How to deal with stinky cycling shoes

Close up of a fastener on a cycling shoe

Spring is finally here with longer daylight and sunny days – hurray! For me, I’m hoping this means that there will be more opportunities for cycling (certainly by the end of April when my baby will be old enough to go in a bike trailer). However, I’ve just got out my neglected cycling shoes and in comparison to my shiny new bike, they’re not looking great. (They’re not smelly, but they don’t look clean!) I turned to the internet for inspiration on how to make them beautiful again and was surprised by some of the answers that I got…

A long straight open road with a icon of a bike superimposed on it.

Low-risk suggestions

  • Replace the insoles
  • Use Odor eaters
  • Use Stuffitts Shoe Savers
  • Put sneaker balls in the shoes
  • Store the shoes with detergent pods inside (be very careful if you have young children or pets!)
  • Use ODOBAN

Medium risk solutions

  • Put the shoes in the freezer overnight
  • Leave your shoes out in UV light/sunlight
  • Put newspaper and baking soda in your shoes after each use
  • Spray white vinegar in your shoes
  • Put baking soda and tea tree oil in the shoes and place them in the sun
  • Spray your shoes with Lysol
  • Use sports equipment spray on your shoes
  • Put a spray top on a bottle of surgical spirit (aka rubbing alcohol) and spray inside your shoes
  • Put some drops of essential oils (like lavender or peppermint) in your shoes
  • Use dog urine odour remover
  • Put Gold Bond Foot Powder in them (not readily available in the UK)

High-risk solutions (washing)

  • Scrub them and leave them to dry with some newspaper stuffed inside
  • Wash them down in the shower, then put newspaper and dryer sheets in them. Put them on the rack in the airing cupboard. Keep changing the paper and dryer sheets.
  • Put them in a sink full of warm water and a box of baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) before allowing them to air dry
  • Wash them in a utility sink with baking soda and sports laundry detergent
  • Throw some hydrogen peroxide in them to kill the bacteria
  • Wash the insoles in the washing machine and let them air dry
  • Put them in a bucket of water and napisan or oxy-clean to soak, then press the fabric area and hang them to dry in the sun

Extremely high-risk solutions

  • “I put mine in socks then put them in the washer with a load of towels.” and “Throw them in the washing machine and let them air dry, with insoles out and they do great!” (Does the washing machine?!)
  • Put them on the top rack of the dishwasher (for two cycles if they’re really stinky). This was the suggestion that surprised me the most, but which also seems to be the most popular suggestion!
A close up of a Specialized cycling shoe.
Photo credit: thenoodleator via / CC BY-NC-ND

What is your preferred method to keep your cycling shoes box fresh?





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