How to Clean 5 Different Types of Shoes Properly at Home

With just a few supplies and a few easy steps, you can clean different kinds of shoes, even slippers. Many of the steps are the same for fabric, leather, synthetics, and sneakers. When you follow these step-by-step guides to clean your shoes, pay special attention to the differences. If you take care of your favorite shoes, they will last longer. So, go with Teeanime for all your doubts!

How Often to Clean Your Shoes

It’s up to you how often you clean your shoes, but if you want them to always look brand new, it’s a good idea to clean them at least once a month. Shoes that you only wear sometimes can be cleaned as needed. You should also make sure to clean or dry your shoes the right way after they get wet or dirty from things like rain, mud, snow, or salt.

Before You Begin

If your shoes are dirty, especially if they are made of fabric, you might want to throw them in the washing machine. But in general, this is not a good idea because the long soaking and rough handling of the agitator can damage the parts and loosen the glues that hold them together.

No matter what method you use to clean, keep your expectations in check. When shoes are made of fragile materials or have a lot of stains, it’s almost impossible to get them to look like new again. But with the tips below, there’s every reason to believe you’ll be able to make your shoes look nice again and get more use out of them.

How to Clean Fabric Shoes

Shoes made of fabric can be sandals with straps, sneakers, pumps, or flats. No matter how it looks, the fabric will get dirty over time. There may be tips online about how to clean fabric shoes by putting them in the washer, but this isn’t always a good idea. Some of the cycles on your washer can be rough, and the force of the agitator or tumbler, along with the heat and friction of the moving water, can warp or tear the shoe. Instead, use dishwashing detergent, warm water, an old toothbrush, and paper towels to clean the fabric parts of the shoes by hand.

1. Brush Off Excess Dirt

Wipe the fabric of the shoe down with a dry paper towel to get rid of any loose dirt or debris on the surface.

2. Make a Cleaning Solution

Mix one teaspoon of dish soap with two cups of warm water in a small bowl. Stir well until everything is mixed together.

3. Scrub Shoes Clean

Dip the toothbrush in the soapy solution and lightly scrub the fabric, working on a small section at a time. Don’t soak the cloth too much. Work with the fabric’s grain and move all the way around the shoe to keep the color even and stop spots.

4. Remove Soapy Residue

Wipe the whole shoe with a clear water-soaked paper towel. You might need more than one towel to clean the whole shoe.

5. Dry Shoes

Use a dry paper towel to blot the fabric, and let the shoes dry in the air away from direct heat and sunlight. Put dry paper towels in the toes or heels of some shoes until they are completely dry. This will help the shoes keep their shape.

How to Clean Leather, Patent Leather, and Faux Leather Shoes

When it’s time to clean leather, patent leather, or fake leather shoes, you’ll have to deal with dirt and scuffs or fading. When you “clean” your shoes, you’ll need to pay attention to both parts if you want them to look their best.

1. Wipe Off Excess Dirt

Start by brushing off any dirt with a cloth that has been dipped in a mixture of equal parts cool water and distilled white vinegar. This is a great way to get rid of salt stains from the winter. Let the shoes dry fully in the air.

2. Polish Out Scuffs

Use a commercial polish and the directions on the package to fix scuffs on real leather shoes. If you don’t have a polish that goes with white athletic shoes or today’s rainbow of colors, wet a soft cloth with water and dip it in a little baking soda. Rub the scratched area gently, and then use a clean cloth to remove the dust. Let it dry, and then use a clean cloth to buff it again.

Use a small amount of petroleum jelly and a soft cloth to remove scuffs from patent leather and fake leather shoes. Use a glass cleaner that doesn’t have ammonia or alcohol and a soft cloth to bring back the shine.

How to Clean Suede, NuBuck, and Sheepskin Shoes

clean shoes

Shoes with a napped surface, like suede, look their best when they are cared for regularly. The surfaces should be kept as dry as possible and cleaned after every use with a soft-bristled brush to get rid of loose dust and dirt. Clean up stains as soon as you can.

1. Remove Marks and Scuffs

Use a pencil eraser to gently rub away any marks or scuffs, and then brush the shoe with a shoe brush to bring back its nap.

2. Treat Any Oil Stains

Sprinkle baby powder or cornstarch on any oil stains to soak up the oil. Give the powder at least an hour to work, and then brush it off. Repeat until all the oil is soaked up, and then brush the nap to make it stand up.

3. Treat Any Wet Stains

Use a paper towel or cloth as soon as possible to soak up water from wet stains. Let the shoes dry completely in the air, away from any direct heat. Brush to make the nap smooth.

4. Wipe the Interior of the Shoe

Shearling linings in sheepskin boots get dirtier than the outside. To prevent fungus and odor, wipe the interior of the boots with a cloth dipped in wool shampoo and water, followed by a 50:50 vinegar-water rinse. Air-dry the boots for 24 hours before wearing.

How to Clean Rope or Cork Wedges

clean shoes

Cork and rope shoes require extra care due to their natural fibers. After cleaning the wedge shoe’s upper fabric or leather with the methods above, clean the rope or cork-covered sole.

1. Mix and Apply a Cleaning Solution

Mix 2 cups of warm water, 1/2 cup of distilled white vinegar, and 5 drops of non-toxic detergent. Use an old toothbrush or towel to clean tiny areas at a time. To avoid fraying rope soles, work in one direction.

2. Wipe Off Solution and Let Dry

After cleaning, rinse with a cloth dipped in plain water and let the shoes air dry.

How to Clean Athletic Shoes in a Washing Machine

clean shoes

Although it is normally not recommended to wash shoes in the washing machine, exceptions can be made for fabric athletic sneakers and tennis shoes, including those with wool uppers, such as the Woolloomooloo models. Athletic shoes are made of durable materials that can withstand a few machine washes. Simply place them in the washing machine on the mild or delicate cycle and clean with a strong, heavy-duty laundry detergent such as Persil or Tide. Remove any inner soles and laces before washing, and wash the laces separately. Wipe out the inner soles with a 50:50 vinegar-water solution before replacing them in shoes or replacing them with new liners to control odor and fungus.

But this is not a good way to clean athletic shoes with leather on the top. The same rules should apply to these as to leather street shoes (see above).


How frequently should you clean your shoes?

If you wear your shoes on a daily basis, you should clean them at least once a month. If they appear dirty, clean them as quickly as possible.

Can you spray shoes to make them waterproof?

Use a waterproofing product to protect your shoes from the weather. It will not only make them water-resistant, but it will also make them stain-resistant.

Are there germs on the bottom of shoes?

Studies have shown that bacteria and other germs are carried on the bottoms of shoes. Because of this, it’s best to leave your shoes at the door when you come into your own home or a friend’s.