Easy Quick Steps to Clean Your Used Shoes

You found a wonderful price on worn shoes or are reviving old ones. Either way, cleaning worn shoes can prolong their life and improve their appearance. The method is easy for anyone.

Old shoes require minimal cleaning. Prepare your workplace to avoid mess, then clean your shoes. After that, make a cleaning solution using mild soap or detergent and warm water. Scrub shoes lightly with a cloth or sponge to remove stains and filth. Importantly, rinse the soap before drying.

Following these simple methods can make your secondhand or well-loved shoes appear and feel new. This instruction will help you get your shoes ready to walk quickly.

Steps to Clean Your Used Shoes

Cleaning used shoes is easy, whether you bought them cheaply or wish to refresh them. Follow these simple procedures to revive your worn shoes’ appearance and smell.

Cleaning Used Shoes

What You’ll Need

  • Used Shoes: The pair of shoes you want to clean.
  • A Soft Brush or Toothbrush: To remove loose dirt and debris.
  • Mild Soap or Detergent: Liquid dish soap or laundry detergent works well.
  • Water: To mix with the soap.
  • Soft Cloth or Sponge: For scrubbing.
  • Old Toothbrush: To clean hard-to-reach spots.
  • Warm Water: For rinsing.
  • White Vinegar (optional): For odor removal.
  • Baking Soda (optional): Also helps with odors.
  • Newspaper or Paper Towels: For stuffing the shoes.

Step 1: Set Up Your Workspace

Set up a good workplace before washing your used shoes. Choose a clean, well-ventilated workspace like your kitchen or garage. Spread newspaper or paper towels to catch spills. This protects floors and countertops from dirt and wetness and simplifies cleaning. Keeping your workstation clean helps you stay organised and prevent producing more clutter.

Step 2: Remove Loose Dirt

First, remove loose dirt and debris from your shoes. You can use a soft or old toothbrush. Brush the shoes gently to remove dust, debris, and small pebbles from the sole grooves. Focus on soles and dirt-hiding crevices.

Step 3: Mix Cleaning Solution

Make a simple cleaning solution next. Mix warm water with a few drops of mild soap or detergent in a small basin. Avoid hot water. Simple liquid dish soap or laundry detergent would do. This mixture breaks out grime and stains without damaging shoes. Mixing soap with warm water creates a mild yet efficient cleaning solution.

Step 4: Scrub Shoes

Scrub your shoes with your cleaning solution. Wring out a soft cloth or sponge after dipping it in soapy water to avoid leaking. Scrub your shoes gently with the damp towel, focusing on stained spots. An old toothbrush can reach hard-to-reach locations like the sole’s edges or microscopic fissures. With the towel or sponge, you may uniformly put soapy water on your shoes to remove dirt and grime. Scrub gently to avoid damaging shoes.

Step 5: Rinse Well

After scrubbing your shoes with soap, rinse them to remove soap residue. Wipe shoes with a clean, wet cloth or sponge. Remove all soapy residue to avoid sticky or soapy shoes. The shoes seem clean after a good rinse.

Step 6: Dry Your Shoes

Clean, soap-free shoes must be dried thoroughly. First, pack shoes with paper towels or newspaper. This absorbs internal moisture and keeps them in shape while they dry. Put your shoes in a well-ventilated environment. Heat can ruin shoes, so avoid direct sunshine. Air-dry them naturally. This may take several hours to a day, depending on the material and humidity. It’s vital to be patient.

Step 7: Condition If Needed

This is especially useful for leather shoes. Leather can dry out, so treating it keeps it sleek. Follow leather conditioner directions for leather shoes. Apply conditioner sparingly and evenly on the leather. It usually takes a few minutes to absorb into the leather. Then use a clean cloth to remove excess conditioner. Conditioning prevents leather from breaking and preserves its shine.

Step 8: Polish If Necessary

If your leather or dressy shoes need shine, polish them. The polish comes in colours to match your shoes. Apply polish according to the instructions. Apply a little polish to a clean, dry cloth or brush and rub it evenly on the leather. After drying, buff it with another clean, dry cloth or brush to polish. This polish makes your shoes look sleek and well-kept.

These techniques will clean and revitalise your used shoes, making them ready to wear. These procedures can extend the life and appearance of your favourite shoes and work for many sorts.

