How to Clean Non-Removable Insoles

A lot of owners, myself included, often clean the surface and the outsole of our shoes while forgetting that insoles are also just as important to keep clean. I have a couple of shoes in my rack I don’t use cause they simply stink! Insoles tend to absorb a lot of sweat and dirt from our feet when worn for days and weeks. This is why the insoles, if neglected, can emit a foul odor as well as quickly deteriorate in quality.

Good thing removable shoe insoles exist and are very easy to clean. However, if you have those non-removable types, cleaning can be a challenge. Not to worry, we’re here to help you keep your pair squeaky clean and ready to use.

How to clean non-removable insoles

To clean non-removable insoles, you will need a clean dry towel, a brush or soft-bristled toothbrush, dish soap, a bowl, and water. Lightly scrub the surface of your insoles with a toothbrush dipped in dish soap or laundry detergent to scrub away visible stains and dirt. Make sure to dry your shoes after cleaning.

What are ways to clean non-removable insoles?

There are several ways to clean non-removable insoles aside from washing them with soap and water, if you’re worried it will cause damage to your shoes. There are shoe deodorizing sprays you can buy online to clean the insides of your shoes.

This is especially handy if you wish to kill any odor inside, but only if you have the budget. Otherwise, here are quick home remedies you can do to clean non-removable insoles.

Using a handheld steamer is a great alternative to cleaning your non-removable insoles as it eliminates bacteria inside your shoes. It’s easier and quicker to clean your non-removable insoles if you have a steamer lying around in your house.

Once done steaming, be sure to dry the shoes out. Word of caution, avoid using this method if you have suede shoes as it will cause damage to the material.

If a steamer is not available, then using baking soda should do the trick to keep your shoes fresh and ready to use. Sprinkling baking soda inside your shoes and leaving it for a couple of hours deodorizes your footwear and cleans up any dirt that has accumulated inside it. Dust off any residue inside your shoes and dry it off before wearing it again.

Charcoal is also another alternative option to cleaning non-removable insoles due to its moisture and odor absorption qualities.

To keep it from staining your insoles, it’s a good idea to use a sock to contain your charcoal. Tie it up inside your shoes then leave it overnight. It will suck up all the odor to keep your shoes fresh for another day.

If all else fails, then you can use dryer sheets to remove sweat and odor from your shoes. They’re known to neutralize any bad smell to keep your shoes fresh for days.

It also smells like nice fresh laundry. Using dryer sheets every other day or so and leaving them overnight in your shoes is definitely a good way to keep your shoes clean regularly.

How do you disinfect the insides of your shoes?

Aside from steam cleaning, placing your shoes in direct sunlight is a natural way of disinfecting the insides of your footwear. Sunlight kills any bacteria present on the insides of your shoes as well as eliminates bad odors making it a great option to disinfect your insoles.

Using a vacuum cleaner with a suitable attachment is another quick and easy way to get rid of any dirt inside the hard-to-reach areas of your shoes. The process will only take a few minutes and will also help maintain your shoes’ freshness.

While you’re at it, vinegar is also a readily available home remedy to kill bacteria inside your shoes as well as remove any bad odor present in the insoles. Putting vinegar inside your shoes and leaving it for a few hours cleans and eliminates bacteria present inside them. Just make sure to dry your pair with a towel or paper towels to remove excess moisture. This way, you can prevent any allergic reaction when it’s time to wear your shoes again.

Is it possible to machine wash non-removable insoles?

Putting your shoes inside a washing machine to clean non-removable insoles is not recommended. Washing your shoes inside a machine poses  a high chance of damaging or warping the materials of your shoes especially if your footwear is made of leather. Sticking with all the methods we’ve listed in this article is far safer and more beneficial in extending the overall life of your shoe so that you can wear it for longer.

Why do insoles smell?

One of the main reasons for that unwanted insole smell is the sweat that your feet produce, especially when your footwear is worn for long hours. Without fresh air circulating inside your shoes, bacteria will multiply and in turn make your feet and shoes smelly.

Are non-removable insoles better than their removable counterpart?

Non-removable insoles are better overall when you’re not walking on hard surfaces. This is because they provide more support on your feet and help people who suffer from flat feet or other similar conditions. Cheap and affordable shoes such as dress shoes and running shoes with a high arch are usually fitted with non-removable insoles making them appealing to a lot of people.

The usual downside of having these types of footwear is that they’re harder to clean, especially when they get wet. Also, non-removable insoles are sometimes not the best option for some because they usually don’t have any padding or arch support, unlike removable insoles.


While non-removable insoles are generally harder to clean compared to their removable counterpart, they provide extra cushioning to offer more support on hard surfaces maintaining their popularity. Cleaning with dish soap, water, and a soft-bristled toothbrush is the most cost-effective way of cleaning the insides of your shoes. Otherwise, the other alternatives we’ve discussed in the article should help you maintain your shoes for the foreseeable future.