How to Clean Leather Insoles: Some Useful Tips

Would you like to get rid of the smell in your leather shoes? Are your shoes clean on the outside but still have an unpleasant smell? We can be so clean, but that does not prevent us from sweating. Sweat stimulates the growth of bacteria, which brings the unpleasant odor from your leather shoe. The secret to avoiding this is to learn how to clean leather insoles. Shoes need to be frequent and regular cleaning for better maintenance.

Cleaning of leather shoes can be done at home and thus saving some coins you would have taken to the cobbler. There are different methods of cleaning insoles. The methods will depend on many factors such as if the insoles are removable or not and the materials used to make them. Leather insoles are much more delicate, and they need special attention and care. Below is a simple and step by step guideline on how to clean shoe insoles made of leather. This YouTube video will also help you on how to clean the leather insoles.

How to Clean Leather Insoles Step by Step Guide

Step 1: Remove the Insoles

If the insoles of your shoes are removable, the first step is to remove them from the shoe. This way, it will be much easier to clean them, and it will also help you to get the perfect clean you desire.

Step 2: Perform a Dust Scrub

Before you do any cleaning on the leather insoles, you need to do a quick dust scrub. This process should be done with an old t-shirt or a microfiber cloth. If the insole is non-removable, start by brushing the outside, the buckles, and the straps. Put the cloth inside the insoles and at the side of the soles to get off the dirt.

Then take it through the bottom of the shoes. This process is quite effective, especially if you have been walking in a sandy area. After the brushing, take a soft dry cloth and rub the leather to get rid of any excess spots or dirt which are visible.

Step 3: Clean the Insole Gently

There are various ways that you can use to clean leather insoles. The best methods are using saddle soap and a mixture of water and vinegar. Saddle soap is not only good for cleaning but also conditioning the leather insoles.

Using Saddle Soap

  • Put the insoles at the top of four newspaper sheets
  • Take a dampened cloth and put a pea-sized amount of saddle soap. Use cold or lukewarm water instead of hot water to prevent the leather from drying or shrinking.
  • Rub the saddle soap on the leather insole gently until it forms lather. Clean the whole insole in small circular motions to get rid of odors and dirt.
  • Spray a thin layer of anti-bacterial spray to remove foot bacteria and mildew hiding in the leather cracks.
  • Leave the disinfectant on the insoles for a while and then wipe the product off with a clean cloth.
  • Place the insoles on the newspapers on a bowl and leave it to dry over the night. Do not leave then on direct sunlight or heat.
  • Once dry, moisturize the leather insoles with leather conditioning cream with a small rag or piece of cloth.

Using Vinegar

Once you have done the dust scrub, then you can use water and vinegar to clean your leather insoles through the process below:

  • Mix equal amount of vinegar and water
  • Put a damp cloth in the mixture you have made
  • Wipe the entire leather insole by rubbing gently
  • Wipe the leather insoles with a dry cloth and leave them to dry in a cool place preferably overnight
  • Once the insoles dry up, apply some leather conditioner. Apply the leather conditioner on a dry clean rag or cloth and rub it slowly in a circular motion.
  • Wipe the conditioner using a fry rug or cloth and leave the leather insole to dry

Cleaning Non-Removable Leather Insoles

If the leather insoles cannot be removed from the shoe, do not worry. I will educate you on how to clean non-removable insoles and prevent them from having odor.

  • With a clean cloth, wipe the leather insoles with a solution of distilled white vinegar or a solution of alcohol
  • Leave the insoles to dry, and this will get rid of bacteria.
  • Once they are dry, sprinkle some baking soda and leave then overnight. This will help to get rid of any odor.
  • Remember to shake off the baking soda the next day before wearing the shoes

Important Tips

  • On how to clean smelly insoles and get rid of odors from your, dust a teaspoon of baking soda on each of them. This is among the most natural methods of removing odors from your shoes. Leave the baking soda on the insoles overnight. You can then remove the powder off with a clean rag and put the insoles back to the shoe.
  • It is also advisable to place some cedar seeds in your shoes once in a while. This will help in absorbing moisture from the leather insoles to prevent them from smelling.
  • If the leather insoles are made of treated leather, use only water and vinegar to clean it. It is advisable not to use saddle soap or any other leather cleaning product on it. To know if the insoles are made of treated leather, drop some drops of clean water on them. Watch if the drops will soak into the leather or bead up into little water balls and this will help you know the type of leather If you see water balls, then that means that the insoles are made of treated to clean non-removable insoles

 How to Clean Leather Insoles

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Q. How Do You Clean Non-Removable Leather Insoles?

