Dirty Insole

How to Clean Shoe Insoles: Essential Care Guide

by Mark Paigen 6 minute read

Proper care of your insoles keeps them clean and extends their lifespan. In this blog, we’ll guide you through the best methods to clean your insoles and explain when it’s time for replacements.

The Basics (TL;DR) ---

  • Proper insole care enhances hygiene, comfort, and odor control.
  • Regular cleaning with soap and water keeps insoles fresh.
  • Specific methods like baking soda and vinegar target odor and tough stains.
  • Rubbing alcohol and direct sunlight both work to disinfect your insoles.
  • Replace damaged or visibly worn insoles, or those with a persistent stench after repeated washing.

What You Need To Know---

To keep your insoles in top shape, regular cleaning and timely replacement are crucial. Clean them using methods like soap and water, baking soda, or vinegar to maintain hygiene and comfort. Replace your insoles when they show visible wear, are damaged, or retain odors despite thorough cleaning.

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Table of Contents


Essential Insole Care: Clean for Comfort

Insole care is important for maintaining hygiene and foot health, ensuring lasting comfort, and extending the life of your insoles. Regular cleaning of your insoles will help prevent the growth of bacteria and fungi, which are often the culprits behind foot infections and odors.  Side note: if your feet need some extra loving, be sure to check out our 'Essential Guide to Taking Care of Feet.' By following the tips in this guide, you can ensure your shoe insoles stay clean, fresh, and supportive.

How To Take Care of Your Insoles

Taking good care of your insoles is key to maximizing their benefits and lifespan. Here are four simple yet effective ways to maintain your insoles:
  • Wear Socks and Change Them Regularly. Socks absorb sweat, keeping insoles cleaner for longer. Make sure to change your socks daily or after activities that cause excessive sweating.
  • Keep Insoles Dry. Thoroughly air dry your insoles and shoes after use to prevent bacteria growth and odor. If they get sweaty or wet, remove the insoles and air them out separately.
  • Choose Breathable Insoles. Select insoles made of breathable materials to encourage air flow inside your shoes. This reduces sweat buildup and keeps your feet odor-free.  All Tread Labs insoles are made with breathable, long-lasting, open-cell polyurethane foam. Dash Insoles include ventilated foam top covers for extra breathability.
  • Choose Anti-Odor Insoles.  Tread Labs insoles have top covers that are treated with a PURE™ silver ion treatment that will not wash out or degrade, and will keep your insoles fresher for longer.


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How To Clean Shoe Insoles

Whether you're curious about using dish soap to clean insoles or seeking ways to deodorize your shoe insoles, this section provides you with effective and easy-to-follow cleaning methods. From hand washing with gentle soap to natural odor-eliminating solutions, we'll cover various techniques to ensure your insoles stay fresh and hygienic. Let's dive into the best practices for insole maintenance that will answer your questions and keep your shoes smelling and feeling great.

Soap Bucket

Soap & Water

Can you wash shoe insoles?  While we don't recommend using a washing machine, we do recommend this simple and effective hand-wash method that removes dirt and grime from most types of insoles. 

Recommended For: All Tread Labs insoles, as well as other gel, fabric, leather, wool, and foam insoles.

How to clean the insoles of shoes:

  1. Remove insoles from shoes. For Tread Labs insoles, separate the top covers from the molded arch supports, and only wash the top covers.
  2. Mix warm water and a small amount of mild soap in a basin.
  3. Use a soft brush or clean cloth dipped in soapy water to gently scrub the insoles.  Use the minimum amount of liquid necessary for leather insoles.
  4. Rinse the insoles with clean water. Do not rinse leather insoles. Instead, wipe leather insoles clean with a damp cloth.
  5. Air dry overnight completely before placing back in shoes. Once dry, consider using a wax-free leather lotion to recondition leather insoles and prevent cracking. 

Take-away:  This is a great all-purpose cleaning method for regularly cleaning your insoles.

Screenshot of Review of Tread Labs Insoles that says, "There have been no issues with cleaning them!"


Baking Soda

Looking for a way to make your shoe insoles not smell? Wondering how to clean smelly shoe insoles? Baking soda is a natural deodorizer and disinfectant that helps absorb sweat and neutralize odors.

Recommended For: Gel, fabric, wool, and foam insoles. Use sparingly on leather insoles.

