Getting smoke smell out of shoes can be challenging, but it’s possible with some tried and true techniques.
Shoes quickly absorb smoke odor because they have lots of tiny cracks and crevices for the smell to seep into. Acting quickly gives you the best chance of rescuing your kicks.
You can often eliminate or reduce smoke odors considerably with some air, baking soda, vinegar, activated charcoal, and freezing.
Storing shoes properly and using preventative measures like waterproofing sprays and deodorizers will also help avoid a smokey shoe smell in the first place.
But if the stench doesn’t budge, tossing them out for good may be time.
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Why Shoes Absorb Smoke Smell Easily
Shoes make excellent smoke absorbers because of their material composition. The fabric fibers, leather, and tiny cracks and pores in shoes give smoke odor lots of places to get trapped.
Smoke particles easily penetrate these spots, and then the smell lingers.The construction of shoes also contributes to how they hold smoke scent.
High tops and boots absorb more odor than low-top sneakers or sandals because they cover more surface area around your feet.
Mesh or knit materials are more porous than leather or rubber, so they let in smoke more accessible too. Even the cushioning inside shoes has tiny air pockets for smells to hide.
Additionally, location plays a role. Were the shoes right next to the source of the smoke or across the room?
Direct contact equals more severe smelly consequences. How long did the boots sit in the smokey environment?
Length of exposure intensifies the odor situation. Time is not on your side when shoes meet smoke. The smell seeps deeper the longer the interaction.
Considering these factors, it’s no wonder shoes become smelly smoke sponges so quickly! On the bright side, understanding how shoes absorb smoke helps inform how to remove it.
Act Quickly to Remove Smoke Smell
When shoes get that unwanted smokey scent, prompt action gives you a leg up. Don’t let the smell overstay its welcome.
The sooner you can air and deodorize the shoes, the better. Lingering too long allows the odor to set in.
Air Out the Shoes
Air flow is critical when trying to remove smoke smells from shoes. Let fresh air whip through your stanky kicks to start airing out the odor.
Stuff shoes with newspaper or paper towels to help absorb lingering smoke while letting air circulate inside. Replace the paper daily to pull out more odor over time.
Set shoes outside or open windows and point a fan directly into the shoes. The breeze carries away smoke particles trapped inside. Be patient for a few hours, or let them air out overnight.
Flip and rotate shoes to hit them from all angles with fresh air. The more you expose the entire surface area, the better! Airflow is your friend when smoking shoes need rehab.
Use Baking Soda
Baking soda absorbs odors powerfully. It’s an odor eliminator you likely already have at home. Just sprinkle baking soda liberally throughout smokey shoes.
If heavily scented, let the baking soda sit overnight or for a few days. The longer it dwells, the more odor it pulls. Shake or brush out the baking soda afterward. Providing ample surface area exposure is critical for baking soda to work magic.
Combine baking soda with lemon juice or white vinegar for extra cleaning power. The acidity helps break down the smoke smells so the baking soda can latch on. This dynamic duo of ingredients makes an effective shoe odor remedy.
Speaking of vinegar, it’s a miracle worker by itself too. The acetic acid in vinegar destroys stubborn odors.
Fill socks with white vinegar and stuff inside the shoes overnight. The vinegar kills bacteria and absorbs smoke residue.
Wipe shoes down with a vinegar-dampened cloth. The acidic vinegar cuts through the smoke smell lingering on material surfaces.
Straight-up vinegar is intense; dilute it with water if the odor isn’t too severe. The pungent vinegar smell dissipates as it dries. Don’t be scared of the initial vinegar punch. It makes shoes smell fresh after.
Use Activated Charcoal
Activated charcoal is an odor-absorbing superstar. It has millions of tiny pores that trap smells and chemicals.
Stuff shoes with activated charcoal bags or pour loose pellets directly into the shoes. Let activated charcoal sit for 1-2 days to absorb lingering odors fully. It keeps working too, so leave it in longer if the shoes still seem smokey.
Activated charcoal shoe inserts are also handy for absorption on the go. Just lace up shoes like usual, and activated charcoal goes to work deodorizing all day.
Freeze the Shoes
Killing smells with cold temperatures works wonders. Place shoes in a plastic bag and put them in the freezer overnight—the cold paralyzes odor-causing particles. Freezing helps stop smoke smells from spreading too.
If shoes can’t be washed, freezing makes odors hibernate longer. However, it doesn’t altogether remove smells. Still employ additional freshening methods, too, for best results. But take advantage of your freezer’s odor-fighting abilities!
