I got StinkFoot~!
February 27, 2006 6:19 PM   Subscribe

Oh My Stinkin' Shoes~!

I understand the basics of healthy feet: Change your sox EVERY day and keep feet and shoes clean and dry. Rotate your shoes if possible to give them a 'rest'.

But how can I fumigate a pair of {favorite} shoes which are hopelessly stinky? Is there a common household chemical which will neutralize the fungus and refurbish the shoe? Or do I just pitch them?
posted by DickStock to Health & Fitness (28 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Are they trainers/sneakers? If so, there's your problem. Don't wear trainers/sneakers. There isn't a single excuse for it. They stink, and they look like crap. All of them. If they're not trainers/sneakers they're probably not leather, right? Some nasty artificial material? Dear me no. Not good. Leather shoes, mate. Always.
posted by Decani at 6:29 PM on February 27, 2006

I don't have any specific answers for the question, but I have to qualify Decani's response. The only pair of shoes I have that smell are my all-leather Dr Martens. They smell on the inside and even on the outside. I've tried sprays, odor-reducing insoles, etc., and I can safely say that just getting leather shoes will not prevent odor problems.
posted by stopgap at 6:33 PM on February 27, 2006

This won't exactly answer your question, but one trick I use that works quite well is to always rub ample amounts of lotion on my feet every day (morning) right before placing them into socks. Almost any lotion will work, but especially good is a lotion with extracts/essential oil of lavendar or eucalyptus or whatnot (naturally anti-microbial and antifungal). My favorite is Kiss My Face Lavendar & Shea Butter. Of course, if you're a man, you can surely find a more manly-smelling lotion (maybe try Olive & Aloe).
posted by mojabunni at 6:44 PM on February 27, 2006

Cedar oil keeps my hiking boots fresh for days. three drops under the foot bed, anti fungal.
posted by hortense at 6:55 PM on February 27, 2006

As I write this I have a pair of very smelly running shoes sitting in the dining room after having been literally washed down with Isopropyl ( rubbing) alcohol. I poured it on the inside and the outside. I vaguely remember doing this in the past and it working. Good luck. I will watch for other solutions.
posted by rmhsinc at 6:56 PM on February 27, 2006

Response by poster: Wow, some quick responses!

Yes, they are black, non leather shoes. They are extremely comfortable and also sort of 'dressy' if you don't look too closely. I like 'em.

Thanks for the designer lotion idea, I may try that. But I am looking for a common chemical that is cheap and available over-the-counter. I was thinking of something to soak them in for a few hours or overnight....

The alcohol idea sounds intriguing. Keep us posted.

posted by DickStock at 6:59 PM on February 27, 2006

Won't do a darn thing for your present pair, but you can prevent this problem in the future by always wearing antimicrobial socks. They are just frigging magic. My feet and shoes never, ever stink now.

If you could figure out a way to expose the insides of your shoes to strong UV light, that might disinfect them. With regular clothes, I'd suggest just hanging them in the sun for a couple of days, but I don't think that would work for shoes.
posted by Malor at 7:01 PM on February 27, 2006

Sometimes you just have to know when to let go.
posted by meehawl at 7:19 PM on February 27, 2006

1. I love black athletic shoes for everyday wear myself (reeboks, adidas, nikes, any of them).

2. odor is definitely a problem you have to cope with if you like to wear these shoes.

3. I rotate through three pairs. So they get one day on, two days to air out.

4. odor is not necessarily bad. As William James said, "even the rankest odor is interesting so long as it is not too strong."

5. I used to run. Without socks. Without the sophistication of doing shoe rotation. This was many years ago and I can recall that smell better than marcel proust and a madeleine.
posted by bukvich at 7:37 PM on February 27, 2006

Put them in the freezer overnight.

No, I'm serious.
posted by Meredith at 7:40 PM on February 27, 2006

Stuff newspaper in them overnight...it somehow absorbs the smell.
posted by psususe at 7:47 PM on February 27, 2006

Yeah, I use alcohol too, if my shoes get smelly. Either isopropanol (rubbing) or ethanol. It wipes out anything living in there on contact, and I haven't had any problem whatsoever with shoe damage/discoloration/whatever. I use >90% alchohol and I'm careful to just treat the insides. It takes about 24-48 hours for them to completely dry out afterwards.
posted by shoos at 7:49 PM on February 27, 2006

Are they trainers/sneakers? If so, there's your problem. Don't wear trainers/sneakers. There isn't a single excuse for it.

Well, unless you need the motion correction and support of a running shoe for everyday use. I hate the damn things, but I've tried a number of other shoes, and nothing else works. (I'd rather look like crap than not be able to walk after a few weeks. And I have custom made orthos in them even, that I've tried with many other shoes, and nothing works. Plus, I walk about 30 blocks a day as part of my regular commute - no car - San Francisco, so, a few hills - plus a light backpack.)

