What to do with Smelly Shoes?

This is another fabulous question that came from a YouTube viewer. I love these questions because it gives me a chance to help the viewers out and it opens up conversations in the comment boxes where I always seem to learn more tips, or get asked more questions.

My wife is a nurse and her shoes get contaminated. My shoes, lets just say they smell. I have thought of throwing them in the washer and dryer,but then thought against it. How do you recommend we clean the inside and outside of our shoes?

Melissa Says:

My recommendation for smelly shoes: sprinkle baking soda inside them overnight. The next morning, shake out the white stuff and the shoes should be deodorized. You can also wash the exterior of the shoe with some dish soap and hot water with an old toothbrush. Putting certain shoes in the washing machine can deform them (not a good idea). you can also replace the shoe liners as those are the part of the shoe that absorb the odors.

For your wife, she can disinfect them by keeping a bottle of disinfecting spray with her and lightly misting the exterior of her shoes and the soles after each shift. Depending on what she likes, she can make up a spray bottle filled with 10 drops of lavender or tea tree essential oil (natural disinfectants) in distilled water, or she can use plan hydrogen peroxide in a spray bottle and spritz her shoes with that. Just check an inconspicuous area to make sure the shoes are colorfast first! For more great ideas on how to use essential oils, check out our E-Book The Complete Guide to Essential Oils.

Essentially, the key takeaways are:

  • MOST shoes can’t go in the wash (canvas shoes can i.e. Tom’s or Keds), so you have to hand wash them
  • Prolong the life of the shoe by deodorizing, replacing the liner/insole and cleaning the outside gently
  • Disinfect shoes with a home made spray so that you don’t track germs everywhere.


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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.