How to Clean Insoles of Shoes? – 5 Simple Steps

Have the insoles of your shoes started to give an unpleasant smell? Are you looking for techniques to clean them without ruining them?

Our shoe insoles normally get dirty after using them a few times. With every step, dust, dirt, and moisture get into them, resulting in mold and bacteria growth if not cleaned on time.

Besides dirt, the shoe inserts also start to have a bad smell due to the sweating glands in our feet. So, it is very necessary to keep our feet, socks, insoles, and shoes dry; otherwise, our feet will be at risk of skin problems.

In this article, I will tell you the safest and most effective steps that I use to clean the insoles of shoes and keep them fresh.

how to clean insoles

How to Clean Insoles of Shoes?

  1. Take out the inserts from the shoes.
  2. Grab a bucket and make a solution of soap and water in it.
  3. Dip a brush into this solution and remove the excess solution by shaking it off.
  4. Thoroughly scrub the insoles using this brush.
  5. Air-dry the shoe inserts in a well-ventilated area.

How Often to Clean Shoe Insoles?

Aside from your shoes, the insoles also need to be cleaned properly, like any piece of clothing. Most people wash the shoes without taking out the insoles, but this method does not clean the inserts effectively.

I clean the shoe inserts on a weekly basis; thus, they are protected from the buildup of any dirt, and the bad smell does not get a chance to occur.

However, whenever you notice any unpleasant smell, they need to be cleaned. The bad smell occurs because bad bacteria start creating unpleasant smells when you don’t clean them regularly.

When you find small stains of dirty puddles, this is also a sign to clean them; otherwise, the dirt will reside on the insole permanently.

Therefore, there are no hard and fast rules that how often the insoles of the shoes should be cleaned.

You will need to decide when the shoe insoles need cleaning according to their type, how much you use, and when you use them. Some shoe inserts, like arch supports, must be cleaned weekly because they are used daily.

So, the best time to clean the insoles is to clean them every week or after two weeks.

Things You Will Need

  • Brush
  • Dish soap
  • Bucket
  • Warm Water
  • Cloth

Steps to Clean Insoles of Shoes

I use soap and water to clean the insoles of my shoes because these ingredients are the safest and very helpful in refreshing them. I don’t allow the dirt and smell to become tough to remove because I clean them regularly every week.

Therefore I’ll recommend this cleaner to you too. Regular cleaning is important to protect the insoles from stubborn stains, and if you do not clean them on time, the bad smell will also be difficult to remove.

1. Take Out the Insoles

Grab the insoles from the shoes’ footbed and remove them through the opening of the footwear. Use a brush or any old cloth to wipe the inserts so that the loose dirt particles can be removed and you can easily see how much cleaning they need.

Before cleaning, keep them in an airy place for a while if you have used them recently.

To clean the non-removable insole, you will use an old toothbrush. You will have to remove all the loose dirt and dust particles by shaking the shoes and then use the cleaner with the help of a toothbrush excessively inside the shoes to clean the insole.

Furthermore, you can also clean the shoe’s insole in the machine if the footwear is machine washable because some materials like leather or suede cannot be washed in a machine or soaked in water.

However, machine washing needs some precautions; run it on a gentle cycle and keep the shoes in a laundry bag to protect them from wearing out.

2. Make Soap and Water Solution

Once you have taken out the insoles from the shoes, the next step is to make a solution to clean them. For this purpose, take any large container or a bucket with warm water and put a few drops of liquid dish soap into it.

You can also perform this step using a sink by filling it with warm water. Blend it well using your hand so that it foams.

Warm water is very helpful in loosening the stuck dirt and hard stains. Mostly, soap and warm water scrub are enough to remove the bad smell from the insoles that are not worn out too much.

3. Submerge a Brush in Soapy Water

Memory foam insoles should not be cleaned by soaking them in water because this will ruin them. The best way to clean inserts is to apply the cleaner with a brush or spray bottle.

