A blog by runners. For runners.

How to get the smell out of your running sneakers


I’ve already covered how to get the stink out of your sweat-drenched workout clothing — so I hope you’re all smelling much better these days. However, in that article I sort of left out the pink elephant in the room: running shoes. I mean, seriously! In the past, my sneakers should have been condemned. They were absolutely rank, and I’m sure many of you can relate.

So, over the years, I’ve learned some tips — from basic to more complex — for keeping my feet smelling sweet and my shoes far less toxic.

  • Wear socks. I hate wearing socks, so I still ignore this tip more often than not. But if you’re really looking for a first line of defense against the stink, a good pair of sweat-wicking socks has you covered.
  • Take ’em off. Immediately after running, take your shoes off and perhaps even remove the inserts as well. You don’t need your feet stewing any longer than necessary or your shoes taking on extra bacteria in your post-workouts hours.
  • Sunbathe. At least let your shoes sit in the sun for a while, sans sunscreen. A lot of the stench in your sneaks comes from a wet, dark environment, which breeds bacteria. The sun both dries and zaps this bacteria, so it’s a win-win method in this regard.
  • Read the newspaper. And then crumple it up and shove into your shoes. If it’s a cold time of year or your area doesn’t get much sun, newspaper can draw out some moisture from your shoes, it may just take longer.
  • Try baking soda. For shoes that are already heading down a bad road, you can sprinkle in some baking soda and let sit overnight and empty in the morning. It should takes some of the odor away. Repeat as necessary.
  • Lather and rinse. Periodically, wash those suckers by hand with some soap and water. Make sure to rinse out any soap residue that might be left behind. If it’s a sunny day, you can air-dry in the sun or blow-dry (on a low heat setting) if that’s not an option.
  • Alternate pairs. If you have a real problem or run every single day, consider alternating two pairs of shoes and allowing time for these other methods to work in-between wears.
  • Start at home. And by that I mean, with your own feet. Make sure your feet are clean before and after slipping on your sneakers. It’s as easy as lathing up with some soap and drying well before and after you go jogging.

I wouldn’t recommend putting expensive running shoes in your washer/dryer. Shoes today are made from a variety of smart materials that — when exposed to extreme heat or cycles — might break down prematurely. I also try to avoid using perfumes or other chemical fresheners that are just made to mask the smells. Eventually your shoes will just smell bad with a strong fruity or floral note layered on top.

How do you keep your feet and shoes fresh on the run?

Written by  Ashley Marcin.