Shoes can get very smelly, very quickly thanks to the bacteria that end up lodged inside. However, there are some disinfectant sprays for shoes and even some DIYs that can help prevent this.
So let’s talk about a few great disinfectant sprays for shoes and some DIY alternatives that also do a great job of deodorizing the stink!
How Disinfectant Sprays Make Shoes Smell Better
Shoe odor comes about when bacteria mixes with sweat, dead skin cells, dirt and debris that become lodged in our shoes. Disinfectants will kill bacteria and other microorganisms that cause the smell.
Of course, depending on the condition of your shoes, disinfectant sprays alone might not do the job fully. There are some pre-cleaning tips that you might need to follow to make the sprays as effective as possible.
For example, if your shoes are very dirty and smelly, I recommend washing and drying them first to remove the excess dirt and grime. This will not get rid of all the bacteria and fungi. However, it will make it easier for the sprays to work and will get rid of some of the odor. After they have dried completely, you can spray them as many times as necessary to kill the rest of the germs.
On the other hand, if your shoes are not too visibly dirty but are just wet instead, I recommend having them dry completely before spraying them. Dampness breeds even more bacteria and fungi and spraying them while wet will not be as effective.
Related Article – Why Shoes Smell After Getting Wet & What to Do to Fix
Check out this video by BrainStuff about why feet stink:
Can disinfectant sprays for shoes kill fungi and other bacteria?
Yes. Most disinfectant sprays can kill fungi and bacteria effectively once used correctly.
However, this will also depend on just how dirty your shoes are. You may need to wash them or clean them first and then use the spray. Or, you may need to use the spray more than once.
Related Article – 7 Hacks to Clean Smelly Shoes Overnight Without Washing
Do disinfectant sprays for shoes help athlete’s foot?
Shoe disinfectant sprays are not designed to be used on your skin. However, when sprayed in your shoes, they can help to prevent or control athlete’s foot.
Athlete’s foot is a contagious fungal infection of the feet that causes the skin to become very itchy and irritated. Some people can develop rashes as well.
When disinfectant sprays are constantly used in your shoes, it will prevent the fungi from multiplying and growing. Eventually, this will help to make your athlete’s foot better but you will still need to get your feet themselves actually treated to get rid of the infection. The shoe sprays will help to keep your shoes clean and prevent the spreading and maintenance of the fungi.
Best Disinfectant Sprays For Shoes
1- 10 Seconds Disinfectant & Deodorizer
The 10 Seconds Disinfectant & Deodorizer is currently the most common and easily accessible disinfectant spray designed especially for shoes and other soft-surface things that are prone to getting sweaty, dirty, and smelly.
It kills bacteria that cause odor, viruses, and infections on athletic mats, shoes, gear, and porous surfaces on athletic and gym equipment. It is the only footwear disinfectant on the market that is EPA-approved with Kills Claims.
When I tried it out, it worked amazingly with my shoes, with them having noticeably less odor after being sprayed.
2- Lysol Fabric Disinfectant Spray
Lysol was not designed specifically for shoes but it is probably the most common multipurpose disinfectant sprays used in millions of homes worldwide. It is immensely effective at killing bacteria and fungi. The company has even made one specifically for soft surfaces.
This version of the Lysol disinfectant spray was designed to be most effective on soft, porous surfaces like carpets, mattresses, upholstered furniture, bed sheets, curtains, and even the insides and soles of shoes!
I have used it many times with my shoes and it usually does the job. Though I am not a fan of the Lysol scent it usually goes away after an hour or so. You Click here to get the Lysol Fabric Disinfectant Spray on Amazon.
Click here to read all about Spraying Lysol to Clean Shoes & Kill Fungi: Does it Work – Home Keeper Hub.
3- Microban Sanitizing Spray
Microban spray is said to be even more effective than Lysol. It can be used to provide 24-hour protection against bacteria, fungi, and viruses on hard surfaces, but also works tremendously on soft surfaces (based on personal experience). It also deodorizes and prevents mold and mildew.
