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Tips to Keep our Feet and Shoes Smelling Fresh

Let’s face it – feet stink. Daily activities, especially exercise, can lead to strong, lingering odors. Foot odor occurs when bacteria feed on the skin cells our feet produce. The bacteria increase activity under moist conditions.  So how can you keep your feet and shoes smelling fresh week after week? There are a number of things you can do to reduce foot and shoe odors. Follow these tips:

1) Let your shoes breathe
Wearing the same shoes day after day can lead to a buildup of bacteria which is the primary cause of foot odor. Giving your shoes the day off after wearing allows them to air out. This is especially important with athletic shoes where the feet get extra sweaty. If you exercise daily, consider purchasing two pairs of shoes at a time and rotating.

image of three pairs of shoes

2) Choose moisture-wicking socks
Since excess moisture from sweat leads to odors, wearing moisture-wicking socks allows the feet to dry more quickly, reducing odor-causing bacteria. Moisture-wicking socks are made from synthetic fabrics that draw moisture away from the skin. These wonder socks are especially helpful for athletic activities like hiking and running.

image of woman outside putting on sweat absorbing socks

3) Give your feet some room
Avoid tight-fitting shoes and opt for open toed shoes and sandals in warmer weather whenever you can. The tighter and more enclosed the shoe is, the more likely it is for sweat to get trapped. Choose athletic shoes made out of materials that ventilate, allowing air to move through freely.

image of sneaker with magnifying glass

4) Wash shoes and insoles
Everyone knows they can quickly eliminate sweat and odors by hopping in the shower and throwing clothing into the washing machine but many of us don’t think about washing our shoes and insoles. While leather shoes can be tricky to clean, many athletic shoes can be washed by hand or in the washing machine. Check with the manufacturer first and then follow these steps for hand washing:

  • Be sure to remove any insoles and wash them separately from your shoes.
  • Wash shoes and insoles with warm water and a mild detergent. Liquid laundry and dish detergent work great.
  • Use a shoe brush or an old tooth brush to scrub off dirt and grime.
  • Rinse shoes and insoles thoroughly and shake to eliminate excess water.
  • Set everything out (preferably in the sun) to dry.

You can also wash your shoes in the washing machine following these steps:

  • Prior to washing, put your shoes and insoles in a laundry bag to keep everything from jumping around in the washing machine.
  • Select delicate cycle and cold for temperature.
  • Add a small amount of mild laundry detergent.
  • Set shoes and insoles out to air dry. Never put shoes or insoles in the dryer.

image of sneakers in a mesh bag ready to go in the wash machine

5) Keep your feet clean – Take extra care when washing your feet.

image of man spraying his foot

6.) Fight odor from the start – Insoles bear the brunt of sweaty feet so it makes sense to tackle foot odor at its source. To eliminate odors and moisture, try Dr. Scholl’s® Odor-X® Odor-Fighting Insoles with activated charcoal and baking soda for lasting protection.

image of odor-x insole


Frequently Asked Questions
How to get rid of smelly shoes and feet

Simple but thorough washing is often the most effective way to get rid of smelly shoes and feet. Smelly feet can often be remedied easily with a thorough cleansing and exfoliation along with a nail trim. Since odors can linger under dirty nails and on dead skin, regular pedicures can be beneficial for getting rid of smelly feet.  Follow these steps:

·       Use warm water and a gentle skin cleanser to wash your feet thoroughly. Pay extra attention to the areas between your toes. 
·       Use a pumice stone or foot file to exfoliate thick, dead skin, which can trap bacteria-causing odors. You can also consider using an exfoliating foot mask. Dr. Scholl’s® Ultra Exfoliating Foot Mask offers a pampering, luxurious foot exfoliation in the form of pre-treated booties. The alpha hydroxy blend eliminates rough dead skin that can contribute to smelly feet.
·       Carefully trim and clean your nails as needed. Use a nailbrush or an orange stick to carefully remove dirt and debris that can collect under the nails.
·       Dry your feet completely after washing. Be sure skin is fully dry before putting on socks and shoes.

Washing your shoes regularly can be very helpful for getting rid of smelly shoes. Not all shoes are washable but many styles, including athletic footwear, can be washed in a standard washing machine or washed by hand. Check with your shoe brand for laundering instructions.

If your shoes are safe to throw in the washing machine:

·       Remove loose dirt and debris with a damp cloth prior to machine washing.
·       Choose the cold water setting and delicate cycle to avoid damaging and shrinking the shoes, and use a mild detergent that doesn’t contain bleach. 
·       If you wear insoles, be sure to remove them before washing. Insoles are often washable as well. You might consider placing the shoes and insoles in a laundry bag to keep everything in place.
·       Set clean shoes and insoles out to dry. Shoes and inserts should never go in a laundry dryer.