I clean leather insoles by spraying the cleaner on them and using a clean cloth to wipe them. In this way, they are safe from damage.

In this step, dip a nylon dish brush or any brush with stiff bristles. Please leave it in the solution for a while so that it can be completely wet. Now shake it well to remove any excess solution.

Make sure the brush is covered with a small amount of soapy water at a time so that the whole insoles are protected from wetting. Soaking them in water is not the right way to clean them.

Saturating them in too much water will ruin them, especially the inserts made from leather, suede, or foam.

If the dirt looks loose, you can use a dish sponge or a similar thing to scrub instead of a brush.

4. Scrub the Insoles with Soapy Water

Use the brush to scrub the surfaces of the insoles with circular and tight moving. The places where the stains and unpleasant smell are more noticeable, like toes and heels, should be more focused.

When you have scrubbed one side of the insert completely, turn it over, and start scrubbing the other side.

Whenever needed, reapply the soapy water on the brush. Once you have completed scrubbing, take a cloth or sponge and wipe the surfaces of the insoles thoroughly so that all the residues of soap can be gone.

5. Air-Dry the Insoles

Now the cleaning process is complete, it’s time to dry the inserts properly before putting them back in the shoes. Drying is necessary because keeping the wet insoles will bring back the bacteria and mold that cause an unpleasant smell.

Moist and warm places are the favorite areas of these bacteria, so be careful. After making them completely dry, slide them into the opening of your shoes and keep them accurately on the footbed.

The drying process can be increased by leaving them in an area where air passes properly or near a heater or air conditioner.

If it’s sunny weather outside, you can keep them in sunlight. This will speed up the drying process, and the ultraviolet rays will also kill any remaining germs and bacteria.

FAQs – Frequently Asked Questions

Are Insoles Washable?

Most insoles are made from memory foam which is damaged by washing. Besides them, leather or other materials are also ruined by washing them with water.

Therefore, soaking them in water should be avoided; scrubbing with soapy water is the best way to clean them.

How to Remove Bad Smell from Insoles?

The best way to remove the unpleasant smell from insoles is baking soda. Take a plastic bag and put the insoles with two teaspoons of baking soda.

Close the bag’s opening and shake it well so the powder can reach every corner of the inserts. Leave them overnight.

How Often Do Insoles Need Cleaning?

Insoles should be cleaned weekly, but some signs show that cleaning should be done urgently. For example, if they start smelling or small dirty puddles and stains start occurring on them, they require immediate cleaning.

Is There Any Way to Clean the Non-Removable Insole?

To clean the insoles that are not removable, take a spray bottle and fill water and rubbing alcohol in it. Make sure they are in equal quantities.

Apply the spray to the insoles and leave them for a while. You can also apply this solution to the inserts with the help of a cloth.

Can You Put the Shoe Insole in The Machine?

Washing the insoles in the washing machine can ruin them because they are made from synthetic materials like foam and rubber.

Soaking them in water is also not a good way to clean them. You must apply the soapy water or any safe solution on the insoles using a brush or cloth.

Final Words

The shoe insoles are among the most important parts of footwear because they are very helpful in making our walking, working, or any activity comfortable.

Unluckily, when they are not cleaned on time, they create unpleasant smells and dirt buildups that cannot be removed. To overcome this problem, I have given some harmless strategies to clean the shoes’ insoles quickly and easily.

However, it is very important to clean them regularly so that any hard buildup doesn’t get chance to occur; otherwise, you will be using harsh chemicals to clean them, which are unsafe.

Daniel Robert is a shoe lover who enjoys writing about all kinds of footwear, including sneakers, Crocs, Vans, and more. He shares his vast knowledge on, a website dedicated to helping people find the perfect pair of shoes. With years of experience and a passion for all things shoe-related, Daniel's easy-to-understand advice has helped countless people make confident and stylish choices.

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