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DIY Activated Charcoal Shoe Deodorizer

DIY Activated Charcoal Shoe Deodorizer

How To Make Homemade Charcoal Shoe Deodorizers

In my ongoing saga to find the best shoe odor eliminators, this week I tried making my own homemade activated charcoal shoe deodorizers.  

Charcoal has long been used as an absorber of nastiness from being used in medicine to treat various types of poisoning (more on that here in a dense medical research paper), filtering filtering water and alcohol, as well as dozens of other uses.  

DIY Shoe Deodorizer Recipes

I’d seen some fancy pants charcoal shoe deodorizers for sale on Amazon from Moso Natural which look great.

In the end I decided to make my own charcoal shoe deodorizers with some handy supplies I had laying around. These are a great shoe deodorizer option if you are looking for a diy shoe deodorizer without baking soda.

If you are currently engaged in a stinky shoe related struggle you might be interested in my full list of diy homemade shoe deodorizers.


This is a super simple shoe deodorizer recipe, that aside from activated charcoal you might have the rest of these ingredients laying around already!

homemade charcoal shoe deodorizer ingredients

Activated charcoal powder can be very messy.  Getting it in white or light colored clothing may ruin it completely.  Keep a damp rag on hand to clean up any stray powder and please be careful.

You have been warned.  Let’s do this!

Add Essential Oils

diy charcoals shoe deodorizers add essential oils

This step is optional, but if you want you can add a few drops of essentials oil onto the outside of the filter to give your shoes a pop of a pleasant scent.  

I find that the charcoal will absorb some of the essential oil scent, but not all of it.  Coffee filters tend to absorb oils from brewed coffee grounds while they let water pass through which is perfect for our purposes.  

We are looking to let the essential oils sit on the outside of the filter while stink and moisture from the shoe are absorbed through the filter into the charcoal powder.

For my set I added a few drops of my handy dandy peppermint essential oils.  If you aren’t familiar with essentials oils, a good starter set is a great place to start.

NOW Essential Oils, Peppermint Oil, Invigorating Aromatherapy Scent, Steam Distilled, 100% Pure,...
NOW Essential Oils, Peppermint Oil, Invigorating Aromatherapy Scent, Steam Distilled, 100% Pure,...
Brisk, uplifting aroma; Can be invigorating and rejuvenating; Can also be taken internally when properly diluted
$14.99 −16% $12.61

Add Activated Charcoal

Add charcoal to the shoe deodorizer

Next add in some activated charcoal.  In my shoe deodorizer I am using 1/4 cup of activated charcoal.  

Again, be super careful, the activated charcoal is very fine and can poof and get all over the place.

Activated charcoal is our odor fighter in this recipe.  Essentially activated charcoal is a champ at adsorption (not absorption).  

This means that liquids, gases, and solids are especially happy to attach to the surface of the activated charcoal (more nerdiness on that here at howstuffworks).

In our case this means adsorbing all those nasty shoe smells we hate so much.

100% Bamboo Charcoal Powder
100% Bamboo Charcoal Powder
Natural Bamboo Charcoal Powder; Pack 100g. (3.5 Oz); 100-Percent Bamboo Charcoal

Wrap it up

Wrap charcoal shoe deodorizer

Once you have your essential oils on the coffee filter and your activated charcoal loaded inside it’s time to get wrapping.

No need to be too precise, just do your best to wrap the filter as tightly as possible while tucking the corners in to prevent the charcoal from leaking. 

If you want to be extra cautious you can use a small piece of tape to close the coffee filter and keep it from opening in the next step.

The reason I went with coffee filters instead of printer paper, paper towels, or whatever else are simple.

Coffee filters like the pour-over filters I am using are made to be relatively strong and very porous.

Hario V60 Paper Coffee Filters Single Use Pour Over Cone Filters Size 03 Natural, 100 count
Hario V60 Paper Coffee Filters Single Use Pour Over Cone Filters Size 03 Natural, 100 count
Our pour over cone coffee filters produce clean, flavorful, sediment-free coffee.; Contains 100 disposable natural size 03 paper filters
$15.33 −41% $8.99

Coffee filters are designed to let water and other fine particles through (like the odor carrying ones in our shoes) while preventing larger particles like coffee or in our case charcoal from passing through the filter.

Step Four

Finished Charcoal Shoe Deodorizer

Lastly, place your activated charcoal packet in the center of your fabric square.  Pull the fabric as tight as possible around the packet and tie a piece of string around the fabric just above the packet trapping it snuggly inside the fabric square.

You can use whatever fabric you like best, just keep in mind that: thicker fabrics will trap odors themselves preventing the smells from penetrating and being properly trapped in the activated charcoal.

With frequent use your fabric will get dirty so don’t get to attached or use your favorite fabric unless you’re prepared to throw it away once its beyond saving with a quick wash.

How Well Does It Work

This is by far one of my favorite shoe odor deodorizer remedies.  The charcoal really does do an amazing job at absorbing odors.

As always when using essential oils I also love that I can make my shoes smell exactly how I want them just  by adding a few drops of pine or peppermint oil as the mood strikes.

Plus, I have to admit, the danger involved in using a fine black powder on light colored shoes is thrilling. ;)

Pre-made Charcoal Shoe Deodorizers

If you want a quick and easy charcoal deodorizing option Moso Natural has a great odor eliminating bag perfect for deodorizing shoes and gym bags (Moso Natural Mini review). I personally really like these and they work just as good as these diy ones!


If you found this post helpful please share it with all your fellow stinky shoe friends or leave me a comment!


Last update on 2024-04-11 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Nomusa Buthelezi

Sunday 28th of July 2019

I used teabags instead on filters , tied with rubber bands and it worked!


Friday 24th of January 2020

That's awesome and a good tip! Thanks for commenting!

D Smith

Thursday 1st of March 2018

While I think charcoal is a bit more effective, one alternative to charcoal (especially for those who do not wish to risk getting their shoes soiled) is using baking soda. It's cheaper and actually effective enough to do the job. It can be applied less carefully as well since it will not damage your shoes. You can use it to also help reduce sweating while wearing your shoes (with socks on only).

What I have done is sprinkle baking soda generously into both shoe. Then wrap the shoe tightly in a typical plastic bag, like from the store. The older thinner bags work best. You could also use a really large ziplock or similar bag. Then let it sit overnight. Afterwards take your shoes out, shake the excess in the toilet for a little more freshening use and either wash them normally or keep wearing them (if you normally wear them with socks). Depending how bad the odors were. Let your nose be the judge. You may repeat if necessary. The longer you let it sit the better and make sure the bag is wrapped tight.


Friday 24th of January 2020

Thank you for sharing alternative ways to get rid of shoe stink! I have a couple other posts about using baking soda as a shoe deodorizer too! You can check them out here or here

Kevin Kelly

Thursday 21st of September 2017

Yo son! I got mad love for you saving me some crazy coins. Bout to drop a few on the uv joints but thanks to my man keepin that in the levis.

Seriously thanks for the info, always better to diy instead of giving away my hard earned income.

Mickie W. King

Sunday 20th of August 2017

I love this site! Please send me regular updates. Thanks for this info.


Friday 24th of January 2020

So glad to hear that Mickie, I hope you were able to subscribe to the email updates!

Elizabeth Clark

Monday 31st of July 2017

This deodorizers works great. My grandma have to used the exact method and I learnt it from her. Nice to see this method on your blog.

Thanks for sharing.


Friday 24th of January 2020

That's awesome! I love it when grandparents are able to share their experience and wisdom with us, because then we know it's tried and true!