Stinky Boots? 6 Hacks to Deodorize Boots Fast

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by  Bradon Matthews | Last Updated: 

If you’re anything like us, you’ll agree that boots are great.

They keep your feet nice and warm in winter. They protect you when engaging in rough and tumble activities. They elevate even simple outfits into a new realm of masculine sophistication.

There’s nothing sophisticated about boot odor though. Unfortunately, a funky smell can sneak into your favorite pair of boots, leaving you embarrassed and uncomfortable. 

Fortunately, there’s a fix for your boot smell woes. With a little bit of know-how and a few basic materials, you can restore your smelly boots to their former clean and dignified selves.

Why Do Your Boots Smell?

vasque hiking boot on model with socks

The underlying cause of most boot smells is bacteria. Boots are designed to keep your feet warm and protected from the elements. Unfortunately, this comes with a few unwanted effects.

When your feet stay tucked away in hot boots, they start to sweat. Like all sweat, foot sweat is a breeding ground for microorganisms to flourish. That stinky smell in your boots is the smell of bacteria growing in your boots.

While stinky feet would be bad enough on their own, things get worse. Your sweat can slip through your socks and soak into the inners of your boots. This allows bacteria to grow inside the boots themselves. 

When you finally take off your boots, they emanate a smell all on their own. Not only is this annoying when you’re alone, but it can be embarrassing when you’re with others and have to take your boots off.

Red Wing Moc Toe boots

Luckily, boot odor can be eliminated relatively easily. You just need a few basic items and a couple of minutes.

What You’ll Need for Your Smelly Boots

You have a few options. The best approach depends on how quickly you need the smell erased and how sweaty your feet get in your boots. 

Depending on which approach you want to use, you’ll need:

  • Baking soda
  • Boot odor spray
  • Dryer sheets
  • White vinegar
  • Antimicrobial inserts
  • Antibacterial socks

Some of these methods are better suited to prevention or minor smells. Others are for when you need to bring in the big guns. 

How to Get Rid of Odor in Boots: 6 Quick Ways

Method #1: Use Baking Soda

nicks false tongue waxed roughout leather detail

Baking soda is a basic substance. Sweat tends to be slightly acidic. Bacteria thrive in this slightly acidic environment, which is a big part of why sweat causes so much bacterial growth. 

By adding baking soda to the mix, you can eliminate that acidity and kill the bacteria causing boot odor. 

To use baking soda to eliminate boot smell, simply sprinkle it throughout the interior of your boot and let it sit overnight. Pay special attention to the toe box, as this area tends to be particularly odorous. 

Once the baking soda has rested, empty it out of your boot. You can leave the residue in, as this will actually help keep your boots smelling clean for longer. Just make sure you aren’t leaving so much that it forms a paste.

You may want to repeat this process every few months or so to keep your boots from developing smells again.

Method #2: Use Boot Odor Spray

author william barton wearing HELM zind boots in olive leather

If you want something a bit more powerful, you may want to use a deodorizing spray to eliminate your boot smell. Deodorizing sprays have a few advantages over other methods. 

For one, sprays tend to be easier to use. Spraying a liquid into your toe box is simple, effective, and keeps you from having to shake your boot or contort your hand. 

Additionally, these sprays don’t leave any residue. This means you won’t have to worry about cleaning out your boots or having them full of whatever it was you used to deodorize them. 

Finally, sprays of this sort can actually soak into your boot’s interior. This can help prevent bacterial growth in the first place, keeping your boots smelling nice and clean. 

Our top pick is this one from Lumi. Its all-natural extra strength formula combats even the strongest odors, ensuring bacteria is thoroughly wiped out. The citrus and tea tree essential oils both condition the inside of your boots and leave them smelling like an expensive candle you’d find in a luxury resort. 

Lumi Outdoors Natural Shoe Deodorizer Spray & Odor Eliminator - Extra Strength Eucalyptus Lemongrass
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Method #3: Use Dryer Sheets

oak street trench boot in horween chromexcel roughout after patina

If you’re in a pinch and looking for an easy method to make your boots smell nicer, using dryer sheets can help. Dryer sheets help mask the odors in your boots in a few ways. 

