How Do You Clean the Inside of Shoes?

Want to know how to clean inside of shoes properly? Cleaning the inside of your shoes should matter as much as, if not more than, cleaning the outside of your shoes. Having clean shoes on the outside may impress the handful of people who notice that you have sparkly clean shoes, but having clean shoes on the inside prevents odor-causing bacteria that not only ruin your shoes from the inside but can also pose some serious health risk.

But how many ways are there to clean the inside of your shoes? What cleaning materials would you need for each of them? What causes smelly shoes, and how do you deodorize them?

Most people only think to thoroughly clean the inside of their shoes once they’ve smelled that something isn’t right. By that time, bacteria would’ve already made the shoes their home. Sometimes, it could be too late. Most of the times, there are still some tricks you can try.

Deodorizing your shoes isn’t as simple as getting a few sprays of deodorant on the inside of your shoes. You can get rid of the foul odor by getting rid of the bacteria.

The first thing you need to do is to thoroughly dry your shoes. Bacteria thrive in damp and dark areas. You can get sweat in your shoes even if you’re wearing socks, so your shoes are some of the perfect candidates for bacteria to live in.

If your shoes have removable insoles, take the insoles out so you can clean them separately. Take out the lace and other removable parts of your shoes. Once the insoles and other removable parts are out, let your shoes thoroughly dry using any or a mix of the following methods.

Ways to Dry Your Shoes

1. Leave them out in the sun. This is a good way to dry a damp pair of shoes. The sun will act as a natural disinfectant that kills the odor-causing bacteria. This isn’t a good idea if the shoes are soaking wet though.

2. Crumple up some newspaper. Then, stuff them up inside your shoes. For faster drying, put your shoes near a fan but not in front of it. The crumpled up newspaper will dry your shoes from the inside as it effectively absorbs liquid. Check on the newspaper every after a few hours. If they’re wet, replace them with new, dry ones.

3. Hang in front of a fan. This is one method you shouldn’t mix with the newspaper. The crumpled up newspaper method would work better if the shoe isn’t directly in front of the fan. This is because the air needs to be able to circulate well – and the newspaper prevents the fast circulation of air to help the shoes dry.

Ways to Clean the Inside of Your Shoes

With Vinegar Solution

In a small bowl, mix 1 part of vinegar and 5 parts of water. Then dip a clean, dry sponge into the solution. Squeeze the sponge so it isn’t wet but just damp. If the shoes have insoles, take them out then wipe them with the damp sponge. Squeeze the sponge under running water to clean it. Dip it again in the solution and squeeze out the excess. This time, wipe the inside of the shoes with the sponge. Then, hang the shoes in front of a fan to dry.

With Water

Dip a cloth into water and wipe it on the inside of your shoes to get rid of the black gunk inside them. That’s an icky mixture of sweat, dirt and dead skin cells, and are more typically seen in flat shoes. Use the damp cloth to quickly wipe the gunk, and do this after every time you use your flats. If the shoes are starting to get smelly, deodorize your shoes and make sure that you’re drying them properly before you wear them again. You can also make use of washable cloth inserts that act like socks to prevent that black gunk.

With Laundry Detergent

If your shoes can take it, stick them inside the washing machine. Most running shoes made of soft cloth fabric can be tossed in the washer. You just need to take out the lace and any other removable part, and then just let your washing machine do the hard work. After washing, don’t put them in the dryer. Just let your shoes air dry on a nice, dry spot inside the house, or in front of a fan.

For more delicate fabric shoes, you can use laundry detergent and warm water. Hand-wash your shoes instead of putting them in the washer. Take an old toothbrush, or any cleaning shoe brush you have, and gently brush away any dirt and grime inside of your shoes. Use a clean rag to dry the inside of the shoes, and then air-dry.

Shoe Maintenance

Once you get your shoes looking and smelling nice again, you can do some maintenance to help your shoes from getting dirty and smelly again. For example, sprinkle a light dusting of baking soda inside your shoes after you use them. This helps to keep your shoes dry and odor-free.

You should also try to avoid wearing the same shoes for two days in a row, especially if you haven’t given them ample time to dry. Take out removable insoles and let them air-dry every time you use them.

Do not wear your shoes if your feet are dirty. Wash your feet and dry them completely before you wear your shoes. Avoid wearing leather and rubber shoes without socks. It’s very easy to sweat in leather because of the material. The soft fabric inside your rubber shoes can easily absorb sweat, so you need to have a deep clean of your rubber shoes if you wear them without your socks.


Now that you know how to clean inside of shoes, you can take better care of them and make them last you longer. They can stay looking and smelling like brand new after months or even years of use.