Why Do My Work Boots Smell Like Cat Pee?

When you’re working, your shoes will take a beating. You’re going to smash them on rocks, get them wet, and put them through a laundry list of dirty jobs. No matter how well you treat your pair, your work boots can start to smell like cat pee. Let’s find the answer here in the article.

If you are a construction worker or you work outdoors, you probably wear work boots. These work boots may have a foul odor like cat pee and may also smell like gasoline or diesel fuel.

These odors are caused by bacteria, which are growing in the warm, moist environment of your boots. This growth is fueled by the urine, sweat, and other body fluids that come into contact with the inside of your boots.

This is embarrassing as you walk into your house at the end of the day and you smell something. You sniff around, and cannot find it at first, then you walk into the living room, and there it is; the smell of cat urine.

You look down and realize that your boots are the culprits. The shocking part is that these boots had been cleaned just days before. But could this be prevented by changing shoes? Let’s first have a look at this.

Do all types of Work Boots Smell?

Here is the short answer, Yes, work boots of all types that are not made of 100% leather can develop these odors. This includes boots made of leather, canvas, and synthetics.

Leather is one of the best materials used in making work boots. Leatherwork boots will last longer and are more comfortable than work boots made with other materials. The leather in your work boots will flex with your feet as you walk.

But, leather has a downside. It’s porous, which makes it a great catch-all for bacteria. As your work boots flex, the bacteria will transfer from your feet to the leather.

In addition, the bacteria can get trapped in the leather’s pores. As your boots dry out, they will release the bacteria into the air. This will cause a bad odor.

Why do they smell Like Cat Pee?

When you wear your work boots, you sweat. This is true regardless of the type of work boot you own. Sweat is odorless. But, it does contain salt.

If you wear your work boots regularly, the sweat will collect in your boots. When you inevitably take them off, you will leave a damp spot. If you wear them again, they will dry out and leave salt behind.

The stinky smell is caused by the bacteria that was trapped inside the pores of the leather. Since most people take their boots off when they get home, the bacteria that built up during the day is then released into the living space.

Some people believe the boots smell like cat pee because of the sulfur in their sweat. But, since the smell always comes back after washing, this can’t be the cause.

The smell won’t be as strong if you are wearing socks and even less so when you wear them without any socks.

But, if you want to remove this smell permanently, you’ll have to wash the inside of the boot thoroughly. Avoid using soap as it will leave behind a residue that will attract bacteria.

The best way to do this is to throw your boots on the back of the lawnmower. This will help break up the salt and lift the bacteria out.

How can we prevent the work boots from smelling?

It is not easy to prevent the problem, but if you are planning to buy new pair of boots, make sure that they are not made from synthetic material. Synthetic boots are made from plastic and will hold the smell for a long time.

Here are some things you can try to prevent your boots from smelling.

1. When you take them off after a day’s work, place them somewhere that air can circulate around them.

2. While you are working, spray them with an air freshener. This will eliminate the smell while you are still wearing it.

3. Rubbing alcohol is a natural deodorizer. Spray some on the interior of your boots.

4. Tea tree essential oil is a good way to prevent odor. Rub the boots with tea tree oil so that the smell will not stick to the boots.

5. You can spray the interior of the boots with sock odor spray.

6. Place some dry hay inside your boots or even aromatic herbs if you have them. Your boots will smell like hay or herbs.

7. You can place some dry coffee grounds inside your boots. This will absorb the smell of your boots.

8. Place a piece of dryer sheet inside your boots to remove the bad smell.

9. Place a dry sponge inside your boots. The sponge will absorb the smell.

10. Place dry paper inside your boots. The paper will absorb the smell.

11. Buy strong fabric fresheners. Place them inside the boots and leave them overnight. 12. If possible, leave your boots out in the open where the smell can get blown away.

13. You can even place your boots outside in the sun to kill bacteria and absorb smells.

Does this affect my foot too?

It is good to know that your feet are less likely to suffer from any infection because the smell is from your shoes. However, there are other risks that also accompany the foul smell. An overpowering smell can make it difficult for you to work, and it can also be unhealthy for you. The smell may affect your performance and you may end up getting hurt.

But, it is a good idea to spray some disinfectant into your shoes from time to time, this will keep the bacteria count low and help your shoes to smell better.

Most of the bacteria in your shoes are anaerobic; they feed off of dead tissue and are not harmful to humans.

But, those who suffer from foot odor should have their feet checked by a professional, especially if there is no logical explanation for it, such as a change of shoes, or a new job. It could be that they are suffering from an infection, a skin problem, or a respiratory disorder.

At times, a strong odor can be a sign that something is wrong with your foot, and a doctor will be able to detect this using a physical exam and other diagnostic tests.


If your work boots smell like cat pee, you may have a problem with the leather uppers. When working with leather, it’s important to make sure you clean the uppers regularly to prevent bacteria and odor build-up.

You can use shoe cleaner on your work boots to remove dirt and grime, or you can use a leather cleaner such as Leather Magic.

Remember, leather takes care of itself when properly maintained, so you shouldn’t worry too much if the smell remains after cleaning.

Are there any other tips you’d like to add? Do you have any questions? Let me know in the comments below.

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