How To Clean Smelly Work Boots? Simple 11 Ways

Are your work boots turning into a scent sensation that’s less than delightful? If you’ve noticed that your trusty footwear has taken on an odor that can only be described as “aromatic,” you’re not alone! Smelly work boots are a common issue that many hardworking individuals face. 

Whether you’re out in the elements, hustling on a job site, or just putting in a hard day’s work, your boots can pick up some seriously funky smells along the way. But fret not because, in this handy guide, we’re going to spill the beans on how to clean smelly work boots and have your boots smelling fresh as a daisy once again. 

So, if you’re ready to rescue your nostrils and make your workmates smile instead of scrunching up their faces when you take off your boots, keep on reading! We’ve got some boot-cleaning wisdom to share with you.

In order to know how to clean smelly work boots, you need to understand why they develop that unpleasant odor.

So firstly let’s focus on…

The Causes of Smelly Work Boots

causes of smelly work boots

Picture this: You’ve just returned from a long, hard day of work, and you can’t wait to kick off your trusty work boots. But as soon as you peel them off, an unwelcome odor hits your nose like a freight train. And you’re uncertain about the cause behind this occurrence. So, before we roll up our sleeves and embark on the journey of banishing that unpleasant smell, let’s unravel the mystery behind it.

Sweat and Moisture

First up, we have sweat, the undeniable villain in this olfactory tale. Your feet are equipped with a battalion of sweat glands, and when you’re out there giving it your all, they go into overdrive, producing moisture like there’s no tomorrow. Now, this moisture doesn’t just evaporate into thin air; it often gets trapped inside your boots, turning them into a veritable breeding ground for bacteria.

Bacteria and Fungi

Ah, yes, bacteria and fungi are our next set of antagonists in this narrative. These tiny troublemakers absolutely thrive in damp, dark environments – and what’s damper and darker than the insides of your boots? As these microorganisms throw their little fiesta inside your footwear, they release unpleasant odors that can make your eyes water.

The story does not end here; there’s another dimension to it.

Poorly Ventilations

Inadequate ventilation plays a significant supporting role. If your boots don’t have the right amount of airflow, moisture becomes a permanent resident, stubbornly refusing to leave. It’s like a moist party that won’t end.

Wearing the Same Boots Daily

Using the same boots every day without giving them a break allows sweat and odor to accumulate. It’s like wearing the same clothes without washing them—eventually, they start to smell.

Low-Quality Socks

Cheap or non-breathable socks can trap moisture around your feet, making the odor worse. Good-quality socks made of materials like cotton or wool can help by absorbing sweat and allowing air circulation.

Inadequate Foot Hygiene

If you don’t wash and thoroughly dry your feet before putting on your boots, any sweat or dirt left on your feet can mix with the bacteria inside your boots, making the smell worse. Good foot hygiene, like clean and dry feet, can go a long way in preventing bad odors.

Stress and Diet

Sometimes, stress or certain foods can cause your body to produce stronger-smelling sweat, which can make your boots smell worse. Managing stress and maintaining a healthy diet can help reduce the intensity of the odor.

Insoles and Liners

The soft, cushiony parts inside your boots can absorb sweat and odor over time. If these aren’t cleaned or replaced regularly, they can contribute to the bad smell inside your boots.

Infections or Medical Conditions

While rare, persistent foot odor could be a sign of an underlying medical issue or infection. If your boots continue to smell bad despite trying various remedies, it’s a good idea to consult a healthcare professional to rule out any health concerns.

Environmental Factors

If you work in environments with strong odors, your boots can absorb these smells like a sponge. It’s similar to how your clothes might pick up the scent of food when you’re cooking. This can add to the overall unpleasant odor of your boots.


Now, let’s talk about materials because not all boots are created equal in this regard. Some materials, like leather, have a knack for holding onto smells longer than a cat with a new toy. On the flip side, breathable fabrics like mesh are the good guys in our story, allowing odors to escape into the ether, leaving your boots smelling fresher.

So, there you have it, the culprits behind that dreaded boot odor – sweat, bacteria and fungi, inadequate ventilation, and the material composition. Armed with this knowledge, we’re ready to dive into the world of affected ways of boot cleaning and explore the process of how to clean smelly work boots to bid farewell to those pesky odors once and for all.

