How To Clean Used Shoes: Detailed Step To Refresh Footwear

Shoes can quickly get dirty from dust, mud, oil, grass, and other stubborn stains. Removing these stains will help keep your dress shoes looking good longer. This post will show you how to clean your used shoes and some tactics you can apply next time to keep your shoe shine

Why is it important to clean used shoes?

Let’s be honest: we can not live without shoes. Not only do they protect our feet, but a pair of shoes also make us look more stylish. There are so many reasons why you should clean your used shoes properly and often.

Prevent foot odor

Inside the shoes, there is not enough circulation. If your shoes are dirty, your feet will sweat and stink from getting bacteria and fungi. Dirty shoes can be an ideal environment for bacteria to grow, so it’s important to clean your shoes often.

Dirty shoes are less durable

Keeping your shoes clean will help prolong their lifespan. By cleaning them, you can detect any tears and damage that your shoes have.

Gives you a clean look

Wearing clean shoes will help you look more tidy and professional. No matter how you dress up, dirty shoes can ruin the whole look. If you work in the corporate world, they make you look prepared and competent. Keep your shoes clean to make a great impression.

Keep the house clean

When your shoes are clean, you don’t need to clean the floor too often. Instead of wearing dirty shoes indoors and having to clean the house too often, washing your shoes will also help keep the house tidy.

Keeping your shoes in good condition and smelling good will prevent the house from odor and maintain it sanitary.

How to clean dirty shoes in easy ways?

How to clean used shoes? You can do this either by hand or by machine

Depending on the type of shoes you wear, you can wash them by hand or machine. In this part, let’s go through all the steps you should follow when cleaning your used shoes.

Step-by-step on hand-cleaning your shoes

The first step you should do beforehand to wash your shoes is to check the material. Sneakers such as suede, rubber, canvas, or vinyl shoes can be hand-washed.

Step 1: Use a dry brush

Using a brush to wipe off all the dust before washing your used shoes will help save you time later. You can choose a dry and soft shoe brush, or even recycle your toothbrush. Be careful when you choose a brush for those shoes with delicate materials.

Step 2: Make a cleaning liquid

Mix water with a small amount of laundry detergent or dish soap. Depending on the color of your shoes, you can make different kinds of liquid. For white or bright-colored shoes, you can easily go with a mix of baking soda and water to remove the stains.

If you use dish soap, remember not to mix too much of it because it can cause discoloration or reduce the natural oil in the material.

Step 3: Wash the laces

You should always wash the laces separately to make the ladder park easier. Wash them with the cleansing liquid you have already made, massage the laces with your hands, and rinse and remove excess soap with a soft cloth.

Step 4: Wash the shoe sole

Use a soft-bristled brush or toothbrush to clean the sole. This part is hard to clean because it contacts with the dust the most. So, take your time to clean every part of it and dry it with a soft cloth.

Please don’t skip the insole. This is where the bacteria grow a lot. Remove it first and clean it with the liquid. Dry it with a clean cloth and hang it on to dry before putting it back on the shoes.

Step 5: Wash the upper part

This part needs special care so you can also use a soft-bristled brush to avoid ruining the material. Brush it off with the liquid and immediately use a microfiber towel to absorb the excess liquid.

You can repeat this step if the shoes are too dirty as long as you don’t rub it too hard.

Step 6: Air dry

After finishing all the steps above, you can let them air dry at room temperature. Do not put them in direct sunlight for the material and glues can be damaged.

Make sure the shoes are completely dry before wearing them for your next activity or workout. Generally, a pair of shoes will need around 8 to 10 hours to dry.

Readmore: How to clean leather sneakers

Step by step on machine washing your shoes

Always include laundry bag with your shoes before putting in machine

Step 1: Check the instruction

If you have machine washable shoes, you can save a lot of time by putting them into the machine. So, check carefully the instruction to determine whether or not you can do it. If your shoes are good to go with the machine, you can follow the steps below.

Step 2: Prepare your shoes for cleaning

First of all, remove the laces and any visible dust before putting them into a washing bag. You can use an old toothbrush to wipe off the dust first, inside and outside of the shoes.

This step will help the machine wash your shoes more effectively.

Step 3: Protect your shoes

Before putting your shoes in the machine, remember to protect them in a laundry bag. This will help prevent the shape of the shoes from damaging and becoming snagged.

A pillowcase can be an alternative to a laundry bag if you don’t have one. When the shoes are inside the machine, it can be a bit noisy due to the contact. So you can reduce this by washing some towels together with the shoes.

Step 4: Use the right washing settings

Do not wash your shoes in warm water since it can make the glues and color melt out easier. Always use the water temperature from 30 degrees to maintain the original look of the shoes.

This is even more important when you wash PU shoes since the coating can be damaged with warm water.

You will also need to use good color-kept detergent to keep the shoe’s color looking new and clean.

Step 5: Air dry

Always dry your shoes in room temperature to keep their shape. You can put some tissue inside to absorb the excess moisture and keep the correct shape but do not tumble dry them.

Readmore: How to clean white canvas sneakers

Which ingredients can you use to disinfect old shoes?

In case you can not wash your shoes, you can try some disinfectant spray to reduce the odor. Here are some kinds you can use for your sneakers:

Rubbing alcohol

This liquid is best for leather shoes, suede shoes, or even nubuck shoes.

Leather is a durable material but it is a very delicate material that requires special care. If you are wearing shoes with a leather upper, use rubbing alcohol to gently disinfect used shoes and still kill a variety of germs.


This liquid is best for white canvas sneakers since it is a powerful disinfectant and keep your shoes in a bright white color. But it is not good for colorful sneakers.

You can create the liquid by mixing one part of bleach with five parts of water. Use a clean cloth to rub the outside of the shoes. When finishing, let your shoes dry naturally in a well-ventilated area. Make sure they are completely dry before you wear them.

Baking soda and vinegar

baking soda and vinegar is a good combination to clean the shoes

Baking soda is a classic cleansing ingredient that you can use for any type of shoes. This can also be mixed with vinegar to prevent the growth of fungi inside the shoes and eliminate odors.

To use this, start sprinkling baking soda inside and outside your sneakers. After that, spray your shoes with vinegar diluted with water. Use a clean cloth to rub your shoes in a circular motion.

Let the shoes sit for 12 hours before wiping them with a cloth.

Dryer sheets

Dryer sheets are a great choice when you want to freshen your shoes, sandals, and even flip-flops. Putting the sheets inside your shoes and leaving them over night can help remove the smells very effectively.

Related posts


How to clean the inside of shoes?

The inside of the shoes can be hard to clean. But you can use warm water and a bar of mild soap to gently scrub the inside and leave it overnight. It will be better when you remove the insole before cleaning the shoes. If you are in a rush, you can use a mixture of baking soda and vinegar. Let it air dry for at least 30 minutes before wearing them again.

How do you remove stains from shoes?

Some basic ingredients you need to remove stains from shoes include baking soda, a damp cloth, and a bleach pen. Mix baking soda with enough water to create a thick paste. Apply it to the shoe, gently scrub it with a soft brush and let it dry. Brush off the residue and wipe it with a damp cloth. For white shoes, you can use a bleach pen to remove any stubborn stains.

Does washing shoes remove bacteria and fungus?

The short answer is yes! The horrible smell from your shoes is made from those bacteria and fungus. Therefore, cleaning your shoes regularly will help remove the smell by not creating a growing environment for these annoying creatures.

Naava Xin

Naava Xin

Naava Xin is the CEO and Founder of Outfitoza, she has over 5 years of experience in Clothing, she has helped hundreds of fashionistas understand more about fashion and love shopping.