Why Do My Shoes Still Smell After Washing? Causes and How to Get the Smell Out of Shoes After Washing

Why Do My Shoes Still Smell After Washing? Causes and How to Get the Smell Out of Shoes After Washing

Have you ever washed your shoes but still been embarrassed by the smell? It’s a common issue, but it doesn’t have to be permanent. We’ve got all the tips and tricks you need to help you get rid of those smelly shoes and keep your footwear smelling fresh.

From washing and drying solutions to DIY sweat absorbers and foot care tips, read on to learn all the secrets for removing odours from your shoes. With the right solutions, you’ll have your shoes smelling as good as new in no time!

Why do my shoes still smell after washing?

Why do my shoes still smell after washing? The cause of this could be that all of the germs, dirt, and residues have not been properly washed out, or that the shoes have not been dried out and aired properly. When cleaning your shoes, it is important to use a cleaner that kills bacteria and fungi.

Additionally, you should make sure that the soles and soft parts of the shoes are aerated and dried thoroughly. Another cause for smelly shoes can be that they are put away wet, allowing bacteria and fungi to thrive in the dampness.

To prevent this, it is essential to clean and dry your shoes as soon as they get wet. Lastly, if the smell still persists, you may have to replace the soles of your shoes.

Causes of smelly shoes even after washing

1. Wet and moist shoes

When shoes get wet or moist, the ideal climate for bacteria is created. This causes the bacteria and fungi to proliferate and emit a smelly odor. The sweat and dirt in the shoes also add to the smell. The best way to prevent your shoes from being smelly is to clean and dry them properly.

This means cleaning them right away and letting them air dry as well as possible. You can also use baking powder, cinnamon, or a deodorizer spray or disinfectant spray to help lessen the smell.

Additionally, opting for shoes made of natural materials and open weaves that allow air to circulate is a good way to reduce shoe odor. Finally, drying the insoles and stuffing your shoes with dry paper towels or Stuffits Shoe Savers can help speed up the drying process.

2. Bacteria and fungi

Footwear can be a breeding ground for different kinds of bacteria and fungi that cause smelly shoes even after washing. Sweat and warmth create the perfect environment for these microbes to proliferate, and the longer your feet are in contact with your shoes, the higher the risk of developing an unpleasant odor.

Common bacteria such as Brevibacterium, which thrive in damp and salty environments, produce a cheese-like smell. Fungi such as Aspergillus and Candida can also cause a musty, sour, or sweet smell in shoes. Additionally, dust mites, dust, and dirt can also lead to smelly shoes.

To prevent this, it’s important to keep your shoes dry and ventilated and to use socks woven with metal fibers, such as silver or copper. Disinfectant sprays can also help to kill odor-causing bacteria.

3. Sweat

Sweat in shoes after washing can smell for a number of reasons. Sweat is caused by increased stress and hormonal changes, as well as hyperhidrosis, a condition that causes excessive sweating. This sweat creates an ideal environment for bacteria to grow, which produces a pungent odor when their metabolic processes break down the fatty and butyric acids in sweat.

Additionally, wearing shoes that are not breathable or are made of fabrics that trap moisture, such as cotton, can worsen the smell.

To combat this, it is important to wear socks made of sweat-wicking materials like Cool-Max, keep stress levels in check, and use products such as baby powder or fresh cat litter to absorb moisture and improve the fragrance.

4. Foot odor

Foot odor in shoes after washing can often be caused by sweat and bacteria buildup. Sweaty feet contain more than 250,000 sweat glands and, unlike other body parts, are often covered in shoes all day. This lack of ventilation prevents sweat from evaporating and allows bacteria to thrive in a warm, moist environment.

Poor hygiene, wearing the same shoes every day, and certain medical conditions can also contribute to foot odor. In addition, toenail issues don’t play a role in the smell of your feet.

5. Dust and dirt

Smelly shoes after washing can be caused by a variety of factors. Sweat from your feet or the environment can create a breeding ground for bacteria and fungi, which leads to odors that are difficult to get rid of. Dampness also exacerbates the problem, as bacteria and fungi thrive in wet conditions.

In addition, if your shoes are made from a material like suede, wetness can cause issues. Fortunately, there are several ways to prevent smelly shoes after washing, such as using baby powder, cat litter, dryer sheets, foot powder, and essential oils. With the right approach, you can maintain a pleasant odor in your shoes.

How to get the smell out of shoes after washing

Allow your shoes to dry completely

To dry out your wet shoes completely, you should start by taking out the soles and washing them separately. To help speed up the drying process, you can stuff the shoes with dry paper towels and set them aside to dry.

Additionally, you can also use a blow drier in a warm or hot setting (depending on the kind of shoes you have) to dry the insides of your shoes quickly. If you live in a sunny area, you can also take out the soles of your shoes, open them up as much as possible, and place them directly in the sun in an elevated position.

To prevent your shoes from being smelly after getting wet, you should clean them right away and let them air dry as much as possible. Lastly, you can use baking powder or cinnamon to absorb the moisture and neutralize unpleasant odors.

De-stink your shoes with newspaper

Using newspaper is an easy and effective way to de-stink your shoes. Start by crumpling up one to two pages of newspaper and stuffing them in each shoe. The paper will help absorb the moisture and any bacteria that caused the smell.

