People are freaking out about this genius way to freshen up smelly shoes—but does it work?

We tried it to see

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Whether I'm running errands, going for a walk with my friends, or heading to the gym, I wear my sneakers a lot. Let me rephrase that: I sweat in my sneakers a lot.

So when I saw a recent hack about how to get rid of bad odor in your shoes, I was immediately intrigued. According to blogger Lynsey Crombie (a.k.a the "Queen of Clean"), all it takes is a few tea bags and a few hours for fresh-scented sneakers. Curious to see if it worked, I put her tip to the test—here's what happened.

How tea bags get rid of odor in shoes

Bacteria thrives in moist environments (hello, sweaty sneakers!), causing that funky stink that you associate with your running shoes. Tea bags, which are super absorbent, soak up that moisture and, according to Crombie, leave a pleasant fragrance in its place.

What kind of tea bags should you use?

TeaBags
Credit: Tolola/Getty Images

So many flavors, so many options.

First things first, make sure you are putting unused tea bags in your shoes. (Hopefully that goes without saying but just in case...) Other than that, the flavor that you choose is up to you. Crombie noted that she typically uses mint herbal tea but it all depends on what scents you prefer.

Does it actually work?

Unfortunately, no. When I tried this trick with my gym shoes overnight, it didn't end up working. While they weren't necessarily super smelly to begin with, they did have that not-so-lovely aroma of sweaty socks and feet (you know the one I'm talking about). So last night, I put two mint herbal tea bags in each shoe before I went to bed.

When I checked them this morning, they did smell minty—but they also still smelled sweaty (albeit dry). The verdict? The tea bag trick will add fragrance to your shoes but it won't remove the underlying odor.

So how can I get rid of my smelly shoe problem?

Shoes
Credit: Predrag Images/Getty Images

Fresher feet are in your future.

While tea bags may not work, our social media manager—and avid runner—Kate McCarthy has a few stink-erasing solutions that do. "My favorite way to get rid of odor in shoes is putting baking soda in them," she says. "It absorbs the odor pretty well and the powder easily shakes out the next day. Will it completely eliminate odor from old, grungy sneakers? No, but it leaves them significantly less smellier."

She adds that prevention is also key. "I always try to make sure I'm taking care of my shoes. If I ever go for a run in the rain or have a particularly smelly workout, I stuff my sneakers with newspaper to absorb the moisture, so it doesn't just settle into my shoes and make them grosser," she explains. And if you need an extra hint of good scents? McCarthy recommends adding a few drops of essential oil.

Related

Here's how to clean your dirty sneakers in the washing machine
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Our editors review and recommend products to help you buy the stuff you need. If you make a purchase by clicking one of our links, we may earn a small share of the revenue. Our picks and opinions are independent from any business incentives.
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