How to clean smelly ballroom dance shoes

Smelly Dance Shoes? How to Keep Your Dance Shoes Odor-Free – Yami Dance Shoes

 Photo Credit: The Solemates

It’s one thing to keep your favorite pair of dancing shoes pristine before and after storage but how do you deal with the smell? 

It’s all about bacterial growth, unfortunately. When you’re dancing, the feet sweat, and the feet sweat a lot, surprisingly! That’s because there are about 250,000 sweat glands in the feet. On a normal day, you'll sweat about half a pint in a day. Now imagine if you've been dancing a lot in a single social dance event, you’ll get sweat feet for sure!

Because moisture gets trapped in the material, bacteria start breeding in your shoes. The bacteria end up multiplying because of the damp, dank environment, and eventually, the shoes start to reek.

The odor could go away when you’ve been religiously cleaning and deep-cleaning your shoes. Also, you need to air out your shoes if they’ve been stored for a long time to reduce the odor and avoid the risk of mold growth.  

How to Eliminate Bad Shoe Odors

To eliminate shoe odors, you need to address the root cause of the problem: bacterial growth. There are loads of solutions for removing bad shoe odors. If you want to go the all-natural route, here are our recommendations:

Choose the Right Material

Some materials are prone to developing bad smells like genuine leather. Organic materials like leather tends to absorb more moisture and if you're not cleaning your Bachata dance shoes properly, it will turn into a cesspool of bacteria real soon!

Thankfully, our comfortable dance shoes are made with microfiber materials. Microfiber is more resistant to moisture. The material won't absorb moisture like genuine suede. Also, microfiber is very easy to clean! Just air your Yami dance shoes out and they're ready for the next social dance.

Proper Storage

Photo Credit: Martha Stewart

Storing your Zouk dance shoes is essential in eliminating odors. Ideally, you want to store your shoes in a spot with excellent ventilation to let the materials breathe. We do not recommend storing your Latin dance shoes in a box because the material might degrade from the accumulated moisture. Yami dance shoes come with their own dust bags. Our shoe bags are made from breathable mesh material that lets air circulated, keeping your shoes dry and fresh-smelling even during long storage! The shoe bag also protects your comfy dance shoes from dust!

Keep Your Feet Clean and Dry

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Don’t wear your favorite dance shoes if your feet aren’t clean because you’ll be ruining them with bad odors pretty soon! Keeping your feet clean and dry is essential in minimizing bad odors. 

Before wearing your shoes, wash your feet thoroughly with soap and water. Then, dry your feet thoroughly before putting them on - especially the area in between your toes. If your feet are very sweaty, we highly suggest soaking them in a hot bath with Epsom salt. Epsom salt keeps the feet fresh-smelling while also soothing tired, achy muscles!

Better Ventilation

To prevent bacterial growth, be selective about the shoe materials. Thankfully, our Yami dance shoes are made with breathable yet durable materials so they are very resistant to bad smells. It helps that the open-toe design ensures optimal air circulation, inhibiting mold, and bacterial growth!

On the other hand, if you’re using closed shoes, you have to air these out before and after use. We also suggest wearing shoes with perforated uppers if your feet are extra sweaty to keep them dry as you dance the night away. We have a collection of Latin dance shoes with laser-cut details, these are perfect for anyone with sweaty feet.

Let the Shoes Rest

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No matter how much you LOVE your favorite shoes, you have to give them a rest regularly to inhibit bacterial growth. Ideally, you have to air out your shoes for at least 24 hours after wearing them. Airing out the shoes help eliminate sweat that bacteria loves. Bacteria will die when they’re deprived of moisture.

A Sprinkle of Baking Soda

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If the smell is so bad that airing out your shoes doesn’t cut it anymore, try sprinkling baking soda into your shoes. This will keep those nasty germs away! Baking soda is a natural germ killer and deodorizer. A couple of teaspoons of baking soda in your shoes overnight should eliminate bad odors. You can also apply baking soda all over your feet, along with some deodorant to keep your feet smelling fresh. 

