Do Sneaker Balls Really Work? Everything You Need To Know About Them

What is a sneaker ball? Is it a fancy dance party where everyone dresses casually? Is it a new sport sneaker manufacturers have come up with to sell their products?

No, sneaker balls are deodorizers made to be inserted into bad smelling sneakers to freshen their scent and get rid of that noxious sneaker smell. They are small and round so all you have to do is twist them and roll them into small spaces like shoes to get rid of disagreeable smells.

Different brands have different ingredients but it’s mostly odor-absorbing chemicals such as charcoal or baking soda. Anyone who has athletic shoes for the purpose of athleticism knows they can get a bit smelly. To figure out if sneaker balls work, let’s answer a few other questions.

do sneaker balls work

Why Do My Shoes Smell So Bad?

Many people want to blame sweat, but they would only be half right. Sweat only smells when it mixes with bacteria. Feet are covered by shoes all day. If the shoes are not well ventilated, the warmth and moisture become a breeding ground for bacteria. Keeping your feet clean and wearing ventilated sneakers will stave off the worst odors.

What Are Odor Balls?

There are many ways to deal with bad odors in sneakers. All of these methods from shoe fresheners to deodorizer sprays to feet deodorizing balls all have the purpose of eliminating the bacteria and fungi thus making your shoes less odiferous. What’s more, it aids in protection from ailments such as athlete’s foot and foot sweating as well.

How Do Sneaker Balls Work?

They work much the same ways as air fresheners do on rooms, just on a much smaller scale. You give them a little twist, put them in your shoes and they absorb odors. You can twist the ball back together in between uses to make it last longer. Some are filled with odor absorbing chemicals. Some give off a masking odor that improves the smell.

What Is In A Sneaker Ball?

It could be NaHCO3, better known as sodium bicarbonate. Your granny probably just calls it baking soda. Put in a drop of vinegar and see if it fizzes. If not, it could be cyclodextrin, a compound with the capability to trap hydrophobic aroma chemicals. Perfumes are often added to make the smell better.

Sneaker Balls Ingredients

The ingredients inside the ball itself are rather simple. Sometimes it’s charcoal or baking soda to absorb odors. There may be some perfumed paper to leave a sweet scent. Some fancy all-natural ones might use an herbal sachet.

How Long Do Sneaker Balls Last?

Deodorizers have come a long way since the Eighties when a squeaky-voiced woman and her nebbishy husband boasted that their Magic Mushroom could go a whole month and still smell like new. Now, depending on the frequency of use, even a small sneaker ball can last a good six months. They also roll around so they can get into every bit of space in your shoe.

How To Use Sneaker Balls?

It’s very easy. You just twist the ball and leave them in your shoes overnight. The net morning, they will smell like whatever scent is listed on the label. There’s a “fresh and clean” scent if you don’t care to smell like fruits or flowers. Remember to take the balls out of the shoes before them on.

Are Sneaker Balls Reusable?

They absolutely are. You can keep using them for months at a time until it’s depleted. You can adjust the ball for intensity and close it up when not in use to make it last longer.

Can You Refill Sneaker Balls?

If you’re using a homemade one, sure. Just put in new teabags. The store-bought ones come in packs and are so long-lasting, it’s hardly worth bothering over. They are sold in pairs though the six-pack while costing slightly more, is a better bargain.

When you consider that the balls last for six months, a six-pack could keep a pair of shoes smelling good for a year and a half before you need to buy a new pack.

Are Sneaker Balls Toxic?

Usually not. The interior could be charcoal or baking soda, the same things you use for barbecue grills and making cookies. Of course, food-safe does not mean they are something you want to take in large doses.

For example, a small spoonful of baking soda is a good leavening agent and can be used to brush your teeth in a pinch (tastes terrible) or as an occasional antacid. However, too much of it can cause seizures, dehydration, and kidney failure.

A couple of years ago, it was rather trendy to eat activated charcoal. A year later, the New York City health department did a crackdown on it and it’s no longer “in”. (Vegan foods are the hot thing now with West African cuisine on the horizon.)

For the longest time, activated charcoal has been used as an antidote for poisoning and hangovers. Activated charcoal is actually an ingredient in some foods but the health claims that it comes with are dubious. Some such claims are that the charcoal absorbs toxins.

It also absorbs healthy vitamins. A little bit never killed anyone but a large amount is akin to a tapeworm infestation that can lead to malnutrition and may counteract any medication you are currently on.

Some sneaker balls contain perfume. This perfume could be anywhere from twenty to ninety-five percent alcohol. Because this was never intended to be ingested this could be isopropyl alcohol, the kind not meant for internal use.

