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.