What is the Best Easy Way to Clean Dirty Shoes?

weekly house cleaning

Shoes take us to our workouts, walk us into client meetings, hike us up mountains, help us play our favorite sports, dress us up for awards banquets, and keep us looking stylish each time we step out the door. It’s time to consider whether or not we take care of them well for all that they do for us, because shoes attract odors and stains and are easily scuffed. To keep your shoes fresher longer, you need to know how to clean dirty shoes.

The cleaner you can keep your shoes, the longer they will last. But the best way to clean shoes will vary greatly depending on the type of shoe and its material. The great news is that you can learn how to clean shoes at home. It might sound like an unpleasant undertaking, but it can actually be fairly simple and quick! 

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Cleaning Athletic Shoes

Athletic shoes take a beating from the first time you wear them–mainly because their whole purpose is to keep your feet safe while you enjoy a favorite hobby or push some of your physical limits. Many people use them to exercise, run errands, or feel comfortable from the ground up all day long. Sneakers are many people’s most-worn shoes, so it makes sense that they need to be cleaned regularly, just like the rest of your laundry!

The first step to cleaning your athletic shoes is to remove the laces and the inner soles. Put your sneakers in a mesh bag and wash them in the washing machine (hint: you can wash the laces separately). Before you toss them in the wash, wipe away any excess dirt and spot treat them with laundry stain remover just like you would any other type of laundry.

You don’t need any special laundry detergent, although there are brands out there made specifically for washing athletic shoes. But for simplicity, you can use your regular laundry detergent with cold water. Once the shoes are in the wash, sprinkle the insoles with baking soda and let them sit for a while to remove any odors. 

Take the shoes out of the washing machine immediately after the cycle is done and let them air dry. You want to make sure to get as much moisture off of the shoes as quickly as possible, so wipe any residual water or dirt from the soles. Shake the baking soda off of the insoles and put your athletic shoes back together to keep your shoes looking good and lasting longer. 

Cleaning Fabric Shoes

Outside of athletic shoes, most shoes are made of some sort of fabric-based material. Dress shoes, flats, sandals, oxfords, and house slippers are all fabric shoes that attract dirt and other items on floors that can leave marks and stains. With shoes that you only wear once or twice a year, they tend to attract dust–you'll need to know how to clean dusty shoes and how to clean fabric shoes.

The first and most important step in cleaning fabric shoes is to stay away from the washing machine. Most glues are not as sturdy as those used in athletic shoes, so you don’t want to put fabric shoes in the wash–the glue might dissolve and your shoes will fall apart. Instead, fabric shoes have to be cleaned by hand. You will need an unused toothbrush, some dishwasher detergent, and warm water.

You want to try to loosen up any dirt or dust before adding anything that will get the shoes wet. Get a paper towel and wipe your shoes to clear away any dust or extra dirt first. Then, use a mixture of two cups of warm water with one teaspoon of dishwasher soap to lightly clean the fabric with the unused toothbrush. 

Make sure to not get the fabric too wet, as again, the glue that holds your shoes together could easily disintegrate with too much moisture. Gently scrub any dust, dirt, or stains until your shoes look brand new again.

If the fabric on your shoe has a grain that moves in a certain direction, move the toothbrush in the same direction as the grain. Once you think the shoes are clean, wipe away any extra water and soap. Stuff the shoes with extra paper towels. This can help them keep their shape while they dry.

Side note: This method does not work for velvet fabric shoes.

Cleaning Suede Shoes

Suede is a beautiful fabric that can feel daunting to clean at home. But we want to make it simple for you.

Use a suede brush to gently rub off any dirt. With suede, there is usually a certain direction to the grain of the leather–make sure that you rub the dirt off the shoes in the same direction as the grain of the leather. With scuff marks, use a pencil eraser and gently rub the marks out. 

If there is a stain that simply is giving you a hard time, take a piece of flannel material and drop some white vinegar on it. Then, lightly clean the stain out of the material. 

Make sure you don’t use water with any suede shoes because it can cause damage to the material and will change the texture of your shoes.

If you have new suede shoes, the best thing to do is to use a silicone spray on them before you wear them out.  This kind of product protects the suede from dirt and stains and will help your shoes last much longer.

Weekly House Cleaning from Housekeeping Maid Easy 

Cleaning anything, including your shoes, can end up taking a lot more time and energy than you have. That’s why Housekeeping Maid Easy can relieve you of the burden of weekly house cleaning or even monthly house cleaning. Our goal is to create a safe, clean, organized, beautiful home for you.

We offer house cleaning services that have been serving the Indianapolis area & Hamilton County since 2006. Our professional cleaners are trained to clean according to CDC best practices. We provide the cleaning supplies and equipment, and we never use industrial-strength chemicals or cleaning solutions to clean your home. We are happy to provide any special cleaning supplies with any house cleaning service.

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Consider one of our many client testimonials, “Very thorough and was one of the best cleaning services I’ve had.” We love making a difference in people’s lives. Contact us today to request a quote and make a plan for how we can help you gain back some valuable time.