How to Clean Insoles of Shoes (Best Ways For Different Types)

how to clean insoles of shoes

Tired of dealing with unpleasant odors and stains on your shoe insoles? Well, the good news is, you’re not alone. While many of us focus more on cleaning the shoes, the insoles require proper cleaning as well. But don’t worry, because I understand your concern and as a professional in shoe care and cleaning, I am delighted to share with you my secrets on how to clean the insoles of shoes using simple yet effective methods.

Whether you’re a sneakerhead or a lover of high-end designer shoes, I can assure you that my tried-and-tested techniques will help you get rid of any dirt, grime, or odor that might be lurking in your shoe insoles. So, read on to learn how to clean the insoles of your shoes like a pro!

I. How to Clean Removable Insoles of Shoes

Shoe Insole

Even though insoles are located on the footbed of the shoes and rarely seen, it’s important to take care of them properly. I did several in-depth researches on what lays on the insoles of shoes. Based on the research, I discovered that since insoles serve as an additional comfort to your feet, they have direct contact with human skin. So, they excrete sweat and dead skin cells that gets into the insole. Over time, the dirt and debris also accumulate on the insole and make them look grimy.

Not only dirt but the moisture trapped on the insoles can also cause smelly shoes that can lower your confidence. To avoid embarrassing moments like this, you need to clean them. But how? Below I’ve compiled my expert methods on how to clean the insoles of your shoes that you can try at home!

1. Prepare the Insole Cleaning Kits

how to clean tennis shoes

You can find an insole inside of your shoes. It functions as a footbed and cushioning that provides comfort while being worn. I recommend removing the insole from the shoe for easier cleaning but don’t force remove it if the insole is glued permanently. 

Prepare the following tools and ingredients to clean your insole!

  • Shoe cleaner. A special cleaning ingredient that is used for shoes.
  • Apron. It’s important to wear an apron to keep yourself clean and prevent a mess while cleaning the insoles.
  • Premium brush. The soft-bristled brush is mainly from animal hair.
  • Small brush or toothbrush. To reach the narrow parts and small crevices of the shoes inside, use a small brush or toothbrush.
  • Microfiber cloth. This cloth is used for wiping the dirt and suds off from the shoe surface after being cleaned.
  • Washbowl. The last item is a washbowl, required as a water container to mix the cleaning solution later. 

2. Removable Insoles Cleaning Process

Step 1: Prepare the shoes

The first thing is to get a pair of shoes with removable insoles ready for cleaning.

Step 2: Get the cleaning kits ready

In the table, prepare the cleaning kits mentioned before. A shoe cleaner, an apron, two brushes (premium and small / toothbrush,) a microfiber cloth, and a washbowl filled with water. Pour some shoe cleaner into the water and mix well until bubbles are formed.

Step 3: Take the insoles off

After that, remove the insoles by pulling them from the shoes with your hands. Set the shoes aside before working on the insoles.

Step 4: Clean the insoles

Dip the premium brush into the cleaning solution, and start scrubbing the insole with it. Scrub the surface gently and carefully to remove the grime and stains. Don’t brush too hard, so the shoe brand’s sticker label comes off. 

When you’re done cleaning, wipe the suds and dirt with a microfiber cloth. I advise you to repeat the process to get the best result until it’s all clean. Make sure that you don’t miss any dirty spots.

Step 5: Drying

After the insoles are squeaky clean, leave them by the fan for about one hour until they dry completely.

Step 6: Finishing  

When the insoles are dry, put them back into the shoes by pushing the insoles inside. Now they’re clean and ready to wear again.

II. How to Clean Non-removable Insoles

There are plenty of glued insoles, also known as non-removable insoles in shoes. Compared to their removable counterpart, the glued insoles are more tricky and need a different approach for cleaning methods. Being an expert in shoe cleaning methods, I have mastered the most trusted methods on how to clean non-removable insoles with excellent results.

My proven methods include several solutions, and below I am sharing with you three of my most-recommended solutions, plus the step-by-step cleaning guides for each solution.

