How Long Does Fungus Live in Shoes

Are you wondering how long fungus can live in your shoes? We know, it’s a real stinker of a problem! It’s tricky to navigate – and you’re probably asking yourself, “how can I get rid of it, and keep it from coming back?”

Well, luckily, we’re here to help. We have done the research so you don’t have to, and we have got the answers to all your questions.

According to DR. KLINE & GREEN TEAM, this pathogen can live in shoes from 12 to 20 months. This is due to the dark, damp, and warm environment inside the boots which is the perfect breeding ground for fungus. Furthermore, these microorganisms can survive on various materials found in shoes such as leather, rubber, and synthetic fabrics. Which can lead to the spread of these microbes if the boots are not properly disinfected.

Types of Fungus in Shoes

In shoes, the fungus can be a real menace. It loves the dark, damp atmosphere and can cause all sorts of issues, from repulsive smells to discoloration, and even structural damage. There are a variety of fungus types that can be found in  boots, including:

  • Athlete’s foot(Tinea pedis)
  • Ringworm (Tinea corporis)
  • Candida albicans
  • Trichophyton mentagrophytes
  • Aspergillus fumigatus
  • Fusarium
  • Cladosporium
  • Alternaria
  • Stachybotrys
  • Mucor
  • Penicillium 

How long does fungus live in shoes?

The fungus can live in shoes for an extended period if the environment is suitable for its development. It can thrive in moist and warm conditions and can thrive on the organic matter found inside boots. Generally, it can survive from 12 to 20 months if the environment remains favorable. 

However, the lifespan of this microorganism in shoes depends on a variety of factors, including:

Type and Nature of Fungus

Different types of fungi have different lifespans, so the kind of pathogen present in the shoe will determine how long it will survive. In the right environment, certain molds, such as Aspergillus and Penicillium species, can survive for up to one year.

Temperature and Humidity

Fungi typically thrive in warm, damp environments, so if the temperature and humidity of the boot’s environment are too low, it will either not survive or will not grow and reproduce.


Poor ventilation can lead to higher levels of humidity and an accumulation of sweat, which can also provide an ideal environment for fungi (especially Athlete’s foot) to thrive, as stated by the University of Michigan. If your shoes are not adequately ventilated, this can create an ideal environment for fungal development.


Different materials can provide different levels of protection against fungal growth. Leather, for example, is also an ideal breeding ground for fungi as it provides a warm and humid environment. 


If footwear is not properly cared for and disinfected regularly, the fungus will be able to thrive and linger for longer periods. Not only can this cause unpleasant odors, but it can also lead to a range of medical issues, such as athlete’s foot, toenail fungus, and even warts. 

What to do if I have fungus in my shoes?

How to prevent fungus from growing in your shoes

Fungus in shoes can be a common issue, but luckily it is treatable. Here are a few methods to help get rid of these microorganisms.

1. Clean and Disinfect

The first step in getting rid of shoe fungus is to clean and disinfect the affected area. This can be done by scrubbing the part with a brush and a mild detergent solution, then rinsing it with hot water. After it is clean, spray or wipe down the area with an antifungal solution.

2. Let Shoes Dry

After cleaning and disinfecting, it is important to let the shoes dry completely before wearing them again. This can be done by stuffing the boots with newspaper to absorb any moisture and setting them in a warm place out of direct sunlight.

3. Use Antifungal Powder

Sprinkle antifungal powder, such as miconazole, onto the problem region of the shoe. This powder can be found in most pharmacies.

4. Use Vinegar

White vinegar can be used to kill the fungus as well. Fill a spray bottle with a vinegar solution and spray the affected spot. Let the solution dry completely before wearing the boots.

5. Use Tea Tree Oil

Tea tree oil has natural antifungal properties and can be used to kill fungi. Dilute the oil with water and spray the infected region of the shoe.

6. Use Bleach

Bleach can be a powerful tool in the fight against footwear fungus. To properly use, mix a solution of water and bleach and spray directly onto the area of the shoe that is suffering from the fungus. After application, rinse the region with clean water to ensure these pathogens have been eliminated.

