If you’re wondering how to get mildew smell out of shoes, you’re in the right place. This article will guide you through simple and effective methods to remove that pesky odor and keep your shoes fresh.

  • Baking soda: Sprinkle and leave overnight.
  • Vinegar solution: Spray and air dry.
  • Freezing: Helps kill mold.
  • Dry thoroughly: Use newspaper or towels.

Taking care of your shoes is vital. Not only does it extend their lifespan, but it also keeps them smelling fresh and clean. Mildew is a common issue caused by moisture and lack of ventilation. When left unchecked, it can lead to unpleasant odors and even damage your shoes.

We’ll explore the causes of mildew, effective home remedies, and advanced tips to combat stubborn odors. By the end of this guide, you’ll be equipped with everything you need to keep your shoes mildew-free and smelling amazing.

Simple steps to remove mildew smell from shoes - how to get mildew smell out of shoes infographic roadmap-5-steps

Understanding Mildew in Shoes

Understanding why mildew forms in shoes is the first step to preventing it. Let’s dive into the main causes: moisture and lack of ventilation.


Mildew thrives in moist, humid environments. Shoes often provide the perfect setting for mildew growth due to sweat and external moisture from rain or puddles. When shoes don’t dry out completely, mildew can start to form, leading to that musty odor we all dread.


Moisture is the biggest culprit. Whether it’s from sweaty feet or wet weather, moisture seeps into your shoes and creates a breeding ground for mildew.

Facts to consider:
Sweat: Feet can produce up to half a pint of sweat each day.
External moisture: Rain, puddles, and even high humidity can contribute to damp shoes.

Real-life story: One user shared on Reddit how their Nikes smelled terrible after being soaked by rain three times in three weeks. Despite trying several solutions, the smell persisted, highlighting how stubborn moisture-induced mildew can be.

Lack of Ventilation

Shoes need to breathe. Lack of ventilation traps moisture and heat, creating an ideal environment for mildew.

Simple tips to improve ventilation:
Rotate shoes: Don’t wear the same pair two days in a row. This gives them time to air out.
Open storage: Store shoes in an open space rather than a closed closet.
Use ventilated shoe racks: These allow air to circulate around your shoes.

By addressing the moisture and ventilation issues, you can significantly reduce the risk of mildew forming in your shoes. Next, we’ll explore some practical methods to get rid of that mildew smell.

How to Get Mildew Smell Out of Shoes

Freezing Technique

Freezing your shoes can effectively kill the bacteria causing the mildew smell.

How to do it:
1. Place your shoes in a plastic bag. Seal it tightly to prevent any odors from escaping.
2. Put the bag in the freezer overnight.

The cold temperature will kill the bacteria, helping to eliminate the odor.

Washing and Drying

If your shoes are machine washable, this can be a great way to remove mildew smells.

Machine Washable Tips:
1. Remove insoles: Take out any removable insoles and wash them separately.
2. Use a gentle cycle: Set your washing machine to a gentle cycle with cold water.
3. Use mild detergent: Avoid harsh chemicals that can damage your shoes.

After washing, it’s crucial to dry your shoes properly.

Air Drying Tips:
1. Avoid heat: Never use a dryer; it can warp or shrink your shoes.
2. Stuff with newspaper: This helps absorb moisture and maintain shape.
3. Air dry: Place shoes in a well-ventilated area. Avoid direct sunlight as it can cause colors to fade.

Natural Remedies

Natural remedies are effective and usually involve items you already have at home.

Baking Soda:
1. Sprinkle a generous amount of baking soda inside your shoes.
2. Let it sit overnight.
3. Shake out the excess baking soda in the morning.

Baking soda absorbs both moisture and odors, making it a simple yet powerful solution.

Vinegar Solution:
1. Mix equal parts white vinegar and water in a spray bottle.
2. Spray the solution inside your shoes, focusing on the areas affected by the mildew smell.
3. Allow the shoes to air dry completely.

Vinegar’s acidic nature helps kill mold and mildew, neutralizing the odor.

Essential Oils:
1. Add a few drops of essential oils like tea tree or lavender to a spray bottle filled with water.
2. Spray the inside of your shoes lightly.
3. Let them air dry.

Essential oils not only mask the odor but also have antifungal properties.

By using these methods, you can effectively remove mildew smells from your shoes and keep them fresh. Next, we’ll dive into some advanced tips for those stubborn odors that just won’t go away.

Advanced Tips for Stubborn Odors

If you’ve tried basic methods and the mildew smell still lingers, don’t worry. There are some advanced techniques that can help. Let’s dive into using charcoal, cat litter, and commercial odor eliminators to tackle those stubborn odors.

