Why Do Vans Shoes Smell So Bad? (Here’s the Solution)

There’s no denying the fact that Vans sneakers are stylish and popular.

Not only do they look cool for everyday wear, but the classic sneakers are iconic thanks to their retro style. Sadly, many Vans wearers complain that they stink, even after several uses.

So why do Vans shoes smell so bad?

The biggest reason why Vans shoes smell bad is because of the materials. The upper of Vans shoes is made with canvas and suede, while the bottom is made with vulcanized rubber, all of which are not breathable materials. These materials can cause a bad odor.

The combination of all these materials can potentially cause your feet to sweat more than they should. After all, the feet contain more sweat glands than any other part of the body.

In this post, let’s explore why Vans smell bad and learn how to make them smell better.

Why Do Vans Shoes Smell So Bad?

As mentioned before, the materials of Vans sneakers are the biggest reason why they can smell so bad. Even if you don’t have smelly feet, Vans shoes can smell cheesy and sour after a week or two because they do not provide enough airflow.

After all, canvas and suede are non-breathable materials.

And because the upper of Vans shoes is made with canvas and suede, they are not very breathable. So if you wear Vans shoes, expect your feet to perspire more, especially during summertime and in humid environments. And especially if you don’t wear socks!

Another reason why Vans shoes smell bad is the rubber soles.

Pop Cush Insoles can become damp and cause odor.

The bottom part of Vans shoes is made with rubber and is not breathable, particularly the Vans Pros with the Pop Cush Insoles. You can leave the shoes unworn for days, but when you pull the insoles out, they may still be damp inside.

While they add a little bit of height, they are not breathable.

You can wear other sneakers with more breathable materials all day, yet they don’t produce nasty odor because they promote better airflow. Vans shoes, however, are like wearing rubber gloves on your feet inside a sauna. They can give you instant sweat. 

And because canvas, suede, and vulcanized rubber are not breathable materials, the sweat and odor can linger inside the shoes, causing your Vans to smell so bad. 

Why Use Canvas and Suede?

Now we know what you’re thinking: if canvas and suede are notorious for becoming smelly easily, why use them at all? After all, there are other materials out there like EVA foam and lightweight nylon that are not only breathable but supremely comfortable as well.

According to Vans, one of their signature features is their vulcanized rubber construction, which is praised by skaters for its superior grip and support while on the board.

Vans use canvas/suede because they can withstand the demands of skating.

To create stronger and more durable bottom soles, natural rubber is mixed with sulfur and goes through the process of vulcanization. The process of vulcanization involves extremely high heat and compression of materials.

Because of this, synthetic materials like EVA foam and lightweight nylon can’t be used in vulcanized shoes as they tend to melt during the vulcanizing process.

Fabrics like canvas and suede, however, can withstand the high heat during the manufacturing process. The combination of canvas and suede, together with the vulcanized rubber soles, means that Vans can withstand the wear and tear of the skate park.

And that is why canvas and suede are used as uppers for Vans shoes.

How to Make Vans Smell Better?

So how can you rock a pair of retro Vans sneakers without having your feet smell like a wet dog? You need to learn how to get the smell out of Vans shoes.

A word of warning though: Vans does not recommend putting your sneakers inside the washing machine. Even if you put them inside a pillowcase, they can still get damaged.

With that said, here’s how to make your Vans shoes smell better:

1. Use Baking Soda to Remove Odor

Did you know that baking soda has many superpowers? One of them is removing smelly odor from shoes. Try adding some baking soda inside your Vans and let them sit overnight.

The powder will soak up excess moisture, leaving your Vans shoes dry in the morning.

Remember, baking soda is well-known to absorb and neutralize odors. Just don’t forget to clean it from inside your Vans the next morning, otherwise, you will leave a messy powdery trail.

Or worse, the baking soda will clump with your sweat and form into a sludge.

2. Use Newspaper to Draw Out Moisture

But what if you don’t have any baking soda in the house?

Don’t worry, you can still get rid of the bad smell from your Vans with a newspaper.

Crumple some newspaper and put it inside your Vans. Newspapers can soak up moisture which is already great, but more importantly, the carbon in the text is effective for soaking up the odor.

3. Sunlight Can Naturally Kill Bacteria

If your Vans shoes are particularly damp (because of sweating), let them out in the sun.

Not only does the sun help evaporate moisture, but it can also naturally kill bacteria that may cause a bad odor. Just unlace your Vans, lift up the tongue, and leave them be.

And while it’s not the best to leave suede shoes in the direct hot sunlight for long periods of time, your Vans shoes can handle the heat for one afternoon. Sunlight may not remove the odor fully, but it will definitely help reduce some of it. Best of all, this method is natural and free. 

4. Use Vinegar As Deodorizing Spray

Looking for a quick way to deodorize your smelly Vans? Try this:

Put some white vinegar in a spray bottle. Then, spray the inside of your Vans shoes and let them air dry overnight. For this method, it’s best to avoid direct sunlight, preferably outside your home or inside your garage. Vinegar can draw out the smell and deodorize your Vans.

Bottom Line

Now you know why Vans shoes can smell so bad. Because Vans shoes are made with canvas and suede, they can become smelly very quickly. Not to mention, the vulcanized rubber soles are not very breathable and do not provide adequate airflow into your feet.

They are, however, strong enough to withstand the rigorous grind of the skate park.

So if you want to rock a pair of the classic Vans, be sure to apply our simple tips on how to make your Vans shoes smell better so you can wear them with full-on confidence! Have a great day! 

You may also want to read: