Shoes get stinky. It’s a fact of life. Wearing smelly shoes can be embarrassing, though. When they’re at their worst, your footwear can emit an odor that other people detect as you’re sitting at your desk or walking through your house. You may not want to take off your shoes when you go to friends’ houses because you’re afraid of the scent that might permeate the space.
Is it time to throw out your reeking shoes? Maybe not. The best shoe deodorizers can eliminate the strong scent and help your shoes stay fresh no matter how much you sweat.
Our Top Picks
- Best Overall Choice: Dr. Scholl’s Odor-X Foot Powder
- Best Premium Product: Shoe Dryers UV Sanitizer
- Best Value Product: Shoe Defenders Insoles
How to Prevent Stinky Shoes
Shoe deodorizers can mask or eliminate odors. But you shouldn’t wait until your shoes are putrid before using a deodorizer. You can take some steps to prevent your shoes from getting stinky in the first place.
Start by washing your feet thoroughly at least once a day. Feet smell because they are covered in sweat glands. When your feet are trapped in shoes all day long, they don’t get much ventilation. Therefore, they’re likely to sweat. The dark, moist environment inside of your shoes is the perfect breeding ground for bacteria.
If there are already bacteria on your feet, it can proliferate. The bacteria can mix with the smell of your sweat and create a noxious odor.
One type of bacteria that lives between the toes is the same microbe that’s used to make cheese. That’s why stinky feet can sometimes smell cheesy. You want to wash away that bacteria as frequently as possible.
In the shower, soap up your feet. Make sure that you wash between your toes. Rinse them completely.
After you get out of the shower, dry your feet thoroughly with a towel. Don’t forget to dry between your toes. You may want to use a blow dryer on a cold or warm setting to get rid of every last bit of moisture from your feet. Don’t put your socks and shoes on until your feet are completely dry.
Speaking of socks, wear them as frequently as possible. They’ll absorb some of the sweat so that it doesn’t soak directly into the shoe.
You might also want to look for breathable shoes. Synthetic footwear is not usually porous. For example, faux leather is made of plastic, which prevents air from getting to your feet and can make you hot and sweaty. Canvas shoes may be a better option.
Don’t wear the same shoes for more than one consecutive day. If you do, the shoes may not have time to dry completely. Therefore, any bacteria that are in the shoes can grow faster.
You can also prevent your shoes from smelling by using a deodorizing foot powder. Don’t wait until your shoes have an unpleasant odor to use powder shoe deodorizers. They can help you avoid the smell by absorbing excess sweat and combating bacteria before it has a chance to take hold.
There are many DIY suggestions for eliminating foot odor. However, instead of experimenting with various strategies, which could get messy, why not use a tried-and-true foot deodorizer? Later in this article, we detail multiple products that can combat the horrible smell for good.
Types of Shoe Deodorizers
Shoe deodorizers come in many forms. Some are more simple and convenient to use than others.
Shoe and Foot Spray
Foot sprays are available in natural and chemical forms. A natural foot spray usually contains essential oils to kill bacteria. The essential oils also have a pleasant odor, which can make your shoes smell fresh instead of rotten. Chemical foot sprays also contain compounds that target and fight bacteria.
Any type of foot spray can reach into the deepest, darkest corners of your shoes. Therefore, they’re particularly effective at getting rid of odor. With a spray, you can be sure that you haven’t missed a spot.
Some sprays are designed to mist inside of the shoe. Others can be sprayed directly onto the feet. Some shoe cleaning products come with odor eliminators that work double-duty and cleanse your footwear at the same time that they purge intense odors.
Sprays are ideal for using with open-toed shoes. If your sandals or flip flops are stinky, you probably don’t want to use a foot powder on them, which would leave an unmistakable trail of white dust. Washing and drying your feet thoroughly before applying a spray is one of the best ways to keep your shoes smelling great.
Shoe Deodorizing Powder
Powder is another popular type of shoe deodorizer. These work similarly to sprays. They combat the fungi and bacteria that create odors.
