Beginner’s Guide To Cleaning Smelly Cycling Shoes

For Christmas I bought myself a shiny new Wahoo Kickr Core. I was growing increasingly tired of trying to negotiate Zwift with my old Blackburn Tech Fluid and a couple of Garmin sensors while the cool kids were Zwifting their little Zwift hearts out. But that’s a story for another day. Since I bought the Kickr I have been, like Alice, fully consumed by the Wonderland that is virtual cycling, which means hours of time spent on the bike and – as any Zwifter can attest – bucket loads of sweat. Sweat everywhere. On my head, on the floor, dripping down my legs, soaking my socks and shoes. Sweat, sweatier, sweatiest.

It was only today though, as I was cleaning my bike, that I noticed a foul odor in the area where I keep my shoes. It smelled like a pair of sneakers that had been left out in the rain. I know this because I’ve left pairs of sneakers out in the rain. Anyway, I reached for one of the still-damp-from-yesterday’s-ride shoes and smelled the inside. My reaction I imagine, was not unlike a rookie detective smelling a corpse for the first time.

At this point, I did what any  cycling enthusiast would do. I consulted GCN or Global Cycling Network to you non-cyclists where I get all of my cycling information. Their suggestions were as follows: wash, use baking soda, and/or put them in the freezer. While the idea of my smelly shoes hanging out next to the ice cream is downright terrifying, I figured a good old fashioned washing and some baking soda might go far.

The Process

  1. I filled up the bath tub with hot, soapy water and soaked the shoes for about five minutes.
  2. Next, I scrubbed them inside and out with one of my Muck Off brushes.
  3. Then I mixed about a 1/2 cup of baking soda with just enough water to make a paste (think oatmeal not soup), and used the brush to rub the paste into my shoes as well because they are white and I thought the baking soda paste might spruce them up a bit.
  4. Next, I rinsed them off and put baking soda inside the shoes and on the insoles. I’m not sure what this will do once they are dry, but this is still an active crime scene so, much like the Iowa Caucuses, the results are not conclusive.
  5. Finally I set them out to dry for the night, so we shall see where they stand tomorrow. Stay tuned!

Update

Well the shoes are looking pretty good.  I wouldn’t necessarily describe them as “like new”, they are certainly a bit whiter than they were.  As far as the smell goes, I found the key is in airing them out.  I started putting them over the floor registers so when the heat kicks on, they get some air.  I still put a little baking soda in them every other ride or so, but they smell much more like shoes and less like cat urine!