You might expect a pair of football boots to start smelling after you’ve had them for a while. But the BBC’s Watchdog received complaints about Nike’s Mercurial and Total 90’s ranges that start to produce a very unpleasant odour after their first use.Boy in gas mask

Made popular by footballers such as Wayne Rooney and Cristiano Ronaldo, boot ranges can cost anywhere up to and over £200. Whilst you expect to have to clean your football boots to keep them in good nick, you don’t expect them to smell after wearing them once.

Matt Vickers is the goalie for the Hatch Warren Saints under 13s in Basingstoke. He bought his Total 90’s for £50. They started smelling after the first time he wore them which was on a wet day.

“We weren’t sure whether one of us hadn’t had a bath, it was so bad. We had to drive with the windows open, it was really pungent” Matt’s dad, Mark explained.

Matt says that a lot of the guys at training had been laughing at the smell. He has now lost faith in Nike because of the stink they’ve caused.

Matt Jones from Burton upon Trent was badgering his dad all summer to get him a new pair of Total 90s to kick off the season in. He noticed the smell after the first one or two games.

He says: “I got accused of keeping the cat in my bedroom because it smelt like cat wee.”

When Matt’s family finally worked out the smell was coming from the shoes, they took drastic action, banning the shoes from the house. Eventually, they couldn’t bear it any longer and they forked for a new pair by a different brand.

We took Matt’s pair of football trainers to Nike’s flagship store to find out what the public thought of the smell. One person said:

“They smell like they’re old and someone has had their feet in them for years.”

We’ve also discovered that the disgusting smell can start even in shoes that have never been worn.

We wet a brand new pair of Total 90s and left them out to dry for four days. When we returned after four days they smelt very strong. This shouldn’t happen. Other boots and trainers can be soaked right through the season and even put in the washing machine without smelling this bad.

To find out what’s causing the smell, we took the boots to Kevin Guildford who is one of the UK’s leading footwear specialists. According to our expert, what’s causing the smell is surprisingly not people’s feet. It’s the materials that are used in the footwear.

Nike has told one angry customer the problem started because they replaced some of the man-made linings just under the laces with a cotton canvas. Kevin says that when the cotton canvas gets wet, it rots. The moisture can’t escape because the man-made materials around the cotton don’t allow it to breathe.

Nike says that the quality of its products and customer satisfaction is of the utmost importance to them.

When Watchdog contacted Nike, the company told us:

“We have seen a very small number of cases where boots start to smell (distinctly beyond the normal smells from sweat, rain or prolonged usage after football). While this does not affect the performance of the product, we understand the inconvenience it causes in those isolated instances where it occurs.

“We are continuing to explore the exact cause so we can ensure that the problem doesn’t occur moving forward. As with all our products we encourage people to ensure they appropriately clean and care for their boots. However, in the isolated instances where this problem has occurred, we recommend returning the product to the retailer where the footwear was purchased, be that a Nike store or another retailer, where a refund or replacement will be offered.”

Nike also apologises for any inconvenience experienced by consumers.

Reproduced courtesy of watchdog.

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  1. says: john matthew

    i bought my son mercurial vapour last year and they smell alot and total 90 and they are the same how do i go about returning these as the mercurial vapour were from pro soccer direct and the total 90 were bought from jjb sports

  2. says: olivia ennemoser

    i bought my son mercurial vapour a while back and quickly they started
    to smell.we went back to the shop that we got them from to return them. we asked was it common for this to happen and they said no so we got another pair “big mistake.”
    within a couple of days the started to smell so we took them back again and decided to give up on mercurial vapour’s.

  3. says: Suzana

    I have bought several nike boats for my sons that play football and they all smelled terrible.
    Nobody can be next to the boats it smells like a dead cat…
    They are footbal players and they play 5 days a week, after 2 days I have to wash them.

  4. says: Karen

    take the shoes back to a Nike store, thats what we did with our sons Mercurial, they gave us a credit and he choose another pair…now we have the same problem with his T90 so willbe returning them this week…they STINK !!!!! lost my faith in Nike now so will be choosing another brand

  5. says: Collette Smith

    I had a terrible smell in my house which resulted in me totally ripping all my units out, lifting flooring up, treating walls, replastering walls and putting new flooring down. After getting the room revamped I noticed the same smell came back now and again, only to find out the smell had been y soons brand new Nike Total 90 football boots!

    Not only had this cost me a new pair of foot ball boots but also over £1000.00 refitting my play room!

    I thought it was just that pair of football boots so i bought a second pair of Total 90’s tht my son has worn once in the rain and low nd behold the same thing has happened AGAIN!


