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.
- BEST OVERALL: NEWBEA 12 Pack Bamboo Charcoal Air Purifying Bag
- BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: Dr. Scholl’s Odor-X ODOR-FIGHTING Spray Powder
- BEST SPRAY: 10 Seconds Shoe Disinfectant and Deodorizer
- BEST ANTIFUNGAL: Medline Remedy Phytoplex Antifungal Powder
- BEST POWDER: Foot Sense Natural Shoe Deodorizer Powder
- BEST DEODORIZER INSOLES: Odor-Eaters Ultra-Durable, Heavy Duty Cushion Insoles
- BEST FOR TRAVEL: Sof Sole Sneaker Balls
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.
- Insoles work well for those who have persistent issues with foot odor because rather than being applied when needed, they remain in your shoes, working while you wear them. If some of your favorite shoes aren’t breathable, investing in a set of inserts can help to wick moisture and stop or neutralize odors. Some inserts serve a dual purpose, offering additional arch support while also deodorizing.
- Pods (or balls) are a great choice for deodorizing on the go. They can easily be packed in your gym bag, backpack, or suitcase and don’t create any mess.
- Bags (or pouches) are a versatile style of deodorizer that can be used in shoes but also in closets, your car, or even your fridge! They can be filled with a variety of materials, though activated charcoal is a popular ingredient that works to absorb smells without introducing new fragrances.
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
- Chemical shoe deodorizers are fast-acting and effective, using a wide range of ingredients to fight odors. They are often capable of disinfecting surfaces of bacteria as well as controlling smells. Because of their formulation and in order to prevent irritation, you likely want to avoid spraying them directly on your skin. Some chemical formulas also include natural ingredients.
- Natural shoe deodorizers use ingredients like zinc oxide, activated charcoal, and baking soda to absorb odors and moisture. They’re safer to use on your skin and can be applied inside the house without concern about causing adverse effects for children or pets.
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.
These air-purifying bags are a convenient and versatile product that can have varied uses beyond deodorizing shoes. They come in a pack of 12 and can be used to eliminate odors in closets, bathrooms, cars, luggage, backpacks, and more. They use activated bamboo charcoal, which is porous and absorbs both scents and moisture.
This is an eco-friendly product that doesn’t contain potentially harmful chemicals. They can be used for up to two years and can be emptied into a compost bin or garden when they’re no longer effective. The manufacturer recommends leaving the bags outside in the sun once a month to refresh them.
Dr. Scholl’s is one of the biggest names in orthopedic care, and this spray powder is part of their lineup of products made to keep your feet comfortable. Their Odor-X spray powder is meant to absorb moisture by being applied to your shoes or directly to your feet. The product uses zinc oxide and baking soda as well as added fragrance to neutralize and mask odors.
The formula is meant to be sprayed from a distance of 6 inches for ideal results. Despite the fact that this is a spray-to-powder formula, it isn’t as messy as a traditional powder.
Those looking for a shoe deodorizer will appreciate the fastest-acting performance of this 10 Seconds product. The spray quickly eliminates odors as well as the root cause of them by distributing a fine mist of product onto hard or soft surfaces. It is marketed as a medical-grade disinfectant that kills bacteria including methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA).
It can be used on shoes as well as other exercise equipment like yoga mats and gym bags. Because this is a chemical-based spray, users should avoid spraying it on skin.
The active ingredient in this powder is miconazole nitrate, which works to fight fungal infections such as athlete’s foot. It works by preventing the growth of bacteria, eliminating odors in the process.
This product can be applied to your shoes or directly to your feet. It’s hypoallergenic and has been tested by dermatologists for safe use on skin. It doesn’t contain phthalates, sulfates, parabens, talc, or chemical fragrance. It’s unscented, so it’s suitable for use by those with sensitivities to fragrance.
It can be used either preventively or to treat an existing infection.
This formulation is free of talc and aluminum and contains 100 percent zinc oxide along with other naturally occurring ingredients to deodorize without harsh chemicals. It’s meant to initially be applied daily in order to activate the ingredients and then be reapplied several times per month for a long-lasting effect.
This powder is made to be used directly on your skin and can also be applied to your shoes as well as other types of sporting equipment like skates and gloves. Powders can inherently be messy, but because this one is made up of natural ingredients it’s safe to use outdoors. While it doesn’t have added fragrance, it does give off a slight scent.
Odor-Eaters makes insoles that deodorize while providing temperature regulation and adding padding to your shoes. These inserts are composed of four layers. The first provides cushioning for added support, the next contains activated charcoal, the third is made up of odor blockers including baking soda and zinc oxide, and the last is made to neutralize odors. The inserts serve to control odor as well as temperature, providing added ventilation for your feet to eliminate moisture.
The inserts come in one size. They offer guidelines for trimming them down to fit shoe sizes for men, women, and children.
When traveling, you might not want to pack large spray canisters, especially if you’re bringing only carry-on luggage. These sneaker balls are a great, TSA-friendly alternative. Each ball has a diameter of only 1.5 inches, so they won’t take up much room in your luggage.
To use them, simply twist the center to release their odor-fighting power. When not in use, they can be twisted shut to preserve their contents. They last up to 2,100 hours after they’re opened and come in a variety of fun prints that will help encourage kids to use them.
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).