Editor's Note: Updated June 16, 2022. We updated this piece to remove products that were out of stock. The current list is made up of products that were all vetted and tested by our test team.

When you get home and kick off your shoes after a hard summer workout, there’s a good chance they reek. After all, when your feet start to sweat, that moisture is trapped in your socks, which are stuck inside your shoes, harboring funk. Here’s what you can do. First, if your shoes are wet, get them dry; odor-causing bacteria thrive in humidity. Remove the insoles, stuff the shoes with some newspaper, and let them hang out overnight in a well-ventilated area. Next, start using odor-reducing and germ-killing sprays or inserts regularly. If you’re overwhelmed with all the options out there, we’ve got you covered.

The Best Shoe Deodorizers

Signs of Bacteria

Even shoes with ample ventilation and mesh panels tend to hold on to some stink following your run. And that rancid smell is actually more than just an odor. “What some people don’t know is that actual smell is bacteria, and it’s living inside your socks, shoes, and on your feet,” says Luke Lombardo, an RRCA-certified running coach and Ironman triathlete. “Not only is it important to get rid of that nasty smell that’s on your running shoes, but it’s also imperative that you kill the pesky bacteria living in your shoes.” If not, that bacteria could lead to an infection over time.

This content is imported from {embed-name}. You may be able to find the same content in another format, or you may be able to find more information, at their web site.

How We Tested

In order to gauge the effectiveness of these odor eliminators, we had to get a little smelly. But we had to be smart about how we did it. In order to consistently replicate stinky running shoes (and without risking exposure to harmful bacteria like Staphylococcus), we found the answer in a cheese called Bavarian Limburger. It’s one of the most pungent varieties out there. However, that’s not the only reason we chose it: While body odor has many sources, one key player is Brevibacterium linens, a rod-shaped organism found on human skin that makes feet stink. In a kind of gross—yet cool—coincidence, this same bacteria works to ferment Limburger, which helps explain why it really does smell quite a bit like a sweaty foot.

odor eliminator testing
Lakota Gambill
odor eliminator testing
Lakota Gambill

We tested a total of 23 odor eliminators—pods, balls, pouches, powders, and sprays. To simulate a hot and sweaty shoe post-run, we warmed Limburger cheese in a microwave and let it sit out to work up a potent stink. Next, we placed individual 60-gram wedges inside airtight Ziploc bags with one of the odor-eliminating contenders. And then we waited. After about four hours, and again after 24 hours, we opened the bags and took a whiff, comparing them to the smell of an untreated piece of bagged Limburger as our control. The products below are the 11 that did both the best job at minimizing cheesy aromas and, in the case of the inserts and pods, were well-made.

Battling stinky clothes, too? Here's everything you need to strip your laundry and get it smelling clean.


Hex Deodorizing Spray

Tester Smell Score: 3.5 out of 5

Hex Performance
Deodorizing Spray
Hex Performance amazon.com

  • Safe for pets, kids, and the environment
  • Excellent quality and value
  • Helps reduce static

  • Takes some extra time to dry after application

Hex’s versatile spray is a do-it-all “Febreze for Runners”—we’ve used it on pretty much anything we’ve managed to get sweaty. (That includes not only our socks, shoes, tech tees, and running shorts but also our car seats, foam rollers, and couch cushions.) Since activewear fabrics typically use super tightly-woven threads, Hex designed its formula specifically to penetrate those stubborn fibers that really trap stink. Based on our testing, we found it starts working quickly and also helps keep new odors away for longer periods.


10 Seconds Shoe Disinfectant and Deodorizer

Tester Smell Score: 5 out of 5

Shoe Disinfectant and Deodorizer
10 Seconds amazon.com

  • Powerful—but not overwhelming—scent
  • Kills bacteria quickly

  • Not an all-natural formula

This top-performing spray not only works fast—knocking out mold and bacteria like MRSA in just ten seconds—but it also smells really good. Our testers noted that it completely eliminated the odor of the cheese without adding the scent of chemicals. “Subtle, almost fruity smell,” one tester said. “I’d make a candle out of this.”


GearHalo Sports Deodorizer Pods

Tester Smell Score: 5 out of 5

Sports Deodorizer Pods
GearHalo amazon.com

  • Neutralizes odor without an overpowering smell
  • Helps absorb moisture from wet shoes

  • Odor-fighting prowess diminishes after 3 months

These amazing little bean bags received top marks from every one of our testers. Since the beads are activated by heat, we suggest tossing them in your shoes while they’re still toasty from a run for the best results. Even at room temperature, Gear Halo’s pouches wicked moisture, eliminated nearly all stink, and smelled clean and fresh. “This actually smells really nice!” one tester said. “It’s a pleasant, lightly floral scent with no trace of the cheese.”


Rocket Pure Natural Deodorizer Spray

Tester Smell Score: 4.5 out of 5

Natural Foot & Shoe Deodorizer Spray
Rocket Pure amazon.com
$14.95 (25% off)

  • Made in USA from all-natural ingredients
  • Kept odors away after 24 hours

  • Expensive for the amount you get

If you’re put off by harsh chemicals, this formula from Rocket Pure draws on a half-dozen natural agents, like alcohol derived from organic cane sugar, citrus extracts, and cedarwood oil, to inhibit bacterial growth (and moisturize your feet). Plus, all three scents are downright awesome. “I’m smelling something mild, yet clean and fresh,” one tester said of the peppermint and eucalyptus scent. “It’s hard to place, but I can hardly smell the cheese behind it.”