To use a shoe deodorizing powder, sprinkle some of the product into your shoes before and after you wear them. When you use the powder while you’re wearing the shoes, it will absorb your sweat and combat bacteria before it has a chance to flourish. If you dust the powder into the shoes after you wear them, the product will help them dry out so that they smell fresh before you put the footwear on again.
Powder is ideal for people with sweaty feet. It has multiple functions. It will combat the stench and also keep your feet dry, which can prevent you from getting blisters.
Therefore, foot powders are popular for athletes or people who work out. They’re perfect for using inside of sneakers or running shoes. A powder is not the best option for wearing with sandals because it can get crusty or chunky when it mixes with your sweat. It looks unsightly when it does this.
Many foot powders contain zinc oxide, which is a mineral that has antibacterial properties. Zinc oxide can also relieve pain and soothe tired feet.
Shoe Deodorizing Balls, Inserts and Bags
Sneaker balls are easy to use and mess-free. You simply stick them in your shoes to absorb and eliminate odors. You can also throw sneaker balls into your gym bag or closet to prevent musty smells from building up.
Shoe bags work in a similar fashion. They’re often filled with powders that inactivate bacteria and absorb scents. Shoe bags may contain charcoal, carbon, or clay. These ingredients also soak up excess moisture, making them perfect for using when you’re not wearing your shoes.
Shoe insoles can be placed inside of your shoes as you wear them. Therefore, they can prevent your feet from smelling around the clock. The scent-fighting power of shoe bags, balls, and insoles typically lasts longer than sprays and powders.
You have to use sprays and powders just about every day. You should place bags, insoles, and balls in the shoes on a regular basis. But you only have to replace them every year or so.
One of the downsides of using shoe deodorizers that you insert into the footwear is that you might not remember that you put them in the shoes. When you go to stick your foot inside, you might experience a painful surprise. This is more of an issue with sneaker balls than the other products because the balls are so small and can make their way to the toe of the shoe.
UV Shoe Sanitizers
UV shoe sanitizers work by killing the foot fungus that can lead to odors. These work well for closed-toed shoes that can’t be tossed in the washing machine. They also prevent you from using any chemicals or oil-based products on your shoes.
Because foot powders can build up residue over time, some people don’t want to use them in their expensive footwear. UV shoe deodorizers are perfect for these situations.
Many UV shoe sanitizers don’t work as well as the manufacturers claim, though. The UV light can also damage the eyes and skin. Therefore, you have to be careful when you’re using these products. Make sure that the light stays within the shoe and doesn’t radiate out.
You usually need a power source to use a UV shoe sanitizer. Therefore, it may not be as convenient as a spray or powder. Many have built-in timers to ensure that you don’t leave them on longer than necessary.
Best Shoe Deodorizer Reviews
This spray is designed to target and eliminate athlete’s foot. Athlete’s foot is a fungal infection that typically develops and worsens when it’s exposed to moisture. Therefore, people with sweaty feet are more susceptible to athlete’s foot than those with dry feet.
Athlete’s foot causes a scaly rash. The skin may be red or remain the same color as it usually is. It might itch or burn. The athlete’s foot itch typically gets worse immediately after you pull off your shoes and socks.
If this spray fights athlete’s foot, why is it on our list of the best shoe deodorizers? Athlete’s foot proliferates in moist environments. That dampness can also cause foot odor. People with athlete’s foot may have especially stinky feet.
This spray takes care of all of those problems. It contains Zinoxol, an advanced ingredient that fights odors. The manufacturer claims that this spray gets rid of odors on contact.
It also contains alcohol denat, which can kill any bacteria that are still on your feet after you wash them. The sodium bicarbonate in the product absorbs odors and sweat.
You can spray this directly onto your feet or in your shoes. If you use it in your shoes, make sure to let the product dry before you put them on. You can use this to freshen your shoes after a long day of wearing them. Spray it into the footwear, and then leave the shoes out to dry in a well-ventilated area. They should smell fresher the next day.
- Eliminates odors on contact
- Helps prevent and treat athlete’s foot
- Ideal for athletes and sporty people
- Easy to use
- Aerosol spray reaches into the depths of the shoe
- Should be used daily to maintain odor-free shoes
- Leaves a white, powdery substance in dark shoes
- May not continue to work as well after a few weeks
If you’re concerned about chemicals, you might want to consider this product, which contains natural ingredients. The manufacturers have created it using organic lemongrass, mint, and tea tree essential oils.
