Can You Put Smelly Shoes in the Washing Machine? Explained

Wearing footwear made from synthetic materials or leather treated with chemical products, which retain sweat and are causing foot odor.  

This can be a big problem in our daily lives, especially when it comes to taking off our shoes. 

It is clear that the bad smell in the shoes is due to the sweat on our feet. However, on many occasions, you will have noticed that there are shoes that smell worse than others.  

Perhaps it is due to the material with which they are made or to the insoles that absorb more sweat and retain it, which favors the appearance of bacteria. 

What causes shoes to smell bad? 

Why do your feet have such a strong particular odor? 

As a pair, your feet have 250,000 sweat glands that make about one cup of sweat every day. That means your feet can produce more sweat per square inch of skin than any other part of your body. 

Actually, the sweat itself isn’t the problem, the type produced by your foot glands is typically odorless, its bacteria that’s the main culprit. 

The bacteria that live on the skin of your feet like living and the moist warm environment your sock provides and they like hanging out on sweaty bare feet.  

When these bacteria digest the amino acids in your foot sweat, they produce a by-product that smells well. If you happen to have a lot of bacteria living on your feet you might have more issues with foot odor than others. 

Does washing shoes remove the smell? 

Yes, regularly washing your smelly shoes can help to reduce the bad odor. However, washing your shoes is not the only thing to do for reducing bad odor, you need to properly dry your shoes and also keep your feet hygienic all the time.   

It doesn’t matter if the shoe is of good quality, they all end up smelling bad. That is why we must maintain good cleanliness of them by washing them often. 

How to wash stinky shoes in the washing machine (6 Expert Tips) 

Cleaning your shoes or sneakers not only prolongs the lifespan of your sneakers but also keeps the sneakers away from bad odor. 

But how do you keep yours clean?  

Putting dirty shoes in the washer could ruin them and potentially permanently damage your washing machine. To avoid expensive mistakes, follow these 6 clever expert hacks. 

1. Check the care label 

First up check the washing care label on your shoes there’s always a care instruction tab in it. It’ll tell you what the material is and then it’s worth just checking on google if you’re not too sure. 

If in doubt always stick to hand washing 

check care label before putting shoes into the washing machine

2. Remove Insoles and laces 

Before putting the shoe into the washing machine, thoroughly clean the outside of the shoe. You can use a special, dry cloth or a soft brush. 

To properly clean your shoes, remove any caked-on dirt before washing them.  

If you have any heavy soiling on the shoe or pre-treated by giving a light brush over it, makes it easy for the machine to kind of finish off what you can finish off.  

Always remove the insoles and laces pre-washed too. Insoles are usually made of a synthetic foam material that takes a really long time to dry. So, it’s best just to wipe them clean

remove insole and laces and prewashed too

3. Put Towels with your shoes 

Chucking towels in the drum with your shoes can help absorb impact and protect them during the wash.  

Put it in a wash bag that again adds another layer of protection — laces are fine within the bag. 

The household item would be like a pillowcase that you don’t use again it’s just to provide shielding because the washing machine has little holes that the water drains up.  

If you do not want the fabric to snag on that cause damage to your shoe and also potentially a washing machine. 

putting towels with shoes for protection

4. Use Cold Wash 

To stop colors fading use a low temperature or cold wash. Never have any heat whatsoever in the washing machine leave it on slow cycle as well.  

Don’t have fast spin you want a slow gradual movement as long as possible under cold wash. 

5. Use Liquid detergent & White Vinegar 

During the wash, the inside of your trainers doesn’t get as much water circulating in them. 

Meaning powder detergents might get stuck inside and along the seams especially in a cold setting instead use a liquid detergent that works better at lower temperatures. 

Also adding a half cup of white vinegar with liquid detergent will reduce the bad smell of your shoes. 

white vinegar for cleaning shoes

6. Drying 

Proper drying for your shoes is a crucial thing for killing the bacteria and reducing bad smells.  

When it comes to drying a golden rule is to avoid heat. 

However, if you are in hurry, you can put them in a dryer machine with proper methods. Don’t dry leather or suede-like shoes using the dryer.  

You can use the newspaper method to dry them. Stuff them with paper towels or silica gel bags to absorb as much moisture as possible. 

