Common complaints from boaters are "my wet shoes are sl […]
Common complaints from boaters are "my wet shoes are slow to dry" and "my shoes really stink". Wet neoprene shoes don't "breathe", so unless you work hard to get rid of them, moisture will escape slowly. Bacteria and other microbes in the water and on your feet can create odors in humid environments. So if shoes start to stink, how do we get rid of the odor?
In addition to the non-breathing material, neoprene wet shoes have a narrow opening. This combination results in slow drying. Even the cleanest water we paddle on has a lot of bacteria in it. Bacteria, plus moisture, plus warmth can cause odor.
The first line of defense against odors is to rinse your shoes with clean water after each outing. You can also wash them with detergent, which is an excellent boating clothing cleaner. Side note: wetsuit and drysuit shampoos contain ingredients that neutralize chlorine; this is a great way to protect the neoprene from damage when you're using it in the pool.
For faster drying, tuck a rag, towel, or newspaper inside the shoe to absorb moisture. To finish drying, place your shoes in the sun or dry them with a hair dryer or boot dryer. This could be all you need to do to prevent odors.
Soak your shoes in the cleaner, don't rinse, but you can dry them as described above. These products don't mask odors, and they contain ingredients that actually eliminate odor-causing bacteria. They're great for eliminating odors from all kinds of boating gear, from base layers to gloves to life jackets.