For a pleasant scent, you can also sprinkle a few drops of vanilla onto the newspaper. Let the shoes sit overnight, and the next morning, you’ll have wonderfully fresh-smelling shoes.

Additionally, you can place cedar blocks inside your shoes while not wearing them to help combat odor. Lastly, don’t forget to remove the laces, put the shoes in a pillowcase, and run them through the washing machine for complete cleaning.

Run the insoles through the wash

The best way to clean stinky shoes is to remove the laces and insoles, wash the laces separately with a gentle detergent in a mixture of warm water and detergent, or soak them overnight in a mixture of detergent and water.

Then, place the shoes in a pillowcase and run them through the washing machine on a gentle cycle with cold water. After the cycle is finished, promptly dry the shoes using a hair dryer or by setting them outside in the sun. Finally, insert the laces and insoles back into the shoes and enjoy the freshness.

Why you shouldn’t wash your shoes in the washing machine?

It is not advised to wash shoes in the washing machine, as detergent and heat can degrade the materials, causing the glue and adhesives to give way and leading to the need for a replacement sooner.

Handwashing with cool water is best for shoes, as it will help to minimize damage to the materials and keep them in the best condition for longer. However, if machine washing is necessary, it is important to remove the laces and use a gentle cycle with cold water, and to ensure prompt drying after the cycle is complete.

Shoes should be air-dried, as leaving them wet for an extended period of time can cause bacteria and mold to grow and make them smell. If shoes are placed in the tumble dryer, their shape, and support may be affected. Therefore, it is important to ensure that the shoes are properly dried out to avoid a stinky odor.


Can bacteria cause shoe odor?

Yes, bacteria can cause shoe odor. Bacteria thrive in warm, damp environments, which is why closed, non-breathable shoes start to smell very quickly. Bacteria feed on sweat, which can create an unpleasant odor in shoes if left without proper care. To prevent shoe odor, it’s important to keep shoes clean and dry, choose breathable materials, and occasionally freeze overnight to kill bacteria.

Can sweat cause shoe odor?

Yes, sweat can cause shoe odor. Sweaty feet produce a lot of sweat with more sweat glands than any other part of the body. When bacteria break down this sweat in a warm, enclosed environment such as a shoe, it can create a foul odor. Poor hygiene, wearing the same shoes every day, and hormones can also play a role in causing shoe odor. To eliminate shoe odors, you need to eliminate the bacteria, dry your shoes between wearings, and control how much your foot sweats.

Are there any home remedies that can help remove shoe odor?

Yes, there are home remedies that can help remove shoe odor. To make homemade shoe deodorizing powder, combine baking soda, corn starch, and tea tree oil in a small container and sprinkle this inside your shoes after wearing.

For homemade shoe deodorizing spray, combine water, distilled white vinegar, and tea tree oil in a spray bottle and mist the inside of your shoes. Other home remedies for foot and shoe odor include blotting sweat after wearing, stuffing newspaper, paper towels, or dry rags inside your shoes after removing them, tucking tea bags inside your shoes, and never wearing the same shoe two days in a row.

Additionally, you can also use Lysol, hydrogen peroxide, baking soda, or tea bags to remove wet shoe odor from shoes if they have already dried.

Will washing my shoes in the washer get rid of smell?

Yes, washing your shoes in the washer can get rid of the smell. By removing the laces and insoles, and placing the shoes in a pillowcase before washing, you can effectively clean them and remove any odors. After the wash cycle is complete, dry the shoes promptly with a hairdryer or by setting them outside in the sun – leaving them wet for prolonged periods of time can allow bacteria and mold to grow, leading to a foul odor.

Why do my shoes stink even after washing them?

Why do my shoes smell even after washing them? The cause of shoe odors is that each foot has 125,000 sweat glands and produces half a pint of sweat per day. This creates a damp warm environment that is ideal for bacteria and fungi to grow in and cause unpleasant odors.

To prevent this from happening, it is important to eliminate the bacteria and fungi by using a cleaner that is known to kill them and properly drying the shoes. Leaving shoes wet for long periods of time can further increase the risk of bad odors, so it is important to quickly dry the shoes using a hairdryer or by setting them outside in the sun.

Even after washing them, you can sprinkle the inside of your shoes with baking soda or foot powder and leave them overnight to help remove any lingering odors.

How Do You Get The Smell Out Of Shoes That Got Wet or After Washing

Getting the smell out of shoes that have gotten wet or after washing is rather simple. The key is to ensure that the shoes are thoroughly cleaned and dried properly. Here are the steps to do just that:

  1. Wash the shoes using either a washing machine or by hand. If the soles can be removed, take them out and wash them separately.
  2. Once the shoes have been washed, open them up as much as possible and place them in the sun for several hours until they are completely dry.
  3. If the smell persists after they have been washed and dried, try sprinkling the insides of the shoes with baking soda or a foot powder made to control odor. Leave a generous amount in the shoes overnight, and then shake them out the next day.
  4. If the smell still lingers, soak just the insoles in a water-vinegar solution for a few hours, then air-dry under a heater or in a sunny spot.
  5. To prevent further smelly shoes, limit wearing your favorite pair of shoes to every other day—even just once every few days. This will give them time to dry out fully and reduce bacteria buildup.

Following these steps should help to get rid of any unwanted shoe odor.

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