The Best Shoe Deodorizers for Smelly Footwear – Bob Vila

The Best Shoe Deodorizers for Smelly Footwear – Bob Vila

Smelly shoes can be both unpleasant and embarrassing. When your feet sweat, they produce moisture that becomes trapped inside your shoes where bacteria can breed, producing undesirable smells.

With the right spray, powder, or insert, however, you’ll be able to control moisture, neutralize odors, and keep your shoes—and feet—smelling fresh. Some formulations are meant exclusively for use on shoes, while others can be used in a variety of ways including on your skin or in your gym bag. Read on to find out which type of product is the best shoe deodorizer for you.

Types of Shoe Deodorizers 

Shoe deodorizers largely come in one of three styles: sprays, powders, and inserts. While they all aim to serve the same purpose, they perform in different ways. Read on to learn more about the differences between sprays, powders, and inserts.


Sprays are the most common format for shoe deodorizers. They’re popular because they’re easy to use, dispersing the product evenly through a diffusing nozzle. Some sprays feature fragrance to combat odors, while others are unscented. Most well-formulated sprays dry quickly and don’t leave any film or residue, allowing you to wear your shoes shortly after deodorizing them. Sprays deliver results instantly and can be long-lasting. While some are meant specifically for use on shoes, others are more versatile, allowing you to safely spray gym bags or other athletic equipment. They can be composed of either natural or chemical formulas.


The most inexpensive way to deodorize shoes is with powders. Like sprays, they come in both scented and unscented varieties. With powders, you do run the risk of causing discoloration to your footwear. Unless they’re well-formulated, they don’t dissolve as well as sprays and can transfer to your socks or floors. They typically contain ingredients like baking soda and zinc oxide, which are both safe to use directly on the skin, allowing you to apply them either to shoes or to your feet directly.

Shoe Inserts

What to Consider When Choosing the Best Shoe Deodorizer 

Before shopping for shoe deodorizer, there are some key factors to consider. Though it’s easy to assume that products perform in a similar manner, there are several characteristics that can affect quality. Keep reading to learn about some of the most important qualities to keep in mind when shopping for the best shoe deodorizer for you and your family.


No one wants to put up with smelly feet, but sometimes the smells used in deodorizers simply mask the odor with another unpleasant aroma. While some shoe deodorizers feature added fragrance meant to neutralize the odors from your feet, others manage the task without adding additional scents. Natural products often use essential oils to add inoffensive smells like peppermint or lemon. Those who are sensitive to fragrance would be better-suited to purchasing an odorless variety.


A chief concern when shopping for shoe deodorizers is how long-lasting the product is once applied. Some sprays and powders are meant to be used on a regular basis in order to combat unpleasant odors, while others are meant to have a semi-permanent effect. Deodorizing insoles are meant to last for months before they need to be replaced; deodorant balls, sachets, pouches, and pods are similarly long-lasting.

Natural vs. Chemical

Antifungal Properties 

Antifungal foot products come in sprays, powders, or creams that are designed to be applied directly to the skin. While many products are safe to use in your shoes, they’re largely formulated to be applied to your feet to either treat or prevent infections like athlete’s foot. The primary ingredient used in many antifungal foot products is miconazole nitrate, which is a medicinal ingredient used to treat a variety of topical fungal infections of the feet and other parts of the body.


When deciding what type of shoe deodorizer will best suit your needs, it’s important to consider how you intend to use it. Spray formats work quickly and don’t create any mess, but they can be bulky to take with you to work or to the gym. One time in particular when sprays become a nuisance is when traveling. Because there are limits to the quantity of liquids and aerosols you can carry on with you in the passenger area of a plane, insoles, balls, or sachets are easy to pack and Transportation Security Administration (TSA) approved. Powders are ideal for home use because they can create a mess, so it’s best to use them in a location that can be easily cleaned.

Our Top Picks

The following recommendations take into account all the considerations mentioned, including scent, longevity, formula, and convenience. This list features a variety of choices of top-notch shoe deodorizer options to help you find the right one for you according to your needs and budget.

FAQs About Shoe Deodorizers

With all the choices available, finding the best shoe deodorizer can be a bit overwhelming, so you might still have some questions. Here are the answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about shoe deodorizers.

Q. What causes shoe odor? 

Many shoes lack sufficient ventilation and trap moisture from your feet inside. This can allow bacteria to breed, which leads to an unpleasant smell that can remain even after your shoes have dried.

Q. How do I know which shoe deodorizer is right for me?

The right shoe deodorizer for you will depend on which format suits your preferences. Some people prefer sprays and powders, which are fast-acting and deliver instant results but must be applied fairly regularly. Others prefer a long-term solution like inserts, which do the work for you.

Q. Are there any natural shoe deodorizers available?

There are a wide variety of natural shoe deodorizers that come in spray, powder, and insert formats. The most commonly used natural ingredients that fight foot odor are activated charcoal, bamboo, zinc oxide, and sodium bicarbonate (baking soda).

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