How to stop slippers from smelling

Indoor slippers are an absolute must, particularly during winter. They keep your feet snug and warm while sparing your indoor space from the grime carried by outdoor shoes. Nonetheless, the cosiness they provide can lead to perspiration, resulting in unpleasant odours developing over time in your slippers. Fortunately, there are methods to prevent your slippers from acquiring an odour issue in the first place. And if your slippers have already developed an unpleasant smell, there are also ways to completely eliminate it, leaving your cherished indoor footwear feeling fresh and fragrant.

In this article, we explore the most effective strategies for preventing and addressing smelly slippers. So, whether you prefer classic leather mules or cosy fleece-lined slip-ons, read on for our top tips on deodorizing them.

What Causes Slippers To Smell?

The primary culprit behind unpleasant odours in slippers is typically odorous feet. The technical term for this condition is Bromodosis, which is fortunately a common issue that can be easily addressed. Bromodosis arises from the accumulation of sweat, creating an ideal environment for bacteria to thrive. This can potentially lead to fungal infections such as athlete’s foot, emphasizing the importance of promptly addressing these concerns.

To prevent odours, there are various methods for cleaning both your feet and slippers. You can opt for over-the-counter products specially designed for this purpose, or choose from simple DIY techniques that can be equally effective. It’s crucial to understand that when cleaning your slippers to deter odours, thorough cleaning is essential. Merely spraying perfume inside them won’t eliminate the odour-causing bacteria, which will only perpetuate the cycle of smelly feet, smelly slippers, and smelly feet.

How To Prevent Slippers From Smelling

  1. Keep your feet clean and hygienic
    Unpleasant odours in slippers often stem from bacteria infiltrating the fabric as they absorb the sweat from your feet. To maintain clean slippers, it’s essential to maintain clean feet. Prior to slipping into your slippers, make it a habit to wash your feet regularly. The accumulated sweat from wearing socks and outdoor shoes, along with dry skin and general dirt, should be thoroughly cleansed and scrubbed away. Ideally, use antibacterial soap during this process. Additionally, ensure your feet are completely dry before putting your slippers back on, as trapped moisture can foster smelly bacteria.
  2. Allow your slippers some down-time
    While it’s tempting to wear slippers constantly, it’s important not to overdo it. Slippers are designed to provide warmth and comfort, especially during the winter months. However, as the weather gets warmer, slippers are not the ideal choice for indoor footwear. Higher temperatures cause increased foot perspiration, leading to quicker development of unpleasant odours in your slippers. To address this, consider giving your slippers a rest when they’re not necessary for warmth. If you still want something on your feet indoors during hot weather, consider opting for comfortable sliders or flip-flops.
  3. Harness the power of baking soda
    Baking soda serves as an excellent deodoriser and can both prevent and treat smelly slippers. Consider placing small bags of baking soda inside your slippers when you’re not wearing them. This will effectively eliminate any lingering odours before they become noticeable, ensuring your slippers remain both fresh and fragrant.
pink cat slippers in living room

Should I Wear Socks with Slippers?

The answer to this question ultimately boils down to personal preference. However, if your goal is to maximize the lifespan of your slippers and maintain their freshness while keeping them free from odours, the straightforward answer is yes. Socks serve as a protective barrier between your feet and the typically absorbent inner fabric of your slippers. This means they can effectively thwart sweat, oils, and other substances produced by your bare feet that can lead to bacterial growth from permeating the slipper fabric.

While some may think that wearing socks compromises comfort, you don’t have to resort to bulky socks to shield your slippers from unpleasant odours. Thin sports socks or discreet no-show socks can be employed to preserve the pleasant fragrance of your indoor footwear for an extended period without sacrificing style or comfort.

How To Eliminate Foot Odour From Slippers

While there are several methods to rid your slippers of that unpleasant foot odour, such as machine washing, overnight freezing, or using store-bought shoe deodorisers, we advocate for a technique that truly absorbs the odour rather than merely masking it. We recommend following the baking soda method outlined below.

  1. Gently sprinkle regular baking soda inside your slippers. Ensure that you apply enough so that the insoles of your slippers are no longer visible beneath a generous layer of powder.
  2. Allow the baking soda to remain undisturbed inside your slippers overnight. This allows it ample time to absorb all the odours from your footwear. Once the waiting period is over, vigorously shake both slippers over a bin until all the baking soda has been removed. At this point, you should notice that the unpleasant odours have vanished.
  3. If your slippers still retain a smell after the initial treatment, repeat the process, this time leaving the baking soda inside your slippers for an extended duration. Occasionally, it may take the baking soda a lot longer to fully neutralize odours, especially if the slippers have not been cleaned in a while.
  4. Lastly, stuff your slippers with scented tumble dryer sheets and leave them overnight. This will help eliminate any residual baking soda and impart a pleasant, fresh fragrance to your slippers. Afterward, remove and discard the dryer sheets, and your slippers will be ready to wear again. As mentioned earlier, it’s advisable to wear socks with your slippers afterward to maintain their freshness for an extended period.

Cleaning Different Types of Slippers

Although the baking soda method works for most types of slippers, you may want to consider more in depth methods of the best way to deeply clean different types of slippers. We have a full blog post on this here, but read below for some basic tips:

Faux Fur Slippers
Faux fur slippers can be cleaned by either machine washing or handwashing them with a mild detergent. After washing, ensure they air dry naturally; avoid using a dryer.

Sheepskin Slippers
It’s not advisable to submerge sheepskin slippers in water. Instead, delicately remove dirt and debris by gently brushing them with a soft bristle brush. For heavily stained areas, create a solution by mixing one part white vinegar with two parts cold water. Use this solution for spot cleaning. Rinse off the vinegar solution with lukewarm water and finish by spraying an antibacterial deodoriser.

Suede Slippers
Similar to sheepskin, suede slippers should not be fully soaked in water. You can use a mild soapy water solution to spot clean any remaining dirt or stains. If the suede material becomes wet, allow it to dry completely before brushing it. Always air dry suede slippers; avoid putting them in the washing machine or dryer, as this can result in irreversible damage.

When to throw out smelly slippers

Generally, regular shoes tend to endure anywhere from 8 to 12 months before requiring repairs or replacement. However, the lifespan of slippers follows a slightly different narrative. Several factors influence how long slippers can maintain their functionality, and you might find yourself needing to replace them more frequently or dispose of them sooner compared to, say, athletic trainers.

As demonstrated earlier, various strategies can effectively address unpleasant odours and help keep your slippers fresh. Nevertheless, if you observe a persistent and lingering foul odour emanating from your slippers, it could be a sign of bacterial and fungal growth within them. In such cases, if a thorough cleaning fails to eliminate the noxious smell, it may be necessary to part ways with your malodorous slippers. If you have tried multiple methods of cleaning them, and have had them longer than 12 months, it’s probably best to invest in a new pair and begin with preventative action to help your new ones last longer.

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