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Niche Topics (Money and Lifestyle) is about helping you manage your finances so that you live comfortably within your means. We share frugal living ideas such as save money around the house, cheap to make recipes, budget-friendly solutions for everyday living, recycling crafts, helpful hints to buy things without getting burned, and many more!


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4 Easy Ways to Remove Shoe Odor and Sweat Stains


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4 Easy Ways to Remove Shoe Odor and Sweat Stains


Hi Jane,

Shoes made with rubber or synthetic materials can smell really bad after a day's use. Inadequate ventilation of the feet promotes excessive sweating, and moisture from sweat collects in the shoes. Bacteria on human skin combines with perspiration to produce unpleasant body odor (BO), which can attach itself to shoes (if worn without socks), socks, shirts, and sports gear.

There are several ways to neutralize terrible smells and eliminate perspiration stains. But, the best way to kill foul-smelling odors without introducing unquestionable chemicals and carcinogens into your house are natural ingredients – essential oils, vinegar, salt, and baking soda.


How to Clean Smelly Shoes and Remove Perspiration Stains

Essential Oils

Essential oils are naturally powerful antiseptics. In fact, some essential oils are found to be more antiseptic than phenol (carbolic acid), which is commonly used for years as a disinfectant and germicide in conventional laundry detergents and air fresheners.

Take thyme and Australian tea tree oil, for example. The strong antiseptic properties of thyme are effective against a variety of bacterial and fungal species while tea tree oil (an essential oil from the Melaleuca tree) kills bacteria and mold on contact.


Homemade Shoe Deodorizer Recipe

Ingredients: 2 teaspoons essential oil (thyme essential oil or tea tree oil) and 2 cups water.

How to make shoe deodorizer: Combine all ingredients in a spray bottle, and shake vigorously to blend. To use, spray area with the odor (spray the insides daily to deodorize smelly shoes). Don't rinse out.

You can also use the spray to remove nasty odors from sports equipment and gear that can't be washed such as lacrosse pads, hockey bags, yoga mats, and gloves.

Note: Tea tree oil has a strong but not unpleasant odor that will naturally dissipate in a few days. If you've any serious medical conditions or are pregnant, always consult your physician before using essential oils.




Bacteria thrive within a narrow range of pH between 6.7 and 7.5. White distilled vinegar has a pH value of about 2.4, which makes it unfavorable for bacteria growth. Studies show that using a straight 5% solution of vinegar (commonly found in your local supermarket) will kill 99% bacteria, 82% mold, and 80% germs (viruses).

Make a vinegar spray with half water and half white distilled vinegar, and  use it to clean and disinfect shoes, or spray onto sweat stains before washing.

Alternatively, add white distilled vinegar to laundry to boost the power of washing detergent. Soak laundry with 2 cups of vinegar for at least 4 hours, or overnight. Add enough water to cover clothes. Agitate water before washing as usual.

Note: If you can't tolerate the smell of vinegar, trying adding a few drops of essential oil to vinegar. Lavender essential oil, lemon essential oil, rosemary essential oil, or oregano essential oils works well to mask the smell of vinegar.




Salt is extremely effective for sweat stain removal as well as eliminating lingering perspiration odors.

Put clothes in a bucket of warm water. Add 4 tablespoons of salt to 1 gallon of water. Let clothing soak overnight, and launder as usual the next day.

You can also make a paste with ½ cup table salt, 2 teaspoons hand dish detergent and a small amount of water. Stir to completely mix the paste. Rub on perspiration stains and leave it for a few hours before laundering the garment.



Baking Soda

Although baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) doesn't get rid of sweat stains the way salt might, it's a powerful odor absorber.

Sprinkle liberal amounts of baking soda into footwear (boots, slippers, shoes) and let set for a few hours before tapping out excess.

To remove smells from sweaty garment, place 1-2 cups of baking soda into the washing machine. Add warm water, agitate and let it soak overnight. Wash as usual.


Check out these easy, highly effective and eco-friendly cleaning recipes today! Your laundry will smell fresh, clean and odor-free!


By Louisa Price

I don't want to sound too disgusting but my husband's shoes stink like cat pee, and my kids' sports jerseys smell really awful! I had tried all kinds of expensive commercial products to kill laundry odors but nothing can remove bad smell from clothes efficiently. Any natural ways to get rid of perspiration odors from clothing and also take stink out of shoes? – Jane, Idaho.

sweat stain and shoe odor removal

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