Quick Steps to Clean Your Thrifted Shoes

You can clean thrifted shoes without pricey tools or cleaners. Clean them to revitalize aged shoes. A simple and satisfying method can make your used shoes look and feel great. Get started refreshing your thrifted shoes with these simple steps, even if you’ve never done it before. What’s great about this shoe journey is that you can use everyday items.

You may personalize thrifted shoes by cleaning them. This tutorial will clean, deodorize, and restore your shoes, whether you acquired a great vintage pair or just want to update your regular footwear. Clean, beautiful thrifted shoes are ready to set you apart!

Steps to Clean Your Thrifted Shoes

Cleaning thrifted shoes is enjoyable and gratifying. Your old, secondhand shoes will look new and save you money. This post will show you how to clean thrifted shoes so they appear new and are ready to wear. Let’s start!

Cleaning Thrifted Shoes

1. Materials You’ll Need

  • Old Toothbrush or Soft Bristle Brush
  • Mild Soap or Dish Detergent
  • A Bowl of Water
  • Clean Cloths or Old T-shirts
  • White Vinegar
  • Baking Soda
  • Leather or Suede Conditioner (if applicable)
  • Newspaper (for drying)

2. Check the Shoes

Cleaning thrifted shoes starts with a thorough inspection. You seek for clues regarding the dirt and stains you’ll need to remove like a detective. Examine the shoes for dirt, marks, and damage. The soles may have mud or scuff marks. Check the soles, sides, and laces of the shoes. Thrifted shoes may have wear and tear, but cleaning can fix that! Make mental or written notes of problems or stains. You’ll know what to clean first.

3. Unlace

Remove the laces from thrifted shoes before cleaning. This makes reaching all your shoes’ crevices easier. Remove the laces to thoroughly clean the shoes, which can be difficult. Laces should be gently pulled from holes or eyelets. You can also clean filthy laces separately. The improvement in shoe cleaning after removing the laces may surprise you.

4. Dust Loose Dirt

Dust off any loose dirt and debris after inspecting your thrifted shoes and removing the laces. Consider this step a shoe adventure. Use an old toothbrush or soft bristle brush to gently remove dust and grime. Be delicate, like massaging your shoes. This removes surface dirt. This should be done lightly to avoid damaging the shoe. It’s like pampering your shoes before a deep clean.

5. Prepare Cleaning Solution

After dusting off your shoes, make a light cleaning solution to remove any lingering dirt. This is like making a potion to restore shoe shine. Fill a dish with warm water. Warm—not too hot or freezing. Add a few drops of mild soap or dish detergent. Stir water gently until soapy. A few drops of soap is enough. Your secret weapon for cleaning shoes without damaging them is soapy water. You’re ready to clean and restore your thrifted sneakers.

6. Shoe Cleaning

Prepare your magical soapy water to clean your thrifted sneakers. Put a clean rag or old T-shirt in the soapy water. It should be damp, not dripping. Consider it a light shoe bath. Scrub the shoes gently with the cloth. Check every part, especially filthy or soiled areas. Imagine removing all the filth and seeing your shoes’ beauty. Avoid soaking leather or fragile shoes. You only need a little moisture to clean them. Enjoy the process and be patient. It’s like pampering your shoes.

7. Wash/Dry

After scrubbing your thrifted shoes, rinse the soapy residue. Wipe shoes carefully with a clean, moist cloth. Like washing off soap after a bath. Remove all soap to avoid sticky shoes. After rinsing, dry your shoes. Be sure to ventilate them and keep them out of direct sunshine and heat. Your shoes should dry naturally. Fill them with newspaper to retain form. It’s like a cozy pillow for drying shoes. Their drying may take many hours, so be patient.

8. Treat Stains

Don’t panic if your thrifted sneakers have difficult stains after cleaning. There’s a simple way to remove stubborn spots. Imagine a superhero saving the day. Make a paste with baking soda and water. Let the paste remain on the discoloured areas for a few minutes. Like a spa treatment for stains. Scrub stained patches gently with your soft brush. This lifts stains from the textile. When finished, wipe paste with a moist cloth. This can remove even the toughest stains, surprising you.

9. Deodorize

Nobody likes dirty shoes. If your thrifted shoes smell bad, try this simple trick. Sprinkle baking soda inside your shoes. Imagine applying magic powder to your shoes. Let baking soda soak in shoes overnight to absorb odors. The next day, shake out the baking soda and your shoes will smell great. Freshening your shoes is like breathing. Now your thrifted sneakers smell amazing and are clean!

10. Leather/Suede Condition

Keep leather or suede thrifted shoes in good condition with an extra step. Leather and suede dry out, so hydrate them. Leather and suede conditioners are available in stores. Apply the product on your shoes per the instructions. This conditioner will keep the fabric silky and attractive. Like lotion keeps your skin moist, conditioner keeps your shoes healthy.

11. Relace and Enjoy

After cleaning, reassemble your thrifted shoes. If you unlaced your shoes in step 2, lace them again. Like finishing an art piece. You can enjoy your shoes once they’re laced and polished. Put them on and walk in your updated shoes. You’ve revived your thrifted shoes, so they’ll travel with you in style.

Your thrifted sneakers are clean and ready to wear after these processes. It’s a metamorphosis you achieved with minimal tools, patience, and care. You can be happy of your efforts to make your shoes appear great now that they reflect your personality and style. Have fun wearing your “new” thrifted sneakers!