The other thing you might want to try is regular foot power in your socks on a daily basis if you have a recurring problem with athelets foot, sweaty feet, smelly feet. Even works for those dreaded trainers I've found. In fact, I can't live without the stuff anymore. One day without it and my feet sweat enough that the look like they've been soaking in water all day. I've been using the regular Dr. School's stuff for 15 years and I've never had an issue with stinky feet or shoes since.
posted by smallerdemon at 8:07 PM on February 27, 2006

Why not throw the pair of shoes in a plastic bag and a box of baking soda?
posted by Loto at 8:22 PM on February 27, 2006

i second the newspaper comment, as well as dryer sheets. works for running shoes at least...
posted by joshgray at 8:35 PM on February 27, 2006

Second the baking soda. Do it overnight and they should smell OK (probably not "good," though) by morning.
posted by maxreax at 8:38 PM on February 27, 2006

I third the newspaper idea.

Also, a tip - if you have exceptionally sweaty feet, never ever ever wear shoes that can't breathe, and if you have to (like for work), take 'em off as soon as you get home and put on some that do, or go barefoot if possible.

It would be nice to be able to stick to the "never wear trainers/sneakers" dictum, it really would, but smallerdemon's got it right - for those of us with troublesome feet, as has been mentioned, there's sometimes no alternative. They're ugly, but they work.
posted by pdb at 8:40 PM on February 27, 2006

The freezer thing has worked for me. Put them in a plastic bag first to avoid getting mud on your frozen peas. It destinkifies the shoes for at least a week or two at a go.
posted by cardboard at 8:48 PM on February 27, 2006

My dad gets rank odors out of things by putting some charcoal briquettes in them. Perhaps you could try bagging the shoes with some charcoal for a few days to take off the Big Stink, and then every so often afterwards?
posted by MrZero at 9:09 PM on February 27, 2006

Definitely the freezer. That'll kill all of the nasty bacteria that have accumulated.
posted by Orrorin at 9:27 PM on February 27, 2006

Are they Keens? I got my Keens wet in the rain and the insoles have stunk ever since. The leather shoes are fine it's just the insoles that stink. Odor eaters work great in my runnning shoes but the Keens kicked their ass in two days. I've also thrown running shoes (and Vans, Converse etc) in the washer with good results so I tried it on the insoles and now they stink AND they're falling apart so I'm going to give up and buy new insoles.
posted by fshgrl at 9:30 PM on February 27, 2006

My feet smell bad, even in leather shoes, unless I wear fresh cotton socks every day. Synthetic socks make my feet stink bigtime, and I'm allergic to wool, but cotton socks + odoreaters = good.

To rehabilitate my ultra stinky non-leather hiking boots, I soaked them in a weak chlorine bleach solution for an hour, then left them outside exposed to the sun in the daytime and cold at night. Brought them back inside when I couldn't smell chlorine any more (took a couple of weeks). They're good now.
posted by flabdablet at 10:50 PM on February 27, 2006

Tea tree oil. Where I live I can find it at some Walgreens (at mine it's near the epsom salts and rubbing alcohol, but you may have to ask the pharmacist), vitamin stores, and grocery stores like Whole Foods.

Rub the tea tree oil into the inside. Repeat once a week. It will make your shoes (and feet) smell like tea tree oil for a day or so, but it's an infinitely better smell than stinky feet. It has an anti-microbial effect and will kill lots of smelly nasties. Sometimes I'll wipe shoes out with alcohol or vinegar before doing the tea-tree treatment.
posted by digitalis at 10:57 PM on February 27, 2006

Do you wash your feet vigourously every day? I try to make sure that there's no dead skin on my feet (especially between the toes and around the ankles). Making sure that my feet are scrubbed hard everyday has stopped my foot odor problem.
posted by stray at 11:34 PM on February 27, 2006

How about some volcanic deoderizer? I haven't tried it but it looks kind of neat.
posted by KathyK at 6:04 AM on February 28, 2006

I used to have the same problem, with all the types of shoes mentioned. I no longer have the problem, with any shoes. Two words...Gold Bond. Apply each time shoes are worn. Dry feet are happy feet.
posted by Pliskie at 8:39 AM on February 28, 2006

BTW, 14 hours later the alcohol worked quite well, 90% +/- of the odor is gone
posted by rmhsinc at 9:01 AM on February 28, 2006 [1 favorite]

digitalis: Tea tree oil.

Yup. (not for me, mind you, my feet, like my poops, dont stink. But this girl took to wearing big motorcycle boots and..WOO EEE! I threw in a splash of tea tree oil, and, presto! problem solved.)
posted by StickyCarpet at 10:44 AM on February 28, 2006 [1 favorite]

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