A Spritz of Vinegar

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A terrific alternative to baking soda is vinegar. Vinegar is an effective germ killer and deodorizer. Since vinegar is acidic, you have to dilute the solution in water. We suggest combining equal parts water and vinegar in a spritz bottle. Give it a good shake and then spray on the insides of the shoes. Spritz away but not too much that the shoes become sopping wet! Leave the shoes to air dry.

One thing though, since vinegar is quite acidic, it may cause discoloration on some shoes. Avoid spraying the solution all over the uppers, you might ruin a good pair of Kizomba dance shoes!


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Dried flowers and peels should be enough to mask mild odors. Citrus peels, a bag of dried lavender, or herbs with a few drops of fresh-smelling essential oils should be enough to keep your favorite Zouk dancing shoes smelling good for longer. You can make your own potpourri using empty tea bags, just fill the bag with dried herbs and flowers. Insert the tea bag inside the toe area then let sit overnight. 

Bad shoe odors are normal especially for us folks who are addicted to social dances! But to keep your favorite Bachata dance shoes smelling fresh, try any of these tips. Not only are you eliminating bad odors, you could also extend the life of your favorite Latin dance shoes.  

Sweat could distort the shape of the shoes and in extreme cases, weaken the material or stitching of the shoes. By keeping your favorite Bachata dance shoes dry, you can use the dancing shoes for a much longer time. 

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10 Proven Ways How To Clean Smelly Dance Shoes – Dancewear Tips

Don’t we all love the smell of brand new dance shoes that we just purchased but absolutely hate it when they start smelling bad, and we are looking to get rid of them so we could buy a new pair of dance shoes. It is not always possible to keep your dance shoes smell lovely as the day you bought them but there some proven techniques to clean your smelly dance shoes that I will be discussing in this article. 

As we all know, dancing is a form of physical activity, so, naturally, we sweat, including our feet.  

It is not always possible to keep your shoes smell good, especially after hours of practice or dance night out, so I will provide you with helpful tips for getting the smell out of your dance shoes.

Why Do Dance Shoes Start To Smell Bad 

We sweat all over our body, but our body is always less smelly than our feet. The reason is that our feet are usually closed in shoes, and they cannot “breath”. This allows for moisture to seal and also creates an environment for the stinky bacteria to grow. 

When your feet can’t breathe, the bacteria grows and spreads on your feet, making themselves at home in your favorite shoes. Bacteria release foul-smelling toxins, which are absorbed by your dance shoes, causing them to smell really bad. 

Unfortunately, some people sweat more than others, but it is entirely normal and natural to sweat. So there is nothing to be embarrassed about. There are some proven ways you can apply right now to reduce the amount of sweat and smell in your dance shoes that I will be discussing further in this article.  

To be honest, I am one of those people whose feet sweat a lot, and these techniques have worked wonders, not just for my dance shoes but for all kinds of shoes I own. You will save lots of money in the long run if you take care of your shoes properly. 

10 Ways How To Clean Smelly Dance Shoes

More commonly, smelly dance shoes will occur to females because we wear our shoes barefoot. On the other hand, men wear socks with their shoes, which helps to absorb sweat and moisture. 

It is entirely normal for your feet to sweat, especially while dancing. 

For example, Latin dance shoes are made of suede which acts like a sponge and absorbs all the moisture that your feet produce. The moisture tends to create bacteria that results in an unpleasant smell. 

Here are helpful tips on how to clean smelly dance shoes

  1. Use Baby Powder

 I’ve been using this trick for all of my shoes, especially when putting away shoes due to seasonal changes. Adding baby powder to the smelly shoes will eliminate the smell, but it will not eliminate the bacteria. This technique could be used as a temporary smell elimination until you implement something to eradicate the core issue, which is the bacteria.  

Make sure to apply the baby powder carefully inside the shoes only because it can leave a white stain if powder spreads outside the shoe. 

To apply baby powder inside the shoes, dip a cotton ball into the powder and gently and carefully apply it all over the shoe insides.

2. Use Baking Soda

Baking soda is very effective in cleaning smelly dance shoes because baking soda is a Ph neutralizer, which means that chemicals in baking soda are great at neutralizing the acids that cause shoes to smell. 

