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

Stepped in home and all members get rushed away from you; why?

Maybe it happens when dirt or sweat turns your neat and clean shoes into smelly and so stinky that even your puppy waits for your shoe to take off.

We picked the best solutions for your query relating to “How to clean smelly shoes with Vinegar”.

Someone may suggest “freeze them” Oops! It’s hard for me to place in the freezer.

Same time many market products claim a quick solution, but chemicals inside the products may not be suitable for your sneakers’ worthy skin.

So, what could be the best solution? Come We, the sincere shoe advisors, advise you on the fast and latest solution for this purpose.

Yes! It’s white vinegar.

As there are many types of Vinegar, here basically we will try to  light on the detailed reply to the question:

What causes shoes to stink?

  • Mainly a lack of ventilation in your shoe causes the smell. Thousands of sweat glands in feet produce much sweat each day. Poorly ventilated footwear doesn’t allow perspiration to evaporate, in result causing an unpleasant scent.
  • Bacteria are everywhere, also breathing on your feet and feeding off the sweat. As a result, a particular acid produces odors.
  • The fungus also loves feet to grow. When feet remain mostly warm and moist, the fungus may also make a home there and not only create smell but also cause Athlete’s foot.
  • Poor hygiene and wearing the same shoes every day are some of the common reasons.

What is Vinegar and Its Types

As per Wikipedia, “Vinegar is an aqueous solution of acetic acid and trace chemicals that may comprise flavorings.

It contains 5–8% acetic acid by volume, while the acetic acid is formed by the fermentation of ethanol or sugars using acetic acid Bacteria.”

It has dozens of types, depending on source materials. A few of these are Wine, Balsamic, rice, malt, coconut vinegar, etc. In American kitchens, you will find the most common type that is white distilled vinegar and apple cider.

It can be makeup from just about any food consisting of natural sugars. In a laboratory pure acetic acid can be made; when diluted with water, which is sometimes sold as white V.

let’s explore how to clean smelly shoes with vinegar and its use for footwear.

White Vinegar

Also famous as distilled or spirit Vinegar is the most common type of vinegar in American households and worldwide for thousands of years.

Composition: has a bit harsh flavor, and can be made from the fermentation of grain alcohol (ethanol) or acetic acid produced in the laboratory, then diluted with water.

Generally, it contains 4–7% acetic acid and 93–96% water.

General Uses of White Vinegar

Vital to note that 4-7% acetic acid in vinegar is used for food items, while up to 20% acetic acid is strictly used for cleaning purposes, agriculture.

  • For Food Items: Pickles, baking, salad, sauces, cheese making
  • Health benefits include Weight management, Blood sugar control, Reduced cholesterol, Antimicrobial, etc.
  • Items cleaned with it, including Toilet, Floor, Dishes, Coffeemakers, Countertops, Showers and bathtubs, clothes, shoes, boots, etc.

Now, after getting good information, pick the directions you are mainly looking forward to.

How To Clean Smelly Shoes With Vinegar

Machine Washable shoes are easily washed, but how can you know whether your shoe is machine washable or not.

Generally, footwear made from fabric or canvas, like tennis shoes, can be added into a machine to wash using mild detergent and warm water.

It is also applicable for plastic or rubber shoes, like Crocs or flip-flops.

While for non-machine washable sneakers, we suggest following methods step by step to remove odor from sneakers and get your puppy always glad while walking with you.

Method 1: Homemade Shoe Deodorizing Spray

To kill the smell, use this method for all types of footwear.


  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup distilled white vinegar
  • 5 drops of tea tree oil


In a spray bottle, mix well water, distilled white V, and drops of tea tree oil (comes from the leaves of the tea tree, can kill bacteria and fungi). Shake thoroughly.

Directly spray or apply to a cloth and wipe the shoe interior,

Better to cover the outer side, particularly the front upper part of the shoe, with a plastic paper. This spray is only to use on the interior side of the shoe. After spraying them, let your shoes dry in a sunny spot.

