Why Does the Inside of Your Shoes Turn Black? (Black Shoe Gunk)


Disclosure: We may get commissions for purchases made through links in this post.

The inside of shoes may turn black due to factors like dirt, sweat, dye transfer from socks, or material breakdown. Regularly cleaning the insoles and airing out shoes can help reduce discoloration. Additionally, consider wearing socks that match the color of your shoe’s interior to minimize dye transfer.

Why Does the Inside of Your Shoes Turn Black?

Shoes can do a lot of things for your feet. They can make your feet look trendy. match your outfit. and help keep your feet warm. They can also leave behind black and white residue on the inside – leaving you to ask yourself some important questions like: “what is this black gunk in my shoes?”. “Why does the inside of my shoes turn black?”. and “how do I remove dead skin from my shoes?”

Why Does the Inside of My Shoes Turn Black?

In order to understand why skin turns black in shoes. it helps to first understand why shoes turn black. Some shoes are made with a material called leather. Leather is produced from the skin of an animal and because animals have sweat glands. the skin of an animal can hold sweat.

ReasonSolution
Moisture and sweat buildupAllow shoes to dry completely between wearings
Poor ventilationUse shoe trees or inserts to improve air circulation
Fungal growthUse antifungal sprays or powders and let shoes dry
Dirt and grime accumulationRegularly clean shoes inside and out with a damp cloth
Worn-out or low-quality insolesReplace insoles with higher-quality or fresh ones
Certain fabrics or dyes in socksWear socks made of natural fibers or wash dark socks
Medical conditions or medicationsConsult with a doctor for treatment options

Sweat absorbs dirt and oil that settles on a person’s feet and feet sweat a lot. Dirt sticks to shoe leather quite easily. creating a thin layer of dirt on the outside of your shoes. The inside of your shoe is usually made from cloth or some other material that does not absorb this oil and sweat as easily as leather.

This results in the oil and sweat being absorbed into the inside of the shoe which then causes it to turn black because it has nowhere else to go but onto your foot which has been perspiring all day long. This combination makes it look like you have been wearing dirty shoes for weeks even though you just bought them yesterday.

So.. The most common reason why the inside of your shoes turns black is due to a buildup of dirt and grime on the soles of your feet when you wear shoes barefoot.

The grime is most often generated by sweat and dead skin on your feet mingling with dirt. dust. or sand picked up during your travels; this can lead to discoloration in your shoe or sandal.

Additionally. if you wear dark socks. stockings. or anything else that is a dyed material. the sweat from your feet can cause this dye to rub off on the inside of your shoes.

Also Worth Reading: What to Wear with Black Booties

What Is the Black Gunk in My Shoes?

Have you ever experienced this black. sticky. and smelly gunk on the inside of your shoes? This black. smelly. and stubborn gunk is dead skin. Dead skin is gross. but it’s something that happens to the bottoms of our feet every day.

Your feet are covered with a thick layer of skin which keeps your feet protected from germs and bacteria. The bottom of your feet is tough. durable. and can withstand things most other areas on your body cannot.

Because of this trait of the bottoms on your feet. dead skin will harden into thicker layers. These layers can build up over time causing that nasty goop to form.

Black residue in your shoes is perfectly normal. This is especially common in active footwear that people typically don’t wear socks with such as rock climbing shoes or certain foot racing shoes.

The black marks are simply the accumulation of dead skin cells. dirt. and bodily oils rubbing off of your body and onto your footwear.

This is incredibly common and is no cause for concern as long as you practice sensible hygiene and wash your shoes when they get too dirty.

Most people don’t notice this because they wear socks with most of their shoes. but athletic footwear is often used under sweaty. strenuous conditions that can make it more apparent to the athlete.

Also Worth Reading: Can You Wear Brown Shoes with Black Trousers?

Why Do My Shoes Turn My Feet Black?

Wearing certain shoes often stains the bottoms of your feet for several reasons. Although your feet get stained by dirt in sandals. it’s more likely that dye in your shoes is the root of the problem.

Reasons for Shoes Staining Feet:

With leather shoes. sweaty feet lead to a wet shoe sole and cause the dye to leak out. This is what often stains your feet. The same thing can happen when wearing suede shoes.

Additionally. shoes may stain your feet because you aren’t wearing socks. With closed-toed shoes. wearing socks creates a barrier between shoe dyes and your skin.

Also Worth Reading: What Can You Wear Black Shoes With?

How Do I Keep My Feet from Turning Black in My Shoes?

There are two super simple ways to keep your feet clean in your shoes so they don’t turn black; you can either use hairspray or Vaseline.

