To prevent shoes from smelling, air dry them out after each wearing. The bacteria and mold that cause shoe odor thrive in the damp, dark environment of shoes. To keep moisture from building up in any one pair of shoes, rotate shoes if possible, allowing each pair to dry out for a day or more between each wearing.
Other shoe odor prevention techniques include making sure that feet and socks are clean and dry before putting on shoes. Athletes or those who perform physical work need to change their shoes and socks more frequently. Silica gel packets, which commonly come inside the box with new shoes, also safely remove moisture from shoes when placed inside them. Once shoes develop an odor, remedies include sealing them in a plastic bag and placing them inside the freezer to kill the mold and bacteria inside the shoe. If shoes are washable, as many athletic shoes are, washing them in a washing machine and tumble drying them on low heat in the dryer typically gets rid of odor. Temporary odor reducers include baking soda and commercially available sprays specifically designed for shoe odor; these reduce the smell but do not kill the odor-causing bacteria or mold.