When you use it topically, lemongrass diminishes unpleasant odors. It also kills the bacteria that cause unpleasant smells. Plus, lemongrass has a fresh, citrusy scent.
Mint essential oil has a refreshing smell. It also cools the feet on contact. It’s soothing if your feet are hot or tired. It also feels good if you have athlete’s foot.
Tea tree oil is known for combating bacteria. It has antibacterial and antimicrobial properties. Many people use tea tree oil as a deodorant. You can use this oil under your arms or on your feet.
Lumi Outdoors natural shoe deodorizer spray is highly concentrated. Therefore, you don’t have to spray it liberally for it to start working. It neutralizes smelly odors over time if you use it regularly. You might have to experiment with the amount that you use to ensure that your shoes stay stink-free.
Some people aren’t fans of the essential oil scent. Although this product has a plant-based aroma, the scent is strong when you first spray it. The fragrance dissipates relatively rapidly, though. It doesn’t contain the tell-tale smell that many other foot deodorizers have, which means that no one should know that you’re using it because you have stinky feet.
Lumi Outdoors is a family business. Its aim is to help people take care of health issues with natural ingredients. The product is also made in the U.S.
- Completely invisible formula is ideal for wearing with sandals
- Contains no toxic chemicals
- Formulated with essential oils for a natural scent
- Can be used as an air freshener
- Non-aerosol spray might not be strong enough to reach the toes of the shoes
- May not last as long as other shoe deodorizers
You can use these sneaker balls in your shoes, locker, gym bag, and other small spaces. The balls are smaller than a ping-pong ball. They’re about 1.5 inches in diameter.
Therefore, they fit into most tight spaces. When you purchase these, you’ll get two balls in the packaging material. Sometimes, you can purchase them in packs that include three pairs.
Because these balls contain the odor-fighting ingredients inside of them, they won’t leave any residue on your shoes or feet. The balls remove bacteria and infuse your shoes with a pleasant aroma.
Twist the balls to release the scent, which smells like fabric softener. The odor-fighting power works for about six months or 2100 hours after they’re activated.
Plus, these plastic balls are cute. You can purchase them in multiple colors and styles. Some of them are designed to look like athletic balls or smiley faces.
One of the benefits of these sneaker balls is that they’re long-lasting. You won’t have to replace them frequently. However, you’ll have to insert them into your shoes every time you take them off to maintain the odor-fighting power.
The downside is that you might need a pair of sneaker balls for every pair of shoes that you have. You can’t leave the balls in the shoes while you wear them. Therefore, you might want to purchase a separate deodorizer, perhaps in powder form, to absorb moisture from your sweaty feet while you’re wearing shoes.
- Don’t leave residue on shoes or feet
- Can be used in any small space, such as a locker or sock drawer
- Fresh scent lasts for up to 2100 hours
- Can’t use them while you’re wearing the shoes
- Fits in kids’ shoes
- Fun stocking stuffer
- May not fit into narrow women’s dress shoes
- Can’t use them with sandals or flip-flops
One of the best things about these shoe bags is that they come in a 12-pack. Therefore, you can use them in six pairs of shoes at the same time. They may be better than shoe balls for using in sandals and flip-flops because they lie on the insole without rolling around.
These shoe bags are incredibly versatile. You can use them in luggage, pet areas, kitchens, bathrooms, sporting equipment, lockers, and gym bags.
The product is highly absorbent. It soaks up moisture from the environment around it, which does more than keep your shoes fresh. It reduces the chances that your shoes will develop mold or mildew. If you insert them into your shoes between uses, your shoes will dry faster than they would if you didn’t use the bags.
The exterior of the bags is made of durable fabric. The inside is stuffed with 100 grams of micro-porous bamboo charcoal. The micro-porosity of the charcoal increases its surface area, allowing it to absorb the odorous gas.
Therefore, it has more absorbent power than some other products. These bags also contain twice as much odor-absorbing powder as many other shoe bags on the market.