Sprinkle baking soda in your shoes and let it sit overnight. Then next day, remove baking soda carefully by dampening it with a paper towel. Be cautious when using baking soda on the leather dance shoes because it could dry them out. 

Instead of sprinkling baking soda into the shoes, you could put two tablespoons of the baking soda into old socks, tie them up in a knot and leave the socks inside the shoes overnight. Remove the socks in the morning, and you will notice the difference in smell. This technique will be less messy than the first one because you don’t have to remove the baking soda from the shoes.

3. Try Essential Oils 

Essential oils are very effective in eliminating an odor in shoes and will leave them smelling lovely. Many essential oils have anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties, killing the bacteria in the shoes that cause the smell. Just add a few drops of essential oils onto a cotton ball or tissue and rub it on the inside of your shoes and leave overnight. 

The best essential oils to eliminate odor in shoes are lemongrass, tea tree, clove leaf, lavender, eucalyptus, and peppermint.

4. Freeze Your Dance Shoes

The freezing temperature will kill the bacteria that cause the odor in your shoes. Put your dance shoes in a large resealable bag and leave them in the freezer overnight, and it will kill the bacteria.

5. Use Tea Bags

Black and green tea contain tannins that will work effectively in killing the bacteria that cause the odor in your shoes. Leave the teabag in hot water for at least three minutes. Remove the tea bag from the cup and let it cool completely. Place the tea bag in your shoes for an hour, and it will work as a natural deodorizer. Remove any excess moisture that came out from the tea bag with a paper towel.

6. Use Alcohol 

Alcohol will eliminate the odor and will disinfect your shoes. Put a little bit of alcohol in a spray bottle mixed with water and spray a small amount into the shoe. It will eliminate the bacteria growing inside the shoe. 

Add a few drops of tea tree oil into alcohol and water mix for optimal results. Also, tea tree oil will reduce the strong alcohol smell. 

7. Insert Fabric Softener Sheet 

Insert fabric softener sheets into your dance shoes and leave them overnight to eliminate odor. Don’t forget to take them out before putting shoes on. You could also put a dryer sheet into your shoe bag to neutralize the smell from the bag.  

Please note that the fabric softener sheets will neutralize the smell, but it won’t kill the bacteria. So, make sure you apply other techniques I have mentioned here to get rid of the smell’s root cause, which is the bacteria build-up. 

8. Use Enzyme Cleaners

Enzyme cleaners are very effective at killing the bacteria growing in your dance shoes and cause the odor. You can use store-bought enzyme cleaners or make your own. Here is an excellent article on how to make the DYI enzyme cleaner. 

Although enzyme cleaners can do wonders in killing the bacteria and eliminating the odor in your shoes, I would recommend being very careful because these enzymes could cause a skin reaction. Freeze your shoes overnight after applying enzyme cleaners, so the enzymes get eliminated, reducing your skin reaction. 

9. Look For The Cause Of Smell 

Find the root cause of the odor in your dance shoes. Examine your shoes before you try to treat the smell. If you have damaged insoles, either take them out and dry them. You could purchase new insoles and replace the old ones. If your dance shoes are very old and too worn out, then the best bet would be to replace the shoes altogether.       

10. Insert Skin Of A Citrus Fruit

Cut a small piece of citrus fruit skin such as oranges, lemon, grapefruit, or lime peel into your dance shoes overnight. These citrus fruits have a fantastic smell because of their natural essential oils. Your dance shoes will smell much better, but they will not eliminate the bacteria. To eliminate the bacteria, please use other techniques I mentioned earlier. 

Some people would suggest for ladies to wear socks because socks absorb excess sweat. I would not recommend wearing socks in your dance shoes because it does not look good and will not feel comfortable and stylish. Also, wearing socks in your dance shoes for a more extended period of time could stretch your shoes out.  

I would definitely recommend that men wear socks in their shoes because the feet will be more comfortable, look more presentable, and the socks will absorb the sweat that could lead to bacteria growth within the shoes and cause the shoes to smell very bad. 

