Using Vinegar to Clean Smelly Shoes -What You Need to Know

Cleaning Shoes with Vinegar to Get Rid Of Odor -Is it Safe
Cleaning Shoes with Vinegar to Get Rid Of Odor -Is it Safe

Another home remedy for stinky shoes that many people swear by is vinegar. The consensus is that vinegar can get rid of stinky shoe odor. But how does it do this? What is the science behind it? And most importantly, what are the methods? Let’s see. 

If you have suede shoes read my article Cleaning Suede Shoes with Vinegar – What You Need to KnowOpens in a new tab.

How Vinegar Works For Stinky Shoes

Vinegar contains acetic acid which acts as a disinfectant to kill some germs on contact and it also cleans dirt and grime from the surfaces of shoes. 

Remember that stinky shoe odor is caused by these germs reacting with sweat, moisture, and dirt in your shoes. 

The most popular type of vinegar for cleaning is distilled white vinegar because of its antibacterial characteristics. However, vinegar cannot kill all kinds of bacteria, fungi, and viruses, but it can kill some and slow their growth. 

Related Articles:

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

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

How To Use Vinegar For Stinky Shoes – Soak or Spray?

Vinegar can be used either as a spray or a soak for your stinky shoes. This will depend on how smelly and dirty your shoes are. 

How to Soak Shoes in Vinegar to Get Rid of Odor

You can soak your shoes in vinegar and water, or vinegar and other ingredients. 

Vinegar & Water for Smelly Shoes

  1. Mix equal parts water and vinegar in a bucket or basin. 
  2. Remove your shoelaces and soles and soak them separately in your mixture. 
  3. Open up your shoes and soak them in your mixture as well. 
  4. Let this sit for a few hours or overnight. 
  5. Take your shoes out, give them a good scrub, and then rinse them off or wash them in the washing machine. 
  6. Let your shoes completely air dry. 

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

Soaking Shoes with Vinegar & Baking Soda to Get Rid of Odor

  1. Remove your laces and soles and open up your shoes as much as possible. 
  2. Wash your laces and soles separately. 
  3. Place your shoes in a sink. 
  4. Fill each shoe with 1 cup of baking soda Opens in a new tab.and 1 cup of vinegar. 
  5. Swirl it around to make sure it gets all over the interior of the shoes. You should hear a fizzing sound. 
  6. Let this sit and fizz for about 15 minutes. 
  7. Then empty the shoes and wash them in your washing machines. 
  8. Let them completely dry. 

Related Article: Baking Soda for Smelly Shoes – Read This Before TryingOpens in a new tab.

DIY Recipe for Vinegar Spray for Shoes

Many experts suggest using it as a spray because it is easier. However, this method is for shoes that are mild to moderately stinky and dirty. You simply:

  1. Pour some vinegar into a spray bottle and spray it all over the inside of your shoes.
  2. You may add a few drops of any essential oil of your choice (optional). Many people use Tea Tree Oil for its additional antimicrobial properties and strong scent. 
  3. Let it sit for a minute or two and then use a clean cloth/cotton ball to wipe the surfaces. 
  4. Then you let your shoes completely dry.  

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

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Can I safely soak colored or white shoes in vinegar? 

Vinegar is safe to use on both colored and white shoes. 

While it can help to make your white shoes more white, it is not known to bleach the color from fabrics and other materials. Some people even say that it makes their colors more vibrant. 

Related Articles –

Why Shoes Smell After Getting Wet & What to Do to FixOpens in a new tab.

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

Will soaking shoes in vinegar get rid of odor

Yes, soaking shoes in vinegar will help to get rid of bad odor.

Vinegar disinfects and cleans. This means it will get rid of some of the germs, dirt and grime that combine to produce odor. However, how well it will do this will depend on how often you use this method, how your mix your vinegar (how diluted) and how smelly and dirty your shoes are. 

Also, read my article on How to Use Hydrogen Peroxide to Safely Clean Smelly ShoesOpens in a new tab.

Will vinegar kill fungus in shoes

Vinegar can help to kill some fungi, slow down their growth and reduce the activity of fungal spores. 

You may have to soak your shoes in vinegar more than once to get rid of all of the fungi, but it is an effective treatment. 

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

What is the best type of vinegar to soak shoes in?

The best type of vinegar to soak shoes in is distilled white vinegar. This is the type with the strongest antimicrobial properties and contains 5-8% acetic acid. 

A great tool to help smelly shoes is a UV Shoe Sanitizer: Does It Work & The Best Ones to GetOpens in a new tab.

How long should I soak stinky shoes in vinegar?

This will depend on the method that you use and how stinky your shoes are. However, you can soak your shoes in vinegar for 15 minutes – a few hours, or overnight. 

For baking soda and vinegar, you can soak your shoes for 15 minutes or until the fizzing sound stops. 

For vinegar and water soak, you can leave your shoes in the mixture for a few hours or overnight. 

You can also clean your shoes with – How to Use Rubbing Alcohol to Clean & Disinfect ShoesOpens in a new tab.

Does white vinegar ruin rubber?

The acetic acid in vinegar is said to corrode rubber. Therefore, it is best to avoid cleaning the rubber parts of your shoes with vinegar. 

Related Articles:

Cleaning Shoes with Toothpaste: All that You Need to KnowOpens in a new tab.

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

Will vinegar make shoes white?

Vinegar can be used to clean dirty white shoes. It will remove surface dirt and grime and make them white again. 

However, it may not do as good a job as baking soda, hydrogen peroxide or bleach. It does not have bleaching properties. 

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

Does white vinegar get stains out of shoes?

This will depend on the kind of material the shoes are made of and the kind of stain. However, vinegar can remove most stains from shoes. 

For removing stains, many people mix vinegar with baking soda to give it that extra push. 

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

Does vinegar harm leather shoes?

Vinegar can be harsh on leather shoes so it is recommended that you stick to a leather cleaner specially designed for cleaning leather. 

The acetic acid in vinegar can dry out your leather shoes and make them dull, brittle and cracky.

Related Article:

6 Ways to Clean White Vans Without Turning YellowOpens in a new tab.


Is Vinegar a Disinfectant? Can It Kill Bacteria and Viruses?Opens in a new tab.

How to Disinfect Your Sneakers. Nike.comOpens in a new tab. 

Does vinegar kill germs? – David Suzuki Foundation

Home made simple- how to Deodorize Your ShoesOpens in a new tab.

Jane Marvel – How To Clean Smelly Shoes With Vinegar (Top 5 Methods)

How to Clean Smelly Sneakers (with Pictures) – wikiHow    

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 which is dedicated to helping individuals have better skin.

Recent Posts