Hanging them ideally outdoors first from the heel then, if possible, turning the other way is best. You want to avoid leaving it in direct sunlight because it affects the color and potentially affects the feel of the material as well. 

How can you clean your stinky shoes naturally? 8 Clever Hacks 

With these tricks, you will disappear the odors caused by regular use and perspiration. All this with natural ingredients and in a very simple way. 

Let’s start! 

1. Baking Soda 

Baking soda is great for eliminating the bad smell of shoes. The reason is that this natural chemical element has antibacterial and disinfectant properties. That is why it is the most popular trick to eliminate foot odor. 

The method to do it is very simple: 

  • Put a tablespoon of baking soda (15 g) in each shoe, on top of the insoles. 
  • Distribute well and let it act overnight. 
  • The next morning, we will be able to verify that the bad smell of the shoes has disappeared. 

2. Sanitize method using Hydrogen peroxide 

Hydrogen peroxide is one of the quintessential sanitizers for killing bacteria and fungus. So, it is best for preventing bad smells and cleaning yellow stains. Using hydrogen peroxide mixed with sodium bicarbonate will give you better results. 

  • Take two tablespoons of hydrogen peroxide (3%) mixed with 1 liter of water. 
  • Add 1 tablespoon of sodium bicarbonate into the solution  
  • Take a sprayer and spray the solution well. After two to three hours wash the shoe with clean water. 

This method is not suitable for Leather and Sude-like shoes. 

3. Killing the bacteria using the freezing technique 

Have you ever frozen your shoes? It sounds crazy but the truth is that it can be quite useful. 

Well, this trick is also applicable to get rid of the bad smell. You just have to leave them overnight.  The next morning dries them in the sun. 

4. Trick to eliminate bacteria using Lavender 

This trick that we show you below is as curious as it is effective. To carry it out, we only need a little sage and lavender.   

These two aromatic medicinal plants are very beneficial for combating bad odors, including foot odor, as they perfume in a delicate and relaxing way.  

To do this, place a few sage leaves along with a few lavender branches in each shoe. Then, take the shoes outside so that the fresh air can also help kill bacteria. 

The next morning, the bad smell in the shoes will be gone. 

5. The talcum powder trick 

Talcum powder has a similar effect to baking soda. They have the virtue of absorbing moisture and ending foot odor, and in this case, you can do it in two different ways: 

  • Sprinkle talcum powder inside each shoe and leave it on overnight. In the morning, you can get rid of the rest of the leftover powder and enjoy your shoes without a bad smell. 
  • Apply the talcum powder directly on the sole of the foot. In this way, you will reduce the sweating that causes the bad smell in the shoes. 

6. Tea tree essential oil method 

Another one of the essential oils that you can use for odor in shoes is tea tree oil, as it has disinfectant properties and is, without a doubt, the most effective.  

You can make a shoe sanitizer spray out of it to get rid of foot odor, as well as use it to make hand sanitizer gel. 

7. Citrus peeling 

This simple remedy consists of using the peel of lemons, oranges, or tangerines to give our shoes a good smell. Although you can also use their essential oils and make a shoe disinfectant spray with them. 

In any case, citrus fruits will help us eliminate the bad smell in the shoes.  

Take a lemon, orange, or grapefruit peels and put them inside the smelly shoes. You must let them act all night so that they have enough time to neutralize it.  

If you use essential oils, you can use them directly on the skin to eliminate foot odor or make a shoe sanitizer spray with them. 

8. Using Alcohol 

You can also spray the inside of the shoe with rubbing alcohol. When it has dried, repeat it a couple of times and then leave the shoe to dry definitively in a warm place. It is recommended to carry out this trick at least once a week. 

Final Thoughts 

Try not to wear closed shoes every day or throughout the day. It is not only bad for promoting foot odor, but for the health of this area in general. 

When you get home, change your shoes and let your feet and shoes air out. 

I hope you found this article interesting and useful.    

With that, it’s time to hear what you have to say.    

Now you may have a clear idea of how can you put smelly shoes in the washing machine, and also alternative methods for cleaning smelly shoes. 

Or maybe you have a question.     

Either way, let me know your thoughts in the comments section below. 

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