How to Clean Smelly Soccer Cleats

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If you play soccer most days of the week, you might have been abusing your soccer cleats too much. You probably haven’t noticed it yet but the sweat and dirt build up in your soccer cleats create a nasty smell that will fill an entire room. 

You don’t want your teammates or family to smell those soccer cleats. It’s off-putting and will affect your confidence in soccer. Therefore, as a soccer player, you should regularly clean your soccer cleats to avoid being in this situation. 

How to Clean Smelly Soccer Cleats

Smelly soccer cleats can affect your confidence and performance. Your habits also affect the smell of your soccer cleats. For example, placing your soccer cleats indoors after a game or practice and never taking them out to give them some air will make your soccer cleats smelly. 

While sweating is unavoidable in playing soccer, smelly soccer cleats are preventable. Having clean soccer cleats also is good for hygiene, prolong their overall lifespan, and keeps your soccer cleats in good condition. 

Two players wearing dirty soccer cleats

There are many methods for a quick and fast method of cleaning soccer cleats that are doable in your home. These are:

  • Sprinkle baking soda or Epsom salt inside a coffee filter. Place the coffee filter inside your soccer cleats. 
  • Soak paper towels with bleach and place them inside your soccer cleats
  • Use shoe deodorizer like Sprayzee Shoe Deodorizer to remove the smelly odor. 
  • Place one or more dry tea bags inside your soccer cleats. This will soak up moisture and eliminate the bacteria and odor. 
  • Place a dryer sheet for each soccer cleats after every use. 
  • Use a cotton ball soaked with rubbing alcohol and wipe the inside of your soccer cleats.

If you have the time to clean your soccer cleats thoroughly, this method will surely remove the smell from your soccer cleats. 

  • Soak your soccer cleats with hot water and mild detergent for 10 minutes. If your cleats are made of leather, just mildly bathe it in water using a soaked cloth. 
  • After soaking for 10 minutes, scrub off the dirt in your soccer cleats
  • Rinse off using warm water
  • Dry off your soccer cleats with a cloth or towel
  • Place your soccer cleats in a cool and dry place to completely dry off. Remove the insoles from the soccer shoes and let them hang out to dry. You can place the insoles on direct sunlight to dry faster. 
  • When your soccer cleats are completely dry, place them in a freezer bag and put it inside a freezer overnight.
  • For added measure, you can place baking soda inside a coffee filter inside of your soccer cleats. Do this for a couple of hours after removing them from the freezer

How Do You Get Sweat Smell Out of Shoes?

The smell you get from your soccer cleats comes from the bacteria your feet transfer in your soccer cleats. Under the damp and moisture inside your soccer cleats, the bacteria thrive and grow. The smell you get from your soccer cleats is a sign that bacteria is present and grows inside your soccer cleats. 

Cleaning alone can’t completely eliminate the bacteria. Implementing cleanliness in your routine can help prevent bacteria from growing in your soccer cleats. Here are some habits you can follow to prevent smelly soccer cleats:

  • Wash and dry your feet thoroughly. Wash every part of your feet to keep the bacteria from growing. Make sure your feet are completely dry before putting on your socks or soccer cleats.
  • Don’t wear the same shoes consecutively. Give your soccer cleats time to dry out and breathe. Wearing them continuously will just invite the bacteria to grow from the damp moisture environment you created.
  • Use foot powder. If you have sweaty feet no matter what the weather is then applying foot powder in your feet will ensure your feet are dry the whole day.
  • Air out your soccer cleats after every use. If you don’t have the time to clean your soccer cleats, make sure you air them out after every use. You can also place baking soda, coffee filter, or coffee grounds inside. You can also use a cotton ball soaked with rubbing alcohol to wipe the inside of your soccer cleats before air-drying them. 

What Can You Clean Soccer Cleats With?

Use warm waterUse boiling water
Use deodorizersUse hard chemicals
Place newspapers insideLeave them under the sun

Just using warm water with mild detergent will do the trick for cleaning your soccer cleats. For removing the smell of your soccer cleats, baking soda works the best. 

You can use a coffee filter to place the baking soda inside and put it inside the soccer cleats to remove the smell. You can also add 3 to 4 tablespoon of baking soda to 1 quart of warm water to help clean and remove the smell from your soccer cleats. 

Person wearing soccer cleats standing on the field

Other things you can use for removing the odor are: 

  • Rubbing alcohol on cotton balls
  • Shoe deodorizer
  • Foot powder
  • Cat litter placed inside a pantyhose
  • Newspapers placed inside the soccer cleats
  • Charcoal insoles
  • Coffee grounds inside a coffee filter

Related Questions

Here are some frequently asked questions about cleaning smelly soccer cleats.

Why Do My Shoes Smell so Bad?

Because my feet contain 250,000 sweat glands, your shoes may stink. These are sufficient to cause sweating and the growth of bacteria.

Therefore, the combination of perspiration from your foot and the small area within a soccer cleat creates an environment conducive to bacterial development. The perspiration and warm humid environment are ideal for bacterial growth.

Can Tea Bags Remove Shoe Odor?

Yes, tea bags may be used to remove smells from soccer cleats. Tea bags are quite absorbent. They help to keep the inside of your soccer cleats dry. They keep moisture and dampness out of the environment, promoting the growth of stinking bacteria.

Black tea, in particular, is effective in removing shoe odor. The tannins in black tea are intended to kill the bacteria that causes your soccer cleats to stink.

Can Soccer Cleats Be Washed in a Washing Machine?

No, you should never wash your soccer cleats in a washing machine. On top of that, you shouldn’t put them in the dryer, or dry them with a hair dryer. Both of these things will just highly damage the cleats, making them unusable.

You should always wash them by hand, and dry them indoors in a well-ventilated room. Do not put the cleats directly under the sun, this would damage them too.


Cleaning smelly soccer cleats isn’t much of a hassle as you think it may be. You only require common home materials for keeping your soccer cleats fresh and odor-free. Clean your soccer cleats regularly so you won’t be uncomfortable when you play soccer and perform to the best of your abilities.

Tim Frechette is an avid athlete, having played sports like soccer and basketball his entire life. He brings a wealth of athletic knowledge to his writing.