1. Rubbing Alcohol

Using rubbing alcohol for cleaning the insoles is very practical because the mixture will evaporate, and there’s no need to rinse after. I did some trials using both ways (spraying and wiping), and I found that the second method came with better results because it lifts the dirt and stains from the insole more effectively. Here’s how to do it:

  • Mix an equal part of rubbing alcohol with water.
  • Pour the mixture into a bottle and spray them onto the insoles, or you can dip a clean cloth into the mixture and wipe the insoles gently. 
  • Let them sit and dry.

2. Baking Soda Paste

Using baking soda for cleaning insoles might not be as simple as rubbing alcohol, but I feel more satisfied with this method. My honest review for this method is that my insoles are much cleaner and smell fresher after following this tutorial. Follow these steps to clean your soles with baking soda:

  • Mix baking soda with water in a ratio of 1:2 until it forms a thick paste.
  • Using a toothbrush, apply the paste to the dirty insole with a circular motion.
  • Leave the paste to do the job for about 30 minutes.
  • Damp a clean towel with warm water, then wipe the excess paste off.
  • Repeat the process as you need until the insoles are shining again.

3. Mild Liquid Soap

Liquid soaps are excellent for breaking down existing grime and stains. You can use either dish soap or liquid detergent to clean the insole. Based on my experiment with both ingredients, the results are almost similar. However, the only drawback of this method is you need to rinse and dry them overnight, which takes a longer.

  • Squirt some of the liquid soap into the insole.
  • Scrub the insole with a toothbrush gently in a circular motion. Do this for about 5 minutes.
  • Rinse the insoles off and leave them to air dry

III. How Do You Deep-clean Insoles?

Dirt and stains accumulation on the insoles can be a great deal and can cause an unpleasant odor to your shoes. So, I personally recommend you to deep clean your insoles on a regular basis. As an experienced shoe care professional, I am skilled in the latest techniques of cleaning shoes, including insoles. So, I am confident to share the following steps on how to deep clean your insoles.

  • In a small bowl, mix warm water with a few drops of shoe cleaner until the water turns soapy.
  • Squirt some shoe cleaner on the insoles for extra cleaning.
  • Dab a medium brush into the soapy water and start scrubbing the insoles. Scrub them strong enough to lift dirt and grimes off.
  • Rinse the insoles to reveal the shoe insoles. Repeat the scrubbing until you’re satisfied with the result.
  • After the insoles are spotless, leave them to air dry for a few minutes.
  • Spray some shoe deodorizer to minimize the unpleasant smell, and now your insoles look pristine and smell fresh.

Using shoe deodorizer is optional, but I suggest you get one, especially when you wear the shoes for heavy activities that can cause your feet to sweat more. I must say the shoe cleaner is a true lifesaver because it lifts so much dirt, grime, and stains that can’t be removed by other cleaning agents.

IV. How to Wash Shoe Insoles in the Washing Machine

If you dislike mess and want to clean the insoles without fuss, here’s our step-by-step on how to wash shoe insoles in a washing machine.

  • Make sure that the insoles are safe for washing with the machine. 
  • Fill the washer with cold water and add some squirts of mild detergent.
  • Wet the insoles first with running water and put them in a laundry bag to keep their shape.
  • Put the laundry bag into the washer. 
  • Run the washing machine in a gentle cycle.
  • When it’s done, take the insoles out and leave them to air dry.

Some insoles are made from delicate materials which can be damaged from the tumbling in the washing machine, so it is important to read the instruction carefully first. Based on a trusted source and also my personal experience, it’s safe to wash the shoe insoles in the washing machine along with some dirty laundry. The clothes can prevent insoles from tumbling and banging, which can cause damage to them.

V. Alternative Ways to Clean Your Insoles

Here are some alternative ways to clean your insole effectively. I’ve tested these methods myself and found that they yield satisfactory results. Even better, I have also consulted with accomplished experts in the field of insoles cleaning to bring you the most accurate information.