If your shoes require hand washing:

·       Use either a mild liquid laundry detergent or a liquid dish detergent along with warm water. 
·       Remove insoles and thoroughly clean both the shoes and the insoles. You can use a scrub brush to remove debris and loose dirt and grime. 
·       Rinse both the insoles and shoes thoroughly, shake to remove excess water and set out to air dry. 

Wait until your shoes and insoles are completely dry before wearing them. Wearing wet shoes and insoles will only increase the risk of odors.

Fungal infections can also cause smelly feet. If you have athlete’s foot, treating the infection can help get rid of smelly feet. Dr. Scholl’s® Instant Cool Athlete’s Foot Treatment Spray contains a clinically proven effective anti-fungal medication. The spray formula is easy to use.

How to avoid smelly feet and shoes

You can avoid smelly feet and shoes with easy lifestyle changes and at-home solutions, including:

·       Rotate your footwear — Avoid wearing the same pair of shoes two days in a row. Give your shoes a chance to air out for a day before wearing them again.
·       Choose open shoe styles — Wear open toe shoes and sandals when you can. These type of shoes allow the feet to breathe. Avoid tight shoes that don’t ventilate as they can trap moisture and odors.
·       Practice good foot hygiene — Wash your feet thoroughly every day, scrubbing off dead skin. Keep your tails trim and clean. Dry your feet thoroughly after washing.
·       Wear anti-odor insoles — Consider wearing anti-odor insoles with your shoes. Dr. Scholl’s® Odor-X® Odor-Fighting Insoles fight foot odor all day with a combination of activated charcoal and baking soda. They also absorb odor-causing sweat.
·       Use odor-fighting powder — Using a deodorant powder on clean feet can help reduce the risk of odors throughout the day. Dr. Scholl’s® Odor-X® Ultra Odor-Fighting Spray Powder fights foot odor directly at the source. The convenient spray can be used on both feet and shoes.
·       Wear moisture-wicking socks — Pair closed toe shoes with moisture-wicking socks in order to reduce sweat, which can contribute to smelly feet and shoes.

How to get rid of smelly feet after wearing shoes

Washing and exfoliating your feet thoroughly is usually an effective way to get rid of smelly feet from shoes. Follow these steps:

·       Use a gentle cleanser along with a scrub brush designed for feet and nails to remove sweat, dirt and debris that can contribute to foot odor. 
·       Examine your nails for signs of dirt and debris. A nailbrush can help scrub away grime that can form underneath the nails. You can also use a cuticle stick to remove debris. Trim your toenails if needed. 
·       Exfoliate thick, dead skin that can hold odors and cause smelly feet. Soak your feet for several minutes to soften the skin before you exfoliate. You can then use a pumice stone, a nail file or an exfoliating scrub.

How to get smelly feet smell out of shoes 

Washing shoes thoroughly is an effective way to remove smelly feet smell from shoes. While many leather shoes aren’t washable, most athletic shoes can be laundered either by hand or in the washing machine. Be sure to check with your shoe brand for cleaning instructions.

You can also use a deodorant spray powder to get smelly feet smell out of shoes shoes. Dr. Scholl’s® Odor-X® Ultra Odor-Fighting Spray Powder helps absorb sweat and eliminates odors. Spray the product generously inside of your shoes.

How to cure smelly feet and shoes

There is no true cure for smelly feet and shoes. However, you can diminish unpleasant odors by washing and scrubbing your feet daily in addition to regularly cleaning your shoes. Deodorant insoles, sprays and powders designed for shoes and feet can also help reduce odors.

Because fungal infections of the foot are often the source of smelly feet, promptly treat athlete’s foot as soon as you confirm an infection. Over-the-counter anti-fungal products can be very effective when used as directed. Dr. Scholl’s® Instant Cool Athlete’s Foot Treatment Wipes contain a clinically proven effective anti-fungal ingredient to fight athlete’s foot. The convenient wipes are easy to use.

How to prevent smelly feet and shoes

You may not be able to prevent smelly feet and shoes entirely. However, you can take steps to reduce the chances of odors forming on the feet and shoes with the following tips:

·       Consider using odor-fighting insoles to stop smelly feet and shoes in their tracks. Dr. Scholl’s® Odor-X® Odor-Fighting Insoles absorb moisture and neutralize odors using a blend of activated charcoal and baking soda. For best results, place these insoles inside new shoes before you first wear them. Replace the insoles every six months or sooner if you notice signs of wear and tear or damage.
·       Wear moisture-wicking socks to help keep your feet and shoes dry. Sweat is a primary source of odor. Dry feet and shoes are more resistant to unpleasant smells.
·       After your morning shower, sprinkle deodorant foot powder on your feet, in your socks and in your shoesDr. Scholl’s® Odor-X® Odor-Fighting Foot Powder features four different odor-fighting ingredients for maximum protection against smelly feet and shoes. The powder also absorbs moisture to leave your feet feeling clean and dry.