Why Do My Work Boots Smell Like Cat Pee?

You’re minding your own business, going about your day when you catch a whiff of something…foul. You take a closer sniff and realize with horror that it’s your work boots that smell like cat pee! What gives? And more importantly, how do you get rid of the stench?

Rest assured, you’re not alone. Many people have experienced the unfortunate phenomenon of work boots smelling like cat urine. 

There’s nothing worse than pulling your work boots out of the closet only to be overpowered by a smell that can only be described as “cat pee.” But why do our boots sometimes take on this offensive odor? Here are a few possible explanations.

According to Podiatrist & Foot Surgeon Dr. Bruce Pinker, the most cause is your feet sweat too much and you are not cleaning them properly after wearing them quite often. 

I am going to explain all the possible reasons for Why do my work boots smell like cat pee? and provide some tips for getting rid of the stink.

5 Reasons Why Your Work Boots Smell Like Cat Urine

Reasons Why Your Work Boots Smell Like Cat Urine
  • Wearing them too often without allowing them to dry out fully

This is especially common in winter when we’re constantly trudging through wet, slushy conditions. If you don’t allow your boots to dry properly, bacteria will start to grow and that’s what causes that distinct cat urine smell.

  • Not cleaning them regularly

Just like any other type of footwear, work boots need to be cleaned regularly. Failure to do so can result in a build-up of sweat, dirt, and bacteria AKA the perfect conditions for that pesky cat pee smell.

Even if you don’t think they’re particularly dirty, it’s important to give them a good cleaning (inside and out) now and then to prevent odors from building up.

You can clean your boots with soap and water, or you can use a commercial boot cleaner. Just be sure to let them air out thoroughly afterward so that they don’t stay wet and start to mold.

  • Poor ventilation 

If your work boots don’t have enough ventilation (i.e. they’re made of leather or another non-breathable material), that can also contribute to the problem since sweaty feet are a breeding ground for bacteria. In many studies, it was shown that sweat combined with bacteria creates an odor-causing chemical reaction.

  • Made off

There could be a reason why your work boots might stink of cat pee has to do with the materials they’re made of. Leather, in particular, is known for being absorbent.

So if your boots have come into contact with something that’s been sprayed with cat urine, they may well have absorbed some of that odor. Perhaps they get wet in the rain and then dry up inside the closet after getting wet in the rain.

  • Feet issues

If you’ve ruled out all of these possibilities, then the most likely explanation is that there’s something wrong with your feet. When sweat mixes with the bacteria on our skin, it can create an unpleasant smell.

If you think this might be the case, try cleaning your feet more thoroughly and/or using an antiperspirant on them before putting your boots on. You could also try wearing socks made of materials that wick away moisture, like Merino wool.

How to Get the Cat Pee Smell Out of Your Boots: 10 ways

If you’ve ever been a victim of cat pee, then you know that it can be an incredibly difficult smell to get rid of. But don’t give up hope yet! There are some ways you can take to try and get the smell of cat pee out of your boots

1. Wash them with diluted vinegar

Vinegar is a natural disinfectant and will help kill the bacteria that are causing the odor. Simply mix equal parts water and vinegar in a bowl and scrub your boots with a brush dipped in the solution. Rinse well and let them dry in a well-ventilated area.

2. Sprinkle baking soda inside them

Baking soda is another natural odor absorber. Just sprinkle some inside each boot and let it sit overnight before shaking it out in the morning. 

3. Freeze them overnight

If you’re desperate, you can try this method which involves placing your boots in a plastic bag and putting them in the freezer overnight. The extreme cold is supposed to help kill the bacteria causing the odor. Just make sure they’re completely dry before wearing them again to avoid freezing your feet!

4. Be careful with deodorizing sprays

Some deodorizing sprays may mask the odor temporarily but can also end up making things worse by trapping moisture inside your boots which will only accelerate bacterial growth. If you do decide to use a spray, make sure it’s designed specifically for footwear, and always apply it sparingly so as not to make things worse.

5. Stuff them with newspapers

This is another great way to try and absorb excess moisture while also helping to reduce odor. Just stuff some newspaper in each boot, leave it overnight, and then remove the paper in the morning. Repeat as needed until the smell disappears. 