  6. says: ROBERT RAMAGE

    bought these total 90,s brand new and my son aged 9 wore them twice and they stink so bad of cat pee smell that i,ve had to keep them outside in the green house as they are absolutly stinking.i,ll be buying adidas from now on and never again nike.
    totally disgusted as these cost alot off cash.does anyone know where nearest nike shop is in scotland

  7. says: Zoe Thompson

    My son has worn his nike boots a few times before they started to smell, my entire house out of cat’s pee. I thought it was due to the fact they were left 2 days before they were cleaned. But they are disgusting.. Is there any way i can exhange or refund my money?. I am not impressed with this problem. I hope Nike have removed this product from the shelves.. I will not be purchasing Nike again. You have now lost a very good customer!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!..

  8. says: Zoe Thompson

    Never ever will i purchase Nike again, what an disgusting smell.. where can i get my money back? I hope Nike has removed them from the shops..

  9. says: Zoe Thompson

    Today i tried to return my son’s boots and the shop would not refund or exchange them.. Is there anything else i can do about this????? Anyone know?
    Not Happy at all..

  10. says: sinead dunne

    i bought my nike footie boots 3months ago and they smell really bad its smells like someones been sick in them i dont think my child can wear them no more how about getting a refund or exchange

  11. says: joe fisher

    I bought total 90’s from Decathlon in stockport My son worn them once and they started to smell like cat pee.
    I took these back to decathlon and after complaining very strongly finally got a refund.
    They admitted there was a problem with Nike boots smelling, but insisted they were only refunding my money as a goodwill gesture. Nike need to sort this out now.

  12. says: Martin Willis

    I bought total ninety lasers in the sale for £30 pounds reduced from £120 pound and i played in the wet first time and when i got home my mum said what the hell is that smell i smelt the boots and they stank from the cat pee smell they arent very good boots and i will be with adidas forever now i am disgusted wiith the product and i am happy i didont buy these boots for £120 pound.

  13. says: Julian Bishop

    I got my T90 Lasers right when they came out, really excited about the bright colors and modern look. Little did I know that after my VERY first game, a foul smell would “erupt”. Now I’m stuck with all of my gear smelling terrible, including my bag. It spread to the family cars, and even my room. I’ve come to a point where Im wearing my old R10’s and Legend II’s.

    Thanks Nike.


  14. says: Sarah C

    Thank goodness I’ve found this article – my 6 year old son has a pair of Nike Total 90 football boots, and the smell is driving me mad! The insides of the boots are fine & smell ok, it’s the outer leather that smells as if a cat has had an accident on them.

    I hung the boots out on the washing line for most of yesterday to “get some fresh air” to them – but had to bring them in during the night……this morning my kitchen smells stale – so they’re back on the line again today! I can’t see Sports Direct taking them back, so I think next time my son needs new boots, Adidas it is!

  15. says: Dave

    This is an old report but NIKE STILL SELL THESE WITH THIS PROBLEM

    This is just not good enough, yes the shops will refund if you take them back.

    My problem is this My lad loves the Nike boots, we bought some online and yet again the same issue. I contacted the website asking if I can return to a store as my son needs a replacement immediatley rather than wait for their conclusion. They won’t allow me to take to store for replacement/refund so basically I will have to pay out again to buy new boots whilst we wait for thm to inspect these ones

    Nike as big as you are you should really sort this out, it is an old problem, sort it out NOW !!!!

  16. says: Avlonitis Sandra

    In 2008 I purchased online for my son, a pair of nike mercurial vapour football boots, after a couple of times of use they develeoped a VERY STRONG SMELL of cat wee!! I contacted the site and a replacement was made immediately, Last year 2009 I purchased the nike mercuiral boots, which never had any problem. This year I have purchased yet again the NIKE MERCURIAL MIRACLE boot, no only does it smell, but the quality of the boot is inferior, it is starting to come away from the sole, these boots were only available after the 18th October, he wears them maybe twice a week once on sundays and once on Wednesday in his games it is not even the middle of Dec, come on NIKE, a company of your magnituted should get its act together… your prices are not exactly cheap, and especially for cheap synthetic material!!!!

