5 Ways Leather Insoles Do Smell (Plus Fix)

All insoles do smell, even ones made from leather! But do not smell bad as synthetic ones. This normally is due to hygiene reasons.

Here Are 5 Ways Leather Insoles Do Smell:

Leather insoles smell for different reasons. The main reasons are
Not wearing any socks with the leather insoles
Sweaty feet
Bacteria from your feet
Not changing over socks (wearing the same ones over days)
And Not washing your feet correctly

We have researched all of these five factors in detail below, and have some excellent solutions if your insoles do smell already. Thanks for reading.


Why do Leather Insoles Smell?

Not Wearing Any Socks With The Leather Insoles

Bacteria are everywhere, so it’s not too much of a surprise that they accumulate on your shoes and other surfaces that you use to walk around.

When you wear your shoes without socks, the sweat inside makes it easy for bacteria to grow- which also means that if your feet sweat or are moist in any way when you’re wearing leather insoles with no socks, then there will be more opportunities for bacteria to grow and produce a smelly odor.

Also, if the leather in your soles gets wet, it can be challenging to dry out. This lack of airflow creates an environment for bacteria and fungus to grow, which leads to that nasty smell, especially when you do not wear socks with leather insoles.


When you apply your leather insoles to your feet before you walk out into this fresh air, the moisture created by your foot will make its way down to the surface of your new insoles, where it’ll react with some of these salts that are present in your sweat, causing them to smell bad as they dry off. How much they smell depends on how fast they dry, the material they’re made from, and even how clean your feet are!

Another critical fact to consider here is that the salt crystals left behind in your leather insoles aren’t just going to disappear on their own. Not only will you have to deal with a bad case of foot odor, but you’re also going to have a bunch of salt crystals embedded into your soles! The only way to get rid of them is by rubbing them off with a clean cloth or brush.


Leather insoles can smell because of bacteria. In particular, leather absorbs bacteria from the skin, and when it is wet, these little organisms take up residence on the material.

As they consume protein in the leather, they excrete enzymes that break down fats and oils to survive. When these enzymes contact oxygen, this creates a chemical reaction that turns sugars into acids which causes a stinky smell for your shoes or boots.

Not Changing Socks For New Ones

If you don’t change your socks regularly, they can start to smell and attract bacteria. These bacteria will multiply inside the fabric fibers and can cause odor-causing off-gassing.

Old socks full of moisture, sweat, and other foreign particles can produce these odors that might bother you or those around you. The stink comes from sweating, and as this dry sweat mixes with wet sweat, it creates a powerful odor that penetrates deep into the fibers of wool or synthetic socks.

Not Washing Feet Correctly

Some people have been neglecting the proper way to wash their feet has caused a lot of discomfort in their lives. Washing your feet incorrectly will not only shorten the life of your shoes and other accessories but leave behind a smelly stench.

The materials you are using to wash them can cause the scent to stick to your skin. That is because soap mixes with oils on your skin and removes natural moisture, leaving an unpleasant smell that isn’t easy to get rid of.

Why Is A Leather Insole A Better Option Than A Synthetic Insole

Synthetic Insoles Will Get Cold During Extended Periods Of Wearing

With synthetic insoles, the foot’s temperature can fluctuate greatly. When the shoe sock is cold, the insole will be warm. When the sock is warm, the insole will be cold.

That can cause a dangerous situation known as “cold and hot spots.” These are areas of your foot that are both too cold and too hot at one time. The over-heating of these areas causes blood to flow slowly to your feet and legs, leading to further complications.

Synthetic Materials Are More Durable Than Leather Ones

Synthetic insoles are more durable than leather ones because they do not get soft. When you wear a pair of comfy new sneakers, don’t be surprised if your insole starts to look bad after about 7 or 8 wearings. Because leather does not change in appearance or feel, it will always look and feel as good as when you bought it.

Synthetic Insoles Cannot Be Disinfected The Same Way As A Leather Version

The best way to clean your synthetic insoles is with warm water and mild soap or detergent for each use.

