8 Smelly Leather Shoe Remedies

Don’t let your pongy kicks overshadow your style. Put these tried and tested smelly leather shoe hacks to work.   

Whether you own a pair of smelly leather dress shoes or casual Chelsea boots, bad odours can cause some embarrassing moments in social situations. (Whatever that means these days!)

Leather might be the most durable, supportive and attractive option for shoe construction, but that doesn’t make them immune to bad smells.

It doesn’t matter if you’re running, walking or just sitting at your desk all day long, your feet will naturally sweat. The gradual accumulation of moisture from the sweat promotes the growth of bacteria and is the main reason why your shoes start to smell.

To fix the bad odour, there are several smelly leather shoe hacks you need to follow, involving cleaning techniques and home remedies. We’ve included some of our favourites below.

Quick fixes for smelly leather shoes

Use bicarbonate soda or baking soda

Bicarbonate soda is a great way to remove shoe stenches. Simply apply a teaspoon in a thin cotton cloth and place the knot into each shoe. You should then leave this overnight.

Baking soda also has a similar effect. It enables you to sterilise the inner shoe and makes the environment inappropriate for bacteria, fungi and micro-organisms to prosper. The best way to apply it is to dust a small amount on the insides to keep the shoe fresh.

Freeze it out

Bacteria hates freezing temperatures. Try placing them in an airtight plastic bag and leaving them in the freezer for a maximum of 3 hours.

Dry them properly

When the leather is saturated, remove the shoelaces and put them in an open space like your garden or balcony to let them breathe. Placing them near a heater isn’t a smart move, as it can cause the leather to crack.

Add a lemon or orange peel

An oldie but a goodie. Leave some lemon or orange peeps inside the leather shoes overnight and you should smell the benefits by the following morning.

Use rubbing alcohol

Spray a small amount of rubbing alcohol (ethanol) inside your leather shoes. If you forget to dilute the leather, you could damage the leather.

Apply white vinegar

Once your smelly leather shoes have dried, wipe the interiors with white vinegar. Again, you’ll need to dilute the substance – just like the rubbing alcohol – to prevent you from damaging the leather.

Replace the insoles

If your smelly leather shoes have removable insoles, get them replaced. Searching Smelly Feet Cures’ Best Insoles for Sweaty Feet is a good place to start.

Invest in saddle soap

The final smelly leather shoe hack is to use saddle soap. Brands like Kiwi and Carr & Day & Martin has developed a formula specifically designed for cleaning and conditioning leather. While you can use a mild soap, it won’t offer you the same optimum results as specific premium products.

How to prevent your leather shoes from smelling in the first place

Knowing how to clean your smelly leather shoes is one thing. But to avoid going around in circles, there are some quick fixes to ensure you minimise the return of the stench.

As we mentioned earlier in this guide, sweating is a natural thing. The 250,000 glands in your feet will always release sweat and moisture to balance the temperature during warmer conditions, so it’s a case of managing the impact.

For instance, applying a foot spray at night can mask the smell. It’s also worth covering up any infected foot injuries.

Further effective smelly leather shoe prevention hacks include taking your shoes off every couple of hours to let some air in, applying talcum powder and wearing absorbent socks. For any assistance on the latter, read our luxury guide to gentleman’s socks.  

So, there you have it! That’s the tea.

Now, go and fix your smelly leather shoes. We can smell them from here!

Or if your current pair are past the point of saving, head to our online shop to check out our sweet-scented, handcrafted men’s leather Oxford shoes.