If your child has eaten or drunk anything with perfume in it (we’ll kindly assume you aren’t so foolish) give them a light snack to keep their glucose level up and call poison control at 1-800-222-1222.

Are Sneaker Balls Poisonous To Dogs?

While the chemicals inside the sneaker ball are largely nontoxic, you still need to keep them away from your dog. (While cats tend to play with things by batting them around with their paws, you never know if one might decide to take a bite out of curiosity or come across a broken one.

Keep sneaker balls away from them too.) If you have a small dog, the ball could get stuck in their jaws or throat. You may be able to scoop it out with your fingers or do the doggie version of the Heimlich maneuver (for a small dog, it’s much the way you would do it for a baby) and Bitsy will be fine after she has some water to rinse out that nasty taste.

If you have a big dog, sneaker balls present an even worse choking hazard. Even if Fido manages to swallow the whole thing (or worse, a broken thing) it could cause intestinal blockage. Swallowing broken pieces can cause internal bleeding. You can do the Heimlich maneuver on a large dog but if it’s too far down to be brought back up again, you will have to take Fido to the vet.

Most of the chemicals are non-toxic, but large doses of baking soda can cause tummy trouble. And you never know how your dog may react to certain chemicals. Fido might just vomit a little and be unsteady on his feet for a while.

If the vomiting is frequent, more than twice in a day, withhold food and contact a vet or animal poison control (1-888-426-4435) for instructions on how to medicate Fido. Keep a close eye on him, but chances are he’ll just have a nasty stomach ache for a day or so.

How To Make Own Sneaker Balls?

Do you like DIY science projects? Here’s how to make your own sneaker ball. (Remember to ask an adult before handling chemicals or sharp objects, boys and girls!) You will need to gather the following.

  • A small plastic container A plastic Easter egg or one of those plastic capsules small toys from vending machines come in will do.
  • A pushpin Must be sharp enough to puncture the plastic.
  • Two teabags
  • Scissors
  • Two small safety pins or staples
  • Baking soda
  • Citrus fruit peels This can be lemon, lime, orange, grapefruit; whichever you think smells best.
  • Cotton balls
  • Vanilla extract
  • Perfume or essential oils Any liquid you like the smell of will do.

First, poke some holes in your container. Just a few on each end will do. You could use the teabags by themselves as odor eliminators, particularly if it’s an herbal tea you like the smell of. Alternatively, you could empty the tea bags and fill them with something else.

Just cut a tiny hole in the paper and empty the tea. You can fill one tea bag with baking soda and seal the bag back up with a pin or staple. This bag will be for neutralizing odors. The other bag can be used to replace the bad odor with nice scents. You can fill the bag with citrus fruit peels.

You can also use cotton balls soaked in a nice smelling liquid such as vanilla extract, perfume or essential oil. Put the tea bags in the container, close it up and you have your own sweet-smelling sneaker ball. It also works on drawers, lockers, and luggage.

Does Putting Tea Bags In Your Shoes Work?

Read the above how-to again. Yes, you can use the teabags by themselves. The plastic egg will preserve them for longer, though. Ordinary black tea will absorb the odors but herbal tea will leave behind a nicer smell, depending on what kind you used.

Just pop two or three bags into your shoes and leave them someplace dry. Leave them for about twenty-four hours for the best results. You should end up with shoes that smell like tea. Do not use these tea bags for any other purpose unless you like tea that smells like feet.

How Does Baking Soda Get Rid Of Stinky Shoes?

Lots of people keep an open box of baking soda in the refrigerator to absorb odors. Baking soda absorbs humidity, thus greatly reducing the conditions in which odor-causing bacteria thrive.

In fact, Arm & Hammer has marketed their own brand of deodorizing sneaker balls. Just some of the benefits of using baking soda as an odor eliminator include the following.

  • Baking soda lessens the possibility of a sensitive skin reaction that may happen with other products.
  • Baking soda takes away odors without adding other fragrances that stick around in your shoes.
  • Baking soda can be used as a fungicide and it has some mild antibacterial usage.
  • Baking soda is ultimately the least expensive way to treat smelly shoes.

Baking soda neutralizes acids. Human sweat is mildly acidic, enough to support bacterial growth. Baking soda neutralizes the acid in sweat, so there’s nothing for bacteria to feed on.


Sneaker Balls are an effective method of deodorizing your sneakers. Many marketers design them to look like sports balls, dice or smiley faces, so children and animals may mistake them for toys.

While the chemicals inside the balls are mostly harmless, broken plastic can prove a dangerous choking hazard so keep them out of reach of pets and very young children. They are an inexpensive and economical way to keep your shoes smelling fresh for a long time.

Get Rid of Shoe Odor

From Visually.


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