How to Clean Insoles

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When it comes to shoes, the outside tends to get more TLC than the inside. Cleaning the inside of a shoe is just as important as cleaning the outside. It also helps your shoes smell fresh and last longer. 

How to Clean Insoles: 3 Methods

Are you now wondering how to clean insoles? We will go over the best methods in this article. 

1. Use Soap and Water

It’s natural for the inside of a shoe to get dirty and potentially smelly over time. In fact, the most active sweat glands are in our feet. It makes sense that, over time, the inside of our shoes become dirty or smelly. 

The good news is, cleaning it with soap and water is very simple! If you have insoles that are any material besides leather, you can use this method.

Insoles removed from rubber shoes

Something to note here is that while soap and water will have your insoles looking better and smelling better, it does not kill any bacteria that your shoes have collected. 

If you dry it on your Azek decking, the sun can help with killing bacteria. You also can use shoe spray or baking soda after using this method to kill the dirt and the smell. 


For the soap and water method, you will need:

  • Soap
  • Hot water
  • Large bucket or tub
  • Stiff-bristled brush

You can use any type of dish soap or liquid laundry detergent as your cleaning soap of choice. Either one of those will work—but don’t use any hand or body soap for this task.


To clean your insoles with soap and water, follow these steps:

  1. Fill your bucket or tub with warm water
  2. Pour some soap into the water 
  3. Take your insoles and dip them in the water, swirling them around a bit to activate the soap
  4. Pull one insole out and take your brush and scrub the insoles
  5. Repeat the process with the other insoles
  6. When your insoles look clean, place them on a clothesline outside or on a towel inside and let dry

Make sure your insoles are completely dry before putting them back in the shoe. There you have it! A simple method to get your insoles looking cleaner and smelling fresher. 

2. Use Vinegar and Water

Vinegar will help clean your insoles, kill the odor, and also kill the bacteria lingering inside. While this method is simple as well, it takes a bit more time than the soap method. You can use this on most materials of insoles, just don’t use this method on leather insoles. 


For this method, you will need:

  • Vinegar
  • Hot water
  • A bucket or tub large enough for the insoles to submerge
Rubber shoes


Some people don’t like the smell of vinegar. If you’re one of those people, you can use drops of essential oil in your cleaning mixture, or you can look for odorless vinegar. 

Follow these steps to use vinegar to clean your insoles:

  1. Create your cleaning mixture with a vinegar to hot water ratio of 2:1 in your bucket or tub
  2. Place your insoles in the bucket or tub
  3. Leave submerged for at least three hours
  4. Remove the insoles and scrub them if there’s any visible dirt
  5. Dry the insoles on a clothesline or a towel inside

Again, you’ll want to make sure that your insoles are completely dry before inserting them back into your shoes. 

3. Use Baking Soda

Baking soda helps remove odors from many places, and insoles can be one of those places. This method includes no water or submersion in water, so it is safe for all materials of insoles, including leather. Baking soda is a staple for cleaning, it can even be used for cleaning shin guards.


To follow the baking soda method, you will simply need:

  • Baking soda
  • Ziploc large enough for the insoles


So, how do you clean insoles with baking soda? This method will deodorize your insoles but will not remove any dirt from insoles. To complete this method, follow these steps:

  1. Place baking soda in the bag—at least a couple of ounces
  2. Put the insoles in the bag with the baking soda
  3. Shake the bag to cover the insoles—the more you cover, the better
  4. Make sure that the upper side is completely covered
  5. Leave for at least 6 hours or overnight
  6. Shake off any extra baking soda
  7. Let them rest for a while 

After that, you can put them back in your shoes. Fresh smelling insoles have never been easier! 

Frequently Asked Questions

Before we wrap up this article, let’s address some commonly asked questions regarding insoles cleaning.

What If I Can’t Remove My Insoles?

Are you looking to clean insoles that aren’t removable or part of sandals? For these, it’s a little tougher to clean as you can’t remove them to dump them in your cleaning materials. 

For this, you can use baking soda to absorb the smell. You can sprinkle them in the shoes, wait a couple of hours or overnight, and then shake out the baking soda. This should eliminate some of those smells. 

Clean insoles

There are also shoe sprays and pouches that should remove the smell and the bacteria. Look for some shoe deodorizers, and you can use those on shoes that do not have removable insoles. 

For sandals, you can use the soap and water method, but you’ll have to get a little creative on how to do it. You can place soap directly on the insole in your sandal and scrub around the straps. Let them dry in the sun outside. Once they are dry, you can sprinkle baking soda to deodorize. 

What If I Have Leather Insoles?

Leather insoles are a little different because water tends to warp leather. You definitely don’t want to soak leather insoles in water directly. 

For these, you can use a similar method and materials as above. You can use the baking soda method on leather insoles, as there is no water involved.

For the other methods, instead of dunking the insoles in the water, you can dampen a cloth with your cleaning mixture and dab at the parts you want to clean of your insoles. 

When you are finished, you can dab at them with another cloth that is moistened with water. Then, you can let dry and reinsert. 

Why Should I Clean Insoles?

If your insoles don’t look dirty and don’t smell right now, do you even need to clean them? We recommend cleaning insoles become a monthly routine at least. Why? Because they absorb sweat and bacteria from your feet. 

While no one sees your insoles, your feet are touching them directly or through a sock every time you wear them. It’s best to clean them regularly, especially if you aren’t wearing socks with your shoes. 

How Can I Keep My Shoes From Smelling?

Now that you know how to clean your insoles, you may be wondering how to keep them from smelling and getting dirty again.

Clean Them Often

The best way to keep your insoles clean is to introduce a regular cleaning routine of insoles. You can clean them monthly or bi-weekly if they are shoes you are often wearing. 

When you tackle this job more often, it keeps your shoes clean and also lets you catch the problem before it’s noticeable. 

Wear Socks

Obviously, we aren’t going to ask you to wear clean socks with sandals. However, if you are wearing low-cut shoes, you may be foregoing the socks. 

It is much better to get some no-show socks and wear those with your shoes. This helps the sock take all the odor and most of the bacteria instead of the insole.

Men in formal wear showing off their colored socks

Of course, your insole will still get some of the odor and bacteria, but wearing a sock will definitely help cut that down. 

Change Your Socks

Stress is a significant factor in smelly feet, so if you get particularly stressed during work, you may look into having some extra socks in your office to switch those out. 

This will keep your feet smelling fresh. If you don’t feel like changing socks in the middle of the day, look into socks that have high absorbency, such as merino wool. 

Replace Your Insoles

If you have particular shoes you need to wear for work or a favorite pair of shoes that are always your go-to, the heavy usage can lead to dirty insoles. 

Even with regular cleaning, the life of an insole is only so long. If you are cleaning it regularly and it seems to be wearing down, instead of getting all new shoes, consider buying a new insole for your shoes. 

Use a Shoe Deodorizer

There are many shoe deodorizers out on the market. There are sprays, pouches that have charcoal in them, and many more. 

Using these regularly on your shoes can prevent them from smelling and prevent you from having to clean more than the recommended amount. 


Cleaning your insoles is an often forgotten task until it’s noticeably dirty. With the methods we’ve outlined, it doesn’t have to be a daunting task! 

Cleaning insoles should be something you do regularly to help your shoes last longer and smell better. Everyone likes a fresh-smelling shoe, and with these methods, you can keep your shoe insoles smelling and looking great!