How To Clean Insoles Of Shoes: Avoid A Stinky!

Do you know how to clean insoles of shoes in such a way that you can kill the bacteria that cause foot odor?

Of course, there is more to cleaning shoe insoles than just pulling the insoles out and dipping them in warm soapy water.

Why is it important to clean the insoles of shoes?

As you clean the insoles, you get the opportunity to deodorize them, wash them in a cleaning product such as vinegar that can kill bacteria and inspect them for damage.

While insoles stay in the enclosed space that is the shoes, they also absorb a lot of dirt because they come in a porous design for breathability.

If you do not clean them often, the dirt that they collect is going to form grime, and you will see the evidence of this anytime that you check your socks as the soles will be dirty.

Another reason for cleaning the insoles is that when your feet sweat, the inserts absorb most of the sweat. Dark, damp and warm conditions are notorious for harboring bacteria!

There are so many types of insoles. As you can see in our article on Protalus vs Superfeet insoles, you can see that even the orthotic types come in different styles.

Some insoles for work boots are made of leather, some are made of foam and some are made of polyester. You cannot clean foam insoles the same way that you would clean leather inserts.

Here, we shall look at ways to clean different types of insoles. We shall also look at ways to deodorize the insoles to kill bacteria.

How to clean suede insoles of shoes

If you have suede sandals, boots or shoes, most of them come with suede insoles. Knowing how to clean such insoles the right way will help to prolong their lifespan.

Suede insoles are breathable and very comfortable on your feet. But if you leave them too long without cleaning, they will be caked with dirt and grime, and they will cause your feet to stink.

Follow the steps below to clean them:

Gather the items that you need

You will need water, soap (laundry detergent), paper towels, cornstarch, suede brush (or old toothbrush), sandpaper and old newspapers.

Step 1: Remove the inserts

Remove the suede insoles and place them on the old newspapers. If the insoles are not removable, place the shoes on the old newspapers.

Step 2: Dab the insoles to dry them

Take a paper towel and dab the suede insoles. Do not make the mistake of rubbing them even with a brush because that will only embed the dirt further into the suede fibers. Patting them with a towel is going to absorb any moisture that is on the surface.

Step 3: Sprinkle with cornstarch to absorb stains and odors

Sprinkle the insoles with a small amount of cornstarch, just a little, so that it does not create a layer that is too thick.

The cornstarch will absorb the odors and any moisture that could be lurking on the fibers. Let it stay for a couple of hours so that it can break the stains if there were any.

Step 4: brush gently with old toothbrush or suede brush

After two hours, take your suede brush and pull it lengthwise from the toe side of the insole to the heel, with one unbroken stroke.

Do this a few times until you have covered the entire surface area of the insert. It is important to pull in the direction of the fibers.

Step 5: Sand away any remaining stain

If there remains a stain on the insert, take the sandpaper and sand gently and in the direction of the fibers.

This is going to remove the top layer of the sole, so you should be gentle and firm. Keep checking and stop once the stain is gone.

To clean suede insoles with water…

Sometimes, there is the need to clean the suede insoles with water. This is simple! Just follow the steps below:

Pour one cup of water into a small bowl, add one tablespoon of laundry detergent and stir it into a fine solution.

Dip the insoles into this solution until they are completely soaked. Take your suede brush or toothbrush and scrub the insoles gently, again, in the direction of the fibers, from the toes to the heels.

The laundry detergent is going to break the stains and once it is gone, dab the inserts with paper towels until the excess moisture is gone.

Keep the insoles at a place where they can air-dry for up to 24 hours, away from direct heat and do not use artificial heat.

When dry, replenish the nap with your toothbrush or suede brush. You are done!

How to clean leather insoles of shoes

Leather insoles are the real deal because they last a long time. However, they can collect a lot of grime if you do not clean them frequently.

With the tips that we are going to share with you below, you can clean your leather inserts at home, without taking them to a cobbler.

Image of How to clean leather insoles of shoes

If you wear your work boots daily, we suggest that you clean the insoles at least two times a week. That will prevent them from collecting bacteria that causes your feet to stink.

Gather the items you will need

You will need old newspapers, liquid detergent, white towel/cloth, anti-bacterial spray, leather conditioner cream and baking soda. You will also need some lukewarm water.

Step 1: Get the insoles out and dust them

Remove the leather inserts from your shoes and place them on the old newspapers. You can then use a rag to remove dust. You can do that by rubbing the inserts gently.

Step 2: Rub liquid detergent on the insoles

Take a little amount of your liquid detergent and pour it on a piece of white cloth. Rub the detergent on the inserts so that it is spread out all over the surface.

Dip the cloth in lukewarm water and rub it on the inserts again. This will prevent the insoles from drying out, something that can cause the leather to shrink.

Step 3: Continue rubbing to create lather

With circular motions, continue rubbing the liquid detergent onto the insoles until they lather up. Spread the lather throughout the surface of the insoles. The circular motions will remove all the dirt and the detergent will break the stain molecules.

Step 4: Dry the insole

Use a clean piece of cloth to remove the soap that remains on the inserts. Use a microfiber cloth to dry the inserts and buff it. Do not soak the insoles in water to rinse them.

Step 5: Spray them with anti-bacterial spray

If your feet sweat a lot, you should spray the insoles with anti-bacterial spray. Some bacteria will just not go away even after cleaning the insoles with liquid detergent.

Therefore, a light spray of antibacterial products will kill whatever bacteria remains. You can let this product stay on the insoles for some time and then rub it out.

Step 6: Deodorize the leather inserts with baking soda

If your feet have the tendency to smell all the time, you could finish off the process for how to clean leather insoles with baking soda.

Sprinkle a thin layer of baking soda on both sides of the inserts and let them stay that way for about 12 hours. This is going to lift any remaining traces of odor. Shake the baking soda out of the inserts and rub them with a clean rug.

Place the insoles in your shoes and take them to storage or wear them. They will feel so fresh!

Should I condition leather insoles?

When people ask: how do you care for leather insoles, most of the time, they mean to ask whether you can condition these inserts.

And the answer is no and yes. I will explain …

If your shoes are new and the insoles are new, you do not need to condition the insoles because they don’t need it.

Even if your feet sweat a gallon, just clean the insoles more often using the process that we have explained above.

If your insoles have seen some mileage, well, you might need to apply a small layer of leather conditioner to keep them supple and flexible.

The collagen in the leather needs to be kept stretchable and in good condition, otherwise the leather might start cracking.

So yes, finding a good leather-conditioning product will really help you keep your insoles in good condition if they are old.

Do not make a habit of applying leather conditioner on the insoles though, only when it is necessary. If it is too much and some remain on the surface, it will mess up your socks.

How do you stop insoles from smelling?

Foot odor can be very embarrassing if you visit someone and you have to remove your shoes. But not to worry too much because first, you are not alone!

According to the Institute for Preventive Foot Health, 16 percent of people above 21 years of age experience foot odor.

Secondly, feet are some of the smelliest parts of the body and the fact that they stay enclosed a long time in closed shoes does not help.

Thirdly, you can do something about foot odor!

Clean your insoles often and when you are done cleaning them, spray with an anti-bacterial product and wait for it to soak in.

You can also sprinkle both sides of the insole with a generous amount of baking soda. Let them stay for several hours so that the baking soda can break the odor.

Clean your insoles often. It will help keep your foot health intact.

Conclusion for How to Clean Insoles of Shoes

Cleaning your insoles at least once a week will not only keep them fresh and clean but it will also control foot odor.

Do not wait until they are caked with grease to clean them. This is something that you can do at home, there is no need to see a cobbler.

Also, clean the interior of your shoes often.