Can You Wash The Insoles Of Your Shoes

When talking about cleaning shoes, we often focus on what they look like on the outside, after all, this is the part of the shoe that everyone will see. But, what about the insoles of shoes? Although these parts of the shoes are on the inside, they are still subject to becoming dirty and if they are sneakers… smelly!

If you own a pair of shoes that you have had for a long time, the chances are that you are ready to give them a good wash. But can you wash the insoles of your shoes, or will this damage the shoe overall?

In this article, we will be discussing if you can wash your insoles and what is the best way to clean them without ruining them.

Why Do Insoles Smell?

The main culprit of smell insoles is bacteria. If your shoes are completely covered and there is no room for your feet to breathe or for any fresh air to reach the shoe, your shoes will begin to smell. This is because of the sweat your feet produce. When your feet sweat in a shoe that has no fresh air reaching it, bacteria are given the perfect breeding ground to multiply. 

The cause of the smell is this bacteria, rather than the sweat itself. The smell can become particularly bad if you have been wearing the shoes all day or if you have been on a particularly long and sweaty run. But why does this bacteria smell we hear you ask? When the bacteria breeds it releases smelly toxins. It is these toxins that cause you to turn your nose away from shoes in disgust after you wear them.

Can You Wash The Insoles Of Your Shoes

If you have noticed your insoles becoming a little bit smelly or stained, you have probably contemplated washing the insoles. But is this possible?

Thankfully, it is possible to wash the insoles of your shoes, so you will no longer have to worry about stains or smells. If your shoes do not have removable insoles, they will be more difficult to wash, but it is still possible. 

How To Wash The Insoles Of Your Shoes

In this section, we will be talking you through how to wash the insoles of your shoes.

Warm Water And Soap

The best way to wash your insoles is with warm water and soap. Take the insoles out of your shoes and place them in a bowl or sink full of warm water. You will then want to add soap or a washing detergent. You can use whichever soap or detergent you prefer.

If you have sensitive skin, it is best to use one which will not irritate your skin. You will want to leave the insoles to soak in the water for around five to ten minutes before you start to scrub them, to give the soap time to soak into the insole. After this step, take your brush or sponge, and scrub the insoles for a few minutes and then rinse them in the water.

After you have rinsed them and are happy that they are clean, leave them out to air dry and only place them into the shoe once completely dry. If you feel your insoles need to soak for longer, then repeat the process. If your insoles are not fabric and are made out of leather, instead of soaking them, use the brush or sponge, dip it in the soapy water and gently rub the insoles. You want to avoid submerging the leather in the water completely as this could cause damage to the insole. After you have scrubbed them, wipe them dry with a cloth or paper towel and place them back in the shoe.

Vinegar And Water

If your shoes are particularly smelly, you may want to try soaking your insoles in vinegar and water. Vinegar is great at removing odors and may help your insoles to smell a bit fresher. You can try this technique alone, before or after the soapy water method.

You will want to add a small amount of white vinegar to the water and let your insoles soak in the solution for around an hour. After your insoles have soaked, run them under some warm water for a few minutes and gently scrub them to remove any vinegar or stains that are left. 

One thing to remember is that vinegar does have a strong smell and although more pleasant than smelly shoes, it is still potent. Given this, it is always best to rinse the insoles thoroughly, before placing them out to air dry. 

If you would like to purchase white vinegar, you can do so via the Amazon US link below.

Lucy's Family Owned - Natural Distilled White Vinegar

Insoles And The Washing Machine

If possible, it is always best to hand wash insoles. Putting insoles in the washing machine, especially at a high temperature could potentially damage or warp them. If the shoe is leather, it should not be put in the washing machine at all. 

Although some shoes can be placed in the washing machine, it is always best to check the individual shoe before doing this and take extreme caution not to damage the shoes or insoles.

Non-removable Insoles

If your insoles cannot be removed, you can still wash them, but it requires more care. You will need to use a small brush dipped in the soapy water. Gently scrub the insole using a circular motion to try and lift and stains or odor. You can also mix a little bit of vinegar if necessary.

Once you are happy with the cleanliness, leave the whole shoe air dry and do not wear the shoe again until completely dry. If this method does not work as well as you hoped, you can purchase a deodorizing shoe spray. This will help to clean the inside of the shoe and neutralize any odors still lingering on the insoles.

We have provided a useful link to purchase some shoe deodorizing sprays below. These would also come in useful after you have cleaned the insoles, to keep them smelling fresh in between washes.


We hope this article has helped you to learn how to clean the insoles of your shoes and why your shoes become smelly over time. Have you tried any of these tips yourself? We hope they helped you!

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