If you have a job that requires wearing safety shoes all day long, you are sure to be familiar with this problem.
You come home after a long, grueling day and pull off your shoes and watch as the cats fall over and die. Okay, maybe nothing so dramatic. But the odor from shoes that have been on active duty all day can be downright offensive.
However, you don't have to discard your smelly shoes. Here, we'll list proven ways of getting rid of these offensive odors that come close to being classified as a chemical weapon.
Causes of Bad Odor In Work Boots
You know what? Every nasty smell from your work shoes is caused by sweat. The sweat attracts billions of bacteria which feed them off and give off the noxious odors.
Hence, tracing the cause of bad smell from shoes leads us right to what causes sweating in boots. Here are some of them:
Lack of Ventilation and Airflow
So, why do work shoes stink more than a garbage dump? Modern safety shoes that are mandatory for certain workplaces are built to protect the wearers against hazards associated with the job.
This often entails using materials that are sturdy enough to protect the feet, and sometimes, the protection is so complete that it keeps the air away too. This causes the foot to heat up and then sweat some more.
The steel-reinforced toes in safety shoes do an excellent job of protecting your feet from being crushed when heavy objects fall on them. But, they have their downsides.
Steel, as a material, can be hardly described as being breathable. Again, steel is a perfect conductor and will conduct heat into the shoes, increasing the temperature of your feet and of course, increasing the sweat.
Therefore, steel-toed shoes tend to cause more foot odors than other types of work shoes.
Oil and Grease
Some work environments have to deal with a copious amount of grease and oil. Places like factories and oil rigs tend to have more than a fair amount of the gunky stuff spread around.
While grease gets the moving parts to move easier, they tend to cover your footwear and block even the little air that passes through. This naturally will cause an increase in the sweat coming from your feet.
Remember what we said causes odors from work shoes?
Being the hardworking man or woman that you are, you move a lot. This vigorous body movement naturally raises your body temperature and makes your sweat pores go on the overdrive, trying to cool you down.
And no other part of your anatomy sweat as much as your toes and the soles of your feet.
How to Avoid Your Work Boots from Stinking
You are not entirely at the mercy of these pesky odor-producing bacteria. There are practical and easy solutions you can employ to rid yourself of this menace.
Ensure That You Have Clean Feet
Good hygiene has always been drummed into your ears while growing up. Do you now see why it's so important? The first line of defense against odiferous bacteria is a good washing every day with antibacterial soap. This kills off the darned bacteria with all their smelly baggage.
Going further, you can luxuriously soak your tired feet in a bath of Epsom salt to eliminate the germs while relaxing your muscles at the same time.
If you can afford it, buy a second pair of work shoes and wear them every other day. This may not be the most cost-effective measure, but changing up your boot every other day will allow them enough time to dry out properly. A dry, sweat-less boot will incubate fewer bacteria and, therefore, would smell less.
Change Your Socks Often
Your socks absorb most of the sweat coming off your feet. Thus, they are home to a community of smelly bacteria. If you can change them a few times a day, you will significantly reduce foot odor.
Avoid Foot Powders
Foot powders are used to treat or prevent athletes' foot and other infections. However, they have their drawbacks. Most of them contain cornstarch. Moist cornstarch makes an excellent breeding ground for all manners of germs.
A better alternative is to insert activated charcoal or kitty litter overnight to remove bad smells.
Home Remedies to Remove Shoe Odor
Baking soda is a well-known natural deodorizing agent. This is due to its ability to absorb sweat and to also kill smell-causing bacteria.
To use, pour some baking soda into the work boot and leave it overnight. Before wearing them the next morning, remove all the baking soda from the boot. If you consistently do this, the boot won't ever smell.
Tea is a popular beverage and can be found anywhere. However, it has been used for other purposes other than drinking.
For instance, putting tea bags inside your work shoes controls the smell. This is due to Tannins - a substance found in tea. The tannins have astringent properties, which makes them able to destroy bacteria.
To use, place the tea bag in boiling water for 5-10 minutes. Remove it from the water and allow it cool for a few minutes. Put the tea bag inside the work boot for an hour or two. Finally, remove them and wipe off any fluid.
Since the odors in shoes are caused by sweat, it all stands to reason that eliminating sweat will reduce the smell.
Wash your feet daily with water and mild soap after wearing shoes. If you sweat excessively, more drastic measures are required. Apply antiperspirant to stop sweat and odor. Use cotton soaked in surgical spirit to clean in-between your toes after washing. Also, you may try an antibacterial foot scrub.
