The battle of the stinky dive booties

A couple of weeks back I noticed that my dive booties smelled horrible.  I had been out diving almost daily and they were getting a lot of use.  So I started looking around for solutions.  I knew that they needed to dry completely but that wasn’t really doable when I was using them every day.  I got lots of tips from “sink the stink” to simple green to head and shoulders shampoo. 

On a routine basis I use simple green to clean my gear at the shop and at home.  It works well at elminating odor but it wasn’t enough for those stinky booties.  The first thing I tried was head and shoulders shampoo.  It didn’t harm my booties but neither did it mitigate the smell.  I also tried baby shampoo, for it’s gentle cleansing.  

Another option I considered was a boot dryer.  I used to have one when I worked in EMS to dry my leather boots between snowy shifts.   I liked it for those purposes but was unsure how it would fair against dripping wet booties.  Electricity and water don’t really mix well. 

I decided to head to military clothing and sales to look for solutions, after all, I’m sure many soldiers battle stinky boots.  I didn’t find a boot dryer but I did find some solutions.  There were sprays and other such chemicals available but I didn’t think any of them were deigned for a boot that is submerged daily.  I was also very wary of their safety with neoprene.  In then end I wound up purchasing a pair of place holders or shoe stretchers.  They are a simple decive with a plastic molded front that is put into the toe of the boot and an adjustable length for different sizes.  By themselves they don’t deodorize, but they hold the booties open and by keeping them from colapsing they allow air to flow and dry them out faster. 

My booties are a 6.5mm neoprene with a full sole like a shoe.  Some others are not as thick and do not have soles so thick.  At first I had a thinner pair that were soft soled but I quickly found that the volcanic rock we have here in Hawaii is pretty darn sharp.  Since most of my diving is done from shore I saw a full sole as a worthwhile investment.  When I purchased them the sole was much more of a selling feature than the thickness.  On their own, even with the placeholders they take 2-3 days to dry completely.  

The best odor prevention is to allow them to dry and air out completely but since I often need them again before that I have found that the place holders are the next best thing.  It’s also worth noting that not peeing in my wetsuit has also aided with the odor of both the wetsuit and booties.  There are times, of course, when this is a necessary evil but as a general rule its to be avoided.  

Feel free to share any other tips that you have found to be useful as well.


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