A Comprehensive Guide On How To Clean Dirty Shoes

A Comprehensive Guide On How To Clean Dirty Shoes

Dirty shoes can be a source of frustration for sneaker enthusiasts and anyone who takes pride in their footwear. However, fear not – a little TLC and the right cleaning techniques can breathe new life into your favorite kicks. In this detailed guide, we’ll explore the step-by-step process of cleaning dirty shoes, helping you restore them to their former glory.

1. Assess the Material:

Before diving into the cleaning process, identify the material of your shoes. Different materials, such as leather, canvas, suede, or mesh, require specific cleaning methods to avoid damage. Check the manufacturer’s recommendations for cleaning or any specific care instructions provided.

2. Remove Loose Dirt and Debris:

Start by knocking off loose dirt and debris from your shoes. Use a soft-bristle brush or an old toothbrush to gently scrub away surface dirt. For stubborn dirt in crevices or on the soles, use a dry toothpick or a small brush to dislodge it without causing damage.

3. Create a Cleaning Solution:

Prepare a gentle cleaning solution based on the material of your shoes. For leather or canvas, a mixture of mild soap or dish detergent with water works well. For suede, use a suede-specific cleaner. Sneaker cleaning kits with specialized solutions are also available and can be used for a variety of materials.

4. Spot Test:

Before applying the cleaning solution to the entire shoe, perform a spot test on a small, inconspicuous area. This ensures that the solution doesn’t cause discoloration or damage. If the spot test is successful, proceed with the cleaning process.

5. Clean the Uppers:

Dip a soft-bristle brush or an old toothbrush into the cleaning solution and gently scrub the shoe uppers. Use a circular motion to lift dirt and stains. For tougher stains, you may need to apply a bit more pressure, but avoid aggressive scrubbing to prevent damage.

6. Clean the Soles:

For the soles, use a stiffer brush or an old toothbrush. Apply the cleaning solution and scrub the soles thoroughly. Pay attention to grooves and crevices where dirt tends to accumulate. If there’s stubborn residue, consider using an eraser or a mix of baking soda and water for additional cleaning power.

7. Address Specific Stains:

Treat specific stains with targeted solutions. For scuff marks on white soles, a magic eraser or a mix of baking soda and water can work wonders. For oil-based stains, use a degreaser or a mixture of dish soap and water. Adjust your approach based on the nature of the stain.

8. Clean Laces and Insoles:

Remove the laces and soak them in the cleaning solution or wash them separately. Clean insoles with a damp cloth or replace them if necessary. This step ensures a thorough cleaning and freshens up the entire shoe.

9. Rinse and Wipe:

After cleaning, use a damp cloth or sponge to wipe away the cleaning solution from the shoes. Rinse the shoes under cool, running water to remove any remaining residue. Be cautious with water exposure for materials like suede – use a damp cloth to wipe instead.

10. Dry Properly:

Allow your shoes to air dry naturally. Avoid exposing them to direct sunlight or using artificial heat sources, as excessive heat can damage certain materials. Stuff the shoes with paper towels or shoe trees to help maintain their shape during the drying process.

11. Protect and Maintain:

Once your shoes are clean and dry, consider applying a protective spray or conditioner to maintain their quality. This step helps repel future stains and protects the material. Follow any specific care instructions provided for your shoe type.

12. Regular Maintenance:

To prevent significant dirt buildup, make regular shoe cleaning a part of your routine. A quick wipe after each wear can go a long way in maintaining the cleanliness of your shoes and extending their lifespan.


Reviving dirty shoes is a satisfying process that not only enhances their appearance but also prolongs their life. So, step into cleanliness and show off your well-maintained kicks with pride!

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