Tips on How to Clean Your Shoes

Whether you prefer the business casual style or you are a sneaker person. You love your favorite shoes more than anything in your closet, but the stains and scuffs make them too difficult to wear. We’ve all been there. It can be hard to part with that special pair, especially if they are one-of-a-kind or set you back a pretty penny. But what if you don’t have to get rid of them? Maybe you can save them with a proper cleaning?

Read on to find out how to clean your shoes at home. Learn what to do – and what not to do – to help restore your favorite pairs!

How to Clean  Your Shoes

How to Clean Your Shoes - cleaning black boots

The first step to cleaning your shoes is to determine what type of cleaning is best for each shoe. Sneakers, leather shoes, canvas shoes – each type will require different care. This can mean different products, different techniques, and more. One thing is for sure: the more delicate the material, the more delicate the cleaning products and techniques should be.

How to Clean Sneakers

There are a few steps to cleaning sneakers that will help you get rid of the accumulated dirt and debris:

  1. Bang the soles of the shoes together to loosen any dirt stuck in between the ridges of the soles or even inside the shoes.
  2. Remove the laces, if possible. Let them soak in warm water and mild laundry detergent. You may want to add stain remover to this mix if the laces are white.
  3. Soak a soft and gentle cloth – ideally, microfiber – with warm water and mild detergent.
  4. In gentle, circular motions rub away dirt and stains all over the shoes.
  5. Allow the shoes to air dry. Do not place them in the dryer or in direct sunlight to dry.

The one thing you want to be very careful about when it comes to cleaning sneakers is your technique. Rubbing harshly will cause the material to break apart. This will leave permanent damage on the outer part of the shoe. You may rub the soles a little more vigorously, but be careful on the rest.

How to Clean White Canvas Shoes

Canvas shoes can stain and may require a little more effort to clean your shoes. But the good news is that it can be done! Here are the steps to follow when it comes to cleaning canvas shoes:

  1. Start by banging the soles together to loosen up any debris.
  2. Remove the laces, if possible. Place them in a bowl with warm water and mild detergent and stain remover.
  3. Get another bowl, and fill it with cold water and detergent.
  4. Get an old toothbrush or a shoe cleaning brush, and dip it into the detergent solution. Scrub at the stains until they are as faded as you can get them.
  5. If your shoes are not white, you may also try adding vinegar or baking soda to the mix to help with stain lifting.
  6. Allow the shoes to air dry.

Be careful not to use too much soap in the mix as this will leave stains along the edges of the canvas of your shoes. You may also opt to wash canvas shoes in the washing machine if the bottoms are all rubber. Use the gentle cycle to protect both your shoes and your washing machine.

How to Clean Leather Shoes

How to Clean Leather Shoes

Leather is a fairly durable material, but it is still important to use gentle products when cleaning them. Here’s what to do:

  1. Mix one liter of warm water with a teaspoon of mild detergent.
  2. With a microfiber cloth, apply the mixture to the shoe and gently rub in circular motions to clean your shoes completely.
  3. If there are tough stains, spot treat them by applying baking soda directly to the stain and leaving it overnight. Then wash off with the cloth.
  4. Pat dry with a clean microfiber cloth.
  5. Once dried, apply a leather conditioner and protector to keep the leather from drying out and cracking.

Never place leather shoes in the washing machine. Leather should never be submerged in alcohol. Be sure also to avoid harsh chemicals as leather can be sensitive to discoloration and dehydration.

How to Clean Leather Boots

You can follow the same steps as general leather shoes. Just be sure to apply conditioner and protector afterward to protect the leather from cracking or peeling.

Can You Put Shoes in the Washer?

Shoes made of canvas and rubber, are usually pretty safe to go into the washer. Leather and leather-like materials do not do well when fully submerged in water, so it is best not to do that.

How to Wash Shoes in the Washer

If you are going to wash your shoes in the washing machine, use the gentle cycle to protect both the shoes and the machine. Use the same mild detergent you would use if cleaning the shoes by hand.

Can You Put Shoes in the Dryer?

If possible, avoid placing shoes in the dryer if they are very wet. This can warp the material as it dries. Instead, opt for air-drying whenever possible. If you want to speed up the process with the dryer, make sure the shoes are at least halfway dry already before you place them in.

The Clean your Shoes Bottom Line

Cleaning your shoes can help give new life to your favorite pair of sneakers. But the key is to follow the very specific guidelines for cleaning each individual type of shoe or material to protect the shoe.

If you aren’t ready to part with that favorite pair of shoes, follow the above-mentioned tips to help restore them to their best possible shape and add a little more life to your purchase.

The next thing you want to keep in mind is that prevention is much easier than cleaning dirty shoes. If you buy white shoes, protect them with a spray that safeguards against stains. Protect leather shoes with leather protectors to help repel stains and water stains. Protecting your shoes before you ever wear them and then periodically afterward will help prevent staining and add more life to your shoes.

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