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Which type of shoes does not smell?

Smelly shoes are a common problem that many people face. The odor can be quite unpleasant and embarrassing. Fortunately, there are certain types of shoes that are less prone to developing odors than others. In this article, we will explore the reasons why shoes smell and discuss the types of shoes that tend to stay fresher.

Why Do Shoes Smell?

There are a few key factors that cause shoes to smell:

  • Sweat – Feet sweat throughout the day, especially if you are active. Sweat creates a moist environment that allows odor-causing bacteria to thrive.
  • Bacteria – Bacteria on the feet eats away at sweat and dead skin cells, producing unpleasant odors.
  • Poor ventilation – Closed-toe shoes with poor airflow trap sweat and bacteria, amplifying odors.
  • Sock material – Non-breathable socks like polyester exacerbate sweaty feet and odors.
  • Infrequent cleaning – Not washing shoes regularly allows smells to build up over time.

Shoe Materials That Resist Odor

Certain shoe materials are naturally better at minimizing odors. Here are some of the best options:


Leather shoes tend to stay fresher than other materials. Leather is more breathable, allowing airflow to keep feet dry. Full-grain leather is best. It has a dense, non-porous surface that makes it harder for odors to penetrate the material. Leather also has anti-microbial properties that inhibit bacteria growth.


Like leather, canvas is a very breathable fabric. It allows moisture to evaporate off the feet rather than getting trapped inside. Canvas shoes like Converse sneakers are a great pick if you want lightweight shoes that resist odors.


Shoes made of mesh materials like soft woven nylon allow maximum airflow. The woven structure helps sweat evaporate quickly before bacteria can grow. Mesh running shoes are excellent for sweaty feet.

Shoe Designs That Prevent Odor

Along with material, the design of a shoe impacts odor potential. Some designs help minimize smells better than others:

Athletic Shoes

Well-designed athletic shoes promote airflow to keep feet dry. Breathable mesh materials and ventilation ports help sweat evaporate. Removable insoles and antimicrobial treatments also cut down on bacterial growth.


Ballet flats and other slip-on shoes often use breathable canvas or leather uppers. Avoid plastic and vinyl materials, as they don’t breathe at all. Flats without insoles also allow more airflow around the feet.


Leather loafers and boat shoes made of breathable materials smell less than enclosed leather shoes. However, make sure to wear socks to absorb sweat. Going sockless in loafers causes odor-causing bacteria to thrive.


Open-toed sandals allow maximum airflow around the feet, making them one of the least smelly options. Make sure to wash sandals regularly as sweat and dirt can collect in the footbed.

Shoe Materials That Absorb Odors

On the other hand, some shoe materials are notorious for trapping odors:

Rubber & Plastic

Non-breathable synthetic materials like rubber and plastic seal in moisture and sweat. Plastic shoes like Crocs are among the worst offenders when it comes to odor.


The vinyl material used in rain boots doesn’t breathe at all. Sweat soaks into the vinyl and causes odors. Wear rain boots only when needed and insert cedar shoe trees after to dry them out.

Synthetic Leather

Faux leather made of plastic-based materials doesn’t have the same odor-resistant qualities as genuine leather. Synthetic leather traps sweat and absorbs odors readily.

Tips to Keep Shoes Smelling Fresh

Aside from choosing the right shoe material, here are some extra tips to prevent smelly shoe woes:

  • Wear moisture-wicking socks to soak up excess sweat.
  • Use foot powder or spray to inhibit bacteria growth.
  • Stuff shoes with cedar blocks or shoe balls overnight to absorb odors.
  • Remove insoles regularly to wash and air them out.
  • Alternate between different pairs of shoes to give them time to dry out fully.
  • Clean shoes frequently by wiping insides with mild soap and water.


In summary, the type of shoes that resist odor the best include those made of breathable, natural materials like leather, canvas and mesh fabric. Closed-toe synthetic shoes are most prone to trapping smells. To keep any shoes fresher for longer, allow them to air out completely between wears and employ regular cleaning techniques. With some footwear awareness and care, you can keep embarrassing shoe smells at bay.