Smelly Soccer Cleats: Whats the Solution?

Yeah, we have all experienced it, the horrible stench of smelly soccer cleats that have been stuck in aSmelly Soccer Cleats bag for a week! Even though I should know better, there are times when I will leave my cleats in a bag for a week without taking them out to dry! When I am testing a few pairs of cleats at one time, I tend to leave them sitting in the back of my car, and when my car sits in the sun for a few hours, believe me when I say…you don’t want to be a passenger in my car! I do try to air dry my cleats after I wear them (right now I have 2 pairs outside on my balcony), but there are times when we just fall behind! So, what is the solution to stopping your cleats from getting smelly?

First off, I never encourage anyone to leave their cleats in a boot bag. After a game, the best thing you can do is stuff them with some newspaper and leave them outside to air dry. Not in direct sunlight, as this process would just overdry the material. Just leave them outside in a shady area. Doing this will make a huge difference! To get the most out of your cleats, they need to be treated properly. The best thing to do is see them as an investment! If you can keep them dry, smell should not be an issue unless you are not washing your socks. My best advice is to get into a routine of leaving them outside after practice or games. Here are some key tips:

  • Be consistent! Clean your cleats, and air dry them after every practice and every game.
  • Stuff your cleats with newspaper, it helps soak up any excess water that lies in your cleats.
  • Keep a Bounce sheet in your bag! This is something I advise 100%. After a session, I place a Bounce Sheet inside my cleats. Even though it doesn’t fully remove the smell, it still helps!
  • Use some Lysol. A recommended option is Lysol Neutra Air Fabric Mist, which helps neutralize odor by killing bacteria. I can tell you from experience that it doesn’t solve the problem, but it can be a temporary solution!
  • When buying cleats, choose K-leather rather than synthetic materials. Leather breathes more easily, so the odor does not stay trapped.
  • And finally, try out Skunkies. This a new product created by a couple soccer moms, after they got tired of their kids’ smelly cleats! They eliminate odor and absorb moisture, which prevents bacteria, leaving cleats smelling a little better!

I found out about Skunkies after reading an article over at philly.com. Their low-tech solution is a sachet filled with “proprietary” powder, meant to draw out moisture and deodorize. I think this is a great idea, and if they actually do work, they will help parents all over he US deal with their smelly cleat issues! You can check out the Skunkies at www.skunkies.net.

So, is there an actual solution? My answer would be no. The key is to work on prevention, and maintain cleats from the first time you wear them. If they are stinking up your space, chances are that it is the right time to invest in a brand spanking new pair. This will solve the smell issue, and also give you a fresh start. This time around, make sure you get it right! If you have any tips for solving the problem of smelly soccer cleats please share with us!

Categories: Cleat Maintenance

About Author

Bryan Byrne

The mastermind behind the revolution that is SoccerCleats101. Bryan started this website back in 2008 and has been testing boots on a daily basis ever since. Check out our About Page for more details on Bryan and the website.

Comments

  1. Danny L
    Danny L 29 July, 2011, 21:58

    i've had skunkies, and while they smelled great and did the minimal performance on their job, they didnt last very long

    another thing to do is to place your boots in a freezer for a few hours, overnight working well. the cold temperatures kill the bacteria, thus killing the smell.

    Reply this comment
  2. James Gauthier
    James Gauthier 10 August, 2011, 20:57

    If the insoles are removable I take them out and spray them with fabreeze. it gets rid of pretty much all the bad smell and replaces it with a very good smell