Now, the company has said that they have not tested their formula on shoes specifically, but they think it will still work. However, they suggest that you do a test patch on a small area first to make sure that the formula will not damage the material of your shoes.
Just spray the area until it is visibly wet (but not saturated) and then allow it to completely air dry. This will kill as many microorganisms as possible and get rid of odor.
Best DIY Alternative Disinfectant Sprays For Shoes
Vinegar is a great disinfecting agent. It has a pH of about 2.2, which makes it very acidic. The acidity kills bacteria and fungi on various surfaces.
To use vinegar inside your shoes, the easiest way is to make a vinegar spray. Combine equal parts water and vinegar along with a few drops of essential oil (a scent you like for deodorizing).
Preclean your shoes (especially if they are very dirty) and let them dry completely. Then spray the insides with your vinegar spray until the surface is visibly wet but not fully saturated. Then let the shoes completely air dry again.
2- Hydrogen Peroxide
Hydrogen Peroxide is another easy-to-use and relatively affordable alternative to commercial disinfecting sprays. The CDC recommends using 3% hydrogen peroxide to disinfect both hard and soft surfaces. It works by breaking down the cell membranes and other parts of bacteria, fungi and viruses that keep them alive.
You can spray the hydrogen peroxide directly onto the internal surface of your shoes (after pre-cleaning them) or you can dilute it in some water and then spray it. Spray until visibly wet but not saturated. Wipe the surface off after a few minutes or allow it to completely air dry before wearing your shoes again.
3% Hydrogen Peroxide can be bought at most (or all) pharmacies.
You can click here to learn more about Using Hydrogen Peroxide to Clean Stains & Odor from Shoes
3- Rubbing Alcohol
Rubbing alcohol (or any alcohol that is 70% concentrated or higher) will be very effective at killing bacteria, fungi and viruses. This is used in medical settings to sterilize many surfaces and equipment. However, if you are going to use it on your shoes, check the material and care instructions to make sure that strong alcohol will not damage them.
When using rubbing alcohol, it can be sprayed directly on the surface until visibly wet but not too saturated. Then allow the shoes to completely air dry. For the best results and to get rid of odor more effectively, I recommend pre-cleaning your shoes and letting them dry completely before spraying them.
Rubbing alcohol will not provide much of a fragrance, so if you want a noticeable scented effect, you can combine your alcohol with a few drops of an essential oil.
You can click here to learn more about How to Use Rubbing Alcohol to Clean & Disinfect Shoes
4- Baking Soda & Vinegar
I know we covered vinegar earlier but to give it that little extra “oomph”, we can add baking soda to the party.
Vinegar slows down fungal growth and baking soda also reduces the activity of fungal spores, which can help eliminate odors.
Simply sprinkle baking soda inside your sneakers (and outside if necessary). Then, spray your shoes with a mixture of equal parts white or apple cider vinegar and water. Then use a clean white cloth and rub the surface using circular motions.
Allow your shoes to sit for 12 hours and then wipe them down with a wet cloth again. Allow them to completely air dry. For a more pleasant scent, you can spread a drop of essential oil on your fingers and rub it on the surface thinly.
You can click here to learn more about How to Use Baking Soda for Smelly Shoes.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Can you use Clorox disinfecting spray on shoes?
If your shoes are white and the care instructions indicate that the materials can withstand bleach, then you can use Clorox Disinfecting Spray all over your shoes, including the insides.
Bleach is very effective at disinfecting. However, when using it, the shoes but dry completely to avoid getting it on your skin. And, you need to be sure that you will not end up damaging your shoes in the process.
Can I spray Lysol disinfectant spray inside my shoes?
Yes. However, Lysol Disinfectant Spray (the original formula) was mostly made to disinfect hard surfaces. It can sanitize sift surfaces (which means that it won’t kill ALL of the microbes on or inside the material).
I recommend using their fabric disinfectant instead, which will be more effective. However, if you cannot get this, then you can still use the regular Lysol disinfectant spray. Just keep in mind that you should probably pre-clean or wash and dry your shoes first. And, you may need to spray them more than once or more often.