Using Charcoal

Activated charcoal is a powerhouse when it comes to odor absorption. Unlike regular charcoal, activated charcoal has been treated to increase its absorbency, making it incredibly effective at trapping odors, moisture, and even bacteria.

Steps to Use Charcoal:

  1. Get Activated Charcoal: You can find activated charcoal at health stores or aquarium supply shops.
  2. Prepare a Bag: Place a few pieces of activated charcoal in a breathable fabric bag or an old pair of stockings. This allows air to flow freely and lets the charcoal do its job.
  3. Insert into Shoes: Put the bag of charcoal into each shoe. Leave it overnight or for a couple of days if the smell is strong.
  4. Reactivate: After a while, place the charcoal briquettes in direct sunlight for a few hours to reactivate them.

Activated Charcoal - how to get mildew smell out of shoes

Why It Works: Activated charcoal binds odor particles to its surface, effectively removing the smell through a process called adsorption.

Cat Litter Method

Believe it or not, cat litter can be a great way to absorb moisture and eliminate odors. It’s designed to absorb moisture and neutralize smells, making it perfect for tackling shoe odors.

Steps to Use Cat Litter:

  1. Choose the Right Litter: Opt for unscented, clumping cat litter for best results.
  2. Fill Socks or Bags: Fill an old sock or a small fabric bag with cat litter.
  3. Place in Shoes: Insert the filled socks or bags into your shoes and leave them overnight.
  4. Remove and Discard: Take out the socks or bags the next day and discard the used litter.

Cat Litter - how to get mildew smell out of shoes

Why It Works: Cat litter absorbs moisture and neutralizes odors, creating a less hospitable environment for mildew and bacteria.

Commercial Odor Eliminators

If home remedies aren’t cutting it, commercial products can provide an extra level of effectiveness. Here are some options:

  1. Odor-eliminating sprays: These sprays break down bacteria and leave your shoes smelling fresh. Simply spray inside your shoes and let them dry for a couple of hours.
  2. Moisture-absorbing products: Products like silica gel sachets or activated charcoal bags absorb excess moisture. Place them inside your shoes overnight.
  3. Odor-neutralizing insoles: These insoles contain activated carbon or other odor-fighting materials. Replace your regular insoles with these to keep smells at bay.
  4. Shoe deodorizers: These often incorporate essential oils or natural ingredients. Insert them into your shoes overnight for a fresh scent by morning.

Commercial Odor Eliminators - how to get mildew smell out of shoes

Why It Works: Commercial products are specially formulated to tackle tough odors and often combine multiple methods like moisture absorption and bacterial neutralization.

By using these advanced tips, you can effectively manage and eliminate even the most stubborn shoe odors. Next, we’ll explore some preventative measures to keep your shoes smelling fresh.

Preventative Measures to Keep Shoes Fresh

Importance of Ventilation

Proper ventilation is key to preventing mildew in shoes. When shoes are stored in poorly ventilated areas, moisture can build up and create an ideal environment for mold and mildew. To promote good airflow:

  • Open windows: Ensure that the room where you store your shoes has good air circulation. Open windows regularly to let fresh air in.
  • Shoe rotation: Avoid wearing the same pair of shoes every day. Give them time to air out and dry completely between uses.

Moisture Control Techniques

Controlling moisture is crucial to keeping your shoes fresh and mildew-free. Here are some effective methods:

Proper Storage

  • Metal Racks: Store your shoes on metal racks instead of solid shelves. This allows air to circulate around and under the shoes, keeping them dry.
  • Dry Environment: Choose a dry storage area. Avoid damp basements or humid closets, as these can promote mildew growth.

Silica Gel Packets

  • Silica Gel: Place silica gel packets inside your shoes or in your shoe storage area. These packets absorb excess moisture, helping to keep the environment dry.

Newspaper Stuffing

  • Newspaper: Stuff your shoes with crumpled newspaper when they’re not in use. Newspaper absorbs moisture and helps to keep the interior of the shoes dry.

Regular Cleaning

  • Regular Cleaning: Clean your shoes regularly to remove dirt and moisture. This not only keeps them looking good but also prevents conditions favorable to mold growth.
  • Drying Wet Shoes: If your shoes get wet, dry them out completely before storing them. Use a fan or place them in a well-ventilated area to speed up the drying process.

By following these simple yet effective preventative measures, you can ensure your shoes stay fresh and free from mildew. This not only extends the life of your footwear but also keeps them comfortable and hygienic to wear. Next, we’ll discuss how NuShoe Inspect & Correct can help ensure your shoes last even longer.

NuShoe Inspect & Correct: Ensuring Shoe Longevity

NuShoe Inspect & Correct is your go-to solution for keeping your shoes in top condition. We understand that your shoes are more than just footwear—they’re an investment. That’s why we offer a range of services to help extend the life of your shoes and keep them looking and smelling fresh.

