Remove the Smell From Your Cleats: 11 Tried and Tested Solutions

I know what it’s like to have a pair of cleats that smell terrible!

The odor from them can make you want to throw them out, but hold up! Let me show you 11 tried and tested techniques to get the smell out of your cleats.

To remove the smell from your cleats, first, thoroughly clean and dry your cleats. Next, place your cleats in the freezer overnight. Then, once the cleats are defrosted, add a deodorizer to your cleats for a fresh smell. This process deals with the odor-causing bacteria growing in your cleats leaving you with cleats that no longer stink!

This process will stop your cleats from smelling 9 times out of 10, but there are several other ways (including freezing them!) to ensure you get rid of the smell from your cleats.

Keep reading, and I’ll explain several different methods and give you my top tips on how to make your cleats smell fresh and ready for your next game!

how to remove the smell from your cleats

1. Clean and Dry Your Cleats

The first thing to do anytime your cleats begin to smell is to make sure you give them a complete and thorough wash and dry.

If you skip this step, you will be fighting an uphill battle against the odor problem.

In my article – How to Clean (and Dry) Your Cleats Effectively: Without Damaging Them – I take you through a step-by-step process explaining the most effective way to get your cleats clean.

The process is relatively simple. It involves warm soapy water, a brush, and ensuring you don’t dry your cleats in a location that will harm them.

It’s also essential not to regularly use too much cleaning product or hot water.

This can also damage your cleats.

To prevent you from making any mistakes you’ll later regret, check out my cleat cleaning guide.

Once your cleats are washed and dried, you may find that the smell is gone.

However, this may not always be enough.

If so, move on to the next step.

2. Replace the Laces and Insoles

If you’ve cleaned and dried your cleats effectively, but they still smell, then have a look at your laces and insoles.

Cleat insoles
Cleat insoles

Over time, your laces can pick up a lot of moisture and dirt that can be hard to get out.

Eventually, they will start to smell.

The same applies to the insoles of your cleats.

These absorb your sweat and moisture throughout a game, and if you don’t clean them, they will smell.

First, try placing your laces and insoles in a pillowcase and put them in the washing machine. 

This will remove the smell from them most of the time.

However, if your laces and insoles have been used a lot or are getting old, you may need to replace them.

Amazon offers multiple options for new laces or insoles here.

3. Put Your Cleats in the Freezer Overnight

If your cleats still smell after you’ve given your cleats a thorough wash, dried them well, and possibly replaced the laces and insoles, then the next option is to put your cleats in the freezer.

This option often comes as a surprise to many people, but it’s surprisingly effective.

Place your smelly cleats in a large plastic bag and put them in the freezer overnight. Take them out the next day and allow them to dry completely.

place your cleats in the freezer
Place your cleats in the freezer

The purpose of this is to eliminate the smelly bacteria.

The frigid temperature of the freezer should destroy the odor-producing bacteria inside your cleats and remove the smell.

Give it a go.

You’ll probably be surprised how well it works. I know I was the first time I tried it!

Freezing your cleats is also an option players use to break in new cleats. Find out more in my article – 8 Steps To Break In Soccer Cleats Fast.

4. Use a Baking Soda Mix

Another option I find effective is to use baking soda.

Baking soda is excellent at absorbing bad smells and leaving your shoes smelling much fresher.

Take a tablespoon of baking soda and sprinkle it inside your shoes. Then leave your cleats overnight.

Brush out the baking soda in the morning or before you next wear your cleats.

If you would rather not sprinkle baking soda in your cleats, there is an alternative.

Mix equal parts of baking soda, baking powder, and cornstarch together. Place this mixture in a cotton sock and leave the sock in your cleats overnight. This is a great home remedy for smelly cleats.

5. Spray the Inside With White Vinegar

Another product you can use is white vinegar.

White vinegar is really effective at neutralizing bad odors and removing bacteria found in cleats. It’s used in all sorts of cleaning solutions.

white vinegar and spray bottle
White vinegar and spray bottle

Before you add vinegar to your cleats, you’ll want to mix it with water.

In a spray bottle, mix equal parts vinegar and water.

Spray this liberally inside your cleats, and then let them dry.

The white vinegar should eliminate the foul odor and keep your cleats smelling fresh.

6. Try Leaving Citrus Peel Inside the Cleats

If you have some fruit around the house, you may consider using citrus peel to remove the smell.

It doesn’t matter what kind of citrus fruit you have available. Lemon, lime, orange, and grapefruit will all work.

Citrus fruit is effective as they contain natural essential oils that eliminate the smell in your cleats.