They’re also chemical-free, non-toxic, and recyclable. When you’re done using the bags, you can simply empty the powder into your yard. It comes from the earth and is biodegradable. You won’t have to replace these bags frequently, though. They last for about two years.
When you feel like the odor-fighting powder is wearing off, recharge the bags in the sunlight. You should do this monthly to improve the absorption rate. If your shoes are especially stinky, you might want to rejuvenate the bags under UV rays more frequently.
- Don’t leave residue on shoes or feet
- Can freshen up any tight space
- Absorb moisture
- Prevent mold and mildew growth
- Can’t use them while wearing the shoes
- You might not notice a difference if your shoes are especially smelly
This all-natural foot spray contains a mixture of essential oils to kill bacteria and destroy foot and shoe odor. You can spray it on your feet or inside of your shoes.
Some of the essential oils that are in this product include tea tree and peppermint, which we have already discussed above. This foot spray also has eucalyptus oil in it. Eucalyptus oil is known for killing microbes. It also combats viruses and mold.
This product also contains thyme oil. This oil eliminates toxins from the body. Therefore, it can be an effective deodorizer.
Although this formula is natural, it’s powerful. A little goes a long way. You just need a few sprays to tackle odors in your shoes or on your feet. There are hundreds of sprays in the 4-ounce bottle.
The bottle itself is made of brushed aluminum, which is important for use with essential oils. Essential oils can break down plastic. The metal packaging material is BPA-free and won’t break down because of the ingredients in the formula.
This formula is highly versatile. You can use it to freshen fabrics, rooms, or cars. It can neutralize the smell of smoke. It also works as an insect repellent. Spray it directly onto your skin and clothing to keep the mosquitoes away.
It’s ideal for any skin type. It shouldn’t cause any sensitivities. It’s also safe to use inside your shoes. It won’t stain them.
- Comes in a high-quality aluminum bottle
- Potent, concentrated formula
- Feels refreshing when sprayed directly on the feet
- Can be used as a bug repellent spray
- Perfect for use with all types of shoes
- Non-aerosol spray pump may not reach deeply into shoes
- Scent can vary from bottle to bottle because of naturally occurring essential oils
You can use this odor-destroying powder in your shoes, on your feet, or on your body. It eliminates jock itch, athlete’s foot, and foul smells.
The extra-strength formula is fast-acting and remains in your shoes as you wear them. It absorbs sweat, keeping your feet and shoes dry. You can use it inside of any athletic shoes, including skates, dance shoes, and cleats. You can also sprinkle it into gloves to prevent them from getting sweaty and smelly.
This deodorizer powder contains zinc oxide, which has antifungal properties. It also naturally protects your skin. This is ideal for people with itchy or painful skin on their feet.
It also contains arrowroot powder, which absorbs moisture. The sodium bicarbonate in the product neutralizes smells and soaks up dampness. The lavender essential oil makes the product smell naturally fresh.
The manufacturer recommends that you use it in your shoes every day until the smell goes away. It takes some time for the odor-fighting ingredients to activate. After that, use it only as needed.
One of the problems with some foot powders is that it cakes up between your toes and on your feet. This product contains silicon dioxide, which prevents caking from happening.
This foot powder neutralizes odors on contact. However, to keep your shoes permanently fresh, you’ll have to continue to use it regularly. It doesn’t have a strong scent, which means that you can use it without worrying that people are going to suspect that you’re masking smelly feet.
- Large bottle goes a long way
- Doesn’t contain aluminum
- Won’t cake up on your feet
- Eliminates moisture
- Might be visible if you use it with open-toed shoes
- Needs some time to begin working
- Hard to wash off
Dr. Scholl’s is one of the best-recognized brands of shoe deodorizers on the market. This foot powder provides all-day protection against sweat and odors. The product starts working right away, destroying odors at the source.
Sprinkle it into your shoes, or rub it on your feet. Make sure to work it between your toes. Some consumers sprinkle it inside their socks before pulling them on. The powder contains SweatMAX technology to absorb moisture and reduce stinky scents instantly.
The manufacturer claims that this powder works well with all shoes. The product contains corn starch, which does a great job of absorbing moisture. However, the powder can get clumpy if it gets wet. Therefore, it’s not the best product to use if you’re wearing open-toe shoes.