Our Services

1. Mold and Mildew Removal:
We specialize in eliminating mold and mildew from your shoes. Using advanced techniques and high-quality products, we ensure your shoes are free from harmful fungi and unpleasant odors. Our process includes thorough cleaning, drying, and treatment with antifungal solutions.

2. Shoe Repair and Restoration:
From minor repairs to full restorations, our skilled technicians handle it all. Whether it’s re-stitching, replacing soles, or refurbishing leather, we bring your shoes back to life. Our attention to detail ensures that every repair meets the highest standards.

3. Odor Elimination:
We use specialized products and techniques to neutralize even the toughest odors. From activated charcoal sachets to essential oil treatments, we have multiple options to suit your needs.

Experience and Expertise

With years of experience in the industry, NuShoe Inspect & Correct has mastered the art of shoe care. Our team is trained to handle various types of footwear, from everyday sneakers to high-end leather shoes. Our deep understanding of different materials and how they respond to treatments ensures effective and safe cleaning.

Fast Turnaround

We know that you can’t go long without your favorite pair of shoes. That’s why we prioritize fast turnaround times. Our streamlined processes and efficient team work tirelessly to get your shoes back to you as quickly as possible, without compromising on quality.

Affordable Pricing

Quality service shouldn’t break the bank. At NuShoe Inspect & Correct, we offer competitive pricing to ensure you get the best value for your money. Our affordable rates make it easy for you to maintain your shoes in excellent condition without stretching your budget.

Trust NuShoe Inspect & Correct to keep your shoes in pristine condition. With our comprehensive services, experienced team, and commitment to quality, your shoes are in good hands. Ready to take the next step? Visit our website to learn more about how we can help you.

Next, we’ll answer some frequently asked questions about shoe odor removal.

Frequently Asked Questions about Shoe Odor Removal

What kills mildew smell in shoes?

The mildew smell in shoes can be effectively tackled using common household items like vinegar and baking soda.

  • Vinegar: Mix equal parts of white vinegar and water in a spray bottle. Spray the solution inside your shoes, focusing on the areas affected by the mildew smell. Let the shoes air dry thoroughly. Vinegar is a natural disinfectant that helps kill mold and mildew, neutralizing the odor.

  • Baking Soda: Sprinkle a generous amount of baking soda inside your shoes and let it sit overnight. Baking soda absorbs odors and moisture. In the morning, simply shake out the excess baking soda.

Does mildew smell ever go away?

Yes, the mildew smell can go away with proper cleaning techniques and environmental control. Here are some key points:

  • Cleaning Techniques: Regular cleaning using vinegar, baking soda, or commercial odor eliminators can help remove the mildew smell. For persistent odors, consider using a combination of these methods.

  • Environmental Factors: Ensuring your shoes are stored in a dry, well-ventilated area can prevent mildew from returning. Moisture and lack of ventilation are the primary causes of mildew, so controlling these factors is crucial.

Can mildew smell be washed out?

Yes, the mildew smell can often be washed out, but it requires proper techniques:

  • Washing Tips: If your shoes are machine washable, use a gentle cycle with cold water. Add a cup of white vinegar to the wash to help kill mildew and neutralize odors. Always air dry your shoes after washing to prevent further moisture buildup.

  • Baking Soda Use: After washing, sprinkle baking soda inside the shoes and let it sit overnight to absorb any remaining moisture and odors. Shake out the excess baking soda before wearing them again.

By using these methods, you can effectively remove the mildew smell from your shoes and keep them fresh. For more detailed tips and services, visit our website.


In conclusion, tackling mildew smell in shoes is not just about eliminating the odor but also about maintaining overall shoe hygiene. By understanding the root causes—moisture and lack of ventilation—you can take proactive steps to prevent mildew from forming in the first place.

Recap: We’ve discussed several effective methods to get rid of mildew smell in your shoes, including home remedies like baking soda, vinegar solutions, and the freezing technique. We’ve also covered advanced tips using charcoal and cat litter for stubborn odors.

Maintaining shoe hygiene is crucial. It not only keeps your shoes smelling fresh but also extends their lifespan. Regular cleaning, proper storage, and moisture control are key to preventing mildew buildup. Simple practices like air drying your shoes after they get wet and using silica gel packets can make a big difference.

If you find that home remedies aren’t enough, don’t hesitate to seek professional help. At NuShoe Inspect & Correct, we offer specialized mold remediation services to ensure your shoes are in prime condition.

Call to Action: Don’t let mildew ruin your favorite pair of shoes. Take action today to keep them fresh and odor-free. For expert advice and services, visit our website. Let’s keep our shoes clean, dry, and ready for any adventure!