Why Shoes Smell After Getting Wet & What to Do to Fix

Why Shoes Smell After Getting Wet & What to Do to Fix
Why Shoes Smell After Getting Wet & What to Do to Fix

Our shoes are a breeding ground for bacteria and fungi, especially when foot sweat and our skin cells are thrown in. This is why our shoes smell so bad when they get wet and even worse if we continue to use them without drying and cleaning them properly. But what can we do about this?

Why Shoes Smell After Getting Wet

Dampness either from our feet’s perspiration or from the environment makes bacteria and fungi more proliferative. This is because both bacteria and fungi increase rapidly in damp places, so they thrive in places that get wet. 

And damp shoes are the perfect environment for microbes due to perspiration, skin shedding, grime, germs, fungus, and a lack of air are all contributors to smelly shoes when combined with wetness or dampness. 

If your shoes are made of suede check out my article on Wet Suede Shoes – Tips On How To Safely Fix & DryOpens in a new tab.

Related Article – 7 Hacks To Fix Smelly Shoes Overnight Without WashingOpens in a new tab.

Why Do My Shoes Smell Even After Washing

Your shoes may still be smelly even after washing because all of the germs have not been killed, all of the dirt and residues have not been washed out, or they were not dried properly. 

Your shoes can hold a range of bacteria and fungi. When cleaning your shoes, it is important to use a cleaner that is known to kill bacteria and fungi. Some great recommendations are LysolOpens in a new tab., bleach, and antimicrobial detergents. 

Another thing you need to do is make sure that the soles and soft parts of the shoes are aerated and dried properly. Residual bacteria and fungi will only thrive if the material remains damp for a while. 

In the worst cases, the soles of your shoes may have to be replaced with new ones. 

A great way to keep your shoes clean and disinfected is to use a UV Shoe Sanitizer, you can click here to learn more.Opens in a new tab.

Related Article – Using Vinegar to Clean Smelly Shoes -What You Need to KnowOpens in a new tab.

How Do You Get The Smell Out Of Shoes That Got Wet or After Washing

You will only know how much odor is left in your shoes after they have dried. So, the best thing to do is to make sure they are cleaned and dried properly after getting wet. 

If your shoes have already gotten wet, I recommend that you just go ahead and wash them. Some people simply throw them in the washer. But this will depend on how dirty they are. They may need to be scrubbed and washed more than once. 

If the soles can be taken out, you should take them out and wash them separately. 

When you have finished washing them, open them up as much as possible and place them in the sun for a few hours until they are completely dry. 

Related Articles – Sunlight to Clean Smelly Shoes – What You Need to Know

Other things you can do to help with smelly shoes after you have dried them

If your shoes are still smelly after drying, here are a few things you can try:

  • Spray them down with Lysol 
  • Use a shoe deodorizer or shoe disinfectant spray
  • Spray them with Hydrogen peroxide 
  • Place 2-3 dry tea bags in the shoes and leave them for 12-24 hours

To read more about these methods, check these articles out:

Spraying Lysol to Clean Shoes- Is it Safe & Does it WorkOpens in a new tab. 

How to Use Hydrogen Peroxide to Safely Clean Smelly ShoesOpens in a new tab. 

Tea Bags For Smelly Shoes & Feet – Easy Home RemedyOpens in a new tab. 

How to Use Rubbing Alcohol to Clean & Disinfect ShoesOpens in a new tab.

How To Prevent Shoes From Smelling After Getting Wet

The best way to prevent your shoes from being smelly after getting wet is to:

  1. Clean them right away
  2. And let them air dry as well as possible. 

The dampness in the shoes is what causes the bacteria and fungi to proliferate and become smelly. The sweat and dirt in the shoes also help to add to the smell. 

Clean your shoes, dry them well and then spray them with a deodorizer or disinfectant spray and let them completely dry again. 

The key, if you cannot already tell, is dryness. The drier you keep your shoes, the less chance they have of becoming super smelly, super fast. 

Related Article:

How to Clean Shoes with OxiClean – What You Need to KnowOpens in a new tab.

Tips on How Safely to Clean & Whiten Shoes with BleachOpens in a new tab.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Can you remove the odor of wet shoes after they already dried?

Yes, you can remove the wet shoe odor from shoes if they have already dried. 

You can wash them and re-dry them again, or you can use simpler methods like Lysol, hydrogen peroxide, baking soda, or tea bags. These methods will kill the germs and absorb the moisture from your shoes that cause the odor.

Related Articles –  

Freezing Shoes to Get Rid of Smell & Fungi – What to KnowOpens in a new tab.

How to Clean Fabric, Canvas or Mesh Shoes: White & ColoredOpens in a new tab.

How can I dry wet shoes fast?

You can use a blow drier on the warm or hot setting (depending on the kind of shoes you have) to dry the insides of your shoes quickly. The hot air will dry up the moisture and even kill some of the germs. You can also take out the soles and dry them separately. 

You can also use newspapers. Take out the soles of the shoes, wash them, and set them aside to dry. Then crumble up 1-2 pages of newspaper and stuff them inside each shoe. The paper will pull the moisture from the sides of the shoes. Here’s a great example of what to do:

Video: How to Dry Wet Sneakers

However, If you live in a sunny area, and you have a little time, you can take out the soles of your shoes, and the laces (if they have them), open up the shoes as much as possible and place them directly in the sun in an elevated position for as long as possible. That is the best option. 

Related Article: How to Clean Shoes with a Magic Eraser – Ultimate GuideOpens in a new tab.

How do I know when it is time to throw out my smelly shoes?

If you have done all that you can to clean and dry your shoes and they continue to stink, it is time to get new shoes. 

This means that your shoes have too much bacteria, fungi, grime, and moisture in them to be properly cleaned and fixed. They have run their course. 

How long a pair of shoes lasts will depend on each person. People sweat, use their shoes, and clean their shoes in varying degrees. 

Related Articles:

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How Do You Get a Bad Smell Out of Shoes? Home RemediesOpens in a new tab. 

How To Know When You Should Throw Out Your SneakersOpens in a new tab. 

Saskiya Inshanally

Saskiya Inshanally is the editor-in-chief at The HomeKeeperHub. She has years of experience researching and experimenting in a wide array of topics. Saskiya has also co-founded SasilySkin.com which is dedicated to helping individuals have better skin.

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