How to Keep Your Running Shoes From Smelling Bad

Sports shoes and socks on wooden background
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Running shoes get smelly because of sweaty feet. If your shoes stay moist from your sweat, the smell gets worse because the bacteria keep growing. Here are some tips to help keep your running shoes from getting stinky.

Wear Sweat-Wicking Socks

Wearing the right kind of running socks can help keep your shoes from getting and staying wet. It's important to wear non-cotton, synthetic running socks because they'll wick away the moisture, rather than staying wet (which is what happens with cotton socks). Don't ever go barefoot in your running shoes, even if you're not planning on running in them.

Air Your Shoes After Running

Try to remove your running shoes as soon you can after your runs, so you can air them out. Continuing to walk around in them (with your smelly socks) makes the smell more pungent.

Dry Your Shoes After a Run

Store your shoes in a cool, dry place and remove the sole insert, to prevent bacteria from growing. Don't put them right next to a heater or in the backseat or trunk of a hot car.

If your shoes get wet (after a rainy run, for example), take them off and stuff them with crumpled balls of newspaper. This helps the shoes keep their shape, and the paper draws moisture away from the shoes to prevent them from getting musty. Once the newspaper soaks up the moisture, replace it with more newspaper, until the shoes are dry.

Rotate two pairs of running shoes so you can give one pair a chance to dry out when you're not wearing them.

Clean Your Feet After a Run

Make sure you wash your feet regularly, especially after runs. This will help prevent them from smelly, and also reduce the risk of infections such as athlete's foot.

Deodorize Your Shoes

There are several ways you can deodorize your shoes after a run:

  • Sprinkle some baking soda (half a teaspoon in each shoe is fine) and let them sit overnight. The baking soda will help mask odor and absorb remaining moisture.
  • Take a dryer sheet and rip it in half. Place a half of dryer sheet in each shoe and let it sit overnight. Like the baking soda, the dryer sheet will help mask the odor and absorb moisture. or a dryer sheet in your running shoes after a run.
  • Use a deodorant spray such as Odor Eaters on your shoes after a run. It's inexpensive and actually works really well.
  • Some runners swear by sneaker deodorant balls, an air freshener in the shape of a ball that fits in your sneakers.

Wash Your Shoes

If the smell is really bad and your shoes are also very dirty, you can wash them using a scrub brush, mild soap, and cold water, and then let them air dry.

Don't put your running shoes in the washing machine or dryer, as that will cause them to lose their shape.

Replace the Insoles

If the smell is hard to remove, try replacing your running shoes' insoles. If you still don't notice an improvement, it may be time to get a new pair of running shoes.

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