Finally, ensure you thoroughly dry your feet before wearing socks and then your work shoes.
Use Dryer Sheets
Dryer sheets are used to soften fabrics and make them easier for ironing. However, the absorbent properties of dryer sheets can also be used to eliminate the bad smell from your boot.
This comes in handy when you work for long hours in your shoes. Dryer sheets work by absorbing all the sweat from your feet instead of them passing through to the insole where they fester and attract hordes of bacteria.
Apart from absorbing sweat and keeping the inside of your work shoes dry, dryer sheets also give off a pleasant scent.
To use dryer sheets, place them into the shoes before putting them on. They are usually lightweight, and you won't feel them while walking around in your shoes. Always discard the dryer sheets at the end of the day.
Applying Baby Powder
Baby powders are also helpful in the fight against stinking work shoes. They have deodorizing properties and have a variety of pleasant fragrances to keep your shoes smelling good.
Just apply some baby powder directly to your feet before wearing socks. You may repeat the powdering from time to time as your feet sweat more.
Use Anti-Bacterial Spray
Antibacterial sprays are specially formulated to eliminate bacteria. Spray inside the shoes to rid them of bacteria that causes the bad smells. For effective results, spray inside the shoes and let it stand for some time in a well-ventilated area.
Anti-fungal foot soap or foot soak also works in the same way. Apply it to your foot, especially if you sweat excessively and is prone to fungal foot infections.
Antibacterial and fungal applications leave your feet and shoes germ-free and, therefore, odor-free.
Use the Right Pair of Socks
Avoid using cotton socks since they soak the sweat from your feet and pass it on to the boot's insoles and mesh.
A better alternative is socks made of synthetic materials. These are designed to soak in the sweat. They lock the sweat in rather than allowing them to get to the inner parts of your work boots.
Less sweat in the boots means little or no unpleasant odor. Also, change your socks every day. And if possible, twice a day, especially when you are working long hours.
A Mixture of Water and Vinegar
Mix 50 percent of the water with 50 percent of vinegar to make a potent home remedy for smelly work shoes. This mixture has strong antibacterial properties.
Spray a copious amount of the mixture on the inner walls of your shoes and leave it in for a couple of hours. This effective home remedy will kill off bacteria leaving your boot free of odor and surprisingly fresh.
Another excellent home remedy for smelly work shoes is salt treatment. Sprinkle a generous dose of salt inside your shoes after a long day at work. Then store them in your shoe rack.
The next morning, you should have a fresh pair of work shoes to wear to work. Just about any salt would do, but Kosher Salt is more effective.
Weekly Practices to Eliminate Odor
Clean the Work Boots
Make sure to wash your shoes regularly. And thankfully, many modern work shoes are washable.
Use a mild detergent or any recommended washing product to obliterate dirt and soaked sweat. After thoroughly washing them, rinse them out and put them outside to dry under the sun. Sunlight has been known to kill bacteria effectively.
Freeze the Work Boots
Bacteria do not survive extreme temperatures. Therefore, freezing your work boots can kill the bacteria living in your beloved work boots.
However, this method should be considered as a last option, when every attempt to eliminate odor from the boots has failed. Place the boots inside plastic bags and place them in a freezer overnight.
By morning, all the bacteria will have been eliminated, and your work boots will be fresh once more. Make sure to properly thaw them (preferably under the sun) before wearing them.
Cat litter might seem somewhat unpleasant, but they are quite potent as an odor blasting remedy. Here's why: they have good deodorizing capabilities.
To use, fill a sock with fresh, unused cat litter and seal it off with a knot. Stuff it into your work boots, and leave them overnight. The next day, throw the cat litter away and put on your newly freshened boots.
Kitty litter may have a strong smell, but it does a good job of neutralizing the bad odor from your shoes, and its smell doesn't last long once you dispose of it.
Place lemon peels
The citric acid found in citrus is an antibacterial agent. It occurs naturally in fruits such as oranges and lemons that have an acidic composition.
To help with your stinking boot problem, peel the fruits and keep the peels. Crush them and place inside your boots overnight for the best results.
Use Lavender Oil
A few drops of lavender oil will do wonders for your smelly boots problem.
Lavender oil is an essential oil with strong antibacterial properties. These antibacterial properties kill off bacteria and thus eliminates a terrible odor in your boots.
Again, the nice fragrance of the lavender oil neutralizes any unpleasant smell in your boots, leaving them fresh and smelling good.
