Beating Back ‘The Funk’

Any soccer parent of a child 8 or older becomes quickly acquainted with ‘That SmellTM‘. I’ve had stinking sneakers before, soured wet towels or car carpets, mishaps while emptying RV septic tanks, trips to the local landfill, and even the worst, a gallon of milk that got left in my home office fridge for weeks that eventually exploded (forgot it was there), leaking über sour milk into the carpet (that took weeks to eradicate). Nothing can come even close to the smell that emanates out of well used soccer cleats, especially after a rainy or early morning match (think dew on grass). It can be 15 degrees outside and if the cleats come off in the van, the windows ALL go down.

So what is a soccer family to do, especially one that has more than one kid playing?

The shoe rack can quickly take on a life of its own, and don’t even get me started about the soccer bags. It’s like opening a body bag when the stench wave hits you (hint – get a real soccer backpack with vented pockets on the side for cleats and shin guards!)

Anne Glamore over at My Tiny Kingdom drowned her son’s cleats in kitty litter based on a tip. Her instructions come with easy to follow directions and pictures!

Purchase cheap knee-hi’s at Publix. Hold your breath, and pull a knee-hi snugly over each cleat. Completely immerse the stockinged cleats in the kitty litter, and let stew for three days or until the next athletic event.

Simple enough. A commenter suggested putting the kitty litter in the knee-hi’s instead and stuffing the wad into the cleat. I like that idea even better since it’s closer to the stench and if you have cats, well lets say there won’t be any confusion. I think tossing the shin guards in too, wrapped in knee-hi’s, will help them as they can take on a whole new meaning of smell. See while most players wear their shin guards OVER their socks, many travel leagues require they be worn UNDER the socks against the skin. Foam + sweat + skin = FUNK. We’ve tried any number of remedies for both cleats and shin guards and few have worked well. Here’s a few Soccer Mom and Dad have matched up against the ‘Cleats From Hades’ that our son wears or methods we’ve heard about from other parents:

  • Febreze – Works for about 5 minutes and then ‘That Smell’ beats it into a pulp and takes back over. Good for a quick fix though.
  • Lysol – Doesn’t last much longer than Febreze, though the added benefit of disinfectant is nice. No telling what new life forms are emerging down in those depths.
  • Baking Soda – Too messy – eventually you get this thin slimy layer of paste in the cleat and the soccer socks come out looking like alien sock puppets.
  • Sneaker Balls – A few soccer parents we know tried these – they weren’t impressed.
  • Baby Powder – Um no.
  • Newspaper – I’ve heard that this can help dry out wet cleats and reduce the smell. I’ve always found a hair dryer works better.
  • Dryer Sheets – Not a chance.
  • New Cleats – works every time. For a while.

So what remedies have you found that can stand up to ‘That SmellTM‘? Let everyone know in the comments! I’m definitely trying the Fresh Step in a stocking. We’ll see if it can stand up to the worst my son and daughter’s cleats have to offer.

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  1. Don’t forget goalkeeper gloves . . . worse than cleats or shinguards. Regular washing with glove wash only takes the edge off. Wasing the back of the shinguards with glove wash, or at a minimum, dish detergent also helps take the edge off.

  2. Have you tried that odor-absorbing kitty litter? Because to me, sweaty cleats and shinguards have a sort of cat-pee odor anyway, so this might work! (and let me know if you try it…)

  3. I’m definitely going to try it and I agree – a really funky pair of cleats come VERY close to that knock you on your back smell of cat-pee. Headed to Wally World this afternoon so if you see a guy buying kitty litter and stockings – don’t stare. I’m just a Soccer Dad!

  4. I have some of that enzyme stuff that you spray on catpee to neutralize the odor. You spray it on the urine and the enzymes eat up the bacteria. Tried it on the inside of cleats and shin guards and it really helps. You soak them with the spray and let them dry for several days.

  5. I actually just called Adidas and they took my son’s cleats back and replaced them. I explained the cat pee smell and the lady was really nice. He has another pair of Adidas now and I hope they don’t end up smelling like that again. He had to leave them in the garage, otherwise the whole first floor would smell of cat pee.