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Shoe Drying: How to Dry Wet Shoes Quickly in a Pinch

If you ever had the sole-crushing experience of sticking your foot in a wet shoe, we’re going to go out on a limb and assume it wasn’t a positive one. Zero stars. Do not recommend. 

While it’s true, footwear is made to protect our feet from the elements, even the highest quality sneaker, loafer, or boot can fall prey to spills and storms alike. 

The good news is we at The Gentleman’s Playbook have researched the most tried and tested methods on how to dry wet shoes quickly and answered some of the most asked questions you might have about keeping your kicks dry. 

How to Dry Wet Shoes (Without them Smelling)

A common complaint about shoes that have been dried after a good soaking is a foul smell. 

how to dry wet shoes without them smelling bad

We’ve scoured every corner of the internet and gathered the advice of cobblers (and our moms!) for the very best methods on how to dry wet shoes while ditching any unwanted odors in the process.

Use Newspaper to Dry Out Damp Shoes

We’re on a quest to teach you how to dry wet shoes without them smelling, and our first stop is at the paper. Newspapers are excellent at soaking up excess moisture, which will help to minimize drying time while also absorbing any unwanted odor in the process.

For maximum absorption, bunch up enough newspaper to fit inside your shoe and secure it with a rubber band. This method will soak up the moisture while still maintaining the shape of your shoes. 

Expert tips: 

  • For express drying, experts suggest removing the sole of your shoe or boot (if applicable) to dry separately and wrapping your shoes’ exterior with newspaper as well.
  • Be sure to check on the newspaper frequently. You may need to replace the paper at least once during this process as it soaks up the moisture.
  • Be wary of newspaper ink with light-colored shoes, which can transfer in some cases. Colorless packing paper is an excellent alternative.

Rice Saves More Than Cell Phones

If you’ve ever dropped your phone in the water, you’ve likely been advised to soak your device in a bowl of dry rice to soak up the moisture. This incredibly affordable hack has proven very effective. 

While researching how to dry wet shoes, we were curious if this staple would work well with shoes. Spoiler alert: It does! 

drying shoes in rice

For best results, first, remove the insole of your shoe (if applicable) and put them in a bag or bowl filled with rice.  Next, you’ll want to fill a large sock with rice and knot it at the end.  Finally, slide the sock of rice into each shoe and let it do its magic! 

As if that wasn’t cool enough, rice also has the added party trick of absorbing unwanted odor.

Enlist the Help of a Specialized Tool

If you frequently are trying to figure out how to dry wet shoes quickly because of an active lifestyle or hobby, it may be time to invest in a tool that will get the job done in a flash. 

The good news is that shoe dryers are affordable and they dry shoes at a much faster pace than other DIY methods. 

While shopping for a footwear dryer, you’ll want to consider the following: 

  • Opt for a dryer that has both heat and cool air options: While heat will undoubtedly get the job done quicker, many shoe materials (we’re looking at you, leather!) can be damaged over time with extended exposure to heat.
  • Ensure the dryer you pick has a timer option: You’re a busy guy and do not have time to sit around watching your boots dry. A timer option ensures that your shoes are only under heat for as long as needed.

Look for adjustable temperature settings: Before drying your shoes or boots, you’ll want to research any manufacturer recommendations for heat.  Depending on the materials of your shoe, you’ll want the option to set maximum temps.

How Long Do Shoes Take to Dry?

There is a broad spectrum in the amount of time it takes to dry your shoes. Some methods are a sprint while others a marathon. 

The amount of time it will take your shoes to dry depends on a variety of factors such as: 

  • Methodology: The use of blown air, heat, or items that absorb will all affect drying time.  Typically speaking, heat will get the job done sooner but may not be the best choice for a particular shoe or material.
  • Foot Wear Type: The thickness, shape, and materials your shoe is made of can each affect the drying time.

The degree of moisture: Ultimately, another significant factor in drying time is whether your shoe is soaking wet or just mildly damp.

Can You Put Shoes in the Dryer?

If you need your shoes dry, like yesterday, then you might be considering whether or not they can be tossed in the dryer for a quick job. 

You can be reasonably confident in knowing that not many shoe manufacturers will suggest drying your shoes in a clothes dryer. That being said, we get it; sometimes, you have to do what you have to do. 

Before tossing your sneaks into the dryer and taking a gamble, follow these best practices: 

  • Check the tag: You won’t know until you know. Check the label on your shoe for recommendations regarding the use of a dryer. The symbol for drying is a square, and tumble drying is a circle within a square. If the symbols are crossed out, it is not worth the risk.
  • Opt for air-dry settings: When drying your shoes in a clothes dryer, heat is not your friend. If your dryer does not have a specific air-dry setting, you’ll want to select the lowest temperature possible.

Placement: One of the significant risks with drying your shoes in a clothes dryer is the risk of damage to your shoes from rolling around. If your dryer has a drying shelf — that is ideal.  Alternatively, consider throwing in some towels with your shoes to dry which will provide some protection.

Can You Dry Shoes in the Microwave?

Can you stick your head in the mouth of a gator? Sure you can! Should you? Definitely not. 

can you dry shoes in the microwave

Look, we are all for MacGyvering the heck out of most challenges, but drying your shoes in a microwave is a hard no. The problems with attempting to dry your shoes in a microwave include:

  • Not properly ventilated: Because a microwave is a closed container, there is nowhere for the moisture to escape. Instead, the shoe will become increasingly hot, compromising the materials and components that hold the shoe together. You can quite literally burn your shoes.

Electric risks: Many shoes contain metal components making the use of a microwave straight-up dangerous. Unless your name is Doc Brown armed with a flux capacitator– we suggest avoiding this method.

How to Dry Shoes Overnight

We’ve provided some great tips on drying shoes quickly, but if you have a bit of extra time, you may be looking for solutions on how to dry shoes overnight.

When time is on your side, a non-heated fan source is your best bet. Using a clip to attach your shoes to a fan or propping up your shoe against the fridge fan near the floor are proven methods to dry out your shoes without risk of damage.  

By using a fan, the flow of air will also help alleviate your shoe of any smell or odor associated with being wet.

Conclusion

Figuring out how to dry wet shoes can be a challenge. As we’ve mentioned, there are many factors to consider, such as methodology, materials, and time constraints. 

Taking the time to consider the best option will protect your investment and keep your footwear dry and free of odor.

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