How to Get Rid of Smelly Shoes: DIY Shoe Powder

Summer is coming! Or, depending on where you live, summer is here. In Toronto, where I live, the temperatures are starting to soar. And while I’m so excited for summer BBQs, pool hangouts, and all kinds of summer fun, I am not excited for sweaty feet and stinky shoes. 

So in honor of the very hot summer Toronto is forecasted to have, I want to share how to get rid of smelly shoes. And I don’t mean tossing your shoes in the garbage and heading to the store. I mean, we’re talking about how to clean stinky shoes plus a DIY shoe powder recipe to banish foot stank. 

And if your shoes are extra stinky, don’t worry. I’m going to go over how to clean Converse shoes, how to clean Crocs, and how to clean flip-flops. Before you know it, your shoes are going to be stink-free. 

How to Get Rid of Smelly Shoes: DIY Shoe Powder

If your shoes are just a little smelly, or you’re anticipating a sweaty foot summer, this DIY shoe powder is for you. All you need is: 

  • ½ cup cornstarch
  • ¼ cup baking soda
  • ¼ cup baking powder
  • 5 drops essential oil (optional)

You’ll also want a container to store it in. I like to label my shoe powder container, so no one mistakes it for a cooking ingredient. 

Add all of your ingredients to the container, close the container, and shake to mix. If you like essential oil, shoe powder is a great use for it. The baking soda, powder, and cornstarch work on their own to deodorize your shoes. But if you want to add a nice scent, choose your favorite essential oil. 

Personally, I like to add thyme or lavender oil to my DIY shoe powder because I love how they smell, and they both have great odor-fighting properties. And if you’re not familiar with essential oils, you should absolutely read Everything You Need to Know About Cleaning with Essential Oils.

Once you’ve added your essential oil, close and shake your container again. And voila, your own DIY shoe powder. If you’re not a fan of essential oil, skip it. You don’t need it to deodorize.  

To use your show powder, sprinkle a pinch in each shoe and tap the shoe at the heel and then at the toe to effectively distribute the powder. You can do this in the morning before putting your shoes on and any time you feel your feet are getting sweaty (read: smelly). 

clean with baking soda

How to Clean Stinky Shoes

If your shoes are a little too ripe to be saved by shoe powder alone, I recommend cleaning your shoes and then adding shoe powder. While this is an extra cleaning step, all shoes need to be cleaned at some point. So refresh your shoes and beat that stink. 

Let’s talk about a couple different summer shoes and how to clean them. 

How to Clean Converse Shoes

If you own converse shoes, you can actually clean them in the washing machine. Remove the laces and put them in a delicates bag, then put them in the washing machine along with your Converse and a couple of heavy towels or jeans. 

Wash the whole load in cold water with a gentle detergent. And if you want an extra deodorizing and brightening boost, add a scoop of oxygen bleach straight into the drum of your washing machine before you start the cycle. Always air dry your converse. 

When your Converse are dry and ready to wear, add your DIY shoe powder, and they’ll never be stinky again! For more detailed information on cleaning Converse plus stain removal and cleaning converse rubber, read How to Clean Converse Shoes.

How to Clean Crocs

I know Crocs can be divisive. Are they fashionable? Are they ugly? My vote is fashionable and great for summer. To clean stinky Crocs, all you need is mild dish soap, a microfiber cloth, a cleaning toothbrush, and warm water. 

Rinse Crocs under warm water to dislodge loose dirt. Then, soak them in a sink or bucket full of warm water and a teaspoon of dish soap. Soak for at least ten minutes, then rinse under warm water again and use a cleaning toothbrush to scrub any leftover dirt and get into all those hard-to-reach places. 

Use a microfiber cloth to buff and dry your clean Crocs, and when they’re ready to go, add your DIY shoe powder. For way more info on Croc cleaning, read How to Clean Crocs. 

How to Clean Flip-Flops

Lucky for all you flip-flop lovers, they can be washed in the washing machine. Easy-peasy. Toss your flip-flops in the washing machine and choose a delicate, cold water cycle. You need a really minimal amount of detergent here, so don’t overdo it.

Before you start the wash, add one cup of white vinegar directly into your washing machine’s drum. This will eliminate that stanky foot smell. And, like all shoes, let them air dry. 

For more info on washing flip-flops and sandals too read, How to Wash Stinky Flip-Flops and Sandals.