This information also proves that sometimes, household ingredients and makeshift tools can be useful to clean your shoe insoles!

1. How to Clean Shoe Insoles with Baking Soda

Baking Soda

Here’s my guide on how to clean shoe insoles with baking soda. Trust me, the following tips are based on credible sources and verified by experts in shoe cleaning industry.

First, you need to make a paste from it. Mix equal parts of baking soda with water until it forms a paste. Dab a toothbrush into the paste, then apply it to the shoes. Scrub vigorously in a circular motion to ensure all dirt and stains are covered. Leave the paste to dry for about 30 minutes, then knock the shoes to dust the excess paste off. Rinse with running water and leave to air dry.

Based on what I’ve done, this method yields an impressive result. My shoes look brand new and don’t smell anymore. I’d like to mention that you can add vinegar or lemon squeeze to the paste for deep cleaning and a better result. 

2. How to Clean the Insoles of Shoes with Vinegar

Vinegar for shoe cleaning

The following is the steps on how to clean the removable insoles of the shoes with vinegar.

  • In a separate bowl, mix two parts of vinegar with one part of hot water until homogenous. 
  • Let the water cool down a bit before soaking removable insoles into the mixture for 2 hours. 
  • Rinse the insoles with cold water and allow them to air dry before putting them back into the shoes

The next one here’s how to clean insoles that are glued with vinegar.

  • Using the same solution as the previous one, pour the water and vinegar mixture into a spray bottle and spritz them into the shoes.
  • Spray the mixture enough, and don’t let the insole get soggy. Otherwise, it will take a longer time to dry.
  • Wipe the dirt off with a clean towel.
  • Let the mixture sit and absorb, then allow it to air dry for 30 minutes. You can speed up the process by using a hair dryer in the lowest heat.

From my experience, both methods work perfectly for cleaning the insoles. Vinegar effectively kills bacteria and germs that cause odor in the insoles, as well as disinfects them to prevent the microbes from growing back.

3. How to Clean Insoles of Shoes with Toothpaste

how to clean insoles of shoes

Besides cleaning teeth, you can use toothpaste for cleaning shoe insoles as well. I suggest using non-gel and whitening ones since the gel toothpaste possibly leaves stains on the insoles instead. Follow these steps on how to do it.

  • Squirt a small part of toothpaste on the toothbrush
  • Scrub the insoles in a circular motion. You can add more toothpaste if necessary
  • Let the paste sit for about 10 minutes.
  • Wipe them off with a damp cloth. Repeat the process if needed.
  • Allow to air dry completely, and now your insoles look clean.

I’ve experimented with this method, and it works perfectly, especially for white insoles. In my case, I rinse the insole to ensure that no paste is left behind. By just wiping the toothpaste off the insoles isn’t clean enough for me.

4. How to Clean Insoles of Shoes with Bleach

how to clean insoles of shoes

Although it’s quite hazardous, bleach can be a powerful cleaning agent for your insoles, especially if they’re white with stubborn dirt and grime. Here’s how to clean the insoles of shoes with bleach.

  • In a small container, dilute bleach with water on a ratio of 1:5, then mix the solution thoroughly,
  • Dip a white clean cloth into the solution, then start wiping the insoles.
  • Allow the insoles to air dry.

As a precaution, I suggest you do this in a well-ventilated room to prevent inhaling chloride, which can be harmful. You might use a rubber glove to avoid an allergic reaction.

5. How to Clean Insoles of Shoes with OxiClean

Finally, here’s our guide on how to clean insoles with OxiClean, a brand that produces various home cleaning solutions.

  • Wash the insoles under running water thoroughly.
  • Pour a generous amount of OxiClean stain remover onto the insole surface.
  • Scrub the insole gently with your hands or using a medium brush.
  • Leave the insoles for a few hours before rinsing them with cold running water.
  • Allow to air dry before putting them back.

From my observation, don’t use OxiClean too much because it can remove the insoles’ softness. Use just the right amount to clean them. I’ve tried using this product, and the result isn’t disappointing at all!