How To Prevent Your Dance Shoes From Smelling Bad 

Here are steps you can take now to keep your dance shoes nice and fresh as soon as you purchase them. 

  • Keep Your Feet Dry

You can keep your feet dry while wearing dance shoes by apply antiperspirant on the bottom of your feet or apply hand sanitizer. It will keep your feet dry for a more extended period of time. 

  • Rotate Your Shoes

If you are dancing more than once a week, I would suggest getting a few pairs of dance shoes and rotate them during your dance sessions. Rotating dance shoes will allow them enough time to dry and reduces the growth of bacteria that occur when shoes are dry enough, and you put them on again.  

  • Dry Shoes After Use

After each use, you could dry your dance shoes with a hairdryer. It will dry off moisture and will stop bacteria growth. 

  • Store Dance Shoes Properly

Store your dance shoes in a cool and dry place, so it doesn’t accumulate moisture. Take your shoes out of the shoe beg as soon as you arrive home. Let your dance shoes breathe somewhere ventilated for at least 24 hours after each use. I would recommend putting your dance shoes in the direct sunlight occasionally. However, be careful not to leave leather dance shoes out in the sun for a very long time. It could damage them. 

  • Keep Your Feet Dry

Do not put on your dance shoes immediately after showering because water between your toes can encourage bacteria. Dry your feet, including moisture between your toes. 

  • Use Foot Powder

Whenever possible, use foot powder to absorb any excess sweat. I would recommend Squeaky Cheeks from Amazon because it effectively removes odors from shoes and reduces foot sweat. 

  • Stuff Your Dance Shoes With Newspapers

This technique may seem odd, but it works. Stuffing newspapers into your dance shoes is one of the best ways to absorb excess moisture while maintaining the shoes’ shape. 

  • Wash Your Feet

I know that this one may seem an obvious one, but washing your feet thoroughly and properly will combat the feet’ odor. During hot summer days, your feet may need extra care because the bacteria on your feet may just be multiplying if you don’t follow proper foot hygiene. 

Once in the shower, lather up the sole of your feet with soap. Do not miss between the toes. Rinse your feet with water, and dry your feet thoroughly, including toes. If you have to step into the shoes immediately, you could dry your feet with the hairdryer for extra dryness. 

Related Questions

Can I clean my dance shoes with water? It would be best if you never soaked your dance shoes in water. Water will cause permanent damage to your shoes, and you will need to purchase a new pair of dance shoes. Dance shoes are made of special material intended for dancing, such as suede soles and insoles. Water would damage and ruin these shoes, and they wouldn’t be suitable for dancing anymore.

Can I machine wash my dance shoes? You should never wash your dance shoes in a laundry machine because it would wreck your shoes entirely. Dance shoes are made of special material intended for dancing, so the water and high impact of the laundry machine would leave your dance shoes unusable. 

Final Words

Getting rid of the bad smell from your favorite pair of dance shoes is not always easy, but it is attainable. Once you apply the techniques I mentioned, such as baking soda, alcohol, tea bags, baby powder, and others, it will kill the bacteria and eliminate the odor. It will leave your dance shoes to smell like new, and you will feel more comfortable wearing them.  

Happy dancing! 

How to get rid of bad smell in shoes: useful tips

When we buy a brand new pair of shoes, we all want them to stay dressy for longer. But sometimes, after a few days of wearing, we notice that our shoes have begun to emit an unpleasant smell. What to do if suddenly there is an unpleasant smell from the shoes? Let's approach the problem from several angles.

Folk remedies.

