Smelly Work Boots

To remove odor from your smelly work boots, you need to first find the root of the problem.

Smelly boots can be a minor annoyance if you live alone, but if you reside with others in your household, stinky footwear coupled with foot odor can be a huge embarrassment.

Don’t let this be you!

Fortunately, we have just the right solution.

Here’s a quick list on how to remove odor from your work boots:

  1. Wash your feet thoroughly.
  2. Treat any fungal infection.
  3. Choose the right boots.
  4. Change your socks often.
  5. Disinfect your boots.
  6. Deodorise shoes
  7. Apply essential oils and baby powder.

Before we dig into these in more detail, do you know why your boots smell?

Smelly Work Boots

Why Are My Work Boots Smelly?

Your work boots are smelly because of sweat. Most work boots are enclosed with little to no ventilation. This leads to excess moisture building up in your shoes. The result is a horrible smelling pair of work boots!

Did you know that your feet have more than 250,000 sweat glands?

These glands release up to half a pint of sweat every day, particularly during summer.

And, since most work boots are enclosed and heavy-duty, they aren’t breathable, leading to excessive sweating.

Your sweaty feet and moist boots are a breeding ground for bacteria, causing bad odors and unbearable smells.

Then again, dirt, dust, mud, grease and oils are common features in most work environments. When these elements mix, they can block your boots’ airways, further impeding ventilation and creating a favorable environment for bacteria to thrive.

In addition, wearing cotton socks is another reason why your boots are likely to become smelly. Cotton is a less-breathable material and absorbs sweat quickly, multiplying bacterial growth.

How Do I Stop My Work Boots From Smelling?

Treating smelly work boots is easier than you think. However, you first need to identify why your boots are smelly so you can prevent it.

If you don’t eliminate the root problem, your work boots will continue to stink, no matter what action you take.

We can divide the process of treating smelly shoes into five steps:

  1. Prevention.
  2. Disinfection.
  3. Deodorization.
  4. Protection.
  5. Replacement.

Within these, we have 15 tips on how to prevent and treat smelly shoes:

Step 1: Prevention

Wash Your Feet Thoroughly

Since stinky shoes stem from sweaty feet, wash your feet regularly before and after wearing your work boots.

Developing a foot care routine can go a long way to prevent excessive sweating.

  1. Use mild soap and warm water to wash your feet.
  2. Apply an antiperspirant to remove sweat and odors.
  3. Remember to dry your feet thoroughly before wearing your socks and boots.

Foot Care 1

Treat Any Foot Injuries or Fungal Infections

Sometimes, untreated foot injuries and fungal infections may cause your boots to smell.

Infections such as athlete’s foot are notorious for their foul smells, which can exacerbate your already-stinking shoes’ odors.

You should treat these infections using OTC creams, powders, home remedies or prescription medicines.

Choose the Right Boots

Although smelly boots are common, you can reduce their occurrence by wearing the right type of shoes.

As much as your safety is of utmost importance, always go for boots with a higher breathability level.

For instance, instead of wearing leather boots with steel toe caps, consider ones with composite safety toe caps.

Also, consider buying insulated boots that come with zips on the side to allow you to open them partially for adequate ventilation.

Change Your Socks Often

Always wear clean socks with your work boots to prevent and reduce bad odors.

Step 2: Disinfection

Wash Your Shoes in the Washer

Boot in Washer

If you have canvas boots, you can easily wash them in the washer without causing any damage. One single cycle in cool water is enough to exterminate the bacteria and eliminate bad odors.

However, don’t dry the boots in the washer as this might damage them. Instead, place them outside in the sun to dry.

Rub Your Boots With Alcohol or Antiseptic

Alcohol is a great natural agent to disinfect your boots and kill bacteria.

Since alcohol dries quickly, so take advantage of this to eliminate excess moisture and keep your work boots dry.