VI. How to Clean Nike insoles

According to Nike’s official website, cleaning insoles is necessary, especially if you wear them for a long time. As one of the biggest brands of high-quality shoes in the world, I can assure you that the following tutorial on how to clean Nike insoles is reliable. You can apply the steps when you are cleaning your Nike insoles.

  • Remove the insoles from the shoes and set them aside.
  • In a separate bowl, mix warm water with a few drops of mild detergent until the water turns soapy.
  • Dip a soft-bristled brush into the cleaning solution, then scrub the insoles gently and thoroughly in a circular motion.
  • Use a microfiber cloth to wipe the dirt and excess suds from the insoles. You can repeat the process if necessary.
  • Allow the insoles to air dry completely before putting them back into the shoes.

In addition, I have experienced in cleaning my Nike sneakers using this method, and based on my experience, both dish soap and laundry detergent are excellent in cleaning Nike insoles. However, after using a shoe cleaner, the result is much better.

Shoe cleaner makes dirt and stains come off much easier. As for the cloth, I prefer using microfiber cloth because it’s more durable and has a high absorbance level compared to ordinary cloth or towel.

VII. How to Clean Smelly Insoles

Unpleasant odors from insoles can ruin your day and make you feel embarrassed if someone points that out. While sometimes smelly insoles are unavoidable, I have learned and mastered the best methods on how to bring back the freshness of insoles using three magical solutions below. Here I am sharing my expert tutorials on how to clean smelly insoles:

1. Baking Soda

Baking soda is a natural deodorizer, hence why it does an excellent job of absorbing stinky smells. This affordable method has been proven effective in treating smelly insoles, and in my case, it always works effectively.

  • Just pour a generous amount of baking soda into the insole of the shoes and leave overnight.
  • Shake your shoes off to get rid of the excess granules, or you can use a vacuum to suck them up.
  • You’ll be surprised at how the funky odor is gone, and now your shoes will smell fresh.

2. Activated Charcoal

This is another natural ingredient that has proven effective in eliminating odor. Here are the simple steps on how to remove odor from your insoles:

  • Pour activated charcoal inside perforated pouches and put them inside the shoes (don’t forget to tie the pouches up, so they don’t spill!)
  • Leave for 12 hours for the charcoal to do the work. In my opinion, putting the activated charcoal in a pouch is perfect because you don’t have to knock them off clean.

From my experience, the result is much more effective compared to using baking soda.

3. Dryer Sheets

If you’re looking for a more practical cleaning agent, try using dryer sheets. In my opinion, this is the fastest and simplest way to remove odor from insoles.

  • Put one sheet inside each shoe and leave overnight for better results.
  • Not only odors but moisture also get absorbed into the sheets and leave your shoes fresh. .

I followed this method, and the result was fantastic. Dryer sheets are truly a lifesaver and not just masking the smell with more fragrance

VIII. How to Clean Smelly Leather Insoles

Leather insoles are also at risk of getting smelly due to use, especially when your feet are sweating a lot. To get rid of the smell, here are some tips that you can follow.

1. Anti-bacterial Spray

This method is very simple and the easiest to do among the three. Here is the step-by-step tutorials:

In my experience, an anti-bacterial spray is good for getting rid of your smelly leather insoles if you need to do it quickly.

2. Baking Soda

The next one is the all-rounder home cleaning ingredients. Just like what I’ve mentioned before, baking soda is perfect if you need to deep clean the insoles and absorb the foul smell on them. Below are the cleaning steps for you to follow:

  • The first step is to mix equal parts of baking soda with water until a thick paste is formed.
  • Using a toothbrush, dab the paste on the leather insoles and scrub gently.
  • Let them sit for about 20 minutes before wiping the paste off with a damp cloth. Make sure that no paste getting left before air drying them. 

Before you try this, make sure that you just scrub them gently enough so you don’t leave scratches that can damage the leather. I’ve tested this method, and the result is nearly excellent because baking soda doesn’t only mask the odor; it also neutralizes the smell and gives a refreshing scent.