  1. Wipe the inside of shoes with cotton soaked in either vinegar or hydrogen peroxide. This is a fast and efficient way. But do not overdo it if you pour too much liquid on the disc, then you have to dry the shoes.
  2. If you are not allergic to oils, you can put a few drops of lavender oil or lemon juice on the insole. Both lavender and lemon juice kill odor-causing germs, and they also have a very pleasant scent.
  3. Tea bags. This method is common in the military when there is no other way to avoid the problem of sweat odor. Leave the tea bags overnight and remove them in the morning. Tea has an amazing ability to absorb any smell like a sponge (which is why tea was previously transported only on special merchant ships, so that tea would not smell like something else besides tea).
  4. Soda, baby powder, activated charcoal. All of these products are surprisingly hygroscopic (capable of absorbing moisture, which is a beneficial environment for the growth of bacteria that cause odor). What should be done? Just pour one of the products into the boot at night (the coal, of course, must be crushed), and in the morning either shake it out into a bucket, or quickly vacuum the boot. If you don't want to mess around with the vacuum cleaner, then use the following tip: put the crushed coal in a new canvas bag.
  5. Freeze shoes. If it is a frosty winter outside, then shoes can simply be taken out to the balcony for the night. If the winter is warm and rainy (or even summer in the yard), then we put the shoes in the refrigerator for the night. In cold conditions, the bacteria that cause the smell of sweat die. Just do not forget in the first and second cases, before freezing the shoes, remove the insoles from it.
  6. Dry with a hair dryer or dry well on a radiator. Option opposite to the previous one. But in this case, you first need to remove the insoles from boots or shoes.
  7. Mint leaves, sage leaves, crushed oak bark will also help you quickly deal with unpleasant odors. It is enough to put them inside the shoes at night. If there are no fresh leaves, then dried ones are quite suitable. Just put them in a canvas or linen bag.
  8. If your shoes have been left in a damp room for a long time, then an unpleasant smell of mold will appear. Getting rid of it is somewhat more difficult, but also possible. The first thing to do is to wash the shoes well inside and out with soapy water. Next, you need to wipe the shoes with a chlorine solution (this will help to disinfect it). For the next step, take ammonia and vodka in equal proportions (no vodka: it can be easily replaced with diluted vinegar essence). With this solution, carefully wipe the shoes inside and out and then put them in a well-ventilated place to dry.
  9. Washing machine. This, of course, is not quite a “folk method”, rather a “modern”, but also quite common. If your shoes can be washed, then do it not by hand, but in a washing machine, using the desired washing mode for this.

Modern means.

  1. Deodorant sprays. There are a large number of them. A fairly effective remedy that acts on the cause of the smell at the molecular level. The cost of deodorants depends on their volume.
  2. Chlorhexidine (preferably 0.05% solution). Shoes need to be wiped on all sides, including the insoles. After processing, place your shoes or boots in a plastic bag for four hours. Then the shoes need to be dried for two days.
  3. "Formidron". This is a formaldehyde-based solution and can be bought at a pharmacy. It has an antiseptic and disinfectant. Pour into a spray bottle and spray from the inside. But be careful: the solution is quite toxic.
  4. Freshers and stickers with antibacterial properties are best suited for sports shoes. They will quickly rid your sneakers of the smell of sweat.
  5. Insoles. The main question that will arise before you is which insoles to choose. There are disposable, there are with activated carbon, antifungal, insoles made of natural linen non-woven material. The convenience of insoles is that you can forget to spray deodorant, but without insoles you definitely won’t go anywhere.

Well, in conclusion, I would like to say the following: it is always better to prevent than to correct. The problem is not with the shoes, but with our feet. Keep them clean.

If material resources allow, then it is better to buy a second pair of shoes so that you can dry your boots, shoes, sneakers more thoroughly. Then the shoes will stay clean and fresh longer.

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How to remove bad smell from shoes at home

The specific smell from shoes is familiar to everyone. It can appear not only after a hard day - some new clothes seem to retain an unpleasant smell forever, even if they are rarely used. It all depends on the quality of materials and proper care. A little folk wisdom will not hurt either.

If the shoes smell before wearing - glue or what they are made of, airing and drying thoroughly will help. Any pair after purchase is recommended to be washed, dried and treated with special impregnations - this can help.

A big plus of high-quality natural leather or suede shoes is that it not only protects the feet and deforms less over time, but also will not smell like cheap materials.

After wearing, it is low-quality leatherette or rag fabric that will absorb sweat. Poor-quality material cannot be called breathable and bacteria multiply in such shoes, which is why such amber appears.

It is also fraught with diseases of the legs. Even the insole should be of high quality - and special breathable ones are sold separately in stores.