The process below will help you on how to clean inside of shoes if their insoles cannot be removed:

  • Mix some vinegar with water. You can also use distilled white vinegar or alcohol solution.
  • Dip a piece of clean cloth to the solution and rub it gently on the insole inside the shoe
  • Leave the show to the insole to dry to get rid of germs.
  • In case you do not have vinegar; you can use a paste of baking soda and water by:
  • Mixing a tablespoon of baking soda with a tablespoon of water
  • With the help of a toothbrush apply the paste on the insole inside the shoe
  • Leave it for about 20 minutes
  • Use a damp cloth to wipe away the remaining paste from the insole
  • Leave the shoes to air dry

Q. How Do You Clean Leather Sandals Footbed?

When cleaning leather sandals footbed:

  • Soak a cotton ball in alcohol and use it to wipe the footbed of the sandals. Rubbing alcohol on leather sandals footbed does not only kill germs but also removes grime and dirt.
  • After that wipe the footbed with a clean and damp cloth
  • Leave the sandals to dry
  • Ensure that you repeat this process in a couple of weeks to keep your leather sandals fresh and clean.

Q. Can Insoles Be Washed?

Yes. Insoles can and should be washed almost regularly as you do to the outer shoe. The method you use to wash the inner soles is dependent on whether they are removable or not and also with the kind of materials that makes them. After washing the insoles, always ensure you remove any excess water and leave them to dry before you put them back to the shoe or wear them.

Insoles can be cleaned with baking soda, vinegar, saddle soap, steaming, or alcohol, depending on the material. For the non-removable insoles, you can put dryer sheep overnight to make them fresh.

Q. How Do You Clean the Insoles of Sandals?

  • Prepare a paste of water and baking soda
  • Apply the paste on the leather sandals
  • Leave the sandals overnight
  • Wipe the morning with a damp cloth
  • Leave the sandals to dry in a cool place. Avoid direct sunlight or heat.

Mixing of warm water and vinegar is another DIY leather insole cleaning method for sandals. The mixture should be made in equal portions. This will kill any bacteria causing bad smell from the leather sandals. After wiping it with a damp cloth, leave the sandal to dry before you wear it. Leather saddles can also be washed using saddle soap, which is most recommendable for a leather product.

Q. How Do You Keep the Inside of Your Shoes Clean?

To keep the inside of your shoes clean, you need to clean the insoles regularly. Always wipe the inside or insoles with a sponge. After cleaning the shoes, it is advisable to leave them to dry in a well-ventilated place to air dry. Always sprinkle the insoles of your shoes with baking soda after every wear to get rid of any odor. You can also use a shoe disinfectant to spray inside the shoes in case you do not have baking soda.


Now that you know how to clean leather insoles, you will not have problems with odors and bad smell on your feet. Do not forget to clean the shoe also when cleaning the insole. To keep the insole from cracking, it is recommendable to keep them in a well-ventilated area. Avoid putting then under direct sunlight or heat to dry.

It is important for us to understand the importance of cleaning the insoles regularly, but not only when they get smelly. Cleaning non-removable insoles can be a little tricky, but it is not impossible. Do not use a brush when dealing with leather insoles since it will cause damage. Also, be careful not to make the insoles so wet or soaked since again that can cause damage.


I am an Architect Engineer by profession with great interest in web and content creation. I have used leather products for a long time, which has increased my enthusiasm, knowledge, and understanding of leather. I am here to shed light on the leather and guide you on choosing the best leather products.

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