May 25, 2023

Shoefresh gamechanger review: Tackle stinky sports shoes with this handy gadget

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Gamechangers: Shoefresh deep-cleaned our hockey shoes with zero effort

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All it takes is 25 minutes and you’re ready for your next training session

Having played field hockey ever since I was about eight years old, it's safe to say I know a thing or two about smelly sports shoes – especially during those awkward years of puberty. At certain phases, I played four or five times a week and, as you can imagine, that takes a toll on your sports equipment.

Not only did my shoes need regular replacement due to natural wear and tear, but it was also simply impossible to get rid of the smell in between sessions. Anyone who plays field hockey, or outdoor sports in general, will likely know what I’m talking about. That deadly combination of wet pitches and sweaty feet which produces a whole new level of odour. A smell so bad that is only made worse when you forget to remove said wet shoes from your sports bag before your next session.

Growing up, to avoid those grim fumes entering the house, my parents insisted our sports shoes got chucked into the garage – otherwise knows as the designated smelly sports equipment area. Out of sight, out of mind right? Unfortunately, that didn't make the problem go away and every time I changed into my hockey shoes before training or a game, I was still met with the same pong.

I’ve tried a thing or two over the years to tackle this problem, and while throwing them into the washing machine works, the shoes would then take ages to dry. A stranger remedy I’ve given a go is to stash tea bags in my shoes overnight, and while it also did the trick, it's just such a waste of perfectly good tea bags that I’d much rather use for a hot brew. So, imagine my excitement when I came across the Shoefresh, which claimed to be the answer to all of my problems.

Anton van den Brand, a hockey dad no less, had grown tired of his kids’ stinky sports shoes in the house (sounds familiar) and started looking for a solution. Fast forward a couple of years and the brand was born. The machine is designed to not only clean your shoes, but also dry them. All while requiring very minimal effort from my end.

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I can now personally testify, that it is a real game changer for anyone who plays sports, especially for those who have little time in between sessions.

Buy now £113,

The £113 machine (£99 without the multi holder) is compact enough to be tucked away in a corner of most rooms. It does need to be plugged in for use – a minor inconvenience – so do take that into consideration when finding a place for it. The Shoefresh requires very little assembly and all you have to do is attach the holders to it, plug it in and it's ready to take on the task. I’ve made it a habit to put both my hockey shoes and sports shoes on top of the holder the second I get home from a workout, and the machine automatically starts up when doing so.

Once you’ve put your shoes on the Shoefresh, it runs a 25-minute programme that cleans the shoes using active oxygen, also known as ozone, for the first five minutes, which combats fungi and bacteria that not only cause your shoes to stink, but can also cause certain conditions such as athlete's foot and nail ringworm (yikes). Then, it dries your shoes inside out with warm air for the remaining 20 minutes to evaporate sweat and moisture.

Ozone is also sometimes used as an air disinfectant in indoor environments, but you should know that exposure to high levels of ozone for even a short period of time can cause health issues or worsen existing conditions. Luckily, there's only a minor amount of ozone used in Shoefresh's cleaning process which is far below the legal maximum established by the EU. And the product bears the CE-mark, declaring it's been assessed to meet high safety, health and environmental protection requirements from the EEA.

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While levels are low and it only uses ozone for short five-minute periods only, we still thought it released quite a chemical smell. This is why the brand recommends using the machine in well-ventilated spaces only and to leave such spaces while the Shoefresh is doing its job – so the smell doesn't bother you and to reduce exposure. I use mine right in front of an open balcony door, so that the chemical smell doesn't linger inside – I’d still prefer this over the smell of our stinky hockey shoes any day though.

It does also make a bit of noise – similar to a laptop that sounds like it's taking off. It's nothing too loud and definitely will not bother you if you use the Shoefresh in another room.

Rome wasn't built in a day, and it can take a couple of weeks before the Shoefresh manages to get rid of the smell – in fact, the brand recommends you allow two weeks of use before judging the results. That said, I could tell that for my hockey shoes the stench had already gotten less penetrant after one time of use, and my regular sports shoes – which smell a lot less grim – were almost completely free of sweaty fumes after cleaning them twice.

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I’ve been using my device on both my hockey shoes and regular sports shoes that I use for boxing and gym sessions for a couple of months now, and can confirm it's been a real game changer. Now, after I’ve had the Shoefresh work its magic, I can leave them anywhere I want without the entire flat smelling of sweaty sports shoes. It also means I no longer have to machine wash them, which admittedly did leave the material feeling a little stiff afterwards.

The Shoefresh came with the multi-holder which allows you to clean two pairs of shoes at the same time. I haven't been using this holder too much, as I wouldn't use both my hockey and sports shoes in one day, so there was really no need to clean them at the same time. But I can imagine it's convenient if you share the machine with the rest of your household – especially in a sporty family.

While I haven't tried this out yet, you can also clean your boxing gloves on the Shoefresh, as well as shinpads and open shoes when using the cleaning cover you receive with your purchase – making it quite a versatile machine. And if you’re still a little unsure about whether it would work, they do offer a 30 day money-back guarantee, which would be more than enough time to notice a change.

If you don't play (outdoor) sports, you might not understand my level of excitement for the invention, but for me, the Shoefresh been such a useful gadget. Especially when I’ve played on a wet, water-based pitch or have been training in the rain, I actually cannot wait to take my shoes from my bag and give them a good clean – without actually having to put in any effort, of course.

It's truly refreshing to not have the lingering smell of sweaty shoes in the hallway and to know for sure my shoes will be dry before our next session. The machine does exactly what it's supposed to, and if you follow the brand's instructions correctly I don't see any reason why you wouldn't appreciate it as much as I do.

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