How to Clean Stinky Cleats
If you’re a Baseball Mom, you know – stinky cleats are a real problem. Especially at this point in the season – the cool, wet Spring nights behind us, and moving into the hot, humid days of June, July and August all day tournaments. This season’s once fresh-smelling cleats have seen their share of dirt, sweat, wetness and bacteria, and are now smelling like the bottom of a wet garbage bin.
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When you tell your kids that you need to clean their cleats, they probably look at you like you’re crazy. As I’ve learned over the years, the more dirt, sand and grass on your uniform (and cleats), the better. My oldest son even told me this morning that I’m spending way too much time trying to get red dirt stains out of his pants – – he likes it when they look dirty and doesn’t want them to look too clean. Apparently I’ve been wasting my time perfecting my ‘white pants stain removal technique‘.
Even if we ease up a little on removing stains from their white pants, that doesn’t mean that we have to put up with that unbearable cleat odor that only a sweaty tween or teen baseball player can produce. I’ve agreed not to wash away every speck of dirt, but that doesn’t mean I can’t try to make those dirty cleats smell a little better. Here are a few tips for cleaning and dealing with the bane of every Baseball Mom’s existence – stinky cleats.
Tip #1 – Remove stinky cleats immediately after games
Remove cleats before getting in the car to come home, so the cleats can begin to dry.
Baseball slides, worn to and from the field, have helped us get the cleats drying as soon as possible, and also have helped reduce the smell of tween-ager foot odor in my car. My boys are now in the habit of taking their cleats off after games and slipping on slides to wear to the car. Their cleats get stored in the trunk, as far away as possible from my nose, and then taken out of the car when we get home.
The less time those cleats spend on your kid’s sweaty feet, the better.
Tip #2 – Dry those stinky cleats with Air, Heat and Sunlight
Don’t store cleats in the back of your trunk or in your car or in your kids’ bat bag. There isn’t enough air flow to the shoes in enclosed spaces, so the inner lining won’t get completely dry between wearings. Dampness contributes to bacteria growth and leads to a stinky car or bat bag.
As for ‘cleaning’ cleats, you really want to do the bare minimum unless it’s really necessary (i.e. a mud puddle was involved) and you have a couple days between games to let the shoes dry fully. The last thing you want to do is make the cleats wetter.
Once you’re home, or even before you leave the ball field, clap the soles together a few times outside to get rid of caked on mud or dirt. If your kids are OK with you removing some of that hard-earned dirt, wipe down the exterior using damp paper towels (this may take a couple paper towels to get the job done) then dry the exterior using more paper towels. Then loosen the laces, pull back the tongue, and try to get as much air into the cleats as possible. We store cleats on a huge shoe rack in our basement, with a fan helping to circulate air, which keeps the cleats separated and allows for maximum air flow.
If your kids played in the rain, you can use a hair dryer or boot dryer to speed up the process. Just make sure to direct the heat only into the interior of the shoe, as too much heat can dry out and crack the leather exterior.
If the weather is hot and sunny, you can also put cleats outside to dry in the sun for a couple hours. Sunlight helps to dry out the shoes, and can also reduce the amount of bacteria. Again, loosen the laces and pull the tongue back as far as possible to allow the maximum amount of air and sunlight into the shoe. Just make sure to bring the shoes back inside when the sun goes down; overnight moisture and dampness won’t help your efforts to combat stink.
Tip #3 – Deodorize those stinky cleats
Sometimes you need more than air, heat and sunlight to reduce the nauseating smell of your player’s foot odor. Here are some recommendations for deodorizers that can help.
Arm and Hammer Baking Soda
Yup, the good ol’ Arm & Hammer Baking Soda that you probably have in your pantry. It’s my favorite Baseball Mom Hack for cleat odor. Baking Soda can effectively absorb odors when left in stinky cleats overnight. Once you’ve clapped off excess dirt, loosened the laces, and pulled back the tongue of the shoe, then sprinkle in a couple tablespoons of baking soda. Allow the baking soda to stay in the shoe overnight, then knock it out of the shoe in the morning. Be sure to get as much of the baking soda out of the shoe as possible, as it can leave a gritty, sandy feel to the shoe if left in.
Sof Sole Sneaker Deodorizer Balls, 6 Pack
Not only are these Sof Sole Sneaker Deodorizer Balls cute (or as cute as deodorizer balls could possibly be…) but they are effective for removing foot odors and other odor-causing bacteria from shoes, gym bags, and lockers.
To use, just twist the ball to release the scent. The small size means you can place them deep within the toe of cleats, but also can use them in the bat bag too. Each ball lasts about 6 months.
This amazing spray helps to eliminate odors, without masking odors. Funkaway Aerospray can be used on clothes, shoes, sports gear, and anything else that stinks. Just spray it on, let it air dry, and odors are eliminated.
Marsheepy 12 Pack Charcoal Shoe Deodorizer Bags
If you’re sensitive to perfume-y smells from other deodorizers, I recommend these Marsheepy 12 Pack Charcoal Shoe Deodorizer Bags. Charcoal is an effective natural deodorizer, and doesn’t rely on perfumes to mask odor. These natural deodorizer bags are made with natural bamboo charcoal, and help to eliminate both moisture and odors naturally. Bonus – these bags are extremely economical, since you can ‘recharge’ the bags and reuse over and over again. Every couple months, place the bags in the sunlight for 3 to 5 hours to ‘recharge’ the charcoal.
As Baseball Moms, we know that our kids’ cleat odor can be as powerful as their swing. You don’t have to put up with stinky cleats. Hopefully these Baseball Mom tips help you combat that smelly, stinky cleats stench!
Like this post? Check out these other equipment cleaning and organization posts.
How to Clean a Baseball Uniform – Uniform Care Tips
Printable Baseball Uniform Care Guide