Let’s explore the ways to efficiently clean and eliminate odors from your foul-smelling work boots.

How To Clean Smelly Work Boots?

How to clean smelly work boots? A quick guide: 

To banish the stink from your work boots:

  1. Start by removing the insoles and letting them air out.
  2. Sprinkle baking soda inside the boots and leave it overnight to absorb odors.
  3. Give them a good scrub with a mixture of mild soap and water, focusing on the inside.
  4. Dry them thoroughly, preferably in sunlight, to kill bacteria causing the odor.

Now let’s focus on a detail guide:

By Baking Soda:

get our rid of smell in work boots with baking soda

In the rugged world of work boots, there’s a secret weapon that transforms stinky, foul-smelling footwear into fresh, odor-free wonders. First and foremost, it is a magical substance that effortlessly banishes the pungent ghosts of sweat and hard labor from your cherished boots. It’s none other than the humble yet mighty baking soda, the unsung hero of the footwear realm.

Imagine stepping into your trusty work boots after a long day on the job, only to be hit by a wave of unpleasant odors. You ponder over how to reclaim your boots from the clutches of this foul aroma. The answer lies in the timeless wisdom passed down through generations – the remarkable baking soda.

With a flick of the wrist, you remove the insoles from your beleaguered boots, revealing the battleground where the odorous war is waged. Shake those boots, my friend, and let the loose debris tumble out like defeated soldiers in retreat.

Now, “Get ready for the enchantment to kick off!”. Sprinkle a generous handful of baking soda into the abyss of your boots. Watch as this white knight of deodorizers cascades down to every nook and cranny, enveloping the lingering odors like a shield of freshness.

But the real enchantment lies in the waiting. Leave your boots to marinate in the baking soda’s mystical powers for hours, or better yet, let them rest under the starry night’s spell. While you dream of conquering new frontiers, the baking soda silently works its sorcery, absorbing and vanquishing the cruel invaders.

For added charm, consider fashioning small sachets filled with baking soda, like talismans of purity. Place them inside your boots to ensure the deodorizing spell remains potent.

When the time is right, gently tap your boots upside down like a magician, revealing the conclusion of a mesmerizing trick. Any excess baking soda will fall like a curtain, unveiling the fresh, untainted interior.

With a satisfied smile, reunite your boots with their trusty insoles, knowing that you’ve tamed the unruly stench. And now you lace up your boots for your next adventure without any hesitation, just because of baking soda that rescued your footwear from the clutches of odor.

By Cedar Shoe Inserts:

use cedar shoes inserts

Elevate your boot game with Cedar Shoe Inserts – they’re like nature’s own guardians of freshness. Here’s a straightforward guide on how to use them:

Step 1: Boot Prep Before you begin, make sure your boots are clean and dry inside. No dirt or moisture – we want a fresh start!

Step 2: Meet the Inserts. Take out your Cedar Shoe Inserts gently. These wooden wonders are here to work their magic on your boots.

Step 3: Slide ‘Em In Now; simply slide the Cedar Inserts into your boots when you’re not wearing them. They fit snugly and get to work right away.

Step 4: Let Nature Do Its Thing Leave your boots alone and let nature do its thing. Cedar is a pro at soaking up moisture and kicking out bad odors. It’s like having a mini forest inside your boots!

Step 5: Enjoy the Freshness When you come back to your boots, they’ll smell amazing and feel super fresh. Put them on, and you’re ready for a comfortable day out.

Using Cedar Shoe Inserts is easy and effective. They keep your boots fresh and cozy, just like a walk in the woods. Give your boots the gift of nature’s freshness!

By Odor-Fighting Insoles:

Behold the insoles that are more than mere cushions. They are fearless warriors against sweat and bacteria. To harness their power, swap your regular insoles for these odor-fighting champions. They’ll tirelessly combat odors, ensuring your boots remain a fragrant haven for your feet.

By Freezing Method:

use the freezing method to clean smelly work boots

Imagine your boots as valiant soldiers in a frosty battle against odors. To wage this chilly war, follow these steps:

Step 1: Gather Your Troops. Round up your boots – they’re about to become odor-free heroes.

Step 2: Bag ‘Em Up Place each boot in its own plastic bag, sealing them tightly. This is their “cold chamber.”

Step 3: Into the Freezer. March your bagged boots into the freezer and let them stand firm overnight. The frigid cold will freeze and defeat odor-causing bacteria.

