EDC Magazine is supported by its audience. When you purchase via our links, we may get a commission. Learn more

How to Keep Work Boots from Stinking? – 6 Solutions

Fact checked by Andrew Carnegie

how to keep work boots from stinking

Do your work boots stink so bad they begin to smell like cat pee?

If you are a laborer who works on his feet for long hours, stinky work boots are a normal occurrence. However, it’s not an excuse for you not to find a remedy. Surely, after all, the stench that comes from your work boots is probably the least thing that you would want to deal with when you take them off at home.

So for the sake of your feet, boots, and nose, here are the different ways on how to keep work boots from stinking.

Ways to Get Rid of Work Boot Smell


Stinky work boots have one root cause– the build-up of bacteria that is activated by sweaty feet. Thus, the methods to get rid of odor in boots are mostly those that will help you minimize the sweating and the stench.

Here are the methods that can help you make boots not smell in no time.

Method #1: Keep Your Feet Clean and Dry


One of the first steps to stop boots from smelling is to develop good foot hygiene. Just like handwashing, washing your feet will also kill the odor-causing bacteria and other germs. It is advised to use antibacterial soap for this job.

While washing your feet, make sure to scrub your feet, especially in-between toes, to remove any dead skin cells that can serve as a breeding ground for bacteria. Make sure to dry your feet after washing.

To minimize the sweat of your feet, apply foot powders and antiperspirants, and wear moisture-wicking socks before wearing your shoes.

Method #2: Clean Your Work Boots


One way to clean smelly work boots is to wash the insole. You can use detergent to do so, but using a cleaning solution made of water and baking soda is recommended due to the latter’s antibacterial and deodorizing properties.

You can also spray alcohol and water solution inside your boots. Alcohol’s properties allow it to disinfect your footwear, and carry the foul odor when it evaporates.

Method #3: Deodorize Work Boots


It’s not a hopeless case for already stinky boots as there are several ways to get smell out of work boots.

Baking Soda Packets

Baking soda can get stink out of boots and even get rid of leather boot smell by neutralizing odor molecules. You can sprinkle it inside your boots, but if you want to skip the hassle of dusting baking soda off, you can make baking soda packets that you can insert inside your shoes.

You will need:

  • Clean socks or 6”x6” fabric swatch
  • String or rubber band
  • Baking soda
  • Work boots
  • Essential oils (optional)

Steps to follow

Step #1: Measure ½ cup of baking soda.

Step #2: Put the baking soda inside the clean socks or in the middle of the fabric.

Step #3: Tie the socks into a knot to create the packet. If you’re using the fabric swatch, use a string or rubber band to do so.

Step #4: Place the packet inside your boots overnight for optimum results.

If you don’t have baking soda, here are other work boot odor eliminator to get rid of stinky boots. Just like the baking soda packets, you can just leave them inside your boots overnight.

  • Teabags
  • Lemon Peels

Method #4: Dry Your Boots


If you have excessively sweaty feet or if your boots got wet and now they smell, you might consider doing this method.

Drying is important in order to prevent bacteria build-up and make work boots not stink. Why? Because moisture attracts bacteria.

For starters, you should air out your boots after use. You can simply let it sit in a well-ventilated place and or you can invest in tools that can help you dry them easily, such as a boot dryer.

Boot dryer help with smell by drawing room temperature air into your boots, and warms it to expedite the drying process.

Method #5: Give Your Boots a Rest

Having an extra pair or two can save you from having stinky boots. This is relative to the principle of allowing them to dry between wears.

By having two (or more) pairs, you will have enough time to properly dry and naturally disinfect the boots.

Method #6: Go for Composite-Toe Boots

If what you’re wearing are steel toe boots and they happen to be stinky, the steel toe caps are probably the ones causing the stench.

Made with metal which is a good conductor of heat (and cold), steel toe boots have the tendency to make your feet feel hotter and sweatier at a faster rate.

Thus, unless steel-toe is required in the work site, it is recommended to use composite-toe work boots as they don’t conduct heat.

What Makes the Work Boot Smell So Bad?

Most of the time, the work boots are not to blame when they begin to stink, but the feet.

With the presence of over a hundred thousand sweat glands, the feet are expected to perspire to help the body cool down.

Now, you may have already known that foot odor, similar to other kinds of body odor, is a by-product of sweat and bacteria. However, there is a deeper explanation of how foot odor smells different.

Although sweat itself is odorless, the kind of sweat produced by the feet, coming from the eccrine glands, allows the bacteria to thrive easily. Aside from this, the lack of ventilation from wearing footwear also contributes to worsening the smell.

Frequently Asked Questions


1: Will putting my shoes in the freezer kill the terrible smell?

As established in this article, bacteria love and live in warm places. Therefore, treating them in a cold or freezing environment will kill them along with the terrible smell they bring.

You may choose to freeze only the insoles or the entire shoes. All you have to do is to put them in a plastic bag before placing them inside the freezer overnight or up to 48 hours.

2: Is it true tea bags are good for smelly shoes?

Yes, it is true that tea bags are excellent boots odor remover.

For one, tea bags are known to be absorbent. So, they do a great job in drawing moisture out of the shoes. They also contain tannins, a natural, antibacterial compound that helps in preventing bacteria build-up. These are the reasons why tea bags are commonly used to clean smelly work shoes.

3: Why do shoes still smell after washing?

If you’re wondering why your shoes still smell after washing, the first thing you should check is if they are meant to be washed or not.

Some shoes are made with materials that are not meant to be washed, such as leather and suede. Wetting these materials causes them to attract bacteria and to stink later on.

Meanwhile, if you are sure that your shoes’ materials are washable, the problem is probably the drying process. If they did not dry properly and remained wet for a long amount of time, it’s likely that bacteria have already grown.

Two of the best ways to dry newly-washed shoes is to use a fan and shoe dryer. These two methods guarantee that they will dry without damage in terms of structure and materials.



Learning how to keep work boots from stinking is easy once you get the gist of the science behind foot odor. Yes, to make work boots not stink is not that hard– all it takes is great hygiene and proper odor shoe care.

Thus, although deemed as a bad thing, dealing with stinky boots is a great reminder that, aside from working hard, you should also be taking care of yourself and of your boots.

5/5 - (2 votes)