by Mbio Staff September 18, 2018


Did you know that running is one of the most practiced sports in the world?

Whether it's for fitness, mental health or just plain fun, the perks of running are undeniable. However, those that run often are also met with one common problem: stinky sneakers!

If you're an avid runner, you know firsthand how quickly odors can build up within your sneakers. These odors are often due to excess instances of sweat and moisture inside your sneaker.

Fortunately, odorous shoes do not always have to mean purchasing brand new ones. In fact, there are plenty of simple ways to better the smell of your shoes and eliminate the pesky odors that linger post-run.

From wearing the right running socks to properly discarding your sneakers post-run, these simple tricks are sure to minimize overall odors.

Read on to discover ten trusted tips for freshening up your sneakers!

1. Always Wear Socks

First and foremost, always wear socks when you are running! As a matter of fact, even if you are not running but still wearing your sneakers, you're going to want to wear socks.

Let's consider that our feet have 250,000 active sweat glands. Once we get running, these glands begin to produce excess sweat. Without socks, this sweat drips directly into our shoes.

Wearing your sneakers barefoot is the most surefire way to guarantee that your sneakers are going to become odorous. The fact is, our feet are subject to heat and moisture when we are running.

Without the barrier of socks, this moisture directly resides in our sneakers. This is also in addition to the odor-causing bacteria that live on our feet to begin with.

2. Wear Running Socks When You Run

For those that run daily, you're going to want to ensure that you have the right, dedicated socks for running.

Sure, this may feel like an expensive running investment at first. But you won't regret it when you notice the significant differences that it makes.

The ideal running sock is made from either polyester, acrylic, nylon or Coolmax. This is because these materials have the ability to deter moisture from the skin. The result are feet that are not only less sweaty, but also less odorous!

Cotton socks, on the other hand, hold sweat and moisture in rather than deflecting it. Because the moisture is being held inside, this increases the possibility of developing a blister.

Running socks help to eliminate moisture build-up and reduce odors smells that can result from sweat. They also help to lessen the chance of developing blisters that form due to sweat.

3. Wash Your Feet Pre-Run

While most runners are prone to washing their feet post-run, it's equally important to wash pre-run.

This is especially relevant for those that favor night running. After an entire day on your feet, you can bet that your feet have generated plenty of sweat and moisture.

In these instances, it's always in your best interest to wash your feet prior to your run. This gives your feet a fresh start for your run and helps to fight off the presence of sweat and nasty odors during the run. For avid runners, it also helps to minimize the occurrence of athlete's foot.

Athlete's foot occurs when fungus grows on the feet. Because this fungus thrives in warm, tight environments, your runner sneaker becomes the perfect place for it to thrive.

Think of washing your feet as a pre-run stretch!

4. Removal

The best way to ensure that your sneakers breathe correctly is to remove them as soon as you are finished running in them. Continuing to walk around in your sneakers allows the smell to become more pungent and long-term.

It's also helpful to remove the insoles of the sneaker and allow them to dry separately.

If you feel that your sneaker odor has become next-level, try replacing your insoles before you opt to spend the money on a new pair. More often than not, the insole is where the sweat builds up and is the prime target for odor.

5. Store Shoes in a Cool and Dry Place

Once you remove your sneakers, you are going to want to store them in a cool and dry place. Post-run, our sneakers need a chance to air out and breathe.

Avoid placing them next to a heater, enclosed area such as a trunk or gym bag. Areas such as these give bacteria the perfect opportunity to develop and grow.

6. Medicated Foot Powder

For those that are especially prone to foot sweat, it may be worthwhile to consider a medicated foot powder.

These foot powders use talc to soak up moisture as well as scent boosters to fight off the odorous smells of sweat. The medication also helps to inhibit bacterial growth that can result from excess sweat.

While you can generally use the foot powder directly on the foot, many people spread the powder in their shoes before use.

7. Rotate Between Shoes

If you're an avid runner, it's best that you alternate between two different pairs of running sneakers. This rotation helps to give sneakers a chance to breathe and dry out when not in use. If you're training for a marathon, you're especially going to want to practice this rotation.

Wearing the same pair each day not only wears them down but also increases the odor that builds with every wear. Considering that daily runners are supposed to replace their running shoes every six months, this will help to prolong their life.

It may also help to dedicate your second pair to a different type of running such as trail running versus road running.

8. Household Solutions

Sometimes eliminating that pesky odor can be as simple as an overnight cleaning solution.

Perhaps the oldest trick in the book is to distribute half a teaspoon of baking soda into each sneaker overnight. Not only will the baking soda eliminate the smell, it will also help to draw in the excess moisture.

This is an especially perfect trick for anyone looking to avoid cleaning solutions that involve the use of potentially harmful chemicals.

Newspaper can also be helpful in eliminating odors and moisture when your sneakers get wet. When wet, use crumpled balls of newspaper to soak excess moisture. Replace newspaper balls every few hours and then allow the last newspaper to sit overnight.

The dry paper helps to absorb moisture from the sneakers while also keeping the original shape. In this case, paper towel or tissue paper may also work for absorbing moisture.

9. Odor Balls / Shoe Sprays

If you are finding that your DIY solutions for eliminating odor and not doing the job, you may have to see what's available on the market.

Fortunately, items such as sneaker odor balls or sneaker sprays are relatively inexpensive yet still extremely inexpensive.

Think of these two items are air fresheners for your sneakers. While they may not actually eliminate the source of the odor, they do help effectively mask it. This helps to leave your sneakers smelling perfectly fresh.

For a more natural approach, you can also use household teabags. Put the teabags at the very front of the sneaker and wake up to blissful smelling sneakers! Tea leaves are also extremely effective at absorbing moisture.

10. Wash with Scrub Brush

For shoes that are in need of a good scrubbing, you may have to put some elbow grease into truly eliminating the odor. Washing your sneakers by hand is single-handedly the most effective method for giving them a proper clean.

Remember, sneakers should never be placed inside the washing machine. This is due to the fact that the sneaker changes shape through the wash and may also shrink.

To do so, all that you need is a scrub brush, water and a not-so-harsh soap. Be sure to wash the sneaker gently so as to not ruin it or create holes. From here, you can either use a towel to dry, hair-dryer or simply leave out to air dry.

For white sneakers, you can also use bleach for a maximum clean.

Fighting Back Against Stinky Sneakers

If you're an avid runner, you know exactly what it's like to suffer from stinky sneakers.

But, remember that this is totally natural and only the result of your sneakers getting so much use.

Fortunately, having odorous sneakers doesn't always mean that it's time to save up for a new pair. Instead, there are simple tips and tricks that just about anybody can do to help eliminate shoe odor.

In most cases, these solutions don't even require spending money and can really help to prolong the life of your sneakers. From understanding how to properly store your sneakers, to hand washing them with soap and water, eliminating the odor from your sneakers doesn't have to be such a mystery.

If you like to run for general fitness or even just fun, be sure to check out our blog! We cover anything along the lines of fitness and running and are excited to share with you our countless tips.

Mbio Staff
Mbio Staff

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