We’ve all been there – you get caught in the rain or have to trek through puddles, and your boots get soaked. When they eventually dry out, you’re left with a lingering funky odor emanating from your footwear.

If you need a quick solution, stuffing your boots with newspaper or baking soda can help absorb moisture and smell. But in this comprehensive guide, we’ll explore 10 tips and tricks for deep cleaning your boots to banish even the worst foot stench.

Wet boots smell bad because moisture gets trapped inside the boot material, allowing odor-causing bacteria and fungi to thrive. To get rid of both the excess moisture and the microbes causing odor, you’ll need to fully dry out your boots and disinfect the interior.

With the right supplies and techniques, you can de-stink your boots and keep them fresh for many wears to come.

Assess the Damage

Inspect your boots closely – are they merely damp or thoroughly soaked?

Before you start tackling the smell, it’s important to assess the extent of the damage. Take a close look at your boots and determine if they are just damp or thoroughly soaked. If they are only slightly wet, you may be able to remove the smell with some simple remedies.

However, if they are completely soaked, you might need to take more drastic measures to eliminate the odor.

Check for visible mold or mildew inside the boots

Mold and mildew can quickly develop in wet boots, leading to an unpleasant smell. Take a flashlight and carefully inspect the inside of your boots for any signs of mold or mildew. If you spot any, it’s important to address the issue promptly to prevent further growth and eliminate the odor.

Mold and mildew can be harmful to your health, so it’s crucial to take action.

Identify what parts of the boot got wet – just the footbed, or up the sides too?

Understanding which parts of your boots got wet can help you determine the best approach to get rid of the smell. If only the footbed is wet, you may be able to focus your efforts on drying and deodorizing that specific area.

However, if the water has seeped up the sides of the boots or into the lining, you’ll need to take additional steps to ensure the entire boot is thoroughly cleaned and deodorized.

For more information on how to properly clean and deodorize wet boots, you can visit REI’s website where they provide detailed instructions and tips on how to eliminate odor from wet footwear.

Dry Thoroughly

One of the most important steps in getting rid of the smell from wet boots is to ensure they are dried thoroughly. Here are some effective methods to achieve this:

Remove laces and insoles if possible

Before starting the drying process, it is recommended to remove the laces and insoles from your boots. This will allow better airflow and ensure that all parts of the boots are exposed to the drying methods you’ll be using.

Stuff boots with newspaper or paper towels to absorb moisture

Take some newspaper or paper towels and crumple them up into small balls. Stuff these balls into your wet boots, filling them up as much as possible. The paper will help absorb the moisture from the boots and aid in the drying process.

Set boots in front of a fan or dehumidifier to accelerate drying

Placing your wet boots in front of a fan can help to speed up the drying process. The airflow from the fan will help evaporate the moisture from the boots. Alternatively, if you have a dehumidifier, you can place the boots near it to remove excess moisture from the air.

Use a boot dryer if you have one

If you have a boot dryer, this can be an excellent tool to dry your wet boots. Simply insert the boots into the dryer, following the manufacturer’s instructions. The dryer will blow warm air into the boots, effectively drying them from the inside out.

By following these steps and ensuring your boots are thoroughly dried, you can effectively get rid of the smell caused by wetness. Remember, it’s important to act quickly as leaving your boots wet for an extended period can lead to mold and mildew growth, which can cause further odors and damage to your boots.

Freshen with Baking Soda

Sprinkle baking soda liberally inside damp boots

One effective way to get rid of the smell from wet boots is by using baking soda. Baking soda is a natural deodorizer that can help absorb and neutralize odors. To freshen up your boots, simply sprinkle a generous amount of baking soda inside the damp boots, making sure to cover the entire interior.

Did you know? Baking soda is not only great for removing odors, but it also has many other household uses, such as cleaning and unclogging drains!

Let baking soda sit overnight to absorb odors

After sprinkling the baking soda inside your damp boots, it’s important to let it sit overnight. This will give the baking soda enough time to absorb the unpleasant odors. Covering the boots with a clean towel or placing them in a well-ventilated area will help prevent the baking soda from being disturbed.

Pro tip: For extra odor absorption, you can also place a small sachet filled with baking soda inside the boots before allowing them to sit overnight.

Dump out baking soda in the morning

In the morning, simply turn your boots upside down and gently tap them to remove the excess baking soda. You can also use a soft brush or cloth to wipe away any residue. Once the baking soda has been removed, your boots should smell much fresher and cleaner.