It feels good when you put it on, though. It instantly refreshes and cools your feet. That’s an excellent benefit if your feet are irritated from athlete’s foot or any other skin condition.
The powder won’t damage the leather inside of your shoes. It can be used with any material, including cotton, canvas, and satin.
It also removes all kinds of odors. Sometimes, your shoes stink because of the bacteria on your feet. However, if your footwear has become moist for a lengthy period of time, it can begin to smell like mildew. This shoe deodorizer gets rid of the moldy smell too.
A little goes a long way. However, you might have trouble dispensing only a little bit. The shape of the holes in the bottle makes the powder dump out reasonably quickly. You might have to experiment with how much you twist the top to prevent excess product from pouring out.
- Absorbs sweat
- Destroys odors
- Mild, pleasant scent
- Can be used in almost any type of shoe
- Might cake up on your feet
- Not ideal for using with sandals
- Might dry out the skin on your feet
The manufacturer claims that this shoe deodorizer is the most powerful product for combating smells in shoes and sports gear. It’s a natural formula that contains more essential oils than the other all-natural products that we’ve reviewed here.
In addition to mint, tea tree, eucalyptus, and thyme oil, this deodorizer contains bergamot essential oil. Bergamot has a citrusy, floral aroma. It’s known for skin-improving benefits. Sprayzee shoe deodorizer also has grapefruit oil, which helps reduce toxin buildup.
One of the effective ingredients in this deodorizer is apple cider vinegar. Apple cider vinegar is excellent at destroying odors. You can even leave a bowl of apple cider vinegar in an area where strong smells are present. It will get rid of them.
That’s one reason that it does such a great job at fighting unpleasant shoe smells. Apple cider vinegar also improves itchy skin. It can be particularly effective at soothing the symptoms of athlete’s foot. It’s antibacterial and antifungal, which is why it works so well for making your shoes smell good.
The enzymes in this product eat away at bad smells. They’re also natural and safe to use around kids and adults alike. Enzymes eliminate odors instead of just covering them up. Using this product can rejuvenate your shoes so that you can get more years out of them.
The formula is highly concentrated. It isn’t diluted with lots of water. Instead, it’s packed with essential oils. Spray it directly on your feet or inside your shoes. You can also use it inside of boxing gloves, dress shoes, and climbing shoes. Just be careful when you spray it on leather and delicate materials. The oils can stain some fabrics.
- Free of chemicals, aluminum, and parabens
- Destroys odors
- Pleasant, natural scent
- Can be used in any type of shoe and sport equipment
- Safe for kids and adults
- Oil buildup can damage shoes over time
- Strong scent
- Pump spray nozzle is not very powerful
These shoe deodorizer inserts are some of the most effective on the market. The manufacturer explains that they absorb 20 times more sweat than bags and balls that contain charcoal. These contain clay and last longer than sprays and powders.
They contain a special blend of absorbent materials that soak up moisture and reduce smells. If you have sweaty feet, this product might be ideal for you. The compounds in the insoles are activated by moisture. The more you sweat, the better the insoles work.
They contain botanical extracts to further combat odors. They have antifungal, antimicrobial, and antibacterial properties.
Plus, this product is environmentally conscious. You can recycle or compost all of the components of the insoles and the packaging. This product is also made in the U.S., which is an important factor for many consumers.
You use them by placing them in your shoes when you take them off. You can’t wear the insoles while you have the shoes on. You might need to purchase several pairs to take care of all of your stinky shoes.
Most people probably won’t see you use this product because you store them in your shoes when you’re not wearing them. Still, the manufacturer creates these with fashionable patterns and designs. Your closet will look fashionable even when your shoes are at rest.
The insoles weigh only 8 ounces. Therefore, they’re easy to travel with. Bring them along on your next hiking or camping trip. Stash them in your suitcase to prevent musty odors when you’re on the move.
Don’t worry about getting sweaty—these insoles will wick away moisture. If you don’t have time for your shoes to dry in between uses, stick a pair of Shoe Defenders inside of them to absorb moisture.
