How to Clean the Insides of a Leather Shoe?

Smelly shoes can be a very big problem and can happen to anyone.

However, it’s not the shoes that smell, rather it’s the bacteria released from your feet that causes the bad odor.

This problem can be solved though, and there are multiple ways for that. Today I’ll show you a few methods of how you can clean the insides of your leather shoes and get rid of that smell.

Method 1: Soap and Water

Contrary to popular belief, leather shoes can be washed with soap and water without destroying your shoes if done in the right way with the right soap.

Laundry detergents should not be used for this purpose. A laundry detergent removes the oil from the surface of the leather and may even remove the leather odor of the shoe for good.

Stronger soaps will also damage the leather by over drying it and removing its odor. A good way to determine which soap to use is to think if you would use that certain soap on your skin and hair.

If the answer is yes, then it’s a green light for using it on your leather shoes. Acne removals or face washes work particularly great in this case. These face washes remove the oil on the leather released from your sweat glands. This oil usually harbors the bacteria that create the shoe smell.  Thus, the acne wash works great for removing shoe smells.

While washing the insides of your leather shoe with soap and water, you should keep in mind that it’s better not to use hot water as it may cause over-drying of the leather with pigment loss as well as shrinkage.

Method 2: Drying the Shoes

After washing your leather shoes, it’s also important to dry them properly. It’s recommended to dry the shoes at room temperature rather than using a hair dryer or heater.

Some shoes, like boat shoes, can be washed very frequently, towel dried to be more precise.

However, when it comes to leather shoes, the leather oils restore the original waxy look of the leather shoes after the wash.

Method 3: Vinegar

Vinegar is mostly a very good cleaning agent. While it works just fine with most surfaces, it is not suitable for certain ones. Vinegar if used solely on your leather shoe, may dry out the leather itself. And leather as a natural material needs to maintain a level of moisture to retain properties like softness and flexibility.

For the ideal leather shoe cleaning agent, you may mix linseed oil and white vinegar, and the ratio should be 2:1 respectively.

Once the solution is made, apply the mixture to the inside of your leather shoe with a soft and clean cloth. Let the mixture sit on the shoe for approximately half a day. After that, you need to rub the shoe with a dry cloth, and you will be left with a cleaner and softer leather shoe.

Method 4: Baking Soda

Baking soda is very good for dealing with the shoe smell on the inside. It is great for absorbing the smell on the leather.

For using the baking soda, you’ve to first place your leather shoe in a zip bag and sprinkle baking soda all over the surface of the leather shoe. Then let it sit for about a day.

After that, gently dust off the baking soda to avoid scratches on the leather surface. You may have to repeat the process a few times to make the smell completely go away.

Method 5: Disinfectant Sprays

There are several disinfectant sprays available specific to various shoes available in the market according to the leather used.

Using the disinfectant spray is a very good and easy way of cleaning the inside of your leather shoe and removing the bad odor.

This method is pretty effective as well. So, I would recommend that you give the disinfectant sprays a try.


If you are still with me, you already know a couple of ways to clean the inside of your leather shoes.

So, the next time you leather shoes start to smell, you can clean the them immediately by following the above-mentioned instructions.

If you have any troubles while cleaning your leather shoes, let me know in the comments section.

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