How to Clean the Inside of Stinky Shoes and Flats

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You ask a lot of your feet every day, but you can't ask them to smell great all the time. Cleaning the inside of your shoes kills stinky bacteria that build up there. There are several simple strategies for how to clean the inside of flats and other shoes, and combining multiple strategies should leave your shoes smelling nearly as fresh as they did straight out of the box. You don't even need to buy some pricey insole cleaner. In fact, you probably already have everything you need at home. Here's how to clean those reeky shoes and keep them smelling sweet.

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Can You Wash the Insoles of Your Shoes?

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If your insoles are removable, you may be able to machine wash them or submerge them in soapy water for a thorough soak and scrub. Always let washed insoles air-dry. (Or do your feet a favor and replace the old removable insoles with new insoles if they're really grungy and grimy.)

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If the insoles aren't removable, though, you'll probably get the best results using fairly dry cleaning methods instead of water and detergent. Few kinds of shoes should be machine washed; stinky rubber sandals may be an exception, but many shoes are made with components that can be damaged by machine washing.

How to Clean the Inside Sole of a Shoe

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Deodorizing your shoes is yet another of baking soda's many uses around the house. Sprinkle a few tablespoons of baking soda into each shoe and tilt the shoe to spread out the powder. Let the shoes sit overnight and then shake out the powder into the trash. You can also sprinkle baking soda into a coffee filter and slip one filter into each shoe for easier cleanup.

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Many people already know how to clean the inside of shoes with baking soda, but there are a few other things you can try too. Freezing your shoes is an effective way to kill the bacteria that cause the odors. Stick them in a plastic bag and freeze them overnight. White vinegar may also be effective for deodorizing insoles. Mix equal parts of water and vinegar in a spray bottle to spritz inside the shoes and let them air-dry.

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If baking soda and other DIY strategies don't completely knock out the smell inside your footwear, you may get some relief using a deodorizing spray that's made for shoes.

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It's always a good idea to check with the company that made your shoes for special cleaning instructions. For example, smelly Teva sandals can be deodorized with mouthwash or by being submerged in a chlorinated pool, according to Teva itself.

How to Clean the Inside of a Leather Shoe

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There's good news, leather lovers. While taking care of leather shoes long term tends to require a little more effort than caring for canvas or rubber flats, you can generally use the same strategies for cleaning leather shoe insoles that you'd use for any other kind of insoles. Baking soda, freezing, and even vinegar can all deodorize leather shoes. If your leather insoles are removable, you can also use a damp cloth and a little detergent to wipe them down. Just don't submerge them in water.

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How to Keep Shoes From Getting Stinky

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You can't stop your feet from sweating in your shoes, but there are a few things you can do to keep odors from building up again. Wear moisture-wicking socks with your shoes whenever possible. Don't wear the same pair of shoes two days in a row so every pair gets a chance to dry and air-out between uses. Keep activated charcoal deodorizers or sachets of baking soda in shoes to absorb any new odors.

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