How to Clean Your Shoes
“One size fits all” definitely doesn’t apply to shoes and it certainly does not apply to how you clean shoes in order to keep them nicer, longer.
Cleaning your shoes can help keep them in good shape and it means you don’t have to buy a new pair every time you get a little bit of dirt on them…but how you clean them will depend on the type of shoe. You can’t clean your leather shoes like you would clean your sneakers and the washing machine is often a no-no.
Here are some DIY ways to keep your shoes looking (and smelling!) nice even after some wear and tear.
How to Clean Fabric Shoes (like sneakers)
Contrary to popular belief, you should not throw shoes made out of fabric in the washing machine. Some of these shoes will have leather liners that can get ruined in the wash and most are held together with a glue that will break down when in contact with a lot of water.
But a little dirt on your favorite sneakers doesn’t mean you have to get rid of them. Try these steps:
- Bang them together to remove any excess dirt
- Wipe them down a dry towel to remove any loose dirt or soil from the surface
- Mix one teaspoon of dishwashing liquid with two cups of warm water
- Dip a toothbrush in the water mixture and scrub one small section of the shoe at a time (careful not to soak shoe!)
- Do not go against the grain of the shoe
- Wipe the shoe with a paper towel dipped in just water in order to rinse the shoe. It may take several towel sheets.
- Allow the shoe to air dry away from direct heat and sunlight.
Tip: Stuff the shoe with some dry paper towels the help them hold their shape until they’re completely dry
How to Clean Athletic Shoes
Good news. You CAN throw these shoes in the washing machine (but avoid the dryer!).
To clean your athletic shoes in the washing machine:
- Knock off any loose dirt or grass
- For cleats or any shoes with spikes, you should use a soft bristled brush to get between the spikes and knock out any clumps of dirt or grass. Do not use a stick at practice, this can scrape or damage the shoe.
- Remove any liners
- Remove the laces
- Wash with a load of towels
- Use a heavy-duty detergent
If your shoes need a good scrub, you can do it by hand. After removing any access dirt, make a mixture of warm water and dish soap (like the one mentioned above).
- Take out the laces and let them soak in the soapy mixture
- Scrub the cleats with a soft bristled brush like a toothbrush (an eraser sponge like a Magic Eraser works well too!)
- To avoid mold, place newspaper or a dryer sheet inside the show to soak up any water that may have made its way in during cleaning
To control odor, you can wipe down the liner you’ve removed with a disinfectant cleaner. If you’re carrying your shoes in a ShoeSling®, you’ll need to do this less often as the fabric of the sling has antimicrobial properties.
How to Clean Leather Shoes (Patent Leather, Faux Leather)
Obviously, you can’t put your leather shoes in the washing machine.
To keep your fancy leather shoes looking fancy, start by wiping off any soil with a cloth dipped in a solution of equal parts cool water and distilled white vinegar. This solution is great for removing any winter salt stains.
To get rid of scuffs on patent leather and faux leather, you can rub the marks with a dab of petroleum jelly and use a soft cloth to buff them. Spritzing them with glass cleaner will add a nice shine.
When traveling with your leather shoes, use a ShoeSling® to keep them away from your other shoes or anything in your suitcase that might spill on or scuff them.
No matter the type of shoe, regular maintenance and a ShoeSling® can help you fight odor and keep your shoes in better shape, longer.