How to Remove Odor from Leather Shoes?

Wondering how to remove bad odor from your leather shoes?

Some types of shoes get cleaned when we put them in a washing machine. But that is not the case with leather; it needs special care to remove the smelly bacteria.

However, these stylish shoes form a smelly odor due to bacteria. Air fresheners give relief from this smell just for a few hours. That is not an acceptable way to remove the odor.

Keep reading this article if you want to know the effective methods I follow to eliminate the bad odor. Here we go!

how to remove odor from leather shoes

How to Remove Odor from Leather Shoes?

  • Make a spray by adding vinegar and oil tree in the spray bottle. Spray the solution on a piece of fabric and wipe the shoes with that cloth.
  • After drying them, put one teaspoon of baking soda in those pairs of shoes and shake your shoes.
  • Leave your shoes undisturbed for almost 9 hours.
  • Heat the black tea bags for five minutes and then put them in your shoes. Take these bags out after at least two hours.
  • Use a disinfectant spray to eliminate the bad smell from them.

Can You Remove Odor from Leather Shoes?

Wearing smelly shoes is embarrassing and hectic at the same time. Undried moisture is the main reason for the bad smell. It gives the growing environment to bacteria.

We can clear the unpleasant smell from leather footwear using vinegar, baking soda, tea bag, lemon, and newspaper. These plenties of techniques work well with leather shoes.

Methods to Remove Odor from Leather Shoes

Follow my guidelines carefully to get outstanding results. It’s time to share my real-life experiences with you.

Let’s dive in:

  • Using vinegar and baking soda
  • Black tea bags storage
  • Disinfectant Spray
  • By freezing
  • Use of lemon

Method 1. Using Vinegar and Baking Soda

Gather these items before performing any technique on your shoes.

Required Things

  • Vinegar
  • Baking Soda
  • Water
  • Tea tree oil
  • Spray Bottle
  • Clean Cloth
  • One teaspoon of baking soda

Step 1. Making of Vinegar Solution

Pour half a cup of vinegar into the same amount of water. Add 6 to 7 drops of tea tree oil and stir the mixture in the spray bottle. If tree tea oil is unavailable, you can add vinegar to the water.

I had a bottle of oil, so I also mixed it. White vinegar is ideal for it. But avoid using apple cider vinegar for it. The reason is that it can spoil the color of your leather shoes.

Step 2. Start Spraying It on Clean Fabric

Damp the clean cloth and begin to spray the mixture. A thin layer of white vinegar is enough. Don’t saturate the cloth much. Make sure not to use dyed cloth for this purpose because it can transfer its color to your leather footwear.

Step 3. Wiping the Cloth Inside the Footwear

Then, I wiped the inside part of the shoes with that fabric. Remember to wipe the cloth from the toe and insole to the heel.

Remove the kicks of your leather shoes. This will make your work more convenient and easy.

Step 4. Drying the Shoes

Take a new and dry cloth to dry the footwear’s interior completely. This will help to clean the damp area; otherwise, there are chances of the development of sweat again.

Remember to wipe with a dry fabric. I used a dry paper towel to make them dry. It worked well.

Step 5. Adding Baking Soda

Once I wiped the shoes, I began to sprinkle the baking soda on the inner part of the leather shoes. I used baking soda to remove the odor and shook the shoes well afterward. Make sure that baking powder has covered the whole inside surface.

If you realize that baking soda is not enough to reach the entire shoe, sprinkle one more tablespoon of baking soda on it. Baking soda is well known for absorbing bad smells.

Step 6. Settle the Leather Shoe for One Night

I didn’t touch my leather footwear for 9 hours. One night is enough to settle the solution on the shoe. During that time, you will observe that all the vinegar has evaporated already.

This natural solution will maintain the quality of your boots. Repeat the process if there is still a smell.

Method 2. Black Tea Bags

I have shortlisted the things that are essential for doing this technique:

Required Things

  • Black tea bag
  • Hot water
  • Folk or pair of tongs
  • A dry cloth or paper towel

Step 1. Heating the Black Tea Bag for A Few Minutes

Put the black tea bags in the boiling water and keep heating them for almost 5 minutes. This way, the tea bag steeps to be used as a natural disinfectant. One tea bag is enough for it.

Step 2. Cooling the Tea Bag

After a limited time, put the bag out of the water and store them in a bowl for cooling. If the string is not attached to the tea bag, then take it out by using a fork.

It is good if you buy a tea bag with string in the first place. This will not burn your hand.

Step 3. Placing the Tea Bag in The Leather Shoes

When I realized that the tea bag was cool enough, I placed it at the bottom of the shoe. If your leather shoes have too strong smell, then place two or three bags instead of one.

Step 4. Leave Them for Two Hours

To get rid of the shoe odor, give it two hours to settle. Don’t move your leather shoes during that time.

Step 5. Moving out The Tea Bags

Throw the tea bags away after they have disinfected your leather footwear. I wiped the interior of the shoes using a dry cloth.

