Washing Shoes

by Karen Bates
(last updated April 29, 2019)

It's inevitable: if you wear your shoes outside of the house, they are bound to get dirty. Everyday life takes its toll on your footwear, and over time your shoes can start to look old and worn even if you have not owned them for that long.

If your shoes are starting to look dirty, don't throw them out—try washing them instead. With the right techniques, you can often clean up your shoes and get them looking nice again.

Try these ideas for washing shoes:

  • First, remove laces and any inserts from the shoes. Rinse the shoes with water in the sink, and then use an old toothbrush of any scrub brush and a little soap to scrub the surface. Continue until the dirt is gone. Dry the shoes with a cloth, then replace the laces and inserts.
  • If your shoes are made of leather, you'll have to be careful with them when it comes to washing. Since leather can be damaged by water, you should only use a small amount to wash and then be sure to dry them well. Preferably, you should use a special leather cleaner that is designed for the type of leather your shoes are made of. You can try carefully cleaning with a damp towel and some soap, but don't rinse the shoe—just carefully wipe. When you are done, polish and condition the shoes if needed.
  • For a quick clean up, try a baby wipe. You can use them daily on your shoes, or just after you notice spots and dirt building up. This can help prevent a build-up of dirt from developing on the shoes.
  • It is possible to wash some sneakers in the washing machine or dishwasher, but be sure they are made of material that won't be damaged by this process. Start by removing the laces, and then put the sneakers into the wash with the water lever set to low and the heat at warm. Use a little laundry detergent in the wash to help get the shoes even cleaner. Once they are done, let them air-dry with some newspapers in the toes. This prevents the shoes from curling or changing shape. Replace the laces, and you're done.
  • To clean laces, let them soak in soapy water for a few minutes. Work some soap directly into the laces, then rinse. Let them air dry before putting them back into the shoe.

Washing your shoes is quite quick and easy, and far less expensive than buying a new pair.

Author Bio

Karen Bates

An English student who enjoys writing and art, Karen has had her poetry published in her university's literary journal and has several novels in the works. ...


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