3. Vinegar

Besides baking soda, vinegar is also one of the home remedies to use for cleaning. To get rid of foul odor in your leather insoles, try this method with the following steps:

  • Dilute 4 tablespoons of vinegar with water and mix them well.
  • Dab a cloth into the mixture and wipe the leather insoles thoroughly.
  • When you’re finished, allow the insoles to air dry completely.

In my case, vinegar does an excellent job of killing bacteria that cause odor in leather insoles without leaving much damage.

IX. Do’s and Don’ts 

Scrub the insoles gently to prevent scratches and damage to the delicate material.Don’t scrub the insoles too rough because it might damage the materials and the brand labels.
Clean the insoles at least once every month, especially if you’re wearing the shoes on daily basis.Don’t dry shoes under direct sunlight to avoid damage and discoloration to the insoles.

X. Prolonging the Lifespan of Your Shoe Insoles

Because insoles come in contact with your feet directly, the may get damaged overtime. Here are some tips on how to prolong the lifespan of your shoe insoles!

1. Remove your insoles after wearing your shoes

Taking out your insoles after use allows them to air out and dry, reducing the buildup of moisture and bacteria that can cause odor and wear down the insoles over time.

2. Alternate between different pairs of shoes

Wearing the same pair of shoes every day can put excessive wear and tear on the insoles. Rotating between different pairs of shoes allows the insoles to rest and recover, prolonging their lifespan.

3. Use shoe trees

Shoe trees are devices that help to maintain the shape of your shoes and prevent creases and wrinkles. They also help to reduce moisture buildup inside the shoes and protect the insoles from wear and tear.

4. Clean your insoles regularly

Regular cleaning of your insoles can help to remove dirt, sweat, and bacteria that can damage the insoles over time. Follow my comprehensive cleaning instructions above to clean them!

5. Replace your insoles when necessary

Insoles that are worn out or no longer provide adequate support and cushioning should be replaced. Most insoles have a lifespan of around six months to a year, depending on usage and care.

By following these tips, you can help to extend the lifespan of your shoe insoles and keep your footwear comfortable and supportive for longer.

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XI. Frequently Asked Questions

1. Can you wash the insoles of your shoes?

Definitely, you can wash the insoles either manually or by washing machine. Usually, I prefer to wash them by hand to prevent damage and make sure that no stains or dirt is left behind. If your insoles are from delicate materials, it’s best to clean them by hand as you can measure how strong you should scrub them off.

2. How often should you wash shoe insoles?

Ideally, you can wash shoe insoles whenever you notice an icky smell coming from them. I suggest washing the insoles weekly if you’re wearing the shoes frequently, especially for heavy activities. On the other hand, you can also wash the insoles once every 2 weeks if the smell isn’t prominent or you rarely wear the shoes for heavy physical activities. Either way, cleaning the insoles regularly is important to get rid of the dirt easily and prevent stinks.

3. Is baking soda good for cleaning shoes?

Yes, baking soda does an excellent job of cleaning shoes. This well-known and eco-friendly home ingredient acts as mild alkali that helps dissolve dirt and grease from your shoes (even some light stains.) In addition, baking soda is a natural deodorizer that helps get rid of unpleasant smells in your shoes.

It also provides soft granules for mild and less abrasive scrubbing, ideal for getting rid of grime that gets stuck on the shoes. For me, baking soda is the perfect alternative if you’re running out of liquid soap for cleaning or you’re looking for a non-toxic cleaning agent.

XII. Conclusion

So there you have it, my fellow shoe enthusiasts! We all know that insoles can make or break the comfort of our favorite kicks. But did you know that regularly cleaning them can prolong their lifespan? Now, I know it’s not the most glamorous task, but fear not – this article has got you covered with some easy-to-follow cleaning methods and tips.

From vinegar to baking soda, we’ve got some clever tricks up our sleeves to help you revive your insoles and get your shoes feeling fresh and new again. So why not give it a try? Your feet (and nose) will thank you!