Melissa Maker in the park

How to Get Rid of Smelly Shoes

For shoes that are starting to smell a little ripe, DIY shoe powder is enough. Or, for preventative stink maintenance, choose DIY shoe powder. If your shoes are dirty or particularly stinky, give them a good clean, and then start using DIY shoe powder. 

Smelly feet are embarrassing and a little gross. But now you can enjoy a wonderful stink-free summer. At least when it comes to your own feet, I can’t speak for all those people around you. Now I’m going to go throw some shoe powder in my sandals and sit by the pool!

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Melissa Maker is an entrepreneur, cleaning expert, founder of Toronto’s most popular boutique cleaning service, and star of the Clean My Space channel on YouTube (but she still hates to clean!). Every week, Melissa delivers new videos dishing expert advice on cleaning products, tools, DIY substitutes, and practical, timesaving solutions to everyday problems. Melissa has appeared on the Today Show, and has been featured in InStyle, Real Simple, and Better Homes and Gardens.


  1. I read this about a week ago and I decided to make the foot powder and omg it smells great and works like charm. Thank you so much

  2. When I was a school student, I wondered exactly how one ought to handle this problem but I would constantly encounter some
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    What if my friends do not have enough knowledge or expertise to assist me?
    Imagine if I googled it multiple times and could not find the solution? That’s when articles like
    this you can give proper advice on the matter. Yet more, thank you for the job!

  3. So adding powder into sweaty shoes and using them and sweating some more doesn’t create a white sludge? I guess it’d fall off pretty easily once dry. I hope this cures our shared shoe cupboard of the shocking body-automatically-reacts-by-holding-breath smell…. hehe

  4. OMG! Used this in my son’s tennis shoes and cleats and it was miraculous! Now others are asking me what was my remedy! Of course I am sharing because I want them to get relief as well!! Thank you so much!

  5. I made this for my partners smelly shoes, trainers, work boots and slippers. Mellisa you have rescued my nose! His shoes were awful and now are so much better, thank you so so much. All the way from the UK x

  6. Hi! If you mix a little bit soda and a few drops of water in your hands and put this on feet, also works against smell. You don’t need to use it every day, because it dries skin. The same mixture is for underarms and you don’t need deodorant. There is no smell at all. Tested. Sorry for my English.

  7. I am thinking of putting something to get rid of the smell in closets. Should I use this shoe powder combo or simply baking soda+essential oil? Also how often should I replace the powder content? thanks Melissa. =)

  8. Ah, the infamous shower. A few years ago I tried an experiment with some ‘top’ shower cleaning products that vowed to do so much I’m surprised “make you a cup of coffee” wasn’t listed on the bottles.

    I also used a few homemade alternatives. Now keep in mind this shower (NOT one that I used!) was so bad, there was more gross looking stuff on the bottom of the shower than on the glass/sides of shower! I swear it was close to being a sentient life form.

    Some products I used burned my lungs badly but in the end after many hours & many days, that shower was almost as good as new. Some of the natural things I used ended up working better than almost every commercial product but I would have tossed mustard gas in there if I thought it would fix the problem (kidding..I think)

    I’ll see if I can find what worked for me & am anxiously awaiting your review on Mother’s Choice as in our current home, my husband’s shower stall is starting to resemble his old one. 🙁


  9. I love this post & your site! Found you through Pinterest and now I am hooked. Just watched a video on all the ‘cleaning’ toxins in the home and didn’t think about foot powder for my hubby. I am excited to subscribe and learn all sorts of good tips on here. Have you done one on how to clean shower glass doors naturally? I know lemon is supposed to work but I’m stuck. Thanks for the info!

    • Aww, thank you! Shower glass doors…ah yes, what fun. Lemon won’t do much. You need to use a product that can remove the soap scum and then you need to squeegee the glass after each shower and/or spray a daily shower spray on the glass. That will prevent hard water stains and soap scum from building up again. Squeegees sound like a pain but a few seconds of that vs. scrubbing soap scum once every few weeks? Sounds like a good trade off to me. I am going to be talking about a natural product that I like in the coming weeks called Mother’s Choice pertaining to this cleaning task. Stay tuned!

      • Drop orange peels (remove the white stuff) in your next-to-be-used vinegar bottle and let it sit for a good couple of weeks, your vinegar will have quite a pleasant smell.


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