Keeping your shoes clean is essential for your feet to stay healthy. Dirty shoes can contribute to infections and cause your feet to smell.
Sweat is the main culprit to foul up the inside of your shoes. To prevent bacteria from growing, you should be cleaning your shoes regularly, inside and out.
Here are our best tips on how to clean shoe insoles for the best foot health and to help your shoes last longer.
Tips to Clean Your Removable Insoles
Most shoes come with removable insoles. When you need to clean them, simply take them out of the shoes and wash them separately.
Make sure they are completely dry before putting them back in your shoes, or the extra moisture can lead to odor-causing bacteria.
Wash Insoles With Warm Water and a Mild Detergent
You can use regular laundry detergent or dish-washing soap to clean your insoles. This is a similar method to how you might clean flip-flops.
Use a shoe brush—or old toothbrush—to brush away any dirt, mud, or sand on the insoles before you clean them.
Fill a bucket with warm water and add a small amount of detergent. You don’t want to saturate the insoles with the water; instead, dip the brush into the water and use it to scrub the insole.
Scrub in a circular motion and make sure you clean every inch of the insole. Remember to clean both the top and the bottom of the insole.
When you have finished scrubbing the insole, wipe off any excess soap with a clean cloth.
Don’t squeeze or wring the insoles out. Let them air-dry overnight in a well-ventilated place.
Use Baking Soda
Baking soda helps to neutralize odors. You can use it to make your insoles smell fresh and clean.
Put a teaspoon or two of baking soda into a plastic bag. Make sure the bag is big enough for your insoles to fit into it.
Place the insoles in the bag with the baking soda. Close the bag securely and shake the bag to get the baking soda all over the insoles.
Let them sit in the bag overnight. In the morning, remove them and use a cloth to wipe the excess baking soda off the insoles.
If you don’t have a bag that can fit your insoles, you can lay them down on a sheet of newspaper and sprinkle baking soda generously over them.
Leave them overnight and shake off or wipe off the excess baking soda the next day before putting them back into your shoes.
Clean Your Insoles With Vinegar
Vinegar can also help to neutralize odors and destroy bacteria. However, you shouldn’t apply vinegar directly to your shoes since it can ruin the color.
You can create a solution of half white vinegar and half water. Put the mixture into a spray bottle and spray it over the insole, making sure it’s covered but not completely saturated.
Air-dry the insole overnight for the best results.
If your insoles need a deep clean or they smell awful, you can use a solution of 2 parts vinegar to one part warm water.
Soak your insoles in this solution for about 3 hours, then remove them. Rinse them under running water until all the vinegar solution is gone.
Leave them to air-dry overnight. If you want to make your insoles smell nicer, you can add a few drops of a nice-smelling essential oil to the mixture.
Disinfecting Insoles With Rubbing Alcohol
Create a mixture of equal parts water and rubbing alcohol in a spray bottle. Make sure you shake the bottle every time you use it to ensure that it’s well-mixed.
Spray the insoles with the mixture on both sides. The liquid dries quickly, so be generous with your application.
Allow the insoles to air-dry. Rubbing alcohol has antibacterial properties, neutralizing odors and killing odor-causing bacteria.
Cleaning Non-Removable Insoles
If your shoe insoles can’t be removed, it can be harder to clean them properly. But these tricks will help you keep them clean and fresh.
Use Dryer Sheets
If you need a way to neutralize odor and make your insoles smell fresh, you can use dryer sheets.
Begin by cutting a dryer sheet in half and placing half in each shoe. Leave them overnight so the dryer sheet can absorb odor from the insole.
If it doesn’t work as you hope, try to use a full dryer sheet in each shoe.
Use Baking Soda
Sprinkle a generous amount of baking soda into each shoe and leave them overnight.
In the morning, shake out the excess baking soda and let the shoes stand for a short while before wearing them.
Steam the Inside of the Shoe
Steaming can kill bacteria and get rid of odors inside shoes. A small handheld steamer can be used to thoroughly steam the inside of your shoes.
Allow the shoes to air-dry overnight before wearing them again.
Use Activated Charcoal
Activated charcoal is an excellent way to absorb odors from shoes. You can fill up a sock with activated charcoal and place it inside your shoe overnight.
Take it out in the morning, and your shoes should be odor-free.
Put Smelly Shoes in the Freezer
If you have space in your freezer, place your shoes in a freezer bag and leave them in the freezer for 24 hours or more.
The cold temperature will help to kill odor-causing bacteria. Let the shoes warm-up for a few minutes before putting them on.
Cat litter also absorbs odor, which could be a good solution if you have cats.
Place some clean cat litter inside a sock or a cloth bag. Put one sock or bag of cat litter inside each shoe and leave it overnight. Remove the bags in the morning and throw away the cat litter.
Your shoes will smell fresh and clean.
Cleaning Leather Insoles
Leather insoles are more fragile than other materials. You will need to take special care of them to last a long time.
You should not use a brush to clean leather insoles, as the bristles can leave scratches. Instead, you should use a light, soft fabric cloth to clean dirt and soap off the insoles.
You can get leather conditioner, which will keep the insoles clean and protected. Or you can use saddle soap and warm water.
You can use baking soda, white vinegar, and rubbing alcohol to clean leather insoles, but you should be careful not to use too much as you risk damaging the leather.
Allow the insoles to air-dry thoroughly before placing them back into your shoes. If the insoles are not removable, wipe them down with a solution of half vinegar and half water or half rubbing alcohol and half water.
The best way to keep your insoles clean is to ensure that they stay clean and fresh as you wear them. Here are some ways to do that.
Let Your Shoes Breathe
Give your shoes time to rest in between wearing them. Wearing the same shoes every day can lead to odor-causing bacteria growing within the shoe.
Try to alternate your shoes day by day to allow each pair of shoes enough time to air out and dry if any moisture has built up.
If you have to wear specific shoes for work, consider buying two pairs of the same shoes and alternating between them.
Take Care of Your Feet
Your shoes aren’t the only thing that contributes to healthy feet. Make sure you wash your feet thoroughly with soap and water at least once a day.
Keep your toenails clean and trimmed so that bacteria has no place to thrive. You can also exfoliate thick or callused skin and keep your feet moisturized.
If you can, choose to wear socks rather than going barefoot inside your shoes. Choose moisture-wicking socks with padding to absorb the moisture from your feet, which reduces the chance of odor-causing bacteria growing inside your shoes.
They will also help prevent your insoles from absorbing sweat and taking on the odor. Socks are much easier to clean than insoles!
Change Your Shoes Regularly
Try to alternate your shoes when you go out. If you wear the same pair every time, you risk moisture building up inside the shoe, leading to bacteria multiplying and causing odors.
Use Antifungal or Medicated Powder
Antifungal or antibacterial foot powder can help absorb moisture and neutralize any odors that your shoes may have.
You can apply powders directly to your feet or sprinkle inside your shoes. Most powders also have a pleasant scent of their own.
Clean the Insoles Regularly
Even if you are taking measures to prevent your insoles from getting dirty or smelly, you need to clean the insoles regularly to ensure your shoe environment is healthy.
If you can, cleaning them once a week will keep them healthy. If once a week is too often, you can clean them twice a month.
Replace Old Insoles
If your insoles are six months old or older, you should consider replacing them.
The cushioning and support will no longer be adequate for your feet, but they will also start to hold onto odors more easily and may not stand up to cleaning very well.
Do Not Wash Them in the Washing Machine
Never put your insoles in the washing machine to clean them, even if you are trying to remove gum.
Insoles are not designed to be saturated with water. This could damage them and ruin the support and cushioning.