Don't have lavender oil? Not to worry. Tea Tree Oil is a great alternative that can eliminate bacteria and keep your boots fresh.
Alcohol is devastatingly deadly for bacteria. That is why they are used widely as a cheap but effective disinfectant all over the world.
Therefore, it works quite well as an inexpensive home remedy for smelly shoes. Although alcohol has a harsh, pungent smell, it evaporates easily after killing the germs in your shoes.
You can apply alcohol by mixing it with some water in a spray bottle. Spray inside the boots and cover it with paper. You can also rub the surface and insides of the boot with the alcohol mixture with a cotton swab. Leave it overnight, and you'll be happy to be in a fresh pair of boots in the morning.
Quarterly Practices To Getting Rid Of Odor
After two to three months, you should replace your insoles for new ones. It even gets better: you can opt for antimicrobial odor control insoles that are antibacterial and have a deodorizing effect. These insoles will kill every germ upon contact and keep your boots odor-free. They are very light and wears comfortably.
Buy a New Pair of Socks
After about three months of steady use, it makes sense to change your socks. They might look fresh and clean, but after three months, they usually lose their ability to lock in sweat and moisture. A bad smell will then occur due to the growth of a bacterial community. The sweat has escaped through the socks.
Commercial Products for Smelly Boots
Cedarwood is a good antibacterial and antifungal agent that can stop your boots from stinking. It also has a naturally fresh and crispy fragrance, which makes it great for removing unpleasant smells and halting bacterial growth at the same time.
Smelleze Sneaker, Shoe & Boot Deodorizer
Smalleze products have been a household name due to their ability to tackle the most offensive odors – especially dead animals. And you know, nothing smells worse than a rotting carcass.
The Smelleze Sneaker, Shoe & Boot Deodorizer in keeping with the tradition, is very useful in absorbing, neutralizing, and removing every nasty smell oozing from the pits of your boot. Smelleze will keep your boots fresh all day long. When used to store boots, it absorbs extra moisture and hence prevents mildew and mold.
Antifungal Foot Powder and Antibacterial Sprays
These are available from several manufacturers and can be bought online, in drugstores, or neighborhood convenience stores. They utterly destroy all unpleasant odors and at the same time, protect the foot from bacterial and fungal infections such as athlete's foot.
Fungus and bacteria tend to thrive in the moist environment and, apart from the bad smell, could infect your foot. This is obviously a bummer.
O-Liminator is a patented formula that makes use of active microbial to stop the growth of odor-causing bacteria and fungi or germs that can cause infections like Staph and E-coli. This formulation is non-toxic and safe for human use.
Since bacteria and fungi live off the sweat in your work boots, O-Liminator has dry pellet packs that use a silipab moisture absorber to draw out sweat and moisture. This drop-and-go odor protection is more convenient than say messy sprays and mixtures.
O-Liminator offers up to 60 days of odor protection for your boots, saving you from all the stress of having to treat them for bad odor regularly.
Frequently Asked Questions
How long does it take for baking soda to deodorize shoes?
Depending on the severity of the stink, you can leave baking soda in for a few hours for lightly smelly boots to over 24 hours for stink-bomb boots. This will give the baking soda time to absorb all moisture and odor-causing bacteria and fungi completely.
Can you put work boots in the washing machine?
The short answer is no. Except on the recommendation of the manufacturer, work boots are not meant to be washed in a machine. The load won't be balanced because of the increased water-saturated weight. Also, the vibrations could then destroy your washing machine. Moreover, leather boots could be destroyed by putting them in a machine.
What is the best foot odor eliminator?
There are hundreds of products that are effective in eliminating bad odor from your foot and work boots. However, one of the best available is the Hibiclens ant-bacterial soap. This is a hospital-grade disinfectant. Surgeons apply this to their hands and forearms before going in for surgeries.
Frankly, having smelly feet and boots are about the most embarrassing experiences you can have. These bad smells are from bacteria that are attracted in the first place by the sweat from your foot. The warmth and humidity inside your boot create a cozy environment for hordes of bacteria and fungi to multiply and cause foul-smelling boots and feet.
However, knowing the source of the bad odors is about halfway towards getting a solution. Thankfully, getting rid of this menace is easy as well as inexpensive.
There are hundreds of solutions and remedies which offer relief. They mostly work by blocking sweat or by absorbing sweat that could have attracted bacteria. If you suffer from smelly boots, try out any of these methods consistently, and you will see significant improvement.