K2ee said, “This request is for the soles of shoes, not the inside. Our two teenagers both work in restaurants and they get food stuck in the soles of their shoes. The shoes are leather but the soles are rubber. They smell like old garbage and we don’t really want to scrub them each time they come home from work. I was thinking of soaking them in about a 1/2 inch of some vinegar solution or something but I’m open for suggestions. I’m not so concerned with cleaning them as I am with neutrilizing the smell. We have them in the mud room now but it’s a small space. We can’t leave them outside either as they will attract ants (it’s already happened). I tried searching for solutions but the only results I get are for inside shoe odors. Thanks!”
People who work in restaurants are around so much food that they often have it all over their clothes and shoes by the end of their shift. Clothes can easily be laundered, but shoes cannot. The shoes should not be soaked in vinegar because just like with a wash in the washing machine, the exposure to so much liquid for so long will loosen the glue on the soles and cause them to fall apart. Instead, here is an odor-free way to store the shoes.
You Will Need:
- A low-side box
- A deodorizer (choose one):
- Activated charcoal
- Baking soda
Steps to Remove the Odor:
- Get a box that has low walls, such as a kitty litter box.
- Pour a thick layer of either activated charcoal or baking soda into the box. The layer should be at least 1″ thick, but 2″ would be better. Activated charcoal works particularly well on organic odors like food, and it is black, so it it is the best choice for black shoes. If your shoe soles are white, use baking soda instead.
- Put the shoes in the box when you take them off. Wiggling them down into the powder a little will ensure that the entire sole is covered with deodorizer.
- Stir or replace the activated charcoal or baking soda as needed.
Additional Tips and Advice
- Lay a piece of cardboard over the top of the litter box to enclose the shoes and further prevent any odors from getting into the room.
- A pillowcase can also be used to cover/enclose the litter box.
- Another option is to make a cubby for the litter box using a long cardboard box, such as for a flat-screen computer monitor, or a plastic storage box. Cut off one of the short sides, then the litter box can easily slide in and out. The box can be covered with contact paper for aesthetics.
- Keeping a boot scraper mat outside the door gives you a quick way to scrub out some of the debris from the soles before entering the house. The mat will likely attract ants, but in this case, they would be helpful, cleaning off the mat for you each day.
Simple solution for food particles gathered on bottoms of shoes is really scrub the bottoms of the shoes; really it only takes minutes to do so & you are dealing with the problem head on. I do it all the time.
I have a stiff fingernail brush, the kind for scrubbing the dirt out of ur nails, & I keep an old tooth brush at hand as well. Use a simple dish soap or the hand soap at sink works just as well. Also have a clean hand towel or paper towels down to set the shoe on after washing & another to actually dry.
Keeping these items neatly stored together near your water source to get the task done is the key her . Take the shoe sole side up. First spend just a moment on each bottom to scrub any loose particles. Then, take the shoe, holding your hand inside or somewhere outside, but keeping a firm grip so the bottom sole faces upward but slanting down so to keep the water from the outside of the shoe (also I stuff the toes & inside with newspaper, paper towels or even wash cloths tight into the shoe. It helps keeping insides dry). Turn the water on to a very light steady stream (size of a thin straw). Wet the brush well; apply soap to the brush only. Start scrubbing, going into the groves with the brush. A lather will form. Now rinse only the bottom by holding the sole vertically over the running water. For any remaining food stuck either use the toothbrush or repeat the process or if stubborn, use a toothpick on. The first time will take longest. But the more you clean them, the less dirty on the bottom, meaning less time spent cleaning. Pat dry with a paper towel or whatever. Take all the stuffing out from inside if used; dry in a dry area on their sides. If by chance the inside got a bit damp, use a hairdryer, blowing into the inside of the shoe. Note, don’t stick the hair dryer actually in the shoe ’cause it will cause the dryer to overheat, turning the hairdryer on shut down mode ’til it cools off. Having a second pair of work shoes is always helpful. Food in the groves of the bottom of our shoes is carting around all sorts of bacteria, so you really need to get rid of the source. It’s something not to be lazy about.