When you’re already working hard to try to keep up your motivation to exercise, having to face stinky athletic shoes really doesn’t help. However, it can feel impossible to keep your workout shoes from getting eye-wateringly smelly. After all, you’re wearing these stinky athletic shoes at a time when you’re likely at your sweatiest.
With every drop of sweat your feet release comes increased moisture in your shoes and just a little bit more breeding ground for bacteria. The reason that’s important is that it isn’t actually your feet that stink. It’s the bacteria that like to live in sweaty environments – like athletic shoes.
The best way to stop your shoes from stinking is to prevent it from happening in the first place. However, even when they’re already quite ripe, there are some great hacks to take the stink out of your sneakers.
• Toss them in the wash – many brands are actually machine washable. In fact, these days, the majority of them are. Check the official website for your shoe’s brand and if it’s not listed there, drop them a line through their email customer support. This will let you know if your shoes are machine washable or not. If they are, remove the laces and place them in a mesh laundry bag and wash them on a cool cycle without fabric softener.
• Hand wash – sometimes a brief hand washing of your shoes is all that is needed. Use a narrow, long handled brush so you can reach all the nooks and crannies both inside and outside the shoe. Use warm water and some gentle dish soap and gently scrub the surfaces, wetting the shoe as little as possible. Focus on areas where there are seams, lines and crevices.
• Wash your laces – believe it or not, your laces can also build up an odor over time. Indeed, the main shoe – particularly the insoles – are likely to be the smelliest, but the odor can easily transfer to the laces over time. Moreover, because you’re using your hands to tie and untie your shoes, the sweat from your hands – as well as any lotions or sunscreens you’ve applied – will all slowly build up on the laces. Whenever you wash your shoes, don’t forget the laces. It will help both the look and the smell.
• Focus on your insoles – the insoles are the part of the shoe that are most likely to stink the most. Prevent this from happening by taking them out of the shoe after every workout. Most athletic shoes have removable insoles that pop out and in quite easily. Make a habit of removing them after you’ve exercised to let them air dry each time to prevent stinky athletic shoes. This will reduce the chance of lingering moisture and will decrease the bacteria breading ground. If they’re already smelly or if they get exceptionally wet, take them out after your workout, lay them in a shoe box and sprinkle baking soda on them. Leave them like that overnight and the smell should be gone by morning, ready for a repeat process with your next workout.