Expert tip: If you’re still experiencing some lingering odor, you can repeat the baking soda treatment or try other methods, such as using odor-absorbing inserts or using a shoe deodorizer spray.

Remember, keeping your boots clean and dry is key to preventing odors from forming in the first place. Additionally, allowing your boots to fully dry after each use and storing them in a well-ventilated area can help prevent future odor issues.

Disinfect with Vinegar

If you’re struggling with the unpleasant odor coming from your wet boots, vinegar can be a simple yet effective solution. Vinegar is known for its disinfecting properties and can help eliminate the smell by killing odor-causing bacteria and fungi.

Mix 1 part vinegar to 2 parts water in a spray bottle

To use vinegar as a remedy for smelly boots, start by mixing one part vinegar with two parts water in a spray bottle. This dilution helps to prevent any potential damage to the material of your boots while still providing the necessary cleaning power of vinegar.

Spritz vinegar solution inside boots and let sit for 15 minutes

Once you have your vinegar solution ready, spritz the inside of your wet boots with the mixture. Make sure to evenly distribute the solution throughout the interior of the boots. After spraying, allow the vinegar solution to sit for about 15 minutes.

This will give the vinegar enough time to penetrate the fabric and effectively kill any odor-causing bacteria and fungi.

Vinegar kills odor-causing bacteria and fungi

Vinegar is a natural disinfectant that has been used for centuries to kill germs and eliminate odors. Its acidic nature helps to break down the cell membranes of bacteria and fungi, effectively neutralizing their odor-causing properties.

By using vinegar to clean and disinfect your wet boots, you can eliminate the source of the smell and prevent it from returning.

Rinse out vinegar thoroughly before wearing again

After allowing the vinegar solution to sit for 15 minutes, it’s important to thoroughly rinse out your boots before wearing them again. Use clean water to rinse off any remaining vinegar residue and ensure that no lingering odor is left behind.

Once rinsed, allow your boots to air dry completely before storing or wearing them.

Pro Tip: For an extra boost in odor elimination, you can sprinkle some baking soda inside your boots after rinsing out the vinegar. Baking soda is known for its ability to absorb odors, and leaving it in your boots overnight can help remove any lingering smells.

By following these simple steps and using vinegar as a disinfectant, you can effectively get rid of the smell from your wet boots. Remember to always check the care instructions for your specific boots to ensure that vinegar is safe to use on the material.

Deodorize with Activated Charcoal

When it comes to getting rid of the smell from wet boots, activated charcoal is your secret weapon. This natural odor absorber has been used for years to eliminate unwanted smells, making it an ideal solution for stinky footwear.

Activated charcoal absorbs smells extremely effectively

Activated charcoal is a highly porous substance that contains millions of tiny pores. These pores are what make activated charcoal so effective at absorbing odors. When placed in your wet boots, the charcoal works like a sponge, attracting and trapping odor-causing molecules, leaving your boots smelling fresh and clean.

Place charcoal bags or loose charcoal inside boots

There are a couple of ways you can use activated charcoal to deodorize your wet boots. One option is to use charcoal bags, which are small, breathable pouches filled with activated charcoal. Simply place one or two bags inside each boot, making sure they are distributed evenly.

Alternatively, you can use loose charcoal by pouring it into a clean sock or a breathable fabric pouch and placing it inside the boots.

Let sit overnight to allow absorption

Once you have placed the activated charcoal in your wet boots, it’s important to give it enough time to work its magic. Leave the boots undisturbed overnight, allowing the charcoal to absorb the odors completely.

This will give the charcoal enough time to effectively neutralize the smell and leave your boots smelling fresh.

Tap out excess charcoal in the morning

In the morning, remove the boots and gently tap them to remove any excess charcoal. You can do this outside or over a sink to prevent any mess. Be sure to tap both the inside and outside of the boots to ensure all the excess charcoal is removed.

Once you’ve done this, your boots should be odor-free and ready to wear.

Remember: Activated charcoal is a safe and natural way to eliminate odors, so you don’t have to worry about any harmful chemicals or fragrances coming into contact with your skin.

For more information on the benefits of activated charcoal and other natural deodorizing methods, you can visit Healthline’s article on activated charcoal.

Freshen Insoles

One effective way to get rid of the smell from wet boots is to freshen the insoles. Here are some steps you can follow:

Remove insoles and wash with laundry detergent

The first step is to remove the insoles from your boots. This will allow you to clean them separately, ensuring a thorough cleaning. You can wash the insoles with some laundry detergent and warm water. Scrub them gently to remove any dirt or odor-causing bacteria. Rinse them well and let them air dry.

