freezing shoes has nothing to do with the added food seasoning.

None of the articles referenced are specifically for running shoes. Is there any chance freezing your shoes could have an impact on the cushioning and support system of running shoes? I can definitely imagine this being the case if the shoes weren't given enough time to thaw before being put to use.

Funny video, by the way!


Art and Kent - I have my old fav's set aside just for the run. There is something rewarding about trashing them and then retiring them to the garbage after the big race each year. Kent - are you running again this year?

Michael - One with dirt? I am trying - but it isn't coming naturally.

Doug - I couldn't find anything on the effects of freezing shoes on the structure. There were other articles (and posts) on washing them in the washing machine. I just couldn't relate to either suggestion and didn't look any farther.

Kent A

Amy - that is one race I can't miss. I keep enlisting new people to it with me every year. Last year, it was my lovely wife. I got the joy of doing the last 2 miles and at least one rope climb with her after I finished. This year is my 13-year old daughter and possibly my nephew.

I really wish Central Iowa had more trail races (real trail not bike trails) to do. In volunteering for the North Face Endurance Challenge, I became acquainted with some of the KC Trail Nerds, and I was envious of them. You can only run the streets of Des Moines and Polk City before you'd like to see the deer and rabbits where they really belong in the woods.


Two words: Shoe Trees. Good cedar wood shoe trees absorb the foot odor and the persperation moisture before it turns stinky--and give your shoes more life.

I guess the alternative would be to move closer to the public landfil to cover up the stinky shoe odor...


Wow these are really good tips. I'm going to need them. My husband has the most horrific swamp foot. He goes through those Odor Eaters like they're candy LOL

pat monahan

I told my wife the only solution is to have 7 pairs of shoes (one for each day) and to rotate.

I don't think she bought it.


Haha! Thanks for the giggle on a boring Friday afternoon. I like the 7 pairs of shoes idea :)


Sorry, but my shoe and feet never smell icky. Right!! Ha! I've been changing my insoles once the smellines(?) becomes too much.

Database Diva

Gee Pat, I recently went through the house picking up pairs of running shoes that were lying about (all mine) and I came up with a dozen. Some were worn out and had been retired to back yard (as in cleaning up after the dog) duty, others were shoes I tried, that felt OK in the beginning but didn't stand the test of time. By the way, how many pairs of shoes does your wife have? :D

Is there a cure for "stinky shirt". I just got around to unpacking from the ET trip, and I think my shirt fermented in the plastic laundry bag. I bet after one whiff of it, your shoes would smell pretty good.


I won't comment on how many running shoes I have, but let's say its enough to take more more space than one person should have in a mud room for 4 people. I don't care about fashion and work shoes, but running shoes are a different matter. On my list is to get another pair this weekend (for the same reason as Diva) - mine aren't cutting it.

Diva - that smell from the bag is pure memories - that trip looked awesome.
Bella- I really need to experiment with insoles more.

Bob Gentile


LOLOL good video clip :-)

mine seems like have been stinking worse over the past few months, I did wash them in the washing machine and that has helped...it didn't shrink them at all.

oh well, stronger Heart or stinky shoes I will take the heart :-)and put up with the smell, umm maybe:)


O Boy - If i find a pair of runners in my freezer - it's all your fault!



That's a great video. I'm not sure how I missed this post earlier in the week! Great stuff.

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