Frolic and Detour: Sports

Detoxify Noxious Athletic Shoes In 3 Easy Steps!*

Does your house smell like the lion’s cage at the zoo? Until last week, the rancid odor emanating from the boys’ rooms made my eyes water. I traced the cause to the boys’ shoes: specifically, their soccer cleats.

Obviously I’m no stranger to athletic shoes. What’s new to me is the combination of footwear and perspiration containing male hormones which are beginning to stir and work their magic. I knew the boys were going to start growing a centimeter a day, that one day the twins’ sweat would be not only moist, but also sour and that Finn would develop man-hair below his knees, but does Nature have to be so damn smelly?

Apparently so.

I’d tried other remedies: Odor-Eaters (liners and spray), baking soda and so forth, but the smell only grew stronger. I tried to mask the stench with Lysol, Glade and every room deodorizer and air freshener in the cleaning aisle, but I only succeeded in making the boys’ rooms look like a bathroom in a cheap Mexican restaurant.

I was carping about the smell at Finn’s soccer game, and one of the moms completely destroyed my fun by refusing to join in. Instead she suggested a solution, which was quite helpful in retrospect, but which sort of pissed me off at the time because I was PMS-ing.

Anyway, she didn’t provide specifics; she just said to try kitty litter, so here’s what I did.


Here’s a tray of funky soccer cleats and a woman wearing too much lipstick. (I blotted before I got to church.)


Step One: Purchase some powdery kitty litter. (My friend said not to get the clumpy kind. There was also an option that featured clay but I thought that would add to our problem)

Step 2: Pour Kitty Litter into shallow containers


Step 3: Embed cleats into kitty litter and go!

This only took moments, not counting the fifteen minutes I spent in the aisle at Publix trying to decide which kitty litter to buy.

If your family includes members which Janet Jackson describes as “Nasty Boys,” as mine does, you may have particularly noxious cleats which need an extra dose of detox. Not to worry! For you (and me) I created “The Baptist Total Immersion Solution.” Sound messy? Not if you follow this step:


Purchase cheap knee-hi’s at Publix. Hold your breath, and pull a knee-hi snugly over each cleat. (I don’t know why I’m smiling. I look like crap and the smell is making me dizzy.)


Completely immerse the stockinged cleats in the kitty litter, and let stew for three days or until the next athletic event.

I’m thrilled to make my world a little sweeter, one shoe at a time.

*CAUTION: I do not, and have never, owned a cat. However, I suspect that those of you who do might want to find another method for detoxifying your shoes, because I foresee complications if you adopt mine.

Hope this repays all of you who have helped this clueless soccer mom learn more about the game! It works so well for me that I’m posting it to Works For Me Wednesday– go check out the great ideas over there.

Since I first posted this, a reader suggested filling the knee-hi’s with the kitty litter and inserting them into the shoes.  This ought to be much less messy, and should work unless the smell has COMPLETELY PERMEATED your life, and the shoe.


One year ago in The Tiny Kingdom: In Which I Declare Myself The Victor In The Breast Wars


  • amy

    I got about halfway through and thought, Yikes, I’d have to do this someplace the cats can’t reach! But you thought of that, too. I have to tell you I’m amazed at how much LITTLE boys’ feet stink. I know it’s only going to get worse.

  • Sherry

    Try making a kitty litter “sachet” to insert into the offending tennis shoes. Fill your used knee highs with kitty litter, knot the top and..voila!

  • Susu

    I just want to know if you got that skirt dirty posing over the garage floor??? What about those silver shoes? Are they from your tap dance class? Just kidding!! Your hair color looks great.

    We hung a metal shoe rack from the rafters in our garage just by the door and everyone places their cleats, yard shoes, etc. on it and they seem to not smell as bad. With one exception – Under Armor cleats are real leather and smell just like cow manure!! Lovely, but they last longer than “plastic” cleats.

  • shokufeh

    What a public service to post this. Especially that you included the non-clumping advice. My mom once had a funky odor in her car, due to damp carpets. She, not thinking things all the way through, sprinkled clumping litter on the car floor. We were the only people who rode with our feet on concrete.

  • Candy

    Doh, I was totally going to try this, until I got to the disclaimer at the end, and thought about my two adorable kittehs, and what they might like to do in said litter.

    Next, please?

  • Ann'Re

    We haven’t entered the smelly feet stage yet (THANKFULLY) but I have a friend who is…and I was going to suggest this brilliant idea to her until the disclaimer about the cats…of which she has two. I may suggest it anyway because rank shoes are no fun…and she may come up with an equally brilliant way to deter the cats.

  • cmhl

    now THAT is a great idea!!!! I have been quite dismayed to discover that my sweet, chubby little baby boy is now incredibly stinky smelling. wow. it must be from his father’s side of the family… 😉

  • Barb

    Love the idea! We are in football season with two teenage boys that play. It does not smell
    good in our house. I have a cat too but I will just pour the litter into a shallow pan, insert cleats and then put a plastic trash bag around the whole thing, tie it up and place it out of sight of Mr. Kitty. Simple. Thanks for sharing.

  • Lisa

    What a fabulous idea. I have stinky 5 yr old twin boys who don’t like socks (uh-oh, did they wear socks to school today?). Needless to say, we can clear a room quick. Thanks for sharing this. This is one time those cat allergies will come in handy! 🙂

  • bradley egel

    With my son being only 1, I have many stinky shoes in my future…I remember some tricks though from my childhood days when my hockey uniform and wresting shoes became so disgusting they should have been declared bio-hazards.

    The Egel Nest

  • Mamaluv

    You’re right – how can you be smiling?

    While our soccer cleat situation is not yet as grave as yours, my boys only want to wear their rain boots (I’m in the south like you, Anne, and we don’t have rain either. This is irrelevant for them, though). I will definitely have to try kitty litter sachets on those nasties.

    Except we DO have a cat. Hmmm. Must give this some more thought.

  • enigmama

    I’ve got an 8-year old boy (behind a thirteen year old girl) who already smells. Please, please keep writing. I’ll need all the help I can get!!! (Especially with the sex stuff as my pushing-fifty husband cannot even vocalize the word penis (he says thingy — can you believe that? He cringes every time I tell the boy that no-one wants to watch him pulling his penis.) It’s also wonderful to see so many other mean moms out there. I can’t find you in the flesh, but glad to find you here!! You go girls.