    Reply this comment
  3. soccer dad
    soccer dad 19 September, 2011, 08:24

    I was hoping for some miracle. I had hiking boots, ski boots, sneakers, running shoes for 10's of years and never had the olfactory experience I have when I wiff my kids' cleats. We have two pair and they are supposed to, and generally do, swap them to give them a chance to air. I know part of it is leaving them in a game bag. Right now, I am running them through the washer with detergent and baking soda for the 2nd time including warm water, soak cycles, extra rinse, etc etc. I have little hope that when I finish this comment they will be cured. However I did have a thought.. Most of the smell doesn't come from the shoe. It is sweat, and dirt type stuff that permeates the material and stick like skunk super glue. I am going to try a baking soda, lemon, vinegar, whatever I can think of soak to see if I can crack the safe. I do agree that clean socks every game and practice, and even changing them at half time make a differerence (I change ski and hiking socks mid day and it feels great too) But….. but….. I suspect the biggest source of the problem may be foot care. I am going to have my kids actually scrub their feet when they shower. A good old scrub brush like a dish brush from the sink, and with lots of soap, hot water, and even Betadyne sudsing scrub (meds and vets use it extensively for scrubbing for surgery, prepping skin, etc). You can get the good stuff at a farm store like Agway. A little goes a long way. Dead skin cells stink if they are damp and I would wager if you can reduce the source, you can kill the beast, or at least minimize the stench. I do think the synthetic materials are adding to the problem. They don't clean easily and do seem to hold stench much more than leather. But I totally agree the preventive step is to try to keep feet and socks dry to begin with. Anyone got any cleaning tips? I have finally resorted to tossing them in the washer. What else???

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    • Gabbi
      Gabbi 17 September, 2012, 08:15

      I too had the same dilemma's. It's very difficult to find a product that treats these kind of odors. I overheard someone on a very crowded beach talking about this product called, Smell Guard and how they were using it because their new puppy was having accidents all over their home and it was starting to smell like urine. They were raving about it so I thought, if it can treat one of the strongest smells, urine, then it should surely work on my sons soccer gear! I went home, googled the product and immediately purchased a 8oz bottle. My life has changed forever lol…the product is music to my nose!!! I highly recommend it!! It's inexpensive and it does exactly what it says it does. Soooooooo many uses for the product too!!!!

      Reply this comment
      • Chris
        Chris 19 September, 2012, 21:22

        Gabbi – Since you obviously work for Smell Guard, where are you headquartered and why does a urine product work for sweat and bacteria odors?

        Reply this comment
        • Naomi Kranz
          Naomi Kranz 21 October, 2012, 14:27

          I think the urine product works for sweat and bacteria because it all smells the same. If you haven’t had the pleasure of smelling a used pair of cleats, just stick your nose in the litter box. They are one and the same smell. I don’t care if Gabby works for the company, I am willing to try it.

          Reply this comment
  4. Jonathon Kearney
    Jonathon Kearney 24 August, 2013, 01:19

    The way I clean my leather football boots is I take a small hand-brush with soft to medium bristles and use a small amount of laundry soap and start scrubbing the inside and outside for about 10-15 minutes, after that I put newspaper in them and wrap the boots with more newspaper and leave them to dry for 3 hours in a shady place outside. After this whole process, the boots smell great and look as if they came right out of the box.

    Reply this comment
  5. CheapSoccerCleatsHQ
    CheapSoccerCleatsHQ 19 September, 2013, 06:40

    Awesome article. Another great trick that we've recently discovered is sprinkling baking soda in the soccer cleats and letting them sit overnight in a dry area. Then, once the baking soda soaks into the shoe, hand wash the soul of the shoe gently – this should work on almost all soccer cleats.

    Reply this comment
  6. Ruby Fontaine
    Ruby Fontaine 3 January, 2014, 14:04

    Here’s what I did for my daughters cat pee cleats. First take the laces out so you can open up the shoe. Then wash and soak them in a solution of 1 or 2 T of laundry detergent and 1/4 cup of bleach. I soaked them for 1 hr. Then rinse them out thoroughly until the soap bubbles are gone. Then put them out in the sun until they are completely dry.

    That should kill the bacteria, but they still might have a pee odor.

    Take/buy a pair of mens dress socks, preferably nylon not cotton because you want a tight fabric. Buy a container of baking soda and partially fill the socks. Tie a knot in the top of the socks. Inset into the shoes. If you use the right fabric of sock all most nothing will leak out. Don’t use too much baking soda and they will slip into the shoe easily. They will absorb the moisture and in a few days get rid of the smell. Like other posts the important thing is to keep the shoe dry. Buy your child slip on sandals and they will be more prone to take the cleats off right after a game. We haven’t had to repeat the washing process after the first time and it seems to work.

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