- Last for up to one year
- Excellent for sweaty feet
- Safe for kids and adults
- Environmentally friendly
- Reduce odors within 24 hours
- Can’t use them while you wear the shoes
- Need to buy multiple pairs to use in different shoes
These UV shoe sanitizers kill bacteria and fungus without using harsh chemicals. They use UV rays and ozone to combat the microbes that cause foot odor and athlete’s foot, as well as other skin conditions that are commonly found on the feet.
They’re easy to use and have a built-in timer. Set it to work for 15, 30, or 60 minutes. The timer is helpful because you don’t have to remember to turn off the product.
You’re not supposed to use this product continuously. Therefore, you might not be able to use it to sanitize every pair of shoes in your closet every day. However, you could use it on the pair of shoes that you wear in one session to eliminate germs and bacteria after you get home for the day.
These sanitizers fit well inside almost any type of shoe. However, they don’t work well with sandals. Save them for your closed-toed shoes, which tend to get stinkier than their open-toed counterparts.
You’ll need to plug them in to use them. Therefore, you have to have access to a power outlet. This is not an ideal shoe deodorizer to bring with you while traveling or on a hiking trip.
To use this product, plug it in and insert a light into each shoe. Press the on/off button. Then, press that button again to scroll through the 15, 30, and 60-minute sessions. The light will illuminate the inside of the shoes, killing pathogens. It will turn off automatically when the cycle is finished.
You don’t need to use any other shoe deodorizer product along with these shoe sanitizers. However, some people still prefer to use a spray directly on their feet after they get out of the shower. Doing so will further prevent foot odor and extend the life of your shoes.
- Kill bacteria and fungus
- Works with almost all types of closed-toe shoes
- Ideal for killing nail fungus
- Not recommended to work continuously
- Not ideal for use with sandals
- UV lights make a high-pitched sound when they’re in use
This is a multipurpose product that cleans your sneakers, protects them from moisture, and deodorizes them. It comes with a water repellent, sneaker cleaner, sneaker wipes, and sneaker deodorizer balls.
Cleaning your sneakers can often eliminate some of the bacteria that lead to foot odor. Although much of these bacteria reside in the insides of your shoes, some of them can be on the outside. Therefore, keeping the exterior of your footwear clean doesn’t hurt if you have stinky feet.
The water-repellent spray protects the outside of your shoes from getting wet. The dryer you can keep your shoes, the less likely they are to develop odors. Therefore, protecting them from the elements is important if you wear the sneakers in wet weather.
The sneaker balls fit inside the shoes to address odors there. They’re compact and fit inside of almost any size of footwear. When you’re ready to use them, twist the balls to release the odor fighters. The scent is fresh and clean and blocks unpleasant smells.
You can also use the sneaker balls elsewhere. Stash them in your closet or gym bag when those areas get smelly.
The smell of the sneaker balls is light and pleasant. It’s slightly reminiscent of men’s cologne. The sneaker balls may not be powerful enough to fight extreme odors, though. This product is ideal for using on sneakers that get light use. You might need something stronger for other gym shoes or work boots.
- Multipurpose products clean and deodorize
- Clean the outside of the shoes and freshen the inside
- Water protector protects shoes from external rain and wetness
- Doesn’t kill bacteria as well as some other products
- Only one pair of sneaker balls in the package
- May not be strong enough for heavy odors
Dr. Scholl’s Odor-X Foot Powder is the best overall choice for most people. It works instantly and has a powerful formula that fights odor and absorbs moisture. It’s ideal for using in any type of closed-toe shoe. It’s strong enough to use in athletic shoes, but it also works well for everyday shoes.
The best premium choice is the Shoe Dryers UV Sanitizer. If you don’t want to use harsh chemicals and experience foot odor as well as fungus, this is an excellent option. You can’t use this product while you wear the shoes, but it refreshes them when they’re in storage.
The best value product is the Shoe Defenders Insoles. They aren’t the cheapest, but they last a long time. Plus, they contain compounds that absorb moisture and eliminate odors. They’re also perfect for sports enthusiasts and travelers who might have to use them on the road or the trail.
Any of these products would be great to use to combat shoe and foot odors. Try them out to determine which works best for your needs.