How to prevent fungus from growing in your shoes?

Fungi growth in shoes can be quite a nuisance as it can cause a lot of unpleasant odors, as well as skin irritation. As you all know Prevention is always better than cure, so keeping that in mind given below are some tips to help stop fungus development in your  footwear:

1. Wear clean socks and change them daily

Wearing clean socks every day and changing them often can help stop the growth of fungus in your shoes. In moist, dark environments, this microorganism thrives, so wearing socks that absorb moisture will help keep your feet dry.

2. Rotate your shoes

Wearing the same shoes every day can allow the fungus to build up, so it’s important to switch between different pairs of footwear regularly. It will help prevent fungi from breeding in the same boot.

3. Use antifungal powders and sprays

Using antifungal powders and sprays to keep your footwear free of fungus is a great way to prevent the development of unwanted Mold. These products create an environment that does not allow the fungi to thrive and can help keep your shoes in top condition.

4. Allow your shoes to dry thoroughly

After wearing your footwear, make sure you take them off and allow them to air dry completely before using them again. Thus, the fungus will not be able to spread within the shoe’s environment.

5. Clean your shoes regularly

Cleaning your boots regularly can stop the growth of fungus. This can be done with a damp cloth or an antifungal cleaner. Make sure you dry your shoes thoroughly afterward.

6. Insert Antifungal Inserts

If you suffer from sweaty feet, you can buy antifungal inserts that can be inserted into your footwear. These will help to absorb moisture and fight off any fungal development.

7. Use a Dehumidifier

To reduce the amount of moisture in your closet where you store your shoes, you can use a dehumidifier. You will be able to keep your shoes free of fungus this way.

How to remove the fungus from your old shoes?

fungus in shoes

Mildew and fungus can easily form in damp old shoes, making them smelly, unattractive, and potentially damaging to your feet. Luckily, there are multiple methods available to help you remove these microorganisms and restore your footwear to its former glory. 

1. Cleaning with Soap and Water

This is the simplest and most effective way to remove fungus from your old shoes. Use a damp cloth and mild soap to gently scrub away any dirt and grime. Pay special attention to the part where the fungus is concentrated and make sure you rinse off any soap residue.

2. Using Baking Soda and Vinegar

Combine baking soda and vinegar to create a paste and apply it to the troubled spot of your shoe. Leave it to sit for a few hours and then scrub it off. This method is particularly effective for tackling stubborn fungus.

3. Using Disinfectants

They are designed to kill off any fungi on surfaces, so it makes sense to use them on shoes. Spray the infected part with a disinfectant solution and leave it to sit for a few minutes before rinsing it off with water.

4. Applying a Fungicide

Utilizing fungicides specifically designed to treat fungus is a great way to eliminate it from your worn boots. Nonetheless, it is important to read the label of this chemical and be mindful of the instructions to prevent any harm to the shoe material.

5. Applying Tea Tree Oil

Using tea tree oil is an effective way to remove fungus from your worn-out footwear. Just put a few drops onto a cloth and apply it to the troubled spot. Leave it to sit for a few hours before wiping it off. This natural antifungal and antibacterial oil will help to clear away any fungus.

6. Rubbing alcohol

To sanitize the pathogen’s influenced part, dab some rubbing alcohol onto a cloth and use it to scrub the area. This will help to eliminate any fungus present.

7. Hydrogen peroxide

To use this chemical to clean an affected area, mix equal parts of hydrogen peroxide and water in a spray bottle. Spray the solution onto the spot and let it sit for a few hours. Once it has had time to take effect, scrub the area gently with a brush.


Final Verdict

Some factors can affect how long fungi can survive in shoes, such as the type of fungus, the environment in which the footwear is stored, and the amount of moisture. While these molds can survive in a wide range of conditions, it is always best to take preventative measures such as keeping boots in a cool, dry place, using an anti-fungal spray, and thoroughly cleaning and drying shoes after use.

These pathogens can live in footwear from 12 to 20 months, or even more if the right conditions are present. As such, it is essential to take proper care of your boots to reduce the risk of fungal growth and to avoid a potential health hazard.

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