The Ultimate Guide to Cleaning  Every Type of Shoe

How often should you clean your shoes?

A lot of people will only clean their shoes when they are noticeably dirty. While it is true that how often you clean your shoes is highly subjective, if you want your shoes to look as good as new for longer, consider cleaning them at least once a month.

If you have shoes that you only wear on special occasions, you can clean them on an as-needed basis. Additionally, whenever your shoes are subjected to things like mud, snow, salt, or rain, you should clean them right after. 

Cleaning fabric shoes

Fabric shoes come in lots of different styles, from loose, comfortable styles to sandals, flats, heels, and everything in between. They are best cleaned by hand. Here is how to do it.

What you’ll need:

  • Dishwashing detergent
  • And old toothbrush
  • Paper towels

How to clean:

  • Start by brushing off any excess dirt from the surface of the shoes. Wipe them down with a dry paper towel to remove any debris or dirt.
  • Make your cleaning solution by mixing some dishwashing liquid and warm water in a small bowl.
  • Scrub the shoes using the toothbrush, working section by section. Intermittently dip the toothbrush in the cleaning solution as you scrub the fabric. Ensure that you do not over wet it. Follow the grain of the fabric for the best results.
  • Next, wipe the entire shoe with a damp soft cloth. Do this until all the soap is removed from the surface.
  • Allow the shoes to air dry.

Cleaning suede shoes

Suede shoes can be rather difficult to clean. However, if you follow these steps, this should not be a problem for you.

What you’ll need:

  • A suede brush
  • A suede eraser
  • A shoe brush
  • Suede cleaner

How to clean:

  • The most important thing to remember when cleaning suede shoes is to avoid dipping them in water or pouring too much water on them. Water discolors suede and can also damage its texture.
  • If your suede shoes have stains or dirt, wait until the area is completely dry. Then use a suede brush to wipe away the stains, brushing the surface in the direction of the material.
  • If your suede shoes have marks or scuffs, rub the area gently with a suede eraser to get rid of them.
  • In case of larger or stubborn stains, use a microfiber cloth dipped in vinegar or alcohol to eliminate them, You can also work on particularly tough stains using a nail file.
  • For wet or moist stains, absorb the moisture with a paper towel or piece of cloth first then wait for the shoes to dry completely before attempting to clean them.

Cleaning canvas shoes

Canvas shoes are a lot easier to clean than suede shoes. You can either handwash them or use a washer to clean them.

If you have canvas shoes that also have leather or suede elements, or if your shoes have embellishments like ropes, ribbons, or beads, it is best to avoid machine washing them. Such shoes should only be hand-washed.

Canvas shoes can also be easily spot-cleaned if a particular area has dirt or a stain.

Follow the steps below to properly handwash your canvas shoes:

  • Prepare your cleaning solution by mixing some liquid detergent with warm water
  • Unlace the shoes and wash the laces separately. The laces can be soaked in the cleaning solution and then rinsed and air-dried.
  • Pretreat any visible stains on the canvas. You can do this by applying some detergent directly on the stain and working it into the material with your fingers. Let it sit for 15 minutes then wash the shoes.
  • Rinse your washed shoes by dipping a clean cloth in water and wiping off the excess soap.
  • Let the shoes air-dry completely. The laces should also be fully dry before replacing them.

Cleaning leather shoes

Leather can be quite tricky to clean because it is easily damaged when you scrub too hard. Here is how to properly clean leather shoes.

What you’ll need:

  • Shoe polish
  • Soft brush
  • Polishing cloth

How to clean:

  • Brush the surface of the shoes with a dry soft brush to get rid of any dirt or dust.
  • Prepare your cleaning solution by mixing some warm water with white vinegar or liquid soap.
  • Dip the soft brush into the solution and brush the surface of the leather
  • Let them air dry for 20 minutes
  • Polish with a clean, dry, cloth
  • If there are any scuffs on the surface of the leather, dampen the cloth in warm water and then dip it in some baking soda. Rub this cloth onto the scuffs to get rid of them. For stubborn scuffs, you can also use some petroleum jelly to get rid of them.
  • For the best results, use some shoe polish to get rid of all scuffs and stains on the shoes.

Cleaning sneakers

Sneakers like Skechers will only stay as good as new if you never wear them. If you intend to head out with your favorite pair of kicks regularly, here is how to keep them clean.