  17. says: Rensters

    My son has had several Nike football boots/trainers and they all smell terrible! I find they’re absolutely fine until the weather is bad and they get a good soaking and then they tend to release an almighty strong smell, not disimilar to cat wee! Totally toxic!  It’s not just the T90 brand, but mercurials aswell. We switched to Adidas last year because of this and they were absolutely fine. We assumed the issue must be resolved by now and recently bought a pair of silver and orange T90s but I’m beginning to get that familiar whiff around the house again! It’s so bad I can’t even sit next to him when he’s got them on! His school trainers are adidas and he has several pairs of cheap ones from next and they all smell ok so I’m pretty sure it’s not just his feet! Come on Nike – sort it out. This is beyond a joke 🙁

  18. says: Carol Franks

    My NIke Women’s Flipflops start stinking as soon as they get wet. Horrid foul smell that nothing seems to eradicate. What a waste of $35 for flipflops that you can’t wear on the beach.

    carol franks

  19. says: Matata Rugby

    It’s 2013 and this is still a problem!! We bought several pairs of Nike rugby boots while on holiday in Australia early last year. Like another person, when our house began to stink, we blamed the cat! I stripped the room, the curtains, the rug, cushions, duvet cover, emptied drawers and washed them out. It didn’t seem to make a difference, the pong of cat p**s was still as bad as before. After days of searching I narrowed it down to my son’s Nike boots!!! He wore a pair to training in the rain. We put the boots back inside overnight and this morning the smell is unbelievably BAD and everywhere!!. No more flashy Nike boots for us again. I will be contacting the company. Thanks for posting this everyone, I never would have guessed it was a problem with the brand or manufacturing of boots.

  20. says: ron

    I have a pair of nike golf shoes with the same problem awfull smell like cat pee sprayed them with shoe spray makes no difference can not leave in the house

  21. says: jo

    I too had the ‘cat wee smell’ – liked the shoes, after refusing to wear Nike for 12 years … – got them a bit wet once , cleaned them , dried in the Australian Summer Sun for a week – still smell horrid – after reading about the problems people have had and the lack of response – I am back on the anti-Nike wagon – never again Nike ! Not when other competitors are just as good and are at least responsive to their customers and after sales service ….

  22. says: Ms K Bedeau

    My son bought Nike boots a few months ago after he cleaned them they smelt awful it took quite a while to find out where the smell came from had to put them outside

  23. says: Karla

    This is still the issue today with these boots do something about it Nike these boots aren’t cheap it’s about time you sorted the problem out find out why these boots and trainers smell so bad

  24. says: Hayley

    Well it’s still going on in 2016 My dons trainers have stunk my house out snd cost me a fortune had his name printed on them and he won’t use them because the smell… I’m fuming… I can’t find my proof of purchase and Nike have told me to take them back to the shop not Nike

  25. says: Paul

    Just got my son Ronaldo football boots 2 weeks ago. Always thought the cat pee smell was from the grass or astroturf surfaces he played on or a Tom cat had got into my vestibule and left a sample! He has Messi astroturfs and previously used adidas football boots. ALL STANK OF CATS PISH. One remedy that works and lasts a couple of weeks or so is to fill up to an inch (25mm) inside the boot or trainer with good quality fabric conditioner and leave soaking for 24 hours. Then wash inside a pillowcase and other items on an average wash programme…or get a couple of cats!!

  26. says: Alison

    I purchased my son some Nike football boots and I have had to replace them as his boots stank so badly of cat wee you could smell it while they was on his feet!

  27. says: Em

    I couldn’t work out why my sons football books stank of cats wee, I blamed the neighbour’s cat (sorry Tom) and washed them 10 times but still couldn’t shift the smell. I googled hoping to find a remedy and came across all this! So its not the cat its the boots. Shocking that this article is from 2008 and this is still happening. I’m certainly not spending my hard earned on Nike again that’s for sure.

  28. says: Jason

    Its now 2016 and I have forked out literally hundreds and hundreds os pounds on my two sons football boots, each time coting around £250. We had noticed the smell from the boots over the years but have never until now realised that it was a common problem. They really do smell like cats wee. I wonder if Nike are prepared to offer me refund as whilst fit for purpose of kicking a football – there is no warning anywhere from Nike that due to the smell you will have to store them outdoors and when travelling you must keep them in an air tight bag?

  29. says: Dominique de Graaff

    I got this problem in 2017 (!!) with Nike Hypervenom Phelon III FG shoes. I bought them just a month ago and they immediately started smelling extremely horrific after the first training session. I’ve never had this problem with other shoes ever in my life. It smells like chemically amplified cat pee. Good God, it’s really really bad. I already contacted my the shop for it and I’m waiting for a reply.

    This problem is not only from 2008, its still actual.

  30. says: Liam Brown

    Im not convinced its just the Nike boot as i have noticed it in my Adidas ace 16.1 and my sons Adidas ace 16.1s then i bought some nike hypervenom astros and after 3 uses same issue again . i was baffled as no other trainer had smelt like this .

    I am pretty convinced its after playing on the 3g pitches and a mix of the rubber pellets and the cotton sole in shoe.

    I wish someone would test this theory .

  31. says: Dave

    13 years later and I’ve just put my grandson’s Nike Mercurial Superfly 7 CR7 out on an external window because of the stench. These are not E-bay fakes. They were bought at a Nike flagship shop. Clearly this problem has not been solved.

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