Does your dog recoil in horror when you ask him to fetch your slippers? Is a gas mask required when you open your shoe closet or wardrobe? If your boots are a biohazard and your shoes stink, don’t panic – there’s no need to throw them into an incinerator just yet.
Our friends at Rainbow’s-end, a retailer of fashion, shoes and gift items, states that not-so-pleasant smelling footwear is often the result of naturally occurring bacteria which thrives in the lovely damp dark conditions found in the average shoe.
Luckily there are several cheap and easy ways to banish the bacteria, purge the pong and restore fragrant freshness to your footwear. Here are six tips to getting the funk out.
Make sure your shoes are bone dry
Moisture is the key culprit when it comes to funky footwear, so before you do anything else, make sure your shoes are dry.
Start by stuffing them with absorbent paper such as newspaper or kitchen towel and then leave them in a warm spot, such as an airing cupboard, for a few hours.
Be careful not to place shoes in direct heat such as in front of a fire as this can damage them. Canvas or cotton shoes such as deck shoes or plimsolls can be dried by placing them in a pillowcase and tumble drying them on a low heat setting. Don’t try this with suede though.
Freeze your shoes overnight
A lot of people swear by this method, but if your shoes are ultra-expensive you might want to try a few other deodorizing tips before risking this.
The theory is that the bacteria which cause shoe funk can’t survive sub-zero temperatures. Sealing your shoes in an airtight plastic bag and sticking them in your freezer overnight should result in a pair of fresh-smelling, if somewhat cold, shoes in the morning.
Take proper care of your tootsies
Inevitably, smelly feet means smelly shoes. Between them, your feet produce half a pint of sweat every day. To keep your shoes smelling fresh, make sure that after your bath or shower your feet are dried thoroughly. It can help to powder them with scented talc or medicated foot powder or spray them with antiperspirant, and wearing fresh clean socks is a must.
Rotate your shoes
This doesn’t mean that you should attach your shoes to a rotary airer and spin them around (although you can try this if you like), it simply means that you should alternate between different pairs of shoes as often as possible so that each has a chance to dry out before it is worn again.
Freshen up your insoles and laces
If your smelly shoes have removable insoles pop them in a pillowcase along with the laces and put them in the washing machine on a gentle wash cycle, adding a strongly scented fabric conditioner. Dry the laces and insoles thoroughly before replacing.
Try a dab of tea tree oil
Most pharmacies and health food shops stock neat Tee Tree oil. Not only does Tea Tree oil have a strong, pleasant fragrance that smells like mint, camphor and eucalyptus combined it is also naturally antibacterial, antifungal and antiseptic.
Take a ball of cotton wool and put a few drops of neat Tea Tree oil on it and wipe it around thoroughly inside your shoes. If you’ve cleaned and dried the insoles (see tip 5) you can apply Tea Tree Oil to both sides of these before replacing them.