Q When I walk into my closet, I can smell foot odor from my shoes. In the warmer months, I've tried putting my shoes out in the sun; they still smell bad. I have used foot deodorizing powder, to no effect. I am looking for something to put in my shoes when not in use to take care of this problem.

A Shoes are stinky because they absorb moisture and bacteria, which then grows. To prevent odor, the first line of defense is socks. Socks prevent moisture and bacteria from reaching the shoe. For shoes worn barefoot, the best thing is to wash the feet just before putting on your shoes. If shoes become damp, dry them completely before wearing. If insoles are removable, remove them to dry; clean and dry if possible.

Once shoes stink, you can try to eliminate the odor by treating them with:

• Baking soda

• No More Stinky Feet powder

• Odor-Eaters powder

• Atmosklear (www.atmos klear.net; also at some Ace hardware, Target and Wal-Mart stores). It's a fragrance-free odor eliminator in a pump spray. It needs to come in contact with the odor to eliminate it, so spray carefully and thoroughly. Be sure the shoes air-dry thoroughly. Other odor eliminators are on the market, but just be sure they carry no fragrance.

• A shoe tree such as Stuffitts (www.stuffitts.com) or Peet Shoe Dryer (www.peetshoe dryer.com).

Nuke the sponge?

Q I've been told that a dishwashing sponge can be sanitized in a microwave oven. If so, how?

A Yes, you can sanitize a kitchen sponge in the microwave. Microwave the damp sponge for two minutes. But be sure that the sponge is damp or wet. Microwaving a dry sponge can cause a fire. The microwave energy heats the moisture in the sponge and that kills the bacteria. Also, be very careful when removing the sponge. It will be hot!

Send questions to Fixit in care of the Star Tribune, 425 Portland Av. S., Minneapolis, MN 55488, or call 612-673-7032, or e-mail fixit@startribune.com. Past columns are available at www.startribune.com/fixit. Sorry, Fixit cannot supply individual replies.