Why ballet shoes smell so badly? (3 Surprising RESULTS!)

Have you for once in your life discovered that the shoes you love most are smelling badly? The feeling is not something worth remembering if you have experienced it in the past.

Why ballet shoes smell so badly is the question on the lips of many ballet dancers as well as people interested in ballet activities. 

You have come to the right medium that will explain to you in detail why ballet shoes smell bad and the easy methods you can adopt to prevent yours from having the same problem.

Why do ballet shoes smell so badly? 

Ballet shoes have the tendency to emit a foul smell due to sweets trapped from the feet of ballerinas, the inability to dry them properly, the materials used in producing the shoes, lack of proper maintenance, high frequency of using the shoes as well as keeping the shoes in plastic bags as the major causes of the bad smell. 

Although there are a few other factors that are helping in making ballet shoes smell bad as we are going to see in this article, there are lots of methods that can be used as well to prevent or minimised the problem for the benefit of both the ballet dancer as well as any other person that may come across the shoes.

Reasons why ballet shoes smell so bad?

The following are reasons why ballet shoes tend to smell bad:

Sweaty feet and residue in the shoes.

One of the major factors leading to ballet shoes smelling is the sweat from the feet of the ballet dancers that are usually trapped inside the shoes when the shoes are used.

The shoes if not subjected to adequate means of drying will still have some residue of the sweet when a ballerina uses them another time which will make it to be oozing foul smell that is unpleasant to both the ballerina and other people around.

How tight the shoe is.

A ballet shoe that is too tight on the feet of a ballerina will have a bad smell when it is used for a long time.

This is because when a shoe is right, the possibility of air penetrating through it and taking away the chances of the foul smell is therefore restricted to a minimal level.

Not dry use when damp.

Using ballet shoes when it is either damp or not properly dried will always result in them smelling badly.

This is not only peculiar to ballet shoes but to other shoes such as Mary Jane school shoes or vegan ones as well.

Confined spaces.

If ballet shoes are kept in confined spaces without adequate ventilation such as in bags, storage facilities that are not conducive or a studio that is not well taken care of, they will start producing a foul smell even if they are stacked.


The materials used in making ballet shoes also contributed a lot to them smelling badly.

Materials such as satin, light leather, and cardboard paper are prone to disintegrating which will sometimes start the decomposing process with a nasty smell which is a combination of the bacteria in our feet, trapped sweets and first that find their way into the shoes as well.

Keep them in a plastic or polyester bag.

Those ballet dancers who put their shoes in plastic or polyester bags have higher chances of getting their shoes smelling badly than others who keep them in bags that have ventilation mechanisms. 

Plastic bags don’t have a means wear air can circulate into them properly like a bag that is produced with a jeans-like material.

Frequency of using the shoe.

Using ballet shoes frequently also helps in making the shoes become smelly due to both usage and improper or limited time to recover and dry out.

Ballerinas with one or two ballet shoes will have more chances of smelling badly than a ballerina with ten pairs using each of them properly.

Lack of breathing ability of the shoe.

Ballet shoes are made in such a way that they can’t breathe properly (allowing air through the shoe and out which will help in chasing away any smell back into the atmosphere ).

This type of material will always be a hindrance to the smooth air in ballet shoes.

Lack of maintenance.

The inability of some ballerinas to take care of their shoes properly is also a factor in making ballet shoes to become smelly. 

A ballerina who fails to take precautions that will safeguard the cleanliness of both the shoes and their feet will always have a problem with shoes oozing foul smell even if the shoes are expensive.

How to prevent ballet shoes from smelling?

Keep them clean and dry.

To prevent your ballet shoes from having a bad smell, keep them clean and dry.

You can do that by simply cleaning the shoe with warm water or rag through scrubbing and also by putting it under a shade to dry after you use it during training or performance.

Buy more.

Another easy method that you can adopt is to buy more extra ballet shoes which will allow you to change them whenever you want to use them.

This will give you the chance to have more opportunities and fewer possibilities of having your ballet shoe smelling.

Wash or clean regularly if possible.

Cleaning your ballet shoes after using them or washing those that are washable is a good strategy to prevent them from smelling. 

It also helps you in removing dirt, and bacteria and makes your ballet shoes very comfortable to use.

Air them out after using.

Keep your ballet shoes where air is circulating especially under a shade outside.

This will prevent contact with direct sunlight and help preserve your shoes to remain in good condition even if you leave them outside overnight.

Get drying pouches that absorb moisture.

To avoid getting your shoes dirty and smelling, buy a very good drying pouch in the market that can help your shoes dry and filter out the sweat and moisture from your ballet shoes with relative ease.

Wear toe pads.

Wearing a toe pad by a ballerina also helps prevent your ballet shows from smelling badly.

It helps in reducing direct friction between your toes and the shoes and also helps in absorbing the sweat from your toes which you can easily remove and discard after your ballet performance.

Lysol spray them after use.

Spreading Lysol on your ballet shoes or any other specialized shoe deodorant will help a lot in making your shoes smell free and comfortable.

You may not need to be uncomfortable when opening your ballet shoe bag because of a nasty smell.

Put powder when necessary.

Applying powder also helps in preventing your shoe from smelling. Get a specialized powder recommended by your ballet instructor who has experience in such aspects and keep applying it according to the way you are asked to, It will help prolong the lifespan of your shoes and keep them from oozing foul smell.

Avoid plastic bags.

To ensure that your ballet shoes are not emitting a foul smell, avoid storing the shoes in a plastic bag which always ends up making your shoes worse because of lack of air that can penetrate through and help in making the situation worse. 

Get a breathable bag made from jeans or other friendly materials that can allow air to penetrate inside easily.

Clean your feet.

Cleaning your feet is a major factor in preventing your ballet shoes from smelling awfully.

Your feet contain tons of bacteria more than most of your body which can be easily deposited inside your ballet shoes when you sweat in them.

Keep cleaning your feet regularly and you will be surprised how effective the method is in stopping your shoes from smelling.


The reason why ballet shoes smell so badly is a result of one of the following factors below which can be prevented by following the prevention methods mentioned at the end of this article:

  • Sweaty feet and residue in the shoes.
  • How tight the shoe is.
  • Not dry use when damp.
  • Limited spaces.
  • Materials.
  • Holding in a plastic or polyester. 
  • Frequency of using the shoe.
  • Lack of breathing ability of the shoe.
  • Lack of maintenance.

The following will effectively help you to prevent your shoes from smelling:

  • Keep them clean and dry.
  • Buy more.
  • Wash or clean regularly if possible.
  • Air them out after using them.
  • Get drying pouches that absorb moisture.
  • Wear toe pads.
  • Lysol spray them after use.
  • Put powder when necessary.
  • Avoid plastic bags.
  • Clean your feet.




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