Use White Vinegar

White vinegar can also act as a disinfectant and cleaner, thanks to its acidic compounds. It contains acetic acid, which destroys a wide range of bacteria.

  1. Create a 50/50 concoction of vinegar and water.
  2. Pour it into your boot lining and sole.
  3. Air-dry your shoes for about 30 minutes before wearing them. For best results, leave the mixture in your boots overnight for it to dry completely.

Step 3: Deodorization

Exterminate the Smell Using Baking Soda

Using baking soda to exterminate smelly boots is one of the oldest tricks in the book.

This natural shoes deodorizer can remove nasty smells from almost any type of shoes. You just need to sprinkle a little baking soda in your boots and leave it overnight.

For best results, add a little cornstarch to the baking soda and spread the mixture in your boots. Do this regularly until the smell goes away completely. However, make sure you wipe the baking soda and cornstarch residue off after deodor shoes.

Here’s a video of how to freshen shoes using baking soda:

Deodorize With Tea Bags

Tea bags contain compounds known as “tannins,” which work as a disinfectant as well as a natural deodorant.

Simply pop one or two unused tea bags inside your work boots. The tea bags will absorb all the bad smells and suck out excess moisture sooner than you know it.

Use Charcoal

Charcoal briquettes are a good option to remove odors and excessive moisture from your smelly shoes.

However, not any type of charcoal does the trick. Activated charcoal is the best to get rid of odors and bad smells from your work boots effectively.

This is a special type of coal with high absorbance capability. It has an expansive surface area with small pores ideal for absorbing toxins and boot odor, leaving your shoes smelling fresh.

Lay Fabric Freshener Sheets

One of the quickest ways to deodorizer shoes is by laying fabric fresheners sheets inside the shoes after use.

Leave the shoe deodorizers inside the boots for a couple of hours for them to spread their pleasant smell throughout.

Step 4: Protection

Apply Essential Oils To Keep Your Boots Fresh

Take two cotton balls, add a few drops of essential oils and place the balls inside your shoes for a few hours.

Place Soap in Your Shoes Overnight

Place several bars of soap inside your boots and leave them overnight.

The soap will absorb any remaining odors, leaving your shoes as clean as ever.

Apply Baby Powder

Most baby powders have deodorizing properties and prevent the accumulation of excessive feet sweat.

Besides, you can also apply baby powder on your feet before wearing socks to prevent them from sweating excessively.

Step 5: Replace

Buy New Work Boots

In the unlikely event that all these tips fail to work, perhaps it’s high time you replace your old shoes with a new pair of work boots.

The reason why none of the above options have worked is probably because your boots are too old for salvaging.

Bacteria and other odor-causing germs might be thriving in the inner linings of your boots, making it impossible to eliminate the foul smells effectively. If this is the case, you have no other option but to buy brand new work boots.

When shopping for new boots, make sure you opt for a more breathable option without compromising safety.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why Does My Boot Smell Bad?

Your boot smells bad because of several reasons, including sweaty feet, poor ventilation and bacteria buildup. If your feet don’t get enough air or you are wearing tight-fitting shoes, the bacteria in your feet feeds on the sweat produced, causing the bad smell.

Why Should You Change Your Socks Often?

You should change your socks often to help minimize infections and bad odors caused by excess moisture and fungal growth. A warm, sweaty foot provides a conducive environment for fungal growth.

How Do You Kill Bacteria in Work Boots?

If you want to get rid of bacteria in your work boots fast, simply spray alcohol (antiseptic) and allow it to evaporate. Alternatively, spray distilled white vinegar, but make sure the ratio of vinegar to water is 1:1.


We know how dealing with smelly boots can be annoying, if not embarrassing. But that’s why we’re here to help.

All you have to do is establish the root cause of the problem and work on ways to prevent it from happening again.

Our handy tips above explain everything you need to know about the causes of smelly shoes and what action you can do to keep your work boots clean and fresh.

Take a step and follow our guide. You’ll be glad you did!


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