Foot Sense Natural Shoe Deodorizer Powder

Tester Smell Score: 3.5 out of 5

Natural Shoe Deodorizer Powder
Foot Sense amazon.com

  • Safe, all-natural formula
  • Eliminates excess moisture

  • Doesn’t kill 100% of bacteria

There's no denying that traditional powders can be messy. But Foot Sense uses an arrowroot-based, talc-free formula that’s safe, effective, and smells great—so we didn’t mind if some spilled outside of our shoes. (Since it’s made without toxic chemicals, you can shake it on your feet outdoors or over the bathtub without worry to minimize clean-up time.) It’s not as powerful as some of the potent sprays we’ve tested, so you’ll likely need to reapply more frequently, but we loved this powder’s supreme ability to eliminate excess moisture, as well as its lemony-lavender aroma.


Lumi Outdoors Natural Shoe Deodorizer Spray

Tester Smell Score: 3.5 out of 5

Natural Shoe Deodorizer Spray
Lumi Outdoors amazon.com
$12.95 (13% off)

  • Versatile as room spray
  • Excellent scent options

  • Needs reapplication

Using essential oils instead of chemicals, this spray can cut down even the strongest odors wafting from a post-workout shoe or gym bag. Plus, if there are other places you want to de-stink, it can freshen up your house, car, bathroom, or wherever you want a pleasant, natural smell. You’ll just have to use it often: Although a spritz of Lumi went a long way initially, some smells started to creep back after 24 hours.


FunkAway Odor Eliminator Spray

Tester Smell Score: 3.5 out of 5

Odor Eliminator Spray
Funk Away amazon.com

  • Powerful against both scents and bacteria
  • Kept odors away longer

  • Left a strong smell of cleaning supplies

FunkAway does a great job of not just covering up smells but eliminating them with its OM Complex formula, which traps odor molecules and breaks them down. While this spray made quick work of the cheese smell in testing, it had an almost overpowering aroma. “Very potent,” said one tester. “A little flowery, but mostly I smell strong cleaning supplies.”


Sweat X Sport Extreme Odor Eliminator Spray

Tester Smell Score: 4 out of 5

Extreme Odor Eliminator Spray
SWEATX amazon.com

  • Helps remove stains
  • Eco-friendly formula (but not 100% natural)

  • Smell was hit or miss among testers

While our testers were split on whether they actually liked the smell of Sweat X, they agreed that it did a stellar job of eliminating the scent of the Limburger. (Some thought it was reminiscent of deodorant or shampoo but another got strong whiffs of plastic.) That said, the smell wasn’t nearly as overwhelming as some of the other sprays. Plus, Sweat X also helps remove blood, dirt, and grass stains.


Lock Laces Odor Drops

Tester Smell Score: 4 out of 5

Odor Drops Deodorizer Balls
Lock Laces amazon.com

  • Long-lasting and excellent value
  • Easy-to-use with very powerful fresh scent

  • Wasn’t as effective at getting rid of odors

These long-lasting deodorizer balls from Lock Laces keep your shoes, bags, or locker fresh with minimal effort from you. Simply twist open the vents and drop one or two in. (Just remember to reseal these balls when you’re done; they’ll keep working for longer if you do.) One tester found the Drops extremely effective, but others thought the super strong “laundry detergent” scent did more to mask odors than truly eliminate them.


Zorpads Odor-Eliminating Shoe Inserts

Tester Smell Score: 3.5 out of 5

Odor-Eliminating Shoe Inserts
zorpads zorpads.com

  • Quashes odors without adding any scent
  • Convenient leave-in sticker design

  • More expensive

“Wow, this one surprised me,” said a tester. “It didn’t smell like any extra scent was added to cover the smell of the cheese. It just got rid of the bad odors.” Peel off the adhesive backing on these space-age patches and stick them in your shoes, where they’ll zap smells with an activated carbon cloth. (That’s the same tech NASA uses aboard the space station to clean the air.) A soft top liner sucks up moisture, and a porous, carbon-based layer on the bottom works to absorb odor while you run.


Arm & Hammer Odor Busterz

Tester Smell Score: 4 out of 5

Odor Busterz Balls
Arm & Hammer amazon.com

  • Hardy build
  • Versatile with no harsh chemicals

  • Limited lifespan

You can confidently keep “odor reducer” on baking soda’s laundry list of uses—it’s the main ingredient behind these powerful pods from A&H. In testing, we especially liked that their design felt more durable than some of the flimsier plastic balls. Overall, the scent was mild with hints of clean laundry, and we didn’t notice any traces of harsh chemical smells. The only negative is that one pod will last 60 days tops.

Other Options to Consider


Balega Silver Socks

Balega amazon.com

You can also boost comfort and smell fresh with this pair of running socks from Balega. The socks' moisture-wicking fibers are covered in silver ions to help kill germs. During testing, we found the Silver remains stink-free, even after multiple wearings between washes (yes, we know this is gross, but we still do it). Runners will also appreciate the thicker cushioning underfoot. The sock’s no-show cuff height and breathable top panel over the midfoot kept us cool during an extended bout of muggy 90-plus degree days.


Pardo Naturals Exfoliating Body Polish

Exfoliating Body Polish
Pardo Naturals pardonaturals.com

While creams and lotions can help limit odor, sometimes you want a deeper clean after a run. That’s why we like this exfoliating scrub, specifically in the Peppermint and Matcha Green Tea scent. Organic cane sugar provides a gritty texture to help slough off dead skin and soften calluses, while coconut oil ensures your skin stays moisturized. (The goal is to get your feet feeling clean, stink-free, and moisturized without stripping away your skin’s protective healthy oils.) Matcha green tea offers natural antimicrobial benefits, and is also known to have significant anti-inflammatory properties, which can help soothe swollen feet and toes after your weekend long runs.