How Do I Stop My Slippers from Smelling?

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Slippers are wonderful things. They are warm and cozy, they keep your feet clean and protected and wearing them can add years to the useful life of your home’s carpeting and floors. However, there is one thing that is not so great about slippers as time passes; when they begin to smell.

How do I stop my slippers from smelling? To make baking soda balls, stuff the toes of an old pair of socks then tie the ends. Put the ‘fake feet’ into the slippers and the baking soda will draw out any lingering smell and leave the slippers fresh.

But the slightly unfortunate truth is that there is no one size fits all solution for preventing slipper odor as how you do so depend very much upon what kind of slippers you have.

That having been said, let’s take a longer look at the issue of smelly slippers and odor prevention in a little more detail.

Why do slippers smell?

The last thing that anyone wants to think is that they have smelly feet. And most of us work very hard to try and ensure, as far as possible, that they don’t. By making use of shower gels and foot powders we try to keep our tootsies as clean and fresh as possible. But life gets in the way.

The simple fact is that everyone’s feet sweat. They have to. They contain sweat glands and they will sweat, just as your underarms do. For most people it’s just an occasional problem that happens when it’s been a hotter day (or the office heating has been turned up) that can be solved with clean socks and a shower. For others it happens more often and may indicate the presence of a medical condition known as plantar hyperhidrosis, aka excessive foot sweating.

But somehow, you’ll often find that even if your foot hygiene is very good that after a few months – or even a few weeks – of wear, your slippers start to get a little stinky. Which may not be such a huge problem if they are the ‘drug store’ slip on variety that only cost a few bucks and are not really designed for long wear anyway. But if you have invested in a good pair of slippers, which many of us do, then it can be really annoying.

So why do slippers smell more – and faster – than your outdoor shoes? The soft materials the average pair of slippers are made from do not help, as things like wool, fur, sheepskin and even soft leather draw sweat and dirt down into their fibers quickly, and once their bacteria begins to breed and makes the smell worse (yes, this is gross, we know)

The fact that most of us wear slippers without socks does not help either, as the barrier that exists between your feet and your footwear – the socks or pantyhose you usually wear with most of your outdoor shoes, just isn’t there.

So, how do I prevent slipper odor?

Before we get into the ins and outs of how to try and get the smell out of various kinds of slippers let’s spend some time talking about the basics of slipper odor prevention. After all, prevention is always better than cure, and if you can stop the stink before it starts that’s always a plus. Here are some great ways to help keep odor out of your slippers whatever kind you wear.

Practice better foot care

Sure, you shower every day, but how much attention do you really pay to your feet (other than assuming they are clean because you are standing in the shower?) That is not quite enough though, if you are trying to maintain squeaky clean, stink free feet. Dry skin and bacteria need to be scrubbed away, preferably with a pumice stone and an antibacterial soap.

While you might want to avoid making use of foot powders before you put on your soft slippers (because the powder may be absorbed by the softer materials and just leave them grimy) you could try a foot spray. They work in the same way as a standard spray on antiperspirant and as long as you allow the spray to dry for a few minutes won’t leave white marks on your slippers. 

Wear foot covers or no show socks

Even though you might be used to wearing slippers without socks, and probably prefer it that way, if you are trying to keep your slippers odor free putting a barrier between your feet and the soft materials of the slipper’s insole can help a great deal.

You don’t have to wear bulky socks though (and probably shouldn’t as they might get stinky too) but if you wear thin, no show socks – or pantyhose style foot covers, both of which are inexpensive and rather cool to wear you will be helping to keep your slippers smelling nicer longer. You can now also buy very low-cut socks that are perfect for wear with slippers called Mocc Socks (yes, designed for wear with moccasins) that are actually rather stylish as well. 

Make use of baking soda ‘balls’

Baking soda is pretty amazing stuff, and it can be put to dozens of great uses. In fact, more people buy baking soda for household cleaning purposes than ever do to actually make use of the stuff when cooking! As it’s a great odor absorber it can be very helpful when it comes to stinky slippers. Not only can it help fix the problem (more about that later) but by making use of ‘baking soda balls’ it can help prevent it too.

To make baking soda balls, stuff the toes of an old pair of socks then tie the ends. Put the ‘fake feet’ into the slippers and the baking soda will draw out any lingering smell and leave the slippers fresh. Do this every day and your slippers should stay stink free for months.

My slippers already smell. Now what?

So, you are reading this a little too late and your slippers already smell. Your favorite slippers, slippers that were not very cheap. There is lots of wear left in them, but the smell is starting to make them a little hard to wear. Can they be saved?

The answer is maybe. It’s harder to work on deodorizing slippers than standard shoes because they are made from soft materials. For example, adding foot powder to the inners of your furry slippers is not going to work as the fur may smell better but it will end up very grimy.

So, what can save smelly slippers? Here are some tried and tested suggestions for slippers in general, no matter what style or material:

Try the baking soda trick again

If you were trying to deodorize outdoor shoes that have a rigid leather insole you could simply sprinkle in baking powder to absorb odors and then wipe it out again when the ‘magic’ white powder had done its job. In the case of most slippers that is not an option though.

What you can do however is make use of the baking soda balls again, but with a slight modification. Because you need the baking powder to work harder – ie absorb more odor – you’ll need to use a thinner material than a sock. The foot cut off an old pair of pantyhose would work well, or, if you have access to it, add the baking powder to a cheesecloth bag.

