How can I best keep my shoes from smelling up my walk-in closet?
July 9, 2012 4:13 PM   Subscribe

How can I best keep my walk-in closet from smelling like my shoes? And how can I best keep my shoes from smelling up my walk-in closet?

I put cedar shoe trees in my dress shoes every day after work but I'm sure the shoes still smell up the closet a little bit. The shoes never really lose the foot odor smell even with the use of shoe trees. Shoes I don't put shoe trees in really smell terrible after a few months of use. How can I prevent this?

Is there any kind of spray I can use for my shoes to make them smell better after taking them off?

And what do you all recommend for keeping my walk-in closet from smelling like my shoes?
posted by decrescendo to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (14 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Try sprinkling Lush's T for Toes inside your shoes every day. That stuff works wonders.

Stuffing your shoes with crumpled newspaper and leaving it overnight can help, too.

Do you rotate between several pairs of shoes to let each pair air out well? If you wear the same shoes every day they never have a chance to really air and dry out and so bacteria flourish in the damp environment.

As for your closet: Try setting up a small fan in your closet and run it with the doors open for an hour or so every day. Walk-in closets are like little, unventilated rooms (no windows!) and they benefit from air circulation. If you have the money to spare, you can install ceiling fans maybe - but just running a cheapo little plug-in fan from the hardware store will do.
posted by Rosie M. Banks at 4:21 PM on July 9, 2012 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: The only shoes I really wear on a daily basis are my black dress shoes for work. I put cedar trees in them but I'm sure I could also spray Lush's T for Toes in there. Thanks for the recommendation.

I need to buy a pair of brown dress shoes so that will help.

I'll look into the fan. I leave my closet door open sometimes so that probably helps in the interim.
posted by decrescendo at 4:25 PM on July 9, 2012

I buy cheap bags of cedar shavings that are meant to be used in pet cages, stuff them into old socks I'm ready to throw out and tie them closed with twine, and then mix them in with stored clothes to get the cedar scent to permeate. I would think those would fit into shoes quite neatly.

If dampness might be effecting the growth of bacteria in your shoes you might also try bringing an extra pair of socks to work and putting them on at lunchtime.
posted by XMLicious at 4:26 PM on July 9, 2012

Clean socks and don't wear the same pair two days in a row, so your shoes dry out. Plus cedar shoe trees and, if needed, antifungal shoe spray.
posted by zippy at 4:27 PM on July 9, 2012

Are you wearing polyester blend socks? You may be sweating a bit. Newspapers, as suggested, will help absorb the moisture. There are all sorts of carbon pouches that you can buy to put into the shoes to absorb the smell. Try the dollar stores, they always have that stuff cheap. I keep shoes in a separate place (I have a shoe cabinet) than my clothes, but if you can't do that, put them into shoe boxes to prevent the shoe smells.
posted by Yellow at 4:37 PM on July 9, 2012

You haven't said this directly, but it sounds like you have a foot odor problem. If so, you need to address that kind of first, since it is the real root of the shoe problem. Some things that helped in my household:

Wash socks in hot water.

Wear sandals without socks as much as possible.

Pour peroxide or similar into existing shoes. Plan on replacing the shoes as soon as the actual foot odor is better so you aren't reinfecting your feet with whatever is causing the smell. When you buy new shoes, make sure to replace your cedar shoe trees for a clean start.

Try treating the feet, whether with a commercial product or a home remedy. Soaking in tea is one home remedy that comes to mind.
posted by Michele in California at 4:38 PM on July 9, 2012

WOOL SOCKS! Cotton socks are the devil. So, yeah: 100% wool socks. Never wear the same pair of shoes more than one day in a row. Never-ever-ever wear non-sandal shoes without socks.
posted by julthumbscrew at 4:47 PM on July 9, 2012

It's not a good idea to wear shoes more than one day in a row, both for foot odor reasons and for shoe wear reasons. Alternating two pairs of shoes will mean that each pair will wear more than twice as long as one pair you wear every day.

Those little carbon ball things are magic. Until you get a pair, sprinkle baking soda inside your shoes at night, then brush it out in the morning.

Another thing is to put your shoes in bag and leave them in the freezer overnight; that will kill the odor-causing bacteria.
posted by Sidhedevil at 4:57 PM on July 9, 2012

I pour peroxide into sandals, but not a dress shoe. In addition to the shoe & sock suggestions above, you should consider scrubbing your feet with a soap containing tea tree oil (I like Dr. Bronners or Trader Joe's Tea Tree Oil body wash). It will help to limit the odor-causing bacteria and fungus. If your feet sweat excessively, an antiperspirant on your soles (let dry before socks go on) can also help.
posted by quince at 5:02 PM on July 9, 2012

Response by poster: Where does find the carbon ball things aside from a dollar store?

All good recommendations, by the way. Thanks, everyone.
posted by decrescendo at 5:08 PM on July 9, 2012

Baking soda can also help, both a box in the closet and sprinkled into your shoes. So can some odor-absorbing cat litter, but stuffed in a sock. It's what I do for musty vintage things. Sunshine works miracles too - can you leave them out on nice days sometimes?

All that said, yes - getting to the root of the problem will help tremendously. There are a variety of natural remedies out there, and the tea option, as suggested above, is one of my favourites. Tea tree oil is also a big big BIG help - soaking your feet in it, and wiping it inside your shoes* is great, because it's an anti-fungal/anti-microbial whatchamacallitmiracleworker.

*TMI: My dad has a pretty severe foot (and scalp) fungus problem. I have looked up EVERYTHING I can to help him. It is the only thing that works to keep things bearable.

posted by peagood at 5:09 PM on July 9, 2012

The carbon things are available at Target, at many drugstores, and at pretty much every sporting-goods store and shoe store.
posted by Sidhedevil at 5:12 PM on July 9, 2012

If you can't find it in the dollar stores, try shoe stores or drug stores like Walgreens, Duane Reade, Rite Aid, etc or Bed, Bath Beyond.
posted by Yellow at 5:55 PM on July 9, 2012

I wear the same shoes to work everyday but always clean socks and usually pretty thick socks, like ski socks almost. Sexxy!

When I get home I take them off immediately and wear flip flops in my house, or barefeet and I wear different shoes if I go out at night. Your feet and shoes need a break to air out.

However, also take all the fungal sort of advice above, you may have a more serious problem.
posted by bquarters at 8:01 PM on July 9, 2012

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