I live in an incredibly wet climate so there is absolutely no way for me to go on a run (or outside for that matter) without getting my running shoes soaked (and generally myself as well). Despite being very diligent with cleaning my shoes after a run, pulling the insoles and drying them out (by placing them next to an oil monitor and using in-shoe boot dryers) they absolutely reek. I mean, I can smell them across the room... it's like being back on the fishing boat.

I've tried baking soda, Febreeze, freezing them... everything short of running them through the washer with a little bleach (I think that's next).

How do you keep your running shoes from smelling horrible?

  • 1
    Do you mean baking soda, instead of baking powder?
    – edgester
    Sep 16 '11 at 18:00
  • Haha. Yes. Baking soda, not baking powder.
    – user1978
    Sep 16 '11 at 19:17

Fungicide will usually fix this, such as Desenex spray or something similar. Bleach is kind of hard on running shoes -- use it sparingly if at all.


Running them through the washer usually results in shoe disintegration. Dry them, bag them and leave them in the freezer for a day. Use fungicidal talcum powder before and after the run.

  • As an experiment I threw my old pair of Salomon XT Wings in the washer on "delicate" and cold (no bleach). They haven't fallen apart yet and the stink hasn't come back yet (but its neither completely gone)... I'll give it a while and report back.
    – user1978
    Sep 19 '11 at 1:21
  • Do you have a favorite brand of fungicide that you would care to recommend?
    – user1978
    Sep 19 '11 at 1:21
  • Not a US resident so whatever I am using is probably not sold where you are. Any talcum that's also fungicidal should do. Some have also have menthol added, that tends to further help with the smell. Sep 19 '11 at 10:41
  • @kce - try Gold Bond medicated (comes in the blue bottle instead of the yellow one.) Takes the stink right out of my shoes.
    – EmmyS
    Nov 4 '11 at 16:09
  • Merrell specifically market their "Barefoot" line of minimal shoes as being machine washable. They are also pre-loaded with anti-microbial treatment.
    – alord1689
    Feb 6 '12 at 20:05

I find that vinegar works for my clothing, which can't be washed at high temp. It neutralises the bacteria. Try a dilute spray on your shoes when you get back as part of the clean/dry process and see if that helps.


I had been told that instead of a washing machine, consider a dish washer. But I imagine it is not too easy on the shoes.

Of course you could cook some salmon at the same time in there if you wanted too.

I too suffer from stinky shoe syndrome. I leave mine outside on the porch to annoy the dogs.

  • 1
    I'm glad I'm not the only one! I used to leave my running shoes under my desk at work - this has the following advantages: 1) you can get out for a quick run at lunch or after work and 2) the smell keeps people from bothering you, with you know, actual work.
    – user1978
    Sep 19 '11 at 1:23

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