That is also the most challenging way to clean your insoles because it is only effective in a small area. You should be careful when cleaning your synthetic insoles because bacteria can build up inside them, causing a dangerous infection.

Synthetic Insoles Do Not Absorb Toxins Found In Sweat And Dirt

You may think that synthetic materials will absorb sweat and dirt the same way leather absorbs them, but this is not true. Synthetic materials are completely breathable and will let the things you keep on your feet into your bloodstream through the thermal transfer of heat. That is especially dangerous for people who work in hot environments or get blisters due to excessive moisture buildup on their feet.

Synthetic Insoles Will Change The Shape Of Your Feet

Synthetic materials do not get softer and more comfortable over time, which is a huge issue with leather insoles. With time, as they are exposed to new chemicals and temperature changes, these substances cause discomfort in your feet.

Synthetic insoles will always feel very stiff on your feet, unlike leather that softens over time with use. The result is that you will never get comfortable with the appearance of your shoes because they will maintain their condition for an extended period.

Ways To Fix Bad Smells In A Leather Insole

Clean With Baking Soda

The first step is to sprinkle some baking soda into your shoes before wearing them again-this should absorb any residual bad smells from your feet or excess odor from the shoe itself.

Afterwards, you can use a clean and damp piece of cloth to remove the baking soda and any sweat absorbed. If you don’t want to take your shoes off to clean them, you can also spray them with an equal mixture of white vinegar and water while they are still on your feet. Soak up the vinegar and water with a microfiber cloth, and then let your shoes air dry.

Antibacterial Spray

You can use an antibacterial spray either independently or with a different cleaning solution. However, you will still want to use the spray first because it kills most bacteria, causing bad smells in the leather insoles.

Once your insoles have been sprayed with this antibacterial spray, you can continue to clean them as usual or put on a different cleaning solution.

Remember, though, when you use this type of solution, you will only need to spray the insoles once and do not have to reapply spray after each time you clean your shoes. Remember that this is a product designed for cleaning leather insole only.

Do not use it on any other type of shoe or material. When you use the spray, it will kill germs and bacteria, but it will also repel and keep more bacterial growth away from your insoles. That leaves your shoes smelling good and germ-free and suitable as new!

Maintenance Tips For Eliminating Odour for Future Use Of Leather Insoles

Always Wear Socks With Leather Insoles

If you wear socks with leather insoles, it’s easy to avoid odor. Breathable cotton will not let sweat evaporate and cause the unpleasant smell that many people experience. Cotton also does not allow wetness or perspiration to absorb into your skin and lead to smelly feet.

Cotton can absorb up to 10 times its weight in moisture, giving you dry socks and a dry foot environment for your shoes so – no more stinky shoes! Cotton also absorbs less odor, giving you fresh smelling shoes every day when followed by wearing damp cotton socks.

Don’t Wear The Same Pair Of Leather Shoes 2-3 Days In A Row

Leather insoles absorb odor, but does this mean that wearing the same pair of leather shoes 2-3 days in a row or with leather insoles will eliminate odor? In reality, when your feet sweat daily, moisture gets into the pores of the shoes and other porous materials like linings.

That causes both bad foot odor and wet spots on material surfaces. Leather shoes that are naturally porous and sweat a lot have special leather insoles that absorb the moisture from the foot on contact. Instead of letting the water evaporate or drying out, it remains in between the surface of your foot and the leather insole where it cannot be smelled.

While some people might tell you to wear more socks or use more deodorant – it’s not a good idea to wear the same pair of leather shoes 2-3 days in a row with leather insoles. Wearing the same footwear can often lead to excessive sweating and skin folds (such as your toes). Over time, these sweat and skin folds build up inside your shoes, leading to the foul-smelling foot odor.

Wash Your Feet Properly

The perfect way to wash your feet effectively is through soap and warm water. The first step is to fill up your foot tub with warm water before adding soap. The water should be sufficiently hot to be comfortable to stand in, but not so hot that it burns you. Next, you need to take your socks off and place them in the water. Your feet must be completely covered by the water as this will help remove any dirt and bacteria that could still be on them.

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