For a quick fix, wash, dry and replace the insoles. If it doesn’t help, we remember folk remedies.

How to remove the smell at home?

In order to cope with the problem, it is not necessary to look for expensive means. Enough and what is in every home. Helps:

  • Wipe the inside of the product with a mixture of vodka and ammonia;
  • Pour baking soda into dry shoes, leave for an hour, remove residue and dry;
  • Place table salt inside for a few days;
  • Wipe the inside of the new thing with hydrogen peroxide, leave to dry. Suitable chlorhexidine or a solution of potassium permanganate;
  • Place green tea bags under new insoles, after dripping with essential oil;
  • Pour a mixture of soda and activated charcoal powder into cotton socks and place in shoes;
  • Use a mixture of peroxide, green tea and salicylic acid;
  • Add ground coffee or at least 7 activated charcoal tablets;
  • In this way, even semolina or synthetic cat litter is used;
  • Leave white clay inside for a day, wipe with a damp cloth. So any absorbents are used - talc, baby powder, salt.
  • Citrus peel will remove amber and give a pleasant aroma;
  • With vinegar, the situation is contradictory - it can enhance odors, however, it is often advised as a life-saving remedy. A cotton pad moistened with it is placed inside, the pair is wrapped in a bag and left for a day. The use of vinegar essence will be even more effective - but it cannot process rubber shoes.

You need to be careful with alcohol or peroxide - they are not used with all types of materials, so rub an inconspicuous area beforehand to see what the reaction will be.

So, peroxide changes color, but it disinfects perfectly. Baking soda works great with suede and athletic shoes.

Special professional shoe odor removers

Shoe stores sell not only creams and brushes for shoes. There are enough special tools that are designed to deal with the smell.

  • Apply all kinds of deodorants, they are available in the form of sprays, and in sticks and tablets. It is better that they are with antibacterial substances;
  • Buy scented insoles or buy antibacterial ones right away. They are disposable and work up to 20 hours, antifungal, with activated carbon (they must be dried after each use) and linen (constant drying is also necessary).

Before processing, clean the product with soapy water. If the manufacturer allows, you can wash it in the machine. Drying - only in the open air, stuff the shoes with newsprint, which will absorb water. Do not dry near heaters - too much heat will damage the boots.

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Shoe care instructions

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How to prevent a problem?

  1. Treat with water repellent;
  2. Clean and dry regularly;
  3. Change insoles every three months and dry them separately;
  4. Try to wear non-synthetic socks;
  5. Store in a dry place. In cold weather, use the balcony.
  6. Use the silica gel sachets that came with the kit;
  7. Treat with deodorant.
The smell does not arise just like that - it is the result of the vital activity of bacteria that multiply in a humid environment.

Therefore, you should dry your shoes well, do not forget about deodorants and do not wear wet shoes. In addition to taking care of the health of your feet and identifying a fungus, you also need to pay attention to such “little things” as the material of socks - everything is not easy with synthetics, socks should be 80% natural material.

If the problem is a fungal disease, there is a radical way to heal the skin. Cotton socks should be soaked in medical alcohol, put on and put on. This procedure should be repeated up to 10 days. Less radically - before going out, wipe the foot with a cotton pad moistened with alcohol for about 21 days.

When the reason is not the smell of sweat

Daily wear, diseases, heat or low-quality materials most often cause unpleasant amber, which then has to be fought. But sometimes the root of the problem is not only this.

Incorrect storage of shoes

This is another reason for odor. The new thing may be damp or moldy. Before storage, wash thoroughly, dry completely with soft paper and in a ventilated area, treat with impregnations (especially if it is suede or nubuck), stuff with paper and put in a box or linen bag with a sachet of silica gel. In winter, it is advised to keep shoes on the balcony.

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Store your shoes properly

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Pet tricks

If a pet is the cause of an unpleasant situation, all is not lost. Although it is believed that the consequences of cat urine cannot be removed, this is not so, you can save the product. Fabric shoes are washed with cold water, treated with potassium permanganate and washed, and then dried in the fresh air. If the skin is damaged - throw away the insoles, fill with peroxide, rinse well and dry.

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