  1. Hairspray. Apply a generous amount of hairspray to the insides of your shoes. and let them dry for 24 hours before wearing.
  2. Vaseline. Use a cloth to apply a substantial amount of hairspray to the inside of your shoes. Allow it to sit for 24 hours. then wipe off any excess Vaseline before letting them dry again.

That’s it! Your feet will now be free from any black residue no matter how long you wear your shoes!

Also Worth Reading: Do Black Sandals Go with Everything?

How Do You Remove Dead Skin from Shoes?

Dead foot skin and its bacteria often build up on the inside of shoes. This leads to foul odors and stains that can be hard to remove.

Getting Rid of Dead Skin

Luckily. you can remove dead skin and bacteria from shoes by scrubbing them. A few methods you might try include:

  • Scrubbing with a moist towelette or bath wipe
  • Scrubbing with a gentle baking soda solution.
  • Using a small brush like a toothbrush will get into the nooks and crannies of your shoes.
  • Finally. you can exfoliate and remove dead skin from your feet before even putting your shoes on.
Also Worth Reading: Do Rainbow Sandals Stain Your Feet? (Are Yours Turning Black?)

Why Does the Inside of Your Shoes Turn Black?

If you’re someone who has ever experienced the inside of your shoes turning black, you’re not alone. This is a common problem that many people face, and it’s important to understand why it happens and what you can do about it.

What causes the inside of your shoes to turn black?


The primary reason for the inside of your shoes turning black is ultimately sweat. When your feet sweat, bacteria start to grow in the moist environment inside of your shoes. These bacteria then leave behind a dark, nasty residue that seems almost impossible to get rid of.

Can certain materials be blamed for causing the inside of shoes to turn black?


While sweat is the primary cause, the materials used to make your shoes can also significantly contribute to the problem. Shoes that are made with synthetic materials, for example, tend to trap sweat and promote bacterial growth far more than shoes made with natural materials like leather or canvas.

Are there any negative consequences of the inside of shoes turning black?


Aside from the unsightly appearance, having the inside of your shoes turn black can also be a threat to your health. The bacteria that accumulate inside your shoes can lead to fungal infections, athlete’s foot, and even an unpleasant odor that will make it difficult to remove the stench from your shoes.

How can you prevent the inside of your shoes from turning black?


The best way to prevent the inside of your shoes from turning black is to take steps to reduce the amount of sweat inside your shoes. This could involve wearing socks made from breathable materials, using foot powder on your feet before wearing your shoes, allowing your shoes to air out at the end of the day or even investing in odor-control insoles.

How can you fix shoes that have already turned black?


If your shoes have already turned black, don’t fret – there are several remedies you can try. One is to use a mixture of vinegar and water to scrub the inside of your shoes clean. Another option is to use baking soda, which is a natural deodorizer that can eliminate unpleasant smells and kill bacteria.

Are there any non-traditional remedies that can help with this problem?


Absolutely – some people swear by using tea bags or cat litter to eliminate odors and bacteria inside of their shoes. Tea bags use natural tannins that absorb moisture, while cat litter is made from activated charcoal that has the ability to absorb moisture and neutralize some odors.

Can the inside of your shoes turn black if you have sweaty feet?


Yes, if you have hyperhidrosis or sweaty feet, this can significantly increase your chances of experiencing the unsightly black residue inside of your shoes. In this case, taking steps to reduce sweat will be especially important.

Can professional cleaning services help with this problem?


There are shoe-cleaning services that specialise in eliminating odours and bacteria from the inside of shoes. However, these services can be expensive and may not be necessary if you’re willing to put in the time and effort to clean your shoes yourself at home.


In summary. the black stains on the insides of your shoes are usually caused by one of two things: either the dyeing process used to color leather shoes is incomplete. or it’s the result of some kind of chemical reaction between the dye and a substance in your shoe.

A poorly dyed pair of leather shoes can cause the dye to bleed out onto your feet. leaving a black residue that will be transferred back onto your socks and skin.

The same thing can happen if you wear rubber-soled shoes in water or on wet or damp surfaces. The rubber is porous. so it absorbs moisture and then transfers it back to wherever you’re stepping.

The “gunk” inside your shoe is actually a combination of several things: skin cells. sweat. and salt. Salt plays an important role in this process because it causes leather to turn black when it’s exposed to moisture. Salt acts as an agent that draws out more moisture from leather than it can absorb on its own.

When the salt mixes with sweat and skin cells. it forms a sort of paste that eventually becomes sticky. The end effect is similar to what would happen if you rubbed candle wax into your shoe. It’s disgusting. but fortunately. there are ways to clean up this mess once it’s happened to you.

You may also be interested in.  Are Timberland Boots Worth It? and Do Shoes Go Bad Over Time?