If you still feel the smell, then try doing the whole procedure. But I don’t think that there will be a need to do it again.

Method 3. Disinfectant Spray

Get these items all together before using disinfectant spray:

  • Disinfectant spray(leather odor remover)
  • Leather shoes

Step 1. Checking the Package

Before buying, check the packing of the disinfectant spray. Is the spray that you are going to buy acceptable for leather?

If it is not mentioned on the package, then don’t buy it at all. It can spoil the high-level quality of your leather footwear. The reason is that some sprays are just made of clothes.

You can purchase the disinfectant sprays from department stores or simply order them online. I got it from the nearby store of shoe items.

Step 2. Spray on The Inner Side of The Shoe

Spray both shoes separately. I held a shoe with one hand and sprayed with another hand. Keep in mind that the spray has covered the entire shoe.

Step 3. Drying

Give almost five minutes to dry the spray on the shoes completely. If the smell is still present, then reapply the spray on them.

You can do these steps repeatedly until you are not satisfied with the results. Remember to dry them after completing the process every time.

Method 4. By Freezing

A freezer is very effective in killing odor-causing bacteria. It works as an odor-neutralizer. Follow these simple steps to get the smell out of the shoes.

Required Things

  • Freezer
  • Plastic bag

Step 1. Placing Shoes In A Plastic Bag

First of all, I sealed my charming pair of leather shoes in a plastic bag. After that, I placed them in a freezer for almost eight hours. Freezing shoes to remove smell looks weird but believe me, this method works.

Step 2. Take Them Out

A freezer will not let the stink causing bacteria to survive. I took my leather footwear out of the freezer. By doing this, you will not feel the nasty smell anymore.

Method 5. Lemon

Lemon works as an odor neutralizer and has the strongest smell that eliminates the stinky smell. The acidity of the lemon is effective in killing bad odor-causing bacteria.

Required Things

  • Peels of lemon

Step 1. Placing

Put lemon peels inside the leather footwear for 8 hours. Don’t touch your leather boots while doing that.

Step 2. Moving Them Out

I took the lemon peels out of my shoes, and the bad smell was gone at that time.

Causes of Odor in Leather Shoes

What causes the leather shoes to stink? From where does this smells come? In this section, I will explain all the reasons one by one.

  • Lack of Ventilation
  • Steel toe
  • Grease and Oil
  • Body Heat

Lack of Ventilation

Some shoes are built in such a way that there is extra protection. This results in the lack of a ventilation system.

If air can’t enter the boots, then it also means that it can’t leave them. Feet sweat gathers in the shoes and makes them smelly.

Steel Toe

Steel-toed shoes work outstandingly in protecting your foot when a heavy thing falls on them. But the down point about them is that they are comfy but are not breathable.

This causes the temperature to increase and sweat to form. Sweat is the ultimate source of a stinky smell.

Grease and Oil

People who work in some factories where a lot of oil exists face the problem of air blockage on their boots.

Wondering how is this possible? Grease spreads on their shoes which blocks the airflow. Your feet will form sweat and a bad smell in your shoes.

Body Heat

Any person who goes to work daily has to walk a lot. This raises the temperature of his body, and nothing gets affected more than your feet. It gives a growing environment to sweat-causing bacteria.

FAQs – Frequently Asked Questions

How to Remove the Smell from Shoes Instantly?

  • Put your sealed leather shoes in a freezer.
  • The freezer is a smell-neutralizer for shoes.
  • Take them out after 8 hours and notice the smell will go.

How to Clean Stinky Leather Boots?

  • Clean smelly shoes by adding one tablespoon of baking soda to the wet cloth
  • Apply it gently on the stinky shoes and undisturbed them for one-night
  • Repeat the process if the smell is still present in your leather boots

Why Do Leather Shoes Smell so Bad?

When the leather of shoes gets wet, it provides a suitable environment for the growth of fungi and bacteria. Leather needs special care and treatment; otherwise, it gets sweaty and smelly.

How Long Does It Take for Leather to Stop Smelling?

It takes almost two or three weeks to stop smelling. This smell goes away with time. Cleaning eliminates its smell temporarily.

What Absorbs Bad Smells in Shoes?

Add one tablespoon of baking soda and shake it completely into the leather boots. Leave your footwear for one night, and the smell is over after this.


Nobody wants stinky shoes because they cause discomfort. Many companies are offering foot odor removal products that can ruin the quality of your footwear. My methods of removing odor are natural and are not harmful to your leather shoes.

Hopefully, you have learned all the techniques to remove odor from leather shoes. Give me your feedback related to your experience.

Daniel Robert is a shoe lover who enjoys writing about all kinds of footwear, including sneakers, Crocs, Vans, and more. He shares his vast knowledge on, a website dedicated to helping people find the perfect pair of shoes. With years of experience and a passion for all things shoe-related, Daniel's easy-to-understand advice has helped countless people make confident and stylish choices.

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