The Podiatrist's Guide: How Often Should You Clean Your Shoes?

The Podiatrist's Guide: How Often Should You Clean Your Shoes?

We all know that proper footwear is essential for healthy feet, but how often should you clean your shoes? This question may seem trivial, but it can make a significant difference in your foot health and overall comfort. Join me as we delve into the importance of clean shoes and the best practices to keep your feet happy.

The Importance of Clean Shoes:

  • Foot Hygiene: Our feet are home to thousands of sweat glands, producing about half a pint of moisture daily! When we wear shoes, this moisture is trapped, creating an ideal environment for bacteria and fungi to thrive. Dirty shoes can exacerbate this problem, leading to unpleasant foot odor and infections like athlete's foot.
  • Prolonged Shoe Lifespan: Regular cleaning not only benefits your feet but also extends the life of your favorite footwear. Dirt and debris can break down the materials, causing premature wear and tear. Proper shoe maintenance can save you money in the long run.
  • Enhanced Comfort: Dirty shoes can become uncomfortable over time. Grime and debris can accumulate inside, altering the fit and causing discomfort. Clean shoes, on the other hand, provide a more comfortable and supportive experience for your feet.

How Often Should You Clean Your Shoes?

The frequency of shoe cleaning depends on various factors, including your lifestyle, the type of shoes you wear, and environmental conditions. Here are some general guidelines to help you determine how often to clean your shoes:

  • Daily Maintenance: Make it a habit to remove dirt, dust, and debris from your shoes after each use. Use a soft brush or cloth to wipe away the surface dirt. This simple practice can go a long way in preventing dirt buildup.
  • Weekly Cleaning: For shoes you wear regularly, aim for a more thorough cleaning at least once a week. This includes removing the insoles (if possible) and cleaning both the interior and exterior. Use mild soap and water for most shoe types, but be cautious with delicate materials like suede.
  • Seasonal Deep Clean: At the change of seasons, consider a deep cleaning session for your shoes. This involves a more comprehensive cleaning, conditioning, and checking for any signs of wear and tear. It's also an excellent opportunity to assess whether it's time for a replacement.
  • Special Occasions: Formal shoes or those reserved for special occasions might require less frequent cleaning. However, always clean and store them properly after each use to maintain their pristine condition.
  • Activity-Specific Shoes: Shoes used for athletic activities, like running or hiking, may require more frequent cleaning due to increased moisture and wear. Follow the manufacturer's care instructions for sport-specific shoes.

Tips for Proper Shoe Cleaning:

  • Follow care instructions provided by the shoe manufacturer.
  • Use appropriate cleaning products for the shoe material.
  • Allow shoes to air dry naturally; avoid direct heat sources.
  • Invest in shoe inserts or insoles to manage moisture and odor.
  • Rotate between multiple pairs of shoes to give them time to air out.

Conclusion: In the grand scheme of foot health, the cleanliness of your shoes is a small but essential factor that shouldn't be overlooked. Regular cleaning not only keeps your feet happy and odor-free but also prolongs the lifespan of your favorite footwear.

Remember, there's no one-size-fits-all answer to how often you should clean your shoes. Consider your lifestyle, the types of shoes you wear, and the environmental conditions you encounter. By incorporating good shoe hygiene practices into your routine, you'll be taking a significant step towards healthier and happier feet.

Written by
Dr. Jeffrey S. Hurless
DPM, FACFAS Board Certified Foot & Ankle Surgeon/Podiatrist
Medical Director,

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