Preventing Smoke Smell in Shoes
An ounce of smoke odor prevention is worth a pound of stinky shoe cure. You can avoid smokey shoe syndrome in the first place with a few adjustments.
Waterproof sprays and creams create a barrier that blocks smoke smells from penetrating shoes. Treat shoes before entering smoky settings.
Spray or rub waterproofing evenly over the entire exterior surface of the shoes. Don’t forget seams, stitches, eyelets, or mesh panels where smells can sneak in. Waterproof footwear fortifies against odor intrusion.
Reapply waterproof coating after several wears or washings. Renew that protective smell shield regularly. Waterproofing restores shoes’ anti-smoke defenses.
Store Shoes Properly
Keep shoes away from smoke when not being worn. Store shoes indoors in a sealed container or closet to prevent ambient smoke smells from invading.
Cedar shoe trees absorb odor inside shoes while helping maintain the shape. The cedar pleasantly masks any lingering smoke scent too.
Storing shoes in breathable fabric shoe bags lets air flow while keeping dust off. Less dust means shoes stay fresher.
Designate smokey shoes for outside use only. Wear a separate pair indoors so odors don’t transfer throughout your home.
Use Shoe Deodorizers
Shoe deodorizing sprays, powders, and insoles decrease unwanted scents between wears. Apply before storing shoes or use when on the go.
Sprays lightly coat the interior with a freshening fragrance to override smoke odors. Powders like baking soda also absorb moisture and smell.
Insoles place a deodorizing barrier between your feet and the shoe interior. Look for insoles infused with charcoal, baking soda, or antimicrobial ingredients.
Reapply deodorizers periodically as protection decreases over time. Maintaining that fresh backdrop helps prevent smokey shoe syndrome.
When to Toss Out Shoes
Despite your best odor-removal efforts, sometimes smoke-damaged shoes must be tossed when smells persist. If harsh smoke permeates shoes for extensive periods or odors linger after thorough cleaning attempts, it may be time to let shoes go.
Consider the shoe’s total lifespan too. Heavily worn or older shoes with fabric or adhesive breakdown won’t also rebound from smoke damage. Repair costs can outweigh replacements.
Evaluate if harsh smoke scents still rise when wearing shoes. Do they make your feet or clothes smell like smoke even after cleaning? That’s a red flag the odor won’t resolve.
Toss shoes when smoke stench impairs wearability or becomes hazardous. They’re just not worth the headaches and health risks at that point. Say goodbye to shoes gone bad.
With smoke smells, the faster you take action, the better your chances of fresh footwear. Remove odors ASAP and care for shoes properly so they don’t become reeking remnants.
But if stinky shoes still plague you, make the smelly sacrifice and replace them with a pristine pair. Now lace up and hit the road odor-free!
FAQs About Removing Smoke Smell from Shoes
Can I wash my shoes in the laundry to remove the smoke smell?
Only wash shoes in the machine if they are specifically labeled machine washable. Water and detergent may damage shoes. Handwashing with gentle soap and water can help lightly clean non-machine washable shoes.
Will freezing shoes ruin them?
Freezing is safe for most shoes if you don’t leave them in the freezer too long. Freezing overnight or for 24 hours won’t typically harm shoes. Allow them to fully thaw and air out before wearing.
What about using Febreze or other sprays?
Febreze and similar odor-eliminating sprays can help remove shoe smells but aren’t as effective on severe smoke smell set into materials. Try them with other methods like baking soda or charcoal for best results.
Can dryer sheets absorb the smell from shoes?
Yes, unused dryer sheets placed inside shoes will help absorb odors like in the dryer. Let them sit for a day until the smell improves. Replace with fresh sheets as needed.
Will the smoke smell return after removing it initially?
Smoke odor can return if shoes are exposed again or not appropriately stored after deodorizing. Use preventive steps like charcoal bags and shoe sprays to minimize repeat smells.
Getting smoke smell out of shoes can certainly be challenging, but with determination and the right techniques, freshening up your footwear is possible.
Act quickly at the first scent of smoke, and arm yourself with odor absorbers like baking soda, vinegar, and activated charcoal.
Don’t just mask smells—allow fresh air to fully circulate through shoes to lift odors from the source.
Rounding out your odor removal efforts with preventative measures like waterproofing, proper storage, and deodorizers will help shoes stay smoke-free.
But even with your best efforts, heavily permeated or worn-out shoes may need to be discarded if the smoke stench persists.
Stay vigilant against sneaky smoke smells, and you’ll keep your shoes fresh for miles to come. With a few tricks and some diligence, you can win the battle against annoying shoe odors.