The process works best if your socks are moist and not too stinky. And it feels like if you don’t let it dry it will stink more. 

6. Use a shoe deodorizer

There are a variety of shoe deodorizers available on the market that use natural ingredients like baking soda and essential oils. These are usually in the form of sprays or powders, so just make sure you follow the directions carefully before using them.

7. Avoid wearing synthetic materials

Synthetic materials tend to trap moisture which can add to the problem by creating an ideal environment for bacteria to thrive in. Try and stick to materials like leather or canvas which are more breathable and less likely to cause odor problems.

8. By using a disinfectant 

To get the smell of cat pee out of your boots, rubbing alcohol is the best disinfectant. If there is a strong smell you can use a cotton ball and soak it in rubbing alcohol and then apply it to the affected area. Let it dry, then wipe it off with a damp cloth. Repeat if necessary.

If the odor is not that strong fill a spray bottle with 50 percent water and 50 percent rubbing alcohol. Spray the affected area, let it dry, then wipe away any remaining moisture with a cloth or paper towel.

9. Replace your insoles regularly

Also, you can try changing your insoles regularly as they can accumulate moisture and create an unpleasant smell over time. This is especially true if you’re wearing them while exercising or doing other activities that make you sweat. Switching out your insoles regularly can help keep the odor at bay.

10. Buy new ones 

If all else fails and nothing seems to be getting rid of the smell, then it might be time to invest in a new pair of work boots altogether. After all, who wants to walk around all day smelling like cat pee?!

Following these tips should help reduce the smell of cat urine in your boots and keep your feet feeling fresh all day long! Remember, prevention is key, so try to clean and air out your boots regularly to avoid any future problems. Good luck!

How to Prevent Your Work Boots From Smelling like cat pee?

How to Prevent Your Work Boots From Smelling like cat pee

We must prevent our shoes to smell like cat pee in the first place. Here are some of the best ways to do it:

  • Air them out

Make sure to air out your boots after each wear. This will help reduce any odor-causing bacteria that may be present and help keep your boots smelling fresh.

  • Use absorbent materials inside your boots

Placing absorbent materials like cedar chips or newspaper inside your boots will help soak up any sweat and moisture that accumulates during wear.

  • Clean them regularly

This is the most important preventative measure you can take to keep your work boots from smelling like cat pee. Use a brush or damp cloth to clean out any dirt or debris, and then let them air dry in a cool place away from direct sunlight.

It’s also a good idea to spray them with a fabric protector to help keep them looking and smelling their best.

  • Apply antifungal spray

Applying an antifungal shoe spray can help to reduce the number of bacteria that are causing the odor. Just make sure to use a spray that is specifically made for shoes and follow the directions carefully.

  • Keep your feet dry

Wearing socks that are designed to wick away moisture can help keep your feet dry and reduce the chances of odor-causing bacteria forming.

Socks made from materials like wool or bamboo are great for helping to absorb moisture, preventing bacteria growth, and most importantly keeping your feet dry and odor-free. Look for socks that are labeled “odor-resistant” or “anti-odor” for the best results.

  • Avoid wearing them in wet conditions

If you know you’ll be working outdoors in wet conditions, opt for a waterproof boot that will help keep your feet dry.

  • Store them properly

After use, make sure to store your boots in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight. This will help extend the life of the leather and reduce any odor-causing bacteria buildup.

  • Use a dehumidifier

Keeping your boots in an environment that is free from humidity can help prevent bacteria growth and reduce odor issues. Investing in a dehumidifier or two can be a great way to keep moisture levels low and make sure your boots stay smelling fresh all day long.


If your work boots smell like cat pee, it’s most likely due to one (or more) of the above-mentioned reasons. To get rid of the smell, try cleaning your boots more frequently, letting them air out after use, and/or paying more attention to hygiene for your feet.

And when your work boots smell like cat pee, don’t panic! It’s a common problem with an easy solution. Just follow these simple tips for getting rid of the stink and you’ll be back to normal in no time. Thanks for reading!

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