kid wearing worn shoes

Tips to combat unpleasant minimal shoe smells

A lot of wear and humid conditions can make the smell of a minimal shoe made from natural materials unappealing. Hot summer days are especially challenging for a foot enclosed inside a shoe — in a single day, we can lose about 17 ounces of water through our skin and respiration. Our feet are no exception and can perspire up to 1.7 ounces of fluid a day. When the temperature rises and we move about more or exercise, we lose even more water, so that our body can regulate its temperature.

Moist, warm environments create the perfect breeding ground for bacteria to develop and flourish. As Wildling shoes are not treated with any anti-odor chemicals, this can, in some cases, result in unappealing smells.

As it is not recommended to put Wildling shoes into the washing machine or the dryer, we have put together a list of non-toxic and natural alternatives — suggested from Wildling Shoes friends around the world — that can fight nasty smells effectively.

Alternatives you can find at (most) homes

1. Baking soda

An all-rounder in the household... Why not use baking soda for shoe hygiene as well? Apply some baking soda inside the smelly shoes and leave overnight. Dust if off thoroughly the next morning and you're good to go. Adding a few drops of your favorite essential oil can increase the effect.

An even handier alternative made from baking soda would be a spray: Mix 3 ounces of cool but boiled water with 2 tablespoons of baking soda and about 10 to 20 drops of your favorite essential oil. Spray the inside of the shoes at will.

2. Coffee and tea

Coffee and tea are both great natural odor neutralizers. Fill some bags with loose tea (coffee works well too), or use tea bags or coffee pods and pop them into the shoes overnight.

3. Lavender

Lavender is a great opportunity for a nice scent in our shoes. Use dried lavender in a lavender bag and place them in the shoes, leave over night.

4. Head to the freezer

Many people swear by the power of freezing cold, and rightfully so — temperatures in a regular freezer can kill the odor-causing bacteria. Put your Wildling shoes inside the freezer overnight and get them out in the morning, chilled and refreshed. For a double effect, put some of the first ideas into the shoes before the freezing action takes place.


Using effective microorganisms can also help remove the odors in our shoes. Effective microorganisms are bacterial cultures and fermentation-active fungi which occur in nature. They are offered in liquid form by various manufacturers and can be directly used on the shoes to clean them.

shoes with removable insoles

Image: ©obsessedwithbarefootshoes | Tanuki Sango being held into the camera with visible removable insoles


An additional step against smelly minimal shoes are removable insoles such as the Wildling Shoes insole Washi, Hempling and Felty. Their materials can help absorbing moisture and regulate temperature, keeping the foot climate in check. Removing the insoles from the shoes at the end of the day and letting them air for the next day decreases the potential to build up unwanted smells — you can even give them a quick hand wash if necessary.

What has your experience with Wildling shoes been like so far? Did you find the methods listed useful? Please share any more tips on tackling unpleasant odors with everyone! This can be done in the Wildling Shoes Facebook Community.


Header Image: © | A kid wearing worn minimal shoes in nature