How To:

  1. Remove insoles from shoes. For Tread Labs insoles, separate the top covers from the molded arch supports, and only treat the top covers.
  2. Sprinkle baking soda generously over the insoles.
  3. Leave the baking soda on the insoles for several hours or overnight.
  4. Brush off the baking soda completely.  If needed, use a vacuum for wool insoles.
  5. Air-dry the insoles before placing them back in shoes.

Take-away: This method is especially useful for deodorizing insoles after extended use.



Need another way to deodorize your insoles? Vinegar is a natural disinfectant and deodorizer that can kill bacteria and remove stubborn stains.

Recommended For: Fabric, wool, and foam insoles. Use with care on gel insoles. Avoid using on leather insoles.

How To:

  1. Remove insoles from shoes. For Tread Labs insoles, separate the top covers from the molded arch supports, and only treat the top covers.
  2. Mix equal parts white vinegar and water.
  3. Spray or brush the vinegar solution onto insoles and gently scrub with a brush.
  4. Rinse the insoles with clean water.
  5. Air-dry the insoles completely before placing them back in shoes.

Take-away: This method is effective for removing stubborn stains and odors from insoles.


Rubbing Alcohol

Worried that something might be growing in your shoes? Rubbing alcohol is a powerful disinfectant that can kill bacteria and viruses.

Recommended For: Gel and fabric insoles.  Use sparingly on wool and leather, avoid use directly on foam.

How To:

  1. Remove insoles from shoes. For Tread Labs insoles, separate the top covers from the molded arch supports, and only spray the top covers.  Use sparingly on Tread Labs insoles.
  2. Mix equal parts 70-90% rubbing alcohol and water in a spray bottle.
  3. Spray the mixture onto the insoles, paying special attention to sweaty or smelly areas.
  4. Wipe off any excess
  5. Avoid rinsing your insoles, as the rubbing alcohol disinfects as it evaporates.
  6. Allow the insoles to air-dry completely before placing them back in shoes.

Take-away: This method is best for disinfecting insoles after wearing them in hot or sweaty conditions.



You might be surprised to learn that sunlight can make your insoles smell better. Sunlight is a natural disinfectant that can kill bacteria and help to deodorize insoles.

Recommended For: Gel, fabric, wool, and foam insoles. Avoid prolonged exposure for leather insoles to prevent drying out.

How To:

  1. Remove insoles from your shoes.
  2. Brush off your insoles with a cloth or soft brush.
  3. Place your insoles in direct sunlight for several hours.
  4. Flip the insoles over halfway through.  Aim for at least 2-3 hours of sunlight per side.
  5. Replace your insoles in your shoes.

Take-away: This natural and eco-friendly method is a great way to refresh and deodorize your insoles.


Knowing When It's Time for a Change

Insoles, like other part of your shoes, have a lifespan and need replacing over time. But how do you know when it's time to get new ones? Let's break it down. 

Signs That Your Insoles Need Replacing:

  • Flattened Support. The arch support has flattened or shows visible damage. 
  • Visible Wear. Look for cracks, tears, or holes in the insole.
  • Persistent Odor. If repeated cleaning doesn't remove the smell, it's time for new insoles.
  • Color Changes. Significant discoloration can indicate material degradation.
  • General Rule of Thumb. Typically, replace insoles every 6-12 months, depending on your activity level and usage.

Why Replacing Tread Labs Insoles is Different

Tread Labs Pace - Two Part System = Arch Support + Top Cover

  • Two-Part System. Tread Labs insoles are constructed using a two-part system consisting of molded arch supports and replaceable top covers.
  • Arch Support Guaranteed For Life. Tread Labs molded arch supports are unconditionally guaranteed for life under the Tread Labs Million Mile Guarantee.  This means the arch supports will not flatten, crack, or degrade.
  • Replaceable Top Covers. Tread Labs top covers are easily replaceable at affordable prices when they wear out, extending the lifespan of the insoles and saving money.  Depending on use, Tread Labs top covers generally last a year or so.


Screenshot of a Review of Tread Labs Insoles that says they are "Great Quality and Long Lasting"

Final Thoughts on Insole Care

Maintaining clean and well-cared-for insoles is key for lasting foot comfort and health. Regularly cleaning your insoles keeps your feet happy and extends the life of your insoles. Timely replacement of worn insoles ensure that your insoles stay effective and supportive in all your activities. Remember, taking a few moments to care for your insoles can make a significant difference in your daily comfort and foot support.



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