What you’ll need:

  • Laundry detergent
  • Microfiber cloth
  • 2 or 3 clean cloths

How to clean:

  • Get rid of any dirt or debris on the surface of the sneakers using a clean cloth
  • Unlace and put the laces in a mixture of warm water and laundry detergent. Let them sit in there for about 30 minutes, then scrub them and air dry them.
  • To clean the soles, wash away the dirt using running water and a damp cloth.
  • Now clean the rest of the shoe by dipping a clean cloth into the detergent solution and scrubbing at any visible stains. Grab another clean cloth and dip it into some clean water, then use it to wipe away any soapy residue.
  • Allow the shoes to air dry

Cleaning velvet shoes

Velvet is a particularly vulnerable material. As such, velvet shoes need special handling and cleaning. It is very easy for your velvet shoes to get damaged or blotted. Here is how to ensure that your velvet shoes will always look as good as new.

What you’ll need:

  • Microfiber towel
  • Soft brush
  • Liquid soap

How to clean:

If the shoes have any stains on them, ensure that the stained area is completely dry before attempting any cleaning. Use a soft brush to remove the stains, brushing in the direction of the velvet. This works well for mud or dirt.

If the shoes have any liquid spillage on them, use a microfiber cloth to gently dab at the area to soak up some of the liquid and prevent it from setting. You’ll then have to prepare a cleaning solution of dishwashing soap and water. Dip a soft brush in the solution and gently scrub the stained area. Let them air dry.

There are also special protective sprays that you can use on the shoes to prevent future staining.

Cleaning white shoes

It can be hard to clean white shoes because they show stains very easily. And some types of stains can last a long time on them. Not all hope is lost, though. Here is how to clean white shoes.

What you’ll need:

  • Bleach
  • Vinegar
  • Soft brush
  • Baking soda
  • Laundry detergent

How to clean:

Depending on the toughness of the stain, you can clean your white shoes in one of three ways: using bleach, baking soda, or laundry detergent.

  • To clean with laundry detergent, brush away any dust or dirt outside the shoes. Then prepare a solution of laundry detergent and warm water. Dip a soft brush into the solution and scrub as the stains. Use a clean damp cloth to wipe off any soap, then dry the shoes with an absorbent cloth. Let them air dry.
  • To clean with bleach, dilute the bleach in some water. Then dip your brush in the solution and scrub the shoe, paying close attention to any stains. Wipe off any solution that’s left on the surface with a damp cloth. Allow the shoes to air dry.
  • To clean with baking soda, mix some baking soda with vinegar and hot water. Apply this mixture in paste form on any stained areas. Let the paste dry on the shoes, then brush off the residue with a soft brush.

Cleaning shoes in a washing machine

It is possible to clean your shoes in your washing machine. However, you should be cautious here because not all types of shoes are machine washable.

Shoes that can be cleaned in a washing machine are made using synthetic materials like nylon and polyester as well as materials like cotton. Such materials are usually more durable and able to withstand the action of detergents. Leather and suede shoes should not be cleaned in the washer as they will get damaged.

What you’ll need:

  • Old towels
  • Soft brush
  • Mesh garment bag
  • Liquid laundry detergent
  • Old newspapers

How to clean:

  • Check your shoes’ care instructions to ensure that they are machine-washable.
  • Remove the shoe laces and put them in a mesh garment bag. They can be washed in the machine once in the bag. Otherwise, soak them in a detergent solution and handwash them.
  • Use a soft brush to remove as much dirt and debris from the shoes as possible, paying special attention to the soles. If there is any dirt stuck in hard-to-reach areas, use a toothpick to remove them.
  • Remove the insoles from the shoes. These should never be put in the machine as they can get waterlogged and take too long to dry. Clean them by wiping them down with a damp cloth dipped in a detergent solution.
  • Place the shoes in a mesh garment bag, then add some old towels to reduce the washer’s load.
    Set the cycle to gentle and use cold water on a slow spin. Use a liquid detergent to avoid leaving any residue.
  • After the cycle is done, remove the shoes from the mesh bag and air-dry them.
  • Stuff the shoes with old newspapers to help absorb the moisture faster. Note that they may take a few days to dry completely.

Final Thoughts

As you can see, in just a few simple steps, it is possible to clean almost any type of shoe. Proper shoe care is the key to having shoes that look good for many years. While different materials will require different cleaning styles, it is also true that a lot of these steps are similar no matter what fabric or design your shoes have. The best part is that for almost every type of shoe, you can make your own natural cleaners at home without having to buy any extra products. Hopefully, with the instructions outlined above, you will be able to have properly cleaned, well-maintained shoes that will serve you for a long time.

Courtesy Jade Piper

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