There’s nothing quite like getting home after a hard day. The sun is shining and all is well. Until you walk into our porch and the smell hits you – running shoes and slip-ons are not our friends. They stink! It’s not our fault, honest! Did you know that you have 250,000 sweat glands in your feet? Even in autumn that’s enough for the little gross-o bacteria to get working. Mmmmmmm.
We usually resort to buying some sort of horrible chemical spray to blast the smell out of our shoes. However, since starting X for Why?, we’ve become rather sensitive to these things and since our last bottle is about to expire we thought we’d try out some natural options, from the ludicrous (teabags) to the more obvious (homemade foot spray).
First off, we thought we’d check what was in our current spray (Scholl Fresh Step) and then google all of the scientific terms:
- Alcohol Denat, aka methylated spirits or denatured alcohol
- Parfum, posh name of perfume
- Limonene, aka lemon smell
- Hexyl Cinnamal, aka chamomile smell
- Butane, Isobutane, Propane and Hydrocarbon, all used for the aerosol action
So apparently our foul-smelling foot spray should smell of a mixture of lemon and chamomile. It does not. The spray smells like a mix of Kate’s Gran’s hairspray and a chemical plant, whilst slightly burning your nostril hairs with each spray. It also doesn’t seem to get rid of the odours from Kate’s running shoes or Jamie’s Toms slip-ons. Admittedly, even putting them through the washing machine didn’t remove all of the smell. Of course, that makes them perfect candidates for our natural foot deodoriser trial.
A quick bit of research online shows there are many different natural options out there, from shoe powder to charcoal inserts. However, on looking at the shoe powder ingredients, it contained simple ingredients that we could make at home. Since we’ve got various bottles of essential oils at home from our semi-hippy past, we figured we’d try a few home remedies out.
…Hours go by, as a Google rabbit hole opens into 101 different natural options to deodorising shoes…
As is our wont, we decide to start off with the ones that involve the least amount of work.
Yes, apparently just sticking some teabags in your shoes stops them smelling. The idea seems pretty unlikely, but very easy to try. Kate’s freshly run-in running shoes are the test for this one. The test begins with a good sniff of each shoe and yes, they pong. Three teabags (apparently that’s the nuclear options) are put in each shoe. To test different teabag types, 3 Clipper Everyday teabags went into one shoe and 3 Tock Tock Rooibos teabags went into the other. We only had 4 chamomile teabags left, so they couldn’t be used in this most scientific of tests in case of a tea emergency.
They were left for 24 hours before a good sniff was done again. Unsurprisingly, they still ponged. A little less maybe, but we assume that’s due to the fact Kate didn’t go running in them that day. Cup of smelly-shoe tea anyone?
White vinegar pops up in every natural cleaning post ever, so we didn’t want to feel left out. This one is only for inner soles, but the inner soles of Jamie’s slip-ons are removable, so they were put to the test. We mixed 2 cups of water with 1 cup of white vinegar in a washing up bowl and popped the inner soles in. They floated, so we cleverly weighed them down:
Once they’d sat there for 10 minutes, we dried them off and hung them out on the line until the next morning. The vinegar does seem to have been a success – Jamie’s inner soles now stink of vinegar. Just what he’s always wanted. After wearing the slip-ons for a few days Jamie reported that while they didn’t totally pong, they didn’t smell that great.
Bicarbonate of Soda / Baking Soda
The next step for Kate’s shoes was baking soda. The recipes for this one were mainly to mix baking soda with some essential oils, but since the essential oils were temporarily lost, we started off just using baking soda without any additives. Online it suggested that you could wrap the baking soda in a bit of material and let it sit in the shoe to absorb the pong. That sounded rather far-fetched. We decided direct action was needed, so the powder was sprinkled directly on Kate’s shoes (1 teaspoon per shoe). We left the trainers for 24 hours.
Next morning Kate was ready to slip her feet into the shoes for a run and off she went. Throughout the run there was a feeling of sand in between the toes, which was rather odd and when removing her shoes and socks a substantial amount of white powder (aka baking soda) fell on the floor. Note to self: do not run this test whilst going through airport security. The sniff test was performed and the shoes weren’t too bad. The sniff test has been repeated a few more times and a few more runs have been done (with no more bicarb sprinkling in between), and there’s no doubt, they do not pong as much as they did. This has definitely been a success.
Whilst the baking soda trial was a success, we’d rather not endure the gritty toe feel. So we decided we’d try a homemade foot spray to test out as well. The missing essential oils had also been found, so they needed to enter into the fray. We bought some fancy blue glass spray bottles and got to work.
We made up a spray of half a cup of vodka, six drops of tea tree oil and six drops of lavender oil. Jamie’s slip-ons had a serious whiff going on by the time we went to End of the Road, but our new foot spray has been a great success. The shame of sitting watching bands surrounded by the unmistakable smelly feet was averted.
We now have a lovely little blue glass bottle sat by the front door containing all homemade foot spray. No more noxious chemicals. No more disposable packaging. And a great way to use up the vodka that people always leave at our house after our summer party.
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