This time place the baking soda ‘feet’ into your slippers for 12 – 24 hours. In many cases that will be more than enough time to absorb lingering odors and leave the slippers smelling much fresher without spoiling their looks.

Try dryer sheets

Dryer sheets can be helpful when trying to get rid of ‘slipper smell’ as well. Choose a good quality dryer sheet – one that has a nice, strong scent that you can stand. If you don’t want your slippers to smell like roses don’t choose a floral, go for a ‘fresh linen’ scent instead, which is a nice, neutral smell that has a clean scent without being girly.

Stuff the slippers with the dryer sheets and leave them in place for at least 12 hours. It should be noted that this will usually scent the slippers but not be quite as effective as the baking soda balls we have described at actually removing odor rather than just masking it. Therefore, you might want to use the two methods together – baking soda to remove the odor, dryer sheets to add a pleasant scent – for the best possible results.

Try the freezer

This is an old trick from Grandma’s day that can actually be very effective, but only for slippers that are a little more rigid in construction (ie leather or rubber slippers or moccasins or those made from washable materials)

The idea is to place your stinky slippers in an airtight Ziploc bag and then leave them in the freezer overnight. The extreme cold will kill the nasty odor causing bacteria and when you take the slippers out (and let them defrost slightly, the reason this method is probably not suitable for wool slippers that may shrink when wet) they will smell fresh again (hopefully)

How do you get the smell out of wool slippers?

Some of the most comfortable, luxurious and yet often expensive slippers are either made out of, or lined with, wool. While wool is an all-natural material that is durable, very comfortable against the skin and very cozy it can also be rather hard to take care of properly, especially when it is used as a part of the construction of your favorite slippers.

And there is an added wrinkle with wool. Wool is really absorbent. That means that any bacteria and odor in your wool slippers is probably ‘buried’ deeper into the insoles than might be the case with other kinds of slippers, which does mean, unfortunately, that it may be a bit harder to get out.

The key here again? Baking soda. The great thing about wool is that it can be vacuumed. Yes, you read it right, vacuumed. This will allow you to make use of baking soda to remove odor directly, the most efficient way of all to use the versatile white powder to remove the smell for good.

Making sure that you own a vacuum cleaner with a brush attachment that is small enough for use inside your slippers sprinkle a layer of baking soda into/onto the insoles of your slippers and leave in place overnight. When you wake up – or after 8-12 hours or so, shake each slipper over a trash can to remove most of the baking powder and then, making use of the vacuum attachment, hoover out the rest.

An alternative method some people recommend is to handwash the slippers in a gentle baby detergent. However, the problem there is that they must be dried off as quickly as possible to avoid shrinkage and mold (yes, wet wool slippers can quite easily develop mold) so if you want to try that method do so with great care. And we would recommend trying the baking soda method first.

How do you get the smell out of rubber slippers?

Rubber slippers – aka Crocs – are becoming more and more popular for use as slippers. And if you live in a warmer area of the country that can be a great idea as they are ventilated and cool. But, when worn for a long period of time they can get rather stinky. It may seem like that just simply washing the Crocs in soap and water would do the trick, but often it will not.

To really get the smell out of rubber slippers you can try making use of a detergent solution that contains – you guessed it – baking soda. To create this ‘magic’ formula make a paste of baking soda and vinegar — three parts white vinegar to one part baking soda. If you want to make this paste even more effective – and you have access to it – add a few drops of tea tree oil as well, as that is a powerful antibacterial and antifungal that can get your rubber slippers even cleaner.

Making use of a toothbrush, spread the paste onto the inside of the slippers.  Allow the paste to sit for five to ten minutes and then place the slippers in a bucket of cool water for two to three hours. After that time has passed remove the rubber slippers and then rinse away the paste and blot the slippers dry with paper towels.

How can you deodorize leather slippers?

Leather slippers are another popular, higher end slipper option that is especially popular with guys. Again, however, unfortunately when it comes to getting stinky over time they are far from immune. And as leather footwear tends to need a little extra specialist care anyway it can be hard to know how to remove the smell without damaging the leather itself, especially as when leather gets wet it can stain and shrink fairly easily.

Some people try the freezer trick, but with varying degrees of success. It will do its job, but you do run the risk that the moisture will sit long enough to damage the leather, so it is probably not advisable. If the smell isn’t too bad (yet) you can also try the baking soda balls method described earlier.

One of the most effective methods however is to make use of a store bought specialist leather cleaner. While there are lots of DIY suggestions out there – washing the insides of the slippers with a mild detergent solution is another – as leather slippers do tend to be very expensive ridding them of odor is often simply worth leaving up to the ‘professionals’.

So, Is the real key to fresh smelling slippers prevention?

Absolutely. If you take steps to prevent odors from occurring at all, right from the beginning when you first buy your slippers, then you really do stand the best chance of keeping them fresh and sweet smelling longer. And as you can see, doing so is not difficult, or expensive, and mainly involves better foot hygiene and baking soda, a substance that you can find in almost any store for less than a dollar.

Knowing when to give up

Slippers don’t last forever, even if they are very expensive ones. Shoes in general don’t last forever either, at least not in wearable condition. So, there will come a point when your slippers, footwear that you wear every day, will need to be replaced, as eventually even the baking soda trick will stop working in the end. However, by following some of these tips and tricks you should be able to keep your cozy slippers last longer and smell better so that you get the best possible return on your investment.

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