So I have a pair of: Diadora X-Country 2 MTB Shoes (pic below)

How would I go about cleaning them, primarily to remove odor? I am tempted to put this in the washing machine- but the cleet is totally stuck to the shoe (imagine 7,000km, mostly in the wet). Brush + washing up liquid? What about the inside sole etc?

Any tips?

enter image description here

Update: I ended up using some handwash (with anti bacterial) and a brush/toothbrush and got the following results: enter image description here

  • Are you cleaning for cosmetic reasons or reasons related to odour? I find my shoes get quite stinky if they get wet and don't dry fast enough. A generous dose of foot odour spray seems to clear up the problem.
    – Kibbee
    Commented Jun 30, 2014 at 14:46
  • 3
    I find that a boot / shoe drier will knock out a lot of the odor.
    – paparazzo
    Commented Jun 30, 2014 at 15:06
  • 1
    I just use a fan to dry mine, it works really well. Commented Jun 30, 2014 at 16:27
  • 1
    For what it's worth, I have seen suggestions that dishwashers be used to wash things like baseball caps which can not be tumbled/agitated/immersed. I have no idea how well this would work for bike shoes, and of course some folks are going to be squicked by the concept of shoes and dishes being anywhere near each other.
    – keshlam
    Commented Jun 30, 2014 at 19:19
  • 3
    I recommend not smelling them. Commented Jul 29, 2014 at 11:40

9 Answers 9


Simple, yet powerful solution - pour max 1 teaspoon of sodium bicarbonate (baking soda, found in any store) into the shoes before or after wearing them. It will kill the bacteria and any other "stuff" that produces bad smell.

It has no negative effects on skin whatsoever, except when applying it to freshly shaven skin - as it may cause inflammation of the skin (but, hey - everything does under that conditions).

It also doesn't paint socks or shirts (if you use it as a deodorant replacement).

I use it on daily basis. Also, it's great if you don't want the irritations on skin from the deodorants.

Sodium Bicarbonate is odorless itself.

More info on Sodium Bicarbonate



If odor is your main concern, I can highly recommend the so-called boot bananas. You put them in your shoes whenever you are not using them, and it slowly kills all odors. I have a pair of boot-bananas for a year now, and I am very enthousiastic about it, all odors are gone since I use them. It did not use them for my cycling shoes though (they don't smell as far as I know), but for other sporting shoes. It is not cheap, but certainly worth the money.

Some people put their shoes in the freezer, as it also kills a lot of the bacteria, which cause the bad smell, but I do not have first hand experience with that.

  • 1
    Freezing doesn't really help in most cases, in my experience.
    – Batman
    Commented Aug 2, 2014 at 14:05

I try to not wash cycle shoes.

I have found a boot/shoe dryer to be effective with odor. The old style without a fan seems to work better for shoes. Leave the dryer in for a day and cook that bacteria. No I don't have medical information the dryer gets hot enough to kill bacteria but it seems to work. It gets rid of the odor and the next time they get wet they don't seem to stink up as fast. And a fresh set of socks with every ride.

According to this link you can kill odor bacteria with heat Foot odor

Remove odor causing bacteria with Ozone, Sunlight, UV, Chemical, or Heat.

enter image description here


Soaking them in a bucket of very diluted bleach water (~1 cap in a 5 gallon bucket) overnight should help with the odor.

As far as drying, either grab a fan, or there are a lot of commercial solutions available. They're mostly marketed for winter/ski boots, but they'll obviously work for any type of wet shoe.

  • 1
    Generally, chlorine bleach is not very effective for this sort of thing. Hydrogen peroxide is more effective, but I'm not sure I'd recommend either for relatively expensive shoes. Commented Jul 29, 2014 at 11:43

Start by replacing the insoles. Typically this is what smells the most in old bike shoes.

After that you can also clean the shoe itself following any one of the many suggested methods outlined in this thread. But be sure to remove you nice new insoles first before cleaning the shoe itself. Also try to thoroughly dry the shoe as fast as possible, leaving the shoe damp for prolonged period will encourage growth of bacteria.

Good luck!

  • Insoles definitely need attention. Remove them to properly dry the shoes (often they are foam, so no air movement to dry anything below them). Definitely replace if needed, but removing and cleaning the insoles will make them last longer (and keep the shoe from stinking).
    – shox
    Commented Oct 22, 2019 at 2:32

Dettol Liquid contains Chloroxylenol. It kills bacteria and provides protection against germs which can cause infection and illness. Dettol kills 99.9% of bacteria, such as E.coli and Influenza virus (H1N1). Always read the label.

Serious, the smell is caused by bacteria and your mission is to kill them!

  1. Put hot water, plenty of Dettol and your bacteria/shoes in a bucket.
  2. Let it soak for one night.
  3. Rinse and dry.

Enjoy the new smell!

  • That will probably only kill 99.9% of the bacteria ;-)
    – PeteH
    Commented Aug 1, 2014 at 8:24
  • 1
    I don't think influenza is really something you have to worry about in cycling shoes. And viruses aren't bacteria.
    – Batman
    Commented Aug 2, 2014 at 14:06

You probably do not know this but baking soda can act as a good deodorizer for the shoes and sometimes even for the feet.
- After using your shoes, sprinkle a little bit of baking soda on each one.
- Leave on the baking soda on the shoes overnight.
- Take off the baking soda from the shoes in the morning especially if it is already going to be used. More info


This is a bit unconventional, but stay with me.

  1. Take the shoes and place them in a plastic bag.
  2. Remove as much air as you can from the bag and seal.
  3. Place the bagged shoes in to the freezer.
  4. Leave the shoes in the freezer at least overnight.

I based this on the idea that the cold temps of the freezer would kill most of the odor causing bacteria and it worked the times I've tried it, but your milage may very.


Buy a boot dryer. Put your wet shoes and gloves on it after good rides. It drys them out fast and prevents odors. Great for winter commuting as well.

When my MTB shoes are covered in mud. I just take them to the sink with a scrub brush. Do a quick rinse and scrub the outside (about 2 min tops) to get the mud off and then toss on the dryer.

enter image description here


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