The best UV shoe sanitizer of 2020

Allen Foster

While there has been spiked interest in UV light sanitation this year, germicidal ultraviolet technology has been around for roughly 100 years.

The more you love a pair of shoes, the more you tend to wear them. Unfortunately, this means your favorite shoes probably smell the worst.

Not all footwear is designed to hold up to the abuse of a washing machine, so you need an alternative way to clean your shoes.

A UV shoe sanitizer can sanitize, deodorize, and even help dry your shoes.

We've taken a close look at what the market has to offer and found three UV shoe sanitizers that are worthy of being included on our list. To learn which models made the cut and why, keep reading.

Best UV shoe sanitizers of 2020

1. JJ CARE's UV Shoe Sterilizer: This handy 3-in-1 unit dries, deodorizes, and sanitizes, making it a worthy addition to our top picks.

2. Comyan's UV Shoe Sanitizer: Featuring a slightly different design, this affordable unit can sanitize more efficiently than other models on the market, which is why it's made our list again in 2020.

3. SteriShoe's Essential Ultraviolet Shoe Sanitizer: A long-standing favorite of ours, this high-end unit offers a very thorough shoe sanitizing.

For full reviews of these products, scroll to the bottom.

What you need to know before buying a UV shoe sanitizer

Basically, a UV shoe sanitizer is a product that features a special lightbulb that emits shortwave radiation. It's used to deodorize and sanitize a pair of shoes. Many are of a similar size and shape, making them ideal for adult shoes and sneakers, but not all models fit inside all types of footwear. If you have children's shoes or adult boots you wish to sanitize, be sure the model you're considering will fit.

The primary concern with using a UV shoe sanitizer is safety. The reason it's so important that the sanitizer fits fully inside of a shoe is because you don't want to be able to see any light while the unit is working -- UV light can damage skin and eyes. While most models don't have any safety overrides other than an on/off switch, some higher-priced UV shoe sanitizers don't turn on until they're fully inside of a shoe. If you'd like this extra layer of safety, you might have to look hard to find it, but it does exist.

As far as features go, you have a few options. To be effective, the lightbulb needs to remain on for a designated period of time. Because of this, UV shoe sanitizers have timers (usually set in 15-minute increments) that allow for 2 or 3 different operating modes. Additionally, an on/off switch is desirable to help reduce the risk of accidentally turning on the unit before it's inside the shoe. While some sanitizers have a side benefit of helping to dry damp shoes, in most instances this is not a primary function.

It's also important to consider bulb life and the availability of replacement bulbs. Some bulbs may cost as much as $25 to replace, so there can be a significant difference between purchasing one that lasts up to 8,000 hours and one that only lasts up to 2,000 hours. However, if you can't locate and purchase replacement light bulbs, it doesn't matter how long they last.

Lastly, look at the price. While most models fall into the $30 to $50 price range, there are a few outliers that can cost as much as $150. With higher-end models, make sure you're getting something extra for your money (such as additional safety features) to be certain you're making a worthwhile purchase.


Q. How does UV light sanitize?

A. Many people think ultraviolet light kills bacteria and viruses, but that's not exactly how it works. In technical terms, the high energy of short wavelength UV causes cells to create double bonds or dimers, which in turn prevents cellular replication. In layman's terms, UV light makes bacteria and viruses incapable of reproducing. To understand how impactful this is, it's estimated that it only takes 12 hours (under optimal conditions) for a single bacterium to replicate into 1 million bacteria.

Q. Are UV sanitizers safe?

A. They're safe if used properly. The light used in UV sterilization doesn't differentiate between human cells and bacteria. If used improperly, UV lights will damage eye and skin cells. Be sure to read and follow all precautions when using any type of UV sanitation.

In-depth reviews for best UV shoe sanitizers

Best of the best: JJ CARE's UV Shoe Sterilizer

What we like: This model is designed for shoes that would otherwise be damaged by machine washing. It's lightweight, easy to use, and comes in a convenient storage box.

What we dislike: Some individuals felt the units were slightly less effective in boots.

Best bang for your buck: Comyan's UV Shoe Sanitizer

What we like: This model features an automatic off plus a reset switch in case you need to stop the sanitizing process prematurely for any reason.

What we dislike: The longest cycle is only 15 minutes, so it may take two or more cycles for maximum effect.

Choice 3: SteriShoe's Essential Ultraviolet Shoe Sanitizer

What we like: This model has an important safety feature that doesn't allow the unit to be turned on when it's not inside a shoe.

What we dislike: This is an expensive model.

Allen Foster is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money. BestReviews never accepts free products from manufacturers and purchases every product it reviews with its own funds.

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