Why Do Converse Shoes Smell So Bad? (Here’s the Fix)

As great and popular as they are, Converse shoes are known to produce a bad odor. In fact, many Converse wearers complain that they stink, even after several wears.

So why do Converse shoes smell so bad?

Converse shoes can smell so bad because the uppers, which are made of canvas, are not breathable. When your feet, which contain 250,000 sweat glands, get confined in the shoes, the sweat and warmth create a breeding ground for bacteria, causing a bad odor.

To remove the smell from your Converse shoes, you need to eliminate the odor-causing bacteria. Let’s explore why Converse shoes smell and how to stop them from smelling.

Why Do Converse Shoes Smell So Bad?

There are two reasons why Converse shoes can have a bad odor.

In addition to the fact that your feet have more sweat glands than any part of your body, Converse shoes can smell so bad because the canvas material is not breathable.

Here is each aspect explained in more detail:

1. The canvas material is not breathable

The first reason why Converse shoes may smell so bad is because of the canvas material. 

Canvas is a tightly woven material, which makes it extremely firm and durable. However, it can also mean that canvas material is not very breathable.

Canvas is a non-woven material that is not breathable.

Take genuine, real leather for example. Since they are natural materials made of animal skin, leather can breathe and allow moisture to pass through without soaking it up.

On the other hand, a tightly woven canvas material like the ones found in Converse shoes will stay wet and have a tendency to soak up moisture instead of letting it pass through.

Try pouring a glass of water on your leather shoes and the majority will fall off. But pour the same amount onto a pair of canvas shoes, like Converse, and it will be mostly soaked up.

2. Your feet have the most sweat glands in your body

We’ve already covered the fact that the canvas material of Converse shoes does not effectively let moisture and liquids pass through. Add in the fact that your feet have the most sweat glands in your body and you’ve got the makings of smelly shoes.

According to UC San Diego Health, each foot has approximately 125,000 sweat glands. The soles contain more glands per square centimeter than any other part of the body.

In fact, your feet can produce approximately half a pint of perspiration daily.

Sweat alone does not smell bad when it is produced. But, if the sweat remains on the skin (when you are wearing non-breathable Converse shoes), then skin germs or bacteria will break down the sweat, creating the distinct smell of smelly feet.

Here are some of the reasons why your sweat can become more smelly:

  • The sweat can’t evaporate due to tight shoes.
  • The sweat can’t evaporate due to non-breathable shoes.
  • Not wearing socks allows bacteria to thrive.
  • Not washing your feet daily and poor hygiene.
  • You are on your feet all day, particularly in a warm environment.
  • You are under a lot of stress.

Unfortunately, the best thing you can do is to wear moisture-wicking socks to prevent bad odor from Converse because the shoes are basically tight and non-breathable.

Reducing moisture can also prevent squeaking. If your Chuck Taylors have started to smell bad, here are some tips to remove the bad odor.

How to Remove Bad Odor From Converse Shoes

What you can do to remove bad odor from Converse shoes is to either spray them with a deodorizing spray made of vinegar or sprinkle them with baking soda.

The best part is, each and every one of these hacks is all-natural and eco-friendly. Here are 2 easy tips on how to stop your Converse from smelling:

1. Make a shoe deodorizing spray with vinegar

The first method to remove bad odor from Converse shoes is to spray a natural shoe deodorizing spray using vinegar, which you can make at home. 

Once you make this natural homemade spray, you can stash it in your closet or your gym bag conveniently. Then, you can immediately use it after you slip off your Converse shoes.

The ingredients you need are:

To make the natural deodorizing spray, combine 1/2 cup of water and 1/2 cup of distilled white vinegar in a spray bottle. Then, shake it well.

You can also add several drops of tea tree oil for good measure, but it is not necessary.

This easy-to-make natural spray works very well because white vinegar is a natural disinfectant, while tea tree oil kills bacteria.

Once the spray is well-shaken, mist the inside of your Converse sneakers with the spray while avoiding the outside part of the shoes. Let the shoes air-dry overnight before wearing them.

2. Make deodorizing shoe powder with baking soda

Similarly, you can also create homemade deodorizing shoe powder that you can conveniently stash for future use. For this method, you are going to need baking soda.

To remove the odor from the inside of Converse shoes, sprinkle a light layer of baking soda inside each shoe. Allow the baking soda to remain overnight.

Baking soda has many superpowers, one of them being its deodorizing properties. The powder will absorb sweat, leaving your shoes clean and dry in the morning.

If you want to kick it up another notch, you can add several drops of tea tree oil for a natural fragrant scent and some cornstarch to keep the powder from clumping.

Organic Tea Tree Oil (buy on Amazon):

Cornstarch (buy on Amazon):

All you have to do is combine 3 tablespoons of baking soda, 1 tablespoon of cornstarch, and 5 drops of tea tree oil into a small container. Then, you can simply sprinkle the homemade deodorizing powder inside your Converse shoes after you take them off.

After leaving the shoes overnight, don’t forget to empty the baking soda into the trash the next day. Otherwise, you will be leaving a white powdery trail in your wake.

Final Words

Now you know why Converse shoes can smell so bad. Since they are made with non-breathable canvas materials, they can trap sweat inside, allowing bacteria to thrive.

However, you can remove the odor from Converse shoes by using a homemade powder using baking soda or homemade deodorizing spray using vinegar.

You can also reduce sweat and moisture by wearing the right kind of socks and alternating your Chuck Taylors so you don’t wear them every day.

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