We just wouldn’t get far without our shoes. Footwear lets us explore the world, kick that winning goal, impress a hiring manager or stand a little taller on a special day. But do we give our shoes the care and attention they deserve?
While everyone launders their clothes regularly, few people can say the same about their shoes. And it’s no wonder. Shoes come in such a wide assortment of materials and styles that most people don’t know how to clean shoes at home. But that doesn’t mean you can’t learn!
Before you toss out that not-so-old pair just because they look or smell funky, consider spending a few minutes trying one of the many methods to clean shoes. You might be surprised how they turn out!
How to Clean Shoes at Home
Some types of shoes present unique cleaning challenges due to their material or color. Others are a little more straightforward. Here is how to clean the most common styles of shoes as well as some more difficult types.
How to Clean Sneakers
Most sneakers and other lace-up shoes clean up nicely with this method:
- Remove the laces and launder in a mesh laundry bag.
- Use a large hard-bristled brush to scrub dirt off. Scrub gently to avoid damaging the fabric.
- Use a cloth to rub off the remaining grime.
- Deodorize by sprinkling baking soda inside each shoe and let them sit overnight. Use a small vacuum attachment to remove the soda the next morning.
For very dirty sneakers, try the steps above and follow with a machine wash:
- Put your shoes, laces and all, in the washing machine with your favorite detergent. Do not wash them with any clothes, but you can add a towel if the noise of the shoes will bother you.
- Wash with cold water to preserve the shoes’ color.
- After washing, wipe any remaining dirt off with a clean cloth.
- Air dry in a well-ventilated place for a few hours to a few days.
How to Clean High Heel Shoes
Usually, formal shoes like high heels don’t see a lot of dirt, but they aren’t impervious to the occasional muddy puddle or accidental scuff. To get them looking like new again, wipe your high heels with a cloth dipped in a little warm vinegar, concentrating on scuffs and dirt. Never use harsh soaps or abrasive scrubbers, which will ruin your shoes.
How to Clean Sandals
For cheap rubber flip flops, simply run under warm water in the tub and sprinkle the insides with baking soda. Leave for five minutes, then scrub off with an old toothbrush. Rinse.
For untreated leather sandals, apply saddle soap with a damp cloth, let sit, and buff dry with a clean cloth. For treated leather sandals (these won’t absorb water), wipe off dirt with a clean cloth dipped in an equal parts mixture of water and vinegar. As always, you can sprinkle baking soda inside and leave overnight to deodorize.
How to Clean Suede Shoes
There’s something about cleaning suede shoes that makes people nervous, but you don’t have to be with this easy method!
Start by brushing off excess dirt with a suede brush or clean toothbrush. Remember to brush with the grain. Use a clean pencil eraser to remove scuff marks. For stubborn stains, dip a piece of flannel in a little white vinegar and scrub lightly.
To keep suede shoes clean longer, apply a highly rated suede protector product.
How to Clean White Shoes
White shoes are a category of their own. While the above methods might work, there’s no room for error on white shoes that show every speck and stain. If your white kicks aren’t looking white anymore, try these ideas for how to clean white shoes.
White Canvas Shoes
Knock off caked-on mud outside and use a dry toothbrush to scrub off remaining loose dirt. Make a paste of three tablespoons of baking soda and one tablespoon of white vinegar. Apply the paste all over the shoes with a clean toothbrush and scrub gently. Allow mixture to harden on the shoes. Wipe the dry paste off with a clean cloth.
For stubborn stains, use a bleach pen, wait five minutes, and wash off with hot water and a liquid detergent.
White Leather Shoes
Use a dry toothbrush to brush off loose dirt. Mix a few drops of liquid dish soap in a cup of warm water. Wet the toothbrush and gently scrub the shoes. Use an eraser sponge for scuffs and stains on the soles. Use a damp cloth to wipe off the remaining dirt and stuff with paper towels to absorb inside moisture and maintain the shape while the shoes dry.
How to Organize Shoes
Once your shoes are clean, you need somewhere to put them. Retailers today offer a variety of shelves, racks, boxes, bins and other shoe storage systems that let you organize your shoes even in small spaces.
No matter what system you choose, here are some general tips for organizing your shoes:
- Start by discarding any shoes that are unwearable and donate gently used pairs that you no longer want.
- Sort shoes into categories such as color, season or purpose per your preferences.
- Pick a shoe organization system that suits your needs. If you want to show off your shoes, clear boxes or open shelves work great. If you consider shoes to be clutter, keep them in bins or a closet rack out of sight.
- Get in the habit of putting your shoes away consistently so you can always find them and they don’t suffer damage from being left out.
A Clean House for Your Clean Shoes
Have dirty shoes been tracking dirt through your house? You’ll have more time to care for your shoes when you hire Dust to Dazzle Maids to clean your dirty floors and other household services!
We’ve been cleaning East Texas homes for over 35 years and know all of the tricks for eliminating grime, germs, and odors from household surfaces. Our clients rate us highly for our quality cleaning, friendly service, reliability, and affordability.