Optional Steps for Odor Removal

After a decent washing, shoes can still smell. There are two simple ways to eliminate such odours: White Vinegar and Baking Soda. How to do each:

Cleaning Used Shoes for Odor Removal

1. White Vinegar Method

Equal parts water and white vinegar, a container, a towel or sponge, and smelly shoes are needed for the White Vinegar Method. Mix water and vinegar and dampen a towel or sponge. Make sure every crevice of your shoes is cleaned. The vinegar smell will decrease as your shoes air dry, leaving them clean and fresh. Strong odours can be removed safely and organically with this procedure.

2. Baking Soda Method

However, the Baking Soda Method is really easy. Only shoes and baking soda are needed. To absorb odours, generously sprinkle baking soda inside your shoes. Leave your shoes overnight to let baking soda work. Shake or tap your shoes the next day to remove all baking soda. Your shoes should now smell fresh and ready to wear. This inexpensive and straightforward procedure is ideal for individuals who want to reduce shoe odours. Simple and effective, the White Vinegar or Baking Soda Method can keep your shoes smelling fresh.

3. Activated Carbon Method

If shoe odours continue, try activated charcoal. This requires activated charcoal and shoes. The odor-absorbing capabilities of activated charcoal sachets or loose charcoal make it ideal for shoes. Let the charcoal lie in your shoes for a day or longer if the odours persist. After waiting, remove activated charcoal. Shoes should no longer smell bad. This approach is effective, natural, and reusable, making it ideal for stubborn odours.

Remove any leftover odours with these optional steps to make your shoes fresh and ready for your next journey.


How often should I clean my shoes?

Your shoe cleaning frequency depends on how often you wear them and your environment. To avoid deep-seated grime and stains, clean everyday shoes every two weeks. If your shoes get really dirty or wet, clean them right once to avoid damage.

Can canvas or sneaker shoes be machine-washed?

Sneakers and canvas shoes are machine-washable. Protect shoes by placing them in a pillowcase or laundry bag after removing loose dirt. Do a gentle cycle with cold water and mild detergent. Avoid heat and air-dry them. Washing shoes with leather, suede, or glued-on pieces in the machine can damage them.

How to remove leather shoe scuffs?

Gently wiping leather shoes with a soft cloth or leather rubber helps remove scuff marks. Mix equal parts water and white vinegar, dampen a cloth, and gently rub stubborn scuffs. Finish by treating the leather to keep it shiny.

How should suede shoes be protected from water and stains?

Protect suede shoes with spray. Before wearing shoes, apply it to resist water. To restore nap and remove surface debris, brush suede shoes regularly. If suede shoes get damp, fill them with newspaper and dry them at room temperature.

How can I stop my running sneakers from smelling?

Running shoes can stink from perspiration and bacteria. To fix this, remove the insoles and air them out. To absorb shoe odours, sprinkle baking soda or use fragrant oils. Air-dry them after each use and rotate between pairs to air out between runs.

Can I wash leather shoes in a machine?

Washing leather shoes in a machine might destroy them. Instead, wipe leather shoes with a moist towel, use a leather cleaner if needed, and condition them to keep the leather supple and prevent drying and cracking.

How can I keep my shoes from sun fading?

When not in use, store shoes in a cool, dark place to avoid fading. UV-resistant shoe sprays or fabric covers can help protect them.

Can stretched shoes be reshaped?

Shoe trees or newspaper can help stretchy shoes return to shape. Pressure will make the shoes return to shape. Additionally, shoe trees help wick moisture and maintain shoe structure.

How should suede or nubuck shoes be cleaned and maintained?

Shoes made of suede and nubuck need specific maintenance. A suede brush removes dirt and revives the nap. Stains can be removed with a suede rubber or equal parts water and white vinegar. Always brush shoes after cleaning to keep texture.

How can I keep shoes from smelling musty in storage?

Clean and dry your shoes before storing to avoid musty odours. Consider using silica gel packets or cedar shoe trees in your shoes to absorb moisture. Avoid sealed containers and store them in a well-ventilated place. Check and air out stored shoes to keep them fresh.

Final Words

After learning how to clean used shoes, you can maintain your shoes with these simple steps. With a little work, your shoes may look, feel, and smell new. Clean them often, remove stains quickly, and utilise different ways for different shoe materials. Whether you found a great deal on pre-owned shoes or want to update your old favourites, cleaning and odor-free shoes has never been easier. So put your best foot forward with confidence, knowing your shoes can carry you anywhere.


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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