They also have the advantage that they leave a really fresh citrus smell. And adding a deodorizer to your cleats will help improve the smell.

If you’re in the market for new cleats, I recommend you check out my guide – How to Choose the Perfect Soccer Cleats (in 4 Simple Steps). You may be surprised by what you discover.

7. Add a Few Drops of Essential Oil

Talking of essential oils, these are another great solution.

Essential oils will cover up the smell from your cleats with a far more pleasant aroma.

Two of my favorite options for this are tea tree oil or cedarwood oil.

Cedarwood is perfect for this job as it has natural antifungal properties. These properties make it a great deodorizer. The best option is to place the cedarwood oil on your insoles. This will help them stay smelling fresh for longer.

Tea tree oil is another excellent option. Sprinkle a few drops of tea tree oil diluted with another carrier oil, such as coconut oil, in your cleats.

Using either of these oils should reduce any odors.

8. Place Teabags in Your Cleats to Absorb the Odor

Teabags are another surprising option on this list. Still, they are ideal for destroying the bacteria in your cleats that are making them smell.

Over the years, research has shown that the tannins in black tea are effective at eradicating smelly bacteria.

The best way to use tea bags in this scenario is first to place at least two black tea bags in boiling water for 5 minutes.

place tea bags in your cleats
Place tea bags in your cleats

Then remove the tea bags from the water, squeeze out the excess liquid, and let them cool for a moment.

After this, place them in your cleats for about an hour. (Place some paper or tissue between the tea bag and your insoles if you are concerned about them leaving a tea stain!)

After an hour, you should notice a difference in the smell of your cleats, and you can remove the tea bags.

9. Liberally Use Odor Spray in Your Cleats

Purchasing a dedicated shoe odor-removing spray is another option you may want to consider.

I recommend using FunkAway Aerospray, 13.5 oz, Extreme Odor Eliminator from Amazon. It is incredibly effective at what it claims to do and will eat away at the bacteria causing the smell.

However, as with all these options, it is essential you use this spray after cleaning and drying your soccer cleats.

Don’t try using a spray as an alternative to washing your cleats!

Once you have sprayed the odor remover into your cleats, you should dry your shoes out again. This shouldn’t take long.

10. Leave a Bag of Cloves Inside Overnight

If you’re not sold on the idea of using a spray, another natural option is to use cloves.

Cloves are another natural antibacterial solution. They destroy those smell-producing bacteria.

First, find a small cloth, piece of thin material, or small material bag. Then place a handful of cloves inside the material and tie it up.

Place one bag of cloves into each cleat and leave them there for at least half a day.

After this time, smell your cleats and see how they smell. If the smell is gone, you can remove the cloves, and if they still smell, leave the cloves there for a few more hours.

11. Allow a Bar of Soap to Absorb the Smell

Using antibacterial soap is yet another effective solution you may consider trying.

Soap is effective at removing odors. The naturally porous nature of soap, along with its antibacterial qualities, will help reduce the smell in your cleats.

For this option to work, find or buy an antibacterial bar of soap (they’re easy to pick up here on Amazon). Place the bar inside both your cleats, and then leave them overnight.

After this, you should notice an improvement in the smell of your cleats.

Prevent Your Cleats From Smelling in the First Place

Having used most of this article to provide you with ideas of ways to eradicate the smell from your cleats, I want to finish with some advice on how to prevent your cleats from smelling in the first place.

How to get the smell out of your cleats
How to get the smell out of your cleats

As we all know, prevention is better than cure. So if you can prevent your cleats from smelling so bad, you won’t have to spend so much time removing the smell.

As I’ve mentioned a few times, the smell in cleats comes from a build-up of moisture that allows bad-smelling bacteria to grow.

To prevent your cleats from smelling, you need to minimize the build-up of moisture in your cleats. 

The source of this moisture is almost always sweat from your feet and dirt, mud, or rainwater that gets into your cleats while you’re wearing them.

There are several steps you can take that will prevent your cleats from smelling.

  1. Always wear dry socks.
  2. Change your socks regularly.
  3. Make sure that your feet are dry before placing them in the cleats.
  4. Use good foot powder before and after you wear your cleats.
  5. Always allow your soccer cleats to dry properly before using them again.
  6. Wash your feet regularly with a bar of anti-bacterial soap.

Removing the smell from your cleats is only one way of caring for your cleats.

If you want more helpful advice on how to make your cleats, check out one of my previous articles below.

Ben Clayfield

Hi! My name's Ben. I've played, watched, read about, and enjoyed soccer throughout my life. I really enjoy finding out more about the game I love and sharing it with you all. Find out more about me here - Ben Clayfield

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