Allow insoles to air dry completely before replacing

It’s important to let the insoles air dry completely before putting them back in your boots. This will prevent any moisture from getting trapped, which can lead to a lingering smell. Find a well-ventilated area and place the insoles there, allowing them to dry naturally.

You can speed up the process by placing them near a fan or in a sunny spot, but avoid using direct heat sources like a hairdryer, as they can damage the material.

Sprinkle with baking soda for extra deodorizing power

If you want to add an extra boost of deodorizing power to your insoles, sprinkle them with baking soda. Baking soda is known for its ability to absorb odors. Simply sprinkle a generous amount of baking soda on the insoles and let it sit for a few hours or overnight.

Then, shake off the excess and put the insoles back in your boots. The baking soda will help neutralize any remaining smells.

Remember, prevention is key to keeping your boots smelling fresh. After wearing them, make sure to remove any moisture by drying them out thoroughly. You can also consider using odor-absorbing products like activated charcoal or shoe deodorizer sprays.

By taking these steps, you can enjoy odor-free boots and keep your feet happy and comfortable.

Clean Exteriors

One of the first steps to getting rid of the smell from wet boots is to clean the exteriors. As moisture can cause bacteria and odor to develop, it’s important to remove any dirt or grime that may be contributing to the smell.

Spot clean exteriors with a damp cloth

Start by using a damp cloth to spot clean the exteriors of your wet boots. Gently wipe away any visible dirt or mud, paying extra attention to the areas where odor may be more concentrated, such as the soles and the toe box.

This will help to remove any surface-level contaminants and freshen up the boots.

Use a small amount of mild soap if needed

If the smell persists after spot cleaning, you can use a small amount of mild soap to further clean the exteriors. Mix the soap with water to create a gentle cleaning solution. Dip the cloth into the solution, wring out any excess liquid, and then use it to wipe down the boots.

Be sure to rinse off any soap residue with a clean, damp cloth.

Stuff with newspaper while drying to retain shape

After cleaning the exteriors, it’s important to properly dry your wet boots. One effective method is to stuff them with newspaper. The newspaper will help to absorb excess moisture and retain the shape of the boots while they dry.

Make sure to change the newspaper periodically until the boots are completely dry.

Pro Tip: If you’re in a hurry and need to speed up the drying process, you can also place the boots near a fan or use a hairdryer on a low heat setting. Just be sure to keep a safe distance to avoid damaging the boots.

By following these steps to clean the exteriors of your wet boots, you can effectively get rid of the smell and prevent any further odor from developing. Remember to always allow your boots to dry completely before wearing them again to avoid any discomfort or potential damage.

Use UV Light

One effective method to get rid of the smell from wet boots is by using UV light. UV light, specifically UVC lamps, can kill bacteria and mold that cause odors. These lamps emit a type of ultraviolet light that is capable of destroying the DNA of microorganisms, preventing them from reproducing and eliminating the source of the smell.

UVC lamps kill bacteria and mold that cause odors

Bacteria and mold thrive in moist environments, which is why wet boots can become a breeding ground for these odor-causing microorganisms. However, UVC lamps have been proven to effectively kill these bacteria and mold, reducing or completely eliminating the unpleasant smell.

According to a study conducted by researchers at the University of Leeds, UVC light can be used to disinfect surfaces and kill up to 99.9% of bacteria and mold. This makes it a highly effective method for eliminating the smell from wet boots.

Shine UVC light inside boots for 5-10 minutes

To use UV light to get rid of the smell from wet boots, simply shine the UVC light inside the boots for about 5-10 minutes. Make sure to cover all areas where moisture may be present, such as the toe box and the insole.

It’s important to note that UVC light can be harmful to the eyes and skin, so it’s crucial to take proper safety precautions when using it. Avoid direct exposure to the light and wear protective eyewear and gloves if necessary.

Take proper safety precautions – avoid eye/skin exposure

When using UVC lamps, it’s important to take proper safety precautions to avoid eye and skin exposure. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommends keeping a safe distance from the UVC light source and avoiding direct exposure to the eyes and skin.

Additionally, it’s essential to follow the manufacturer’s instructions when using UVC lamps to ensure safe and effective use. These lamps should only be used in well-ventilated areas and should not be used on living organisms.

For more information on the safe use of UVC lamps, you can visit the FDA’s website at www.fda.gov.