Step 4: Thaw and Dry When the morning sun rises, pull your boots out of the freezer. Let them thaw and dry completely, perhaps near a cozy heater or by the window.

Step 5: Ready for Action Once your boots are thawed and dry, they’re battle-ready, now odor-free conquerors. They’re all set for your next adventure.

This simple yet effective method turns your boots into victorious warriors against bad smells. So, freeze those odors away, and let your boots march forward with pride!

By Sunshine and Fresh Air:

Envision your boots as sun worshippers, craving the warmth and breeze of the great outdoors. To make it happen, place them outside when it’s sunny or close to an open window. The elements will work their magic, refreshing your boots with the rejuvenating power of nature.

By Dryer Sheets:

Welcome the aromatic companions into your boots. Dryer sheets, those fragrant allies, will mask and absorb odors with their scented charm. To apply this method, tuck a dryer sheet into each boot overnight. Your boots will greet you with a delightful fragrance as you step into them.

By Essential Oils:

Enter a world where fragrances are potent elixirs. Essential oils like tea tree and lavender possess antibacterial magic. To use this technique, blend a few drops of your preferred essential oil with water and then spray the mixture inside your boots. As your boots dry, they’ll emanate not only freshness but also captivating fragrance.

By Kitty Litter or Activated Charcoal:

Imagine your boots as guardians of moisture and odor, thanks to humble allies hidden within clean socks. Fill those socks with kitty litter or activated charcoal and place them inside your boots. These secret weapons will absorb moisture and banish odors, ensuring your boots remain fragrant strongholds.

By Vinegar Solution:

In a world where vinegar is a potent elixir, apply it as a cleansing ritual. Make a solution by combining equal parts of water and white vinegar. Dampen a cloth with this magical elixir and wipe the interior of your boots. The vinegar will eliminate bacteria and neutralize odors. Allow your boots to dry thoroughly, and they will emerge as sanctuaries of freshness.

By Antifungal Foot Powder:

Imagine talcum powder fortified with antifungal powers. To apply this method, sprinkle this enchanted powder inside your boots. It forms a protective shield against moisture and bacteria, ensuring your boots remain impervious to odor.

Now, go forth, my friend, with your newly refreshed work boots, ready to conquer the world with confidence and comfort, all thanks to the enchanting power of these methods.

With these captivating methods at your disposal, you hold the keys to unlocking the secrets of boot rejuvenation. Choose your method wisely, apply it with care, and witness your work boots transform into fragrant allies on your everyday adventures.

By odor spray

Odor sprays work like magic for smelly work boots. They’re made to zap away bad smells, making your boots smell as fresh as a daisy. These sprays are super handy, especially when those stubborn odors won’t budge! Here are some popular and highly regarded odor sprays available on the market for work boots:

  • Febreze Fabric Refresher Spray: Febreze is a well-known brand for odor elimination. Their fabric refresher spray is effective at neutralizing odors in work boots. Apply the solution inside your boots and let them air out.
  •  Sof Sole Sneaker Balls: While not a spray, Sof Sole Sneaker Balls are small, spherical deodorizers that can be placed inside your boots.They soak up dampness and eliminate odors, leaving your boots with a pleasant scent. 
  • Nikwax Footwear Cleaning Gel: Nikwax offers a specialized cleaning gel that not only cleans but also helps in removing odors from work boots. It’s safe to use on waterproof materials.
  • Rockin’ Green Funk Rock Ammonia Bouncer: This natural, non-toxic powder is designed to combat stubborn odors in shoes and work boots. It’s particularly effective at eliminating ammonia-based odors.
  • Gear Aid Revivex Odor Eliminator: This spray is formulated to remove odors from outdoor gear, including work boots. It’s biodegradable and safe for waterproof materials.
  • Dr. Scholl’s Odor-X Odor Fighting Spray Powder: Dr. Scholl’s offers an odor-fighting spray powder that absorbs moisture and helps control odors in work boots.
  • Gold Bond No Mess Powder Spray: While primarily designed as a foot powder spray, it can be used to keep feet dry and odor-free, which can indirectly help reduce boot odors.

Remember to follow the instructions provided by the manufacturer when using these products, and always ensure your boots are clean and dry before applying any odor spray for the best results in keeping your work boots smelling fresh.