As you’re probably well aware, dryer sheets are quite fragrant. The heavy scents used in dryer sheets can overpower boot odors, effectively eliminating them.

Dryer sheets are also designed to absorb other smells. When you put dryer sheets in your boots, they can soak up the bad smells, leaving behind boots that smell like freshly folded laundry.

You can use dryer sheets in your boots either by leaving them in the boots overnight or by simply wearing your boots with dryer sheets inside. Either way is completely fine. All that matters is that the sheets spend a good amount of time in your boots.

Bounce Fabric Softener Dryer Sheets
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Method #4: Use White Vinegar and Water

How to Clean Suede Boots Cartoon Graphic of Chelsea Boots next to a Suede Brush and Vinegar Bottle

By mixing water and white vinegar, you can create a potent antibacterial rinse that won’t harm your boots.

To start, mix together water and vinegar in equal parts. Dab a sponge or towel into the mixture and apply it to the interior of the boot. Once the inside has been thoroughly scrubbed and coated, let the boots dry before wearing them again.

The vinegar is acidic enough to kill bacteria that cause boot smell. The only downside to this method is that your boots may smell like vinegar. You can solve that issue by spraying them with a bit of cologne or some other fragrance to mask the vinegar smell.

Method #5: Use Antimicrobial Inserts

superfeet green insole in hiking boot

If you’re looking to prevent boot odor from occurring in the first place, you might consider investing in antimicrobial inserts. 

Antimicrobial inserts are constructed from materials that change the environment inside your boot. This works to keep bacteria from having what they need to grow. This can eliminate any bacteria already in your boots and keep them from developing smells in the future.

It’s important that you choose the right insert for your boots. Inserts that are too large will change the way your boot fits, causing discomfort or blistering. 

We recommend these ones from Kaps. Not only do they feature three cushioning layers for comfort, but they can be cut to fit the inside of your boot. This means you can cut them to ensure your boots still fit correctly.

Kaps Dirt Free Shoe Insoles
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Method #6: Wear Antibacterial Socks

ariat workhog work boot with sawdust

If you’re looking to prevent odors from building up in the first place, you may want to start wearing antibacterial socks. 

Antibacterial socks work by keeping your sweat from developing bacteria before it even hits your boot. This keeps the interior free of microbes, thus eliminating the possibility of boot smell.

These Copper Infused Athletic socks from Kodal are a great place to start. They feature moisture-wicking cotton to absorb sweat and copper to eliminate bacterial growth. With material like that, the socks stay comfortable while providing a strong barrier against bacteria.

All you have to do is switch your socks when wearing your boots and bam, goodbye stinky feet.

Kodal Copper Infused Athletic Ankle Quarter Socks
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Boot smell can be an embarrassing and obnoxious issue. That being, if your favorite pair starts developing odors, there are quick and effective ways of fixing the issue.

Household items like vinegar, baking soda, or dryer sheets can all work to eliminate odors in your boots. That said, if you want a slightly more convenient method, consider buying this spray from Lumi or these antimicrobial inserts from Kaps.

Regardless of how you do it, getting rid of boot smell will let you get back to wearing your boots with pride.

Did you enjoy the article? How do you keep your boots smelling fresh? Subscribe to our YouTube channel for more handy boot wearing tips.  


How do you deodorize waterproof boots?

Deodorizing waterproof boots is very easy. Simply spray the interior of the boots with a deodorizing spray like this one from Lumi and let it sit overnight. This will kill the bacteria in your boots and leave them smelling fresh.

How do I stop my feet from smelling in my boots?

One of the best ways to keep your feet from developing a funky smell in your boots is to wear moisture-wicking socks. These socks pull the sweat from your feet, keeping them from that dreaded foot smell. Antibacterial socks like the Kodal Copper Infused Athletic socks can help even further by killing bacteria.

What soap is best for smelly feet?

Soap for smelly feet needs to kill bacteria and fungus. This one from Derma-nu is a great option. It features tea tree oil that kills microbes while leaving your feet smelling fresh and clean.

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