Employ Odor-Eating Insoles

When it comes to getting rid of the smell from wet boots, one effective solution is to use odor-eating insoles. These insoles are designed to absorb the unpleasant odors that can occur when boots get wet.

By inserting odor-eating insoles into your boots, you can significantly reduce the smell and keep your feet feeling fresh.

Insoles with activated charcoal absorb foot smells

One type of odor-eating insole that is highly effective is the one infused with activated charcoal. Activated charcoal has the ability to absorb and neutralize odors, making it a popular choice for combating foot smells.

The porous structure of activated charcoal helps to trap odor-causing particles, leaving your boots smelling clean and fresh.

Activated charcoal insoles are designed to fit comfortably inside your boots, ensuring that they come into contact with the source of the odor. As your feet sweat, the activated charcoal works to absorb the moisture and any accompanying odors, leaving your boots smelling much better.

Replace your insoles with odor-fighting versions

If you already have insoles in your boots but are still struggling with the smell, it may be time to replace them with odor-fighting versions. There are several brands on the market that specifically target foot odors, using innovative materials and technologies to combat the problem.

Look for insoles that are specifically designed to fight odors and have a proven track record of success. They may be made with special fabrics or have antimicrobial properties to help prevent the growth of odor-causing bacteria.

By investing in high-quality odor-fighting insoles, you can effectively eliminate the smell from your wet boots.

Change them regularly to maintain effectiveness

While odor-eating insoles can work wonders in getting rid of the smell from wet boots, it is important to remember that they are not a permanent solution. Over time, the insoles will become saturated with moisture and odor-causing particles, diminishing their effectiveness.

To maintain the odor-fighting power of your insoles, it is recommended to change them regularly. This will ensure that you always have fresh, effective insoles in your boots. The frequency of replacement will depend on how often you wear your boots and how much they are exposed to moisture.

Pay attention to any signs of odor returning and replace the insoles as needed.

By employing odor-eating insoles, you can effectively combat the smell from wet boots and keep your feet feeling fresh and odor-free. Whether you choose insoles with activated charcoal or opt for odor-fighting versions, regularly changing them will help maintain their effectiveness.

Say goodbye to smelly boots and hello to fresh, comfortable feet!

Let Air Out Between Wears

One of the most effective ways to get rid of the smell from wet boots is to let them air out between wears. After wearing your boots, make sure to never store them tightly sealed. This will trap in the moisture and odor, making it difficult to eliminate the smell.

Instead, remove any insoles or inserts from the boots and leave them in a well-ventilated area. This will allow fresh air to circulate inside the boots, helping to dry them out and reduce any lingering odors.

Never store boots tightly sealed after wearing

Storing wet boots tightly sealed can lead to the growth of bacteria and mold, which can cause unpleasant odors. To prevent this, always make sure to loosen the laces and open up the boots to allow them to air out.

Additionally, avoid storing wet boots in plastic bags or containers, as this can further trap in moisture and make the smell worse. Instead, place them in a dry area with good airflow to help them dry out more quickly.

Allow fresh air to circulate inside boots

Proper ventilation is key to getting rid of the smell from wet boots. When you take off your boots, remove any insoles or inserts and give them a chance to air out. You can place them near an open window or outside in a shaded area (if weather permits).

This will allow fresh air to circulate inside the boots, helping to dry them out and eliminate any odors. Additionally, consider using a boot dryer or placing them near a fan to speed up the drying process.

Stuff with crumpled newspaper to absorb moisture and odor

If your boots are still damp and smelly after airing them out, try stuffing them with crumpled newspaper. Newspaper is highly absorbent and can help to soak up any remaining moisture and odor. Place the crumpled newspaper inside the boots and leave it overnight.

In the morning, remove the newspaper and check if the boots are dry. If they are still damp, repeat the process with fresh newspaper until the boots are completely dry and odor-free.

Remember, it’s important to take care of your boots to prevent the smell from wet conditions. If you notice a persistent odor or signs of mold, it may be necessary to seek professional help or consider replacing the boots.

Taking proactive steps to prevent moisture buildup and regularly cleaning and drying your boots can help keep them smelling fresh and extend their lifespan.


With the right combination of drying, disinfecting, deodorizing and cleaning methods, you can eliminate even the foulest foot stench from your trusty boots. Just be sure to thoroughly dry waterlogged boots right away to prevent mold growth.

Attack odor proactively by employing moisture-wicking insoles and never sealing up boots after a wear. Follow these tips, and you can confidently trek through whatever Mother Nature throws your way while keeping your boots – and your feet – smelling fresh.

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