Now, it’s time to know the steps to clean and deodorize your smelly work boots effectively.

Additional ways to get the smell out from work boots

Step 1: Gather Your Supplies

Before you start, gather these items:

  • Mild soap
  • Water
  • Brush or Cloth
  • Newspaper

Step 2: Take off the Laces and Insoles

Begin by removing both the laces and insoles from your boots. This step will enable you to thoroughly clean all areas.

Step 3: Exterior Cleaning

Using a brush or cloth, clear away any loose dirt or debris from the outer surface of your boots. If your boots are muddy, rinse them with water and mild soap, then let them air dry.

Step 4: Interior Cleaning

Create a mixture with equal parts of water and white vinegar. Dampen a cloth with this solution and use it to wipe down the inside of your boots. Vinegar is an excellent natural disinfectant that helps kill odor-causing bacteria.

Step 5: Proper Storage

Ensure your boots are stored in a well-ventilated area. Employing cedar shoe trees can aid in moisture absorption and preserving the form of your boots.

Step 6: Regular Maintenance

To prevent odors from returning:

  1. Establish a routine.
  2. Clean your boots regularly, especially after strenuous workdays.
  3. Let them ventilate between wears, and think about switching between several pairs of boots.

Does the cleaning method apply uniformly to all kinds of smelly work boots, whether they’re steel toe, leather, or hiking boots?

Cleaning smelly work boots can follow a similar method regardless of the type, be it steel toe, leather, or hiking boots. However, it’s essential to consider the specific needs of each boot to ensure they stay fresh and in top condition. So, while the process shares common steps, a little attention to detail can go a long way in keeping your boots at their best.

Certainly, here are some additional tips to effectively clean and maintain smelly work boots of various types:

Newspaper Absorption:

Take some crumpled newspaper and place it inside your damp boots after cleaning. This will help absorb any remaining moisture and odors. Replace the newspaper as needed until the boots are fully dry.

Boot Dryers:

Consider purchasing boot dryers specifically designed to eliminate moisture from the inside of your boots. Dry boots are less likely to develop odors.

Maintain good foot hygiene:

  • Wash your feet daily to keep them clean and dry.
  • Wear moisture-wicking socks.
  • Change socks during extended work shifts.
  • Clean and dry feet can help prevent odors from transferring to your boots.


With the proper care and maintenance, you can bid farewell to smelly work boots. Understanding the causes of the odor and following our step-by-step guide will ensure your trusty footwear remains not only functional but also pleasantly odor-free. Invest in your boots, and they will continue to support you throughout your demanding workdays without assaulting your senses with unpleasant smells.


Can I machine wash work boots to eliminate odors?

Work boots shouldn’t typically be machine washed as a result of the materials being damaged. Make sure you clean them manually instead of using a machine.

Can I use bleach to remove odors from my work boots?

Avoid using bleach on your work boots, as it can weaken the materials and affect their properties. If you want to clean your boots, select a milder cleaning solution like vinegar or specialized boot cleaners.

How do I prevent odors from returning after cleaning my work boots?

When you store your boots, make sure they are completely dry to prevent odors from returning. Consider using odor-control insoles, rotate between multiple pairs of boots, and maintain good foot hygiene by keeping your feet clean and dry.

Should I use a waterproofing spray after cleaning my waterproof work boots?

If you want to maintain the waterproof properties of your waterproof work boots, you should reapply a waterproofing spray or wax after cleaning them. Follow the manufacturer’s recommendations for the specific product you’re using.

Can I put my waterproof work boots in the sun to dry them out?

While sunlight can help dry out your boots, avoid leaving them in direct sunlight for prolonged periods, as it can cause the materials to deteriorate. Opt for a well-ventilated area to air dry your boots instead.

How often should I clean my work boots to prevent odors?

The frequency of cleaning depends on usage. In general, it’s a good practice to clean and deodorize your work boots regularly, especially if you notice any signs of odors or dirt buildup.

What should I do if my work boots still smell after cleaning them?

If the odor persists, consider using specialized boot odor spray inserts or consulting a professional for more intensive cleaning and deodorizing options.

Can I use scented sachets in my work boots to keep them smelling fresh?

Yes, scented sachets can be placed inside your boots when not in use to help maintain a pleasant scent. Just make sure they don’t contain any ingredients that may damage the boot materials.