No one wants to spend their downtime learning how to clean their shoes. But if you hike regularly, knowing the answer to “how to clean shoe insoles?” is a must.
If you understand how to maintain shoe insoles, you’ll be able to hang on to them for longer. While shoe insoles aren’t typically expensive (although the best insoles for hiking cost more than regular insoles), if you have to replace them often, these little expenses will soon add up.
The good news is that washing hiking shoe insoles isn’t as big a chore as you imagine it to be.
- 1 DO I NEED TO CLEAN HIKING SHOE INSOLES?
- 2 A QUICK GUIDE ON HOW TO CLEAN
- 3 SHOE INSOLES
- 3.1 ADD SOME VINEGAR
- 3.2 THIS IS WHERE RUBBING ALCOHOL COMES IN HANDY
- 3.3 BAKING SODA TO THE RESCUE
- 3.4 LEATHER INSOLES NEED SPECIAL ATTENTION
- 3.5 WHAT IF YOU CAN’T REMOVE THE INSOLES?
- 4 KEEP YOUR HIKING SHOE INSOLES CLEAN
DO I NEED TO CLEAN HIKING SHOE INSOLES?
Yes! Over time, shoe inserts get dirty. They also absorb sweat and dirt, which can lead to bacteria and mold growth. That, in turn, can cause bad odor. If the smell is really bad, you might be tempted to throw away your boots before they’re worn out.
Therefore, by taking proper care of your insoles, you not only extend their life but also prolong the life of your hiking shoes, saving money in the long run.
A QUICK GUIDE ON HOW TO CLEAN
How to clean shoe insoles? It turns out that there’s more than one method that you can use to keep your insoles looking spotless and smelli
Keep it simple, More often than not, soap and water are all you need to clean your dirty insoles.
by removing the insoles from your hiking shoes and set them aside to air out for a while. In the meantime, fill your bathroom sink, bucket, or container with warm water and add a few drops of mild detergent.
take a stiff-bristled brush (like a dish brush or an old toothbrush) or a soft cloth and dip it into the soapy water.Using circular motions, scrub the insoles. Pay careful attention to the heel and toes, as those are the two areas where stains and bad odors are usually the most noticeable. When you’re done scrubbing the tops of the insoles, flip them over and clean the bottoms too.
go over the insoles with a clean cloth or sponge, removing excess soap residue to ensure that your shoes are not full of foam the next time you hike in the rain. Place the shoes on a towel and let them air-dry overnight. If you’re in a rush, leave the damp insoles near a space heater or air conditioner, or if the weather permits, out in the sun.
ADD SOME VINEGAR
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Submerge the insoles in the solution and leave them to soak for three hours or longer. Then, carefully rinse the insoles under running water. Allow the insoles to dry overnight.
THIS IS WHERE RUBBING ALCOHOL COMES IN HANDY
Add an equal amount of rubbing alcohol (hydrogen peroxide or distilled white vinegar will also work) and water to a spray bottle.
Shake the bottle to ensure that the two liquids blend thoroughly. Then, spray both sides of the insoles with the mixture.Don’t have a spray bottle at hand? A clean cloth will work just as well. Simply soak it in the solution and scrub the insoles by hand. The alcohol should evaporate fairly quickly, leaving your insoles nice and dry.
BAKING SODA TO THE RESCUE
Fill a Ziploc bag or a Tupperware box with a few ounces of baking soda. Put the insoles inside the container, making sure to cover them entirely in baking soda. Then, seal the container.
Let the insoles sit in the baking soda overnight (for at least six hours, but preferably longer). The next morning, remove them from the container and wipe off the excess baking soda with a clean cloth.
LEATHER INSOLES NEED SPECIAL ATTENTION
Because leather insoles are generally more delicate than fabric-based insoles, they require special care.To begin with, dampen a cloth and pour several drops of saddle soap (soap designed to remove dirt and grime from leather) onto it. Then, use it to scrub the insoles. The saddle soap should lather well.
When the insoles are clean, use another moist cloth to wipe off the lather. Give the insoles plenty of time to dry before you put them back inside your shoes. Whatever you do, keep them away from direct heat to prevent them from cracking.
WHAT IF YOU CAN’T REMOVE THE INSOLES?
So far, all of the methods on how to clean shoe insoles that we’ve mentioned require that you take the insoles out of the shoes before you wash them. But what if your hiking boot insoles are sewn in?
Cleaning non-removable insoles might be a bit more challenging. But it can be done. We mentioned baking soda earlier on in this post, but as it turns out, you can also use it on non-removable insoles too. Sprinkle baking soda over your shoes and leave it overnight. Then, shake out the excess baking soda the following morning.
If baking soda sounds too messy to you, try dryer sheets instead. Cut a dryer sheet in half and then place each piece inside your shoes overnight to remove bad odors.
Believe it or not, but activated charcoal and cat litter can eliminate unpleasant smells, too. Fill a sock with charcoal or cat litter, and put it inside your shoes overnight.
Steaming the inside of your shoe kills bacteria, as well. Be sure to use a handheld steamer and double-check that your shoe material is suitable for steaming. You can also wipe your insoles clean using distilled white vinegar or a diluted solution of alcohol.
If none of the above methods appeal to you, invest in a shoe cleaning spray (available at most shoe stores or online). Shoe cleaning sprays tend to be quick-drying and leave no stains.
KEEP YOUR HIKING SHOE INSOLES CLEAN
Now that you know how to clean shoe insoles, you won’t have to put up with smelly shoes ever again! Perhaps more importantly, your insoles should now last you longer, which in turn will lengthen the life of your hiking boots too.
Are there any tips on how to clean shoe insoles that you’d like to share? Let us know by commenting down below!
Featured image by pixabay
Jonathan O’Ryan is what you might call a seasonal digital nomad. When he is not thru-hiking the Pacific Crest Trail or finetuning his custom UL camping gear in the middle of nowhere, he comfortably sits at his home desk – yes, he still has a physical address, we don’t know for how long though – sharing his insights on all things outdoors with Wilderness Today’s audience. We know life is an adventure, Jon, but we’d still like to have that urgent work email answered by noon.