Method 2: Machine To Clean Smelly Shoes With White Vinegar


  • the normal amount of laundry detergent
  • 1 cup of white vinegar
  • Warm water (not hot)


Put your footwear to the machine having laundry detergent.

Add white vinegar to the rinse cycle, or pour it into your machine’s empty fabric softener dispenser and apply a long, warm wash and rinse cycle. Don’t use hot water as it may shrink your shoes.)

Methode 3: CLean Shoe Inserts Only

If the shoe odor is not so intense, then remove the insert and insoles and place them inside a water-filled sink or bathtub.

Combine two parts of water with one part vinegar in a tube and soak the inserts for 5-10 minutes, then rinse with fresh water. Dry them in a sunny area,

Similarly, you can remove the smell from your feet.

In a deep bowl or basin, mix 1/2 cup distilled white vinegar and 2 quarts of cold water. Place your feet in this for 15-20 minutes.

This home remedy not only deodorizes your feet but also cools them to help soothe perspire.

METHOD 4: Using Vinegar With Baking Soda

To clean smelly shoes using vinegar with baking soda, do the following:


  • one tablespoon white vinegar
  • one tablespoon baking soda
  • one tablespoon hot water


After mixing the ingredients, a paste will form. Use a toothbrush to apply it on the lather of the shoes in a circular motion. Placed under sunlight or somewhere warm for 3 to 4 hours.

After that particular time, you will notice that the mixture gets dried so, clap the shoes together to remove the dried material. A shiny and smell less shoe will smile at the end.

Method 5: To Clean Smelly Leather Shoes With Vinegar


  • Just a cup of white vinegar


Try white one, a natural disinfectant for leather-made materials. Add a cup of it to each shoe.

After some time, you will notice some bubbling and fizzing. Leave it there for 15 minutes. Then rinse out the shoe. You will get a desirable change.

Bottom Line

An uncovered, infected foot injury or health issue, lack of ventilation in shoes, or high temperature are considered being the main reasons for shoe scents.

Footwear odor can be an embarrassing problem, and buying new shoes can be costly. There are many simple ways to eliminate the odor in old shoes.

One can try washing the shoe by hand or in the machine plus can go for a more simple solution that is the use of vinegar.

To prevent a recurrence, be sure to do things like wear neat socks and use foot powder for dryness to keep odor away.

Frequently Asked Q/A

Q1: What causes stinky feet?

A: As per podiatrists, feet smell if sweat soaks into footwear and is not dried before you wear them again.

It is not one’s fault thoroughly as a hot climate naturally leads to sweaty feet, which in turn leads to moisture in shoes causing unpleasant odors.

Bacteria surviving on the skin break down sweat as it emerges from the pores and, a cheesy smell produces as the sweat decomposes.

Q2: Is smelly feet a sign of diabetes?

A: Not always but, sometimes it can be a symptom of a severe diabetes-related problem, like a foot infection or ulcer that has gone undetected because of nerve damage, and should be checked as soon as possible.

Q3: Is smelly feet a sign of poor health?

Generally not, foot odor isn’t necessarily for poor health.

If the hot temperature is not the primary reason, then It can be a sign of a medical problem like hyperhidrosis, a condition in which one’s sweat glands bring out extra sweat, contains salt, which bacteria love, and can lead to excessive odor.

Q4: Is distilled white vinegar the same as white vinegar?

Both White and distilled are types of vinegar. They differ basically in their acetic acid content.

White, also known as spirit vinegar, has 5% to 20% acetic acid, and Distilled has 4%-7% acetic acid, which is desirable for cooking, flavoring, food preservation, and as a natural home remedy.

Q5: Is apple cider vinegar also useful to get rid of the odor?

Scientific research suggests that it has the antimicrobial potential to eliminate responsible bacteria. Dip your feet in a solution of 1/3 cup of apple cider V in a basin of water that could help to remove the smell.

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