Alternative Methods to Clean Thrifted Shoes

While the above processes are simple and effective, there are other ways to clean thrifted shoes. Some options:

Best way to clean thrifted shoes

Magic Eraser

Thrift store shoes may have scuff marks or tenacious stains that won’t come off. For such problems, use a magic eraser. A shoe wand is like magic. How it works: Magic erasers are available in most places. Use a little moist magic eraser to gently rub scuff marks or stains. Similar to erasing pencil markings from paper, except for shoes. Because of its texture, the magic eraser removes these marks without damaging the shoe. But be careful, especially if your shoes are made of fragile materials.

Water-Vinegar Solution

A basic white vinegar-water solution is another useful option. Create a DIY cleaning remedy for thrifted shoes. Mix equal parts white vinegar and water in a bowl. Dip a cloth or sponge in this solution without leaking. Next, gently wipe your shoes, focusing on stains and problem areas. A natural superhero for cleaning, vinegar can remove stains and odors. Use plain water to rinse your shoes after using this solution to remove the vinegar scent. After rinsing, let the shoes dry naturally. This approach works well on harder stains and odors. A spa treatment for your shoes with things you surely have in the kitchen.

Depending on your shoes’ condition, these alternate solutions can help you make your thrifted shoes look great again.


Can I clean all thrifted shoes the same?

Cleaning thrifted shoes is similar, but you need adapt your method according on the material. Shoes are made of leather, suede, cloth, and more. Leather shoes require different cleaning and care than sneakers or cotton shoes. Consider shoe material before cleaning. Leather shoes should be cleaned and conditioned to stay soft, while sneakers may need a deeper clean. Start with a moderate method like soapy water and adjust as needed. To avoid damaging the shoe’s material, wipe it carefully.

Are thrifted shoes safe to wash?

Depending on the shoes, cleaning thrifted shoes in the machine may not be a good idea. Sneakers or canvas shoes in a laundry bag may survive a gentle wash cycle. The washing machine can ruin shoes, so it’s still unsafe. Not advised for leather or suede shoes. Check the shoe care label before washing. If in doubt, use soapy water and the washing machine as a final option. Remember that machine cleaning might alter shoe shape and texture.

Can bleach clean thrifted shoes?

Tip: Avoid bleach while washing thrifted sneakers. Bleach can deteriorate shoe material and color. This might cause fading, discolored, or weakened shoes. Use gentler cleaners to protect your shoes. Bleach can cause more harm than good.

What should I do if my thrifted sneakers become wet in the rain?

Answer: Let your thrifted shoes air-dry after a rainstorm. Avoid direct heat sources like hairdryers and direct sunshine, which can dry and fracture leather. While drying, pack shoes with newspaper or tissue paper to keep their shape. This absorbs moisture and aids drying. To maintain their shape and quality, let your shoes dry at room temperature and don’t rush.

How to deodorize thrifted shoes?

Answer: Simple but efficient remedy for thrifted shoe scents. Sprinkle a tiny bit of baking soda inside your shoes and let them sit overnight. Naturally deodorizing baking soda absorbs odors. Simply shake away the excess baking soda the next day after overnight. Keeping your shoes smelling fresh is eco-friendly with this strategy.

Can I clean thrifted shoes with home products?

Answer: Avoid using home cleaners on thrifted shoes. Many of these products are too harsh and can damage shoes. Instead, use gentler cleaners. Normal washing with soap and water is safe. If you need something stronger, try vinegar or shoe cleaning products made for your shoe material. These options usually work better and are safer for your shoes.

What if my old shoes are fragile?

Vintage shoes are delicate due to their antiquity. Take particular care when cleaning them. Gently remove dirt and stains with a soft cloth or sponge and mild soapy water. Avoid overwetting satin or silk shoes. For softness and crack prevention, use a leather or suede conditioner on your vintage shoes. Gentle and patient washing preserves the attractiveness of vintage shoes’ unique features.

Can thrifted leather shoes be polished to appear better?

Answer: Polishing thrifted leather shoes improves their beauty. Make sure your leather conditioner or shoe polish matches the shoe’s color. Apply conditioner or polish as directed. A cloth or applicator is used to evenly apply the product on the shoe. To shine, polish the shoes using a soft, clean cloth. Polishing is like a spa day for leather shoes, improving their appearance and feel. Thrifted leather shoes can last longer and look better with regular polishing.

Can thrifted shoes be cleaned sustainably?

Answer: Thrift store shoes can be cleaned sustainably. Use eco-friendly cleaning products like white vinegar and baking soda. A natural stain and odor remover, white vinegar works well. Mix it with water for gentle cleaning. A greener alternative to harsh chemicals, baking soda removes odors and stains. Eco-friendly alternatives let you clean thrifted shoes successfully while protecting the environment.

Can I clean thrifted shoes with peeling soles?

Answer: If your thrifted shoes have peeling or damaged soles, consult a cobbler or shoe repair expert. Repairing the soles yourself could increase the condition. Cobblers can evaluate the damage and recommend a solution. They repair or replace soles to make thrifted shoes wearable. Cobblers are skilled at giving shoes a second chance by repairing soles. To prolong their life and comfort, it’s important having your beloved thrifted shoes properly mended.

Final Words

This guide should make cleaning thrifted sneakers easier. Remember, it only takes a few steps and household objects. Cleaning thrifted shoes is fun and makes them look beautiful. Go ahead, pamper your old shoes. These simple methods let you confidently wear thrifted shoes that are clean and beautiful.


Hi, I'm Asim! I love giving you cleaning guides, tips and tricks that will make your place sparkle and shine. Through years of practice, I've learned effective ways to clean and can't wait to help you. From tough spots to general cleaning, I can help you. Come along with me on this cleaning adventure, where I'll give you tips and tricks to make your cleaning process easier. Let's work together to make clean haven.

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