How to Clean Shoes

4 min read

Hooray for back to school!

Time to scrub up the kids shoes so they look like someone owns them at school!

We know that weekend is not just for cleaning, with these fabulous cleaning tips you can reset your home in no time at all and relax with a cuppa.

Many people assume that your shoes don’t matter; after all, how often do people look down at your feet? You may be surprised. It doesn’t matter how you live, whether you spend a lot of time outdoors or just the brief moments between the front door and the car, your shoes are eventually going to get dirty. You don’t need to walk around with scruffy shoes though, and you definitely don’t have to throw them out once they’re dirty. This quick and easy shoe cleaning method will pull out the majority of the dirt and leave them looking brand new again.

Cleaning Good Lace up Shoes or Runners

  • Step 1 Take off the laces. The laces will only get in the way while you’re trying to clean the main part of the shoe so just take them off completely for now. You can wash them separately.
  • Step 2 Start scrubbing. Use a large hard bristled brush to get the top layer of dirt off. Scrub gently so that you don’t damage the fabric underneath the dirt, but make sure you push hard enough to work through the grime.
  • Step 3 Rub Away the Dirt. Use cloth across the entire surface of the shoes to remove the remaining dirt.
  • Step 4 Odour Be Gone. If your shoes are a little rough on the nose, sprinkle some bicarbonate of soda into the shoes (add a few drops of essential oils if they are really bad) and let them sit overnight.  Then tip/vacuum out the bicarb in the morning and they will be fresh inside and out!

For Really Dirty Runners”¦

If your runners are really dirty and stinky, try machine washing them on a delicate cycle in cold water.  We don’t recommend doing this regularly as it will ruin them.  But if you are desperate to get them clean, a few goes in the machine certainly won’t hurt them.

  • Step 1 Put them in the washing machine. Place the shoes, along with the laces, into the washing machine and add your favourite detergent. Put them in by themselves so they don’t ruin any other clothes. If you’re worried about the shoes knocking around on the inside of the machine, you can throw in an old (clean) towel as well to act as a buffer.
  • Step 2 Use cold water. Hot water won’t shrink your shoes, but it can fade the colours a bit, especially if you do this cleaning method often.
  • Step 3 Use cloth across the shoes to remove anything that the machine may have missed.
  • Step 4 – Let them dry. You want the shoes to air dry in a well ventilated place that gets a moderate amount of indirect sunlight. It could take a few hours for the shoes to dry, or it could take a day or two. You want to keep them out of direct bright sunlight because it will fade the colour a lot faster.

Fancy High Heels


High heels need minimum care, but they can get dirty and scuffed very easily.  The best way to clean them is just a warm damp cloth, with a little white vinegar. Give it a good wipe all over, concentrating on the scuff marks to gently rub them away. Don’t use any abrasives or harsh detergents they can get into the shoe and ‘loosen’ any glued parts which will ruin them.

Getting Your Kids to Help

Looking for a way to get motivated to actually clean your shoes? Grab a bucket of all the dirty shoes in the house, a hose, hard bristled brushes and head outside. Set up a tarp and ask your kids to give you a hand. They will love helping out and you can get your shoes clean all the while enjoying water play and a family activity together.

Follow these top tips and bring your shoes back to life you will be glad you did.

Jody Allen
About Author

Jody Allen

Jody Allen is the founder of Stay at Home Mum. Jody is a five-time published author with Penguin Random House and is the current Suzuki Queensland Amb...Read Moreassador. Read Less

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