How to Properly Clean Shoes

Posted by Printed Kicks Team on

How to Properly Clean Shoes

Nobody likes getting their shoes dirty, especially if they’re new. Not only are you wearing out the shoes that you’ve spent your hard-earned money on, wearing dirty shoes can leave a bad impression on the people you meet. 

However, it can be extremely difficult to keep your shoes fresh when you’re out and about. Chances are, your first priority in the midst of a hectic workday isn’t going to making sure to keep your shoes clean. 

Maybe you stepped in some mud while walking on the sidewalk. Perhaps you scuffed your shoes when exercising. No matter what the case is, it is useful to know how to effectively clean your shoes and take care of them. 

It is impossible to keep your shoes completely clean when you’re wearing them. At some point, they will get dirty, which is fine. Shoes are meant to be worn. 

With the right cleaning and maintenance, though, you can make your shoes look better and last longer. It can be intimidating to clean your shoes, particularly if they’re really dirty. Fortunately, we’re providing you with some tried-and-true methods to properly clean your shoes. Here is a step-by-step guide to clean any shoe of any material. 

At Printed Kicks, we specialize in mesh sneakers that are easy to clean and durable. All our shoes are designed for maximum comfort and breathability. Plus, we offer over 99 different designs and prints! 

Take Out The Laces

The first step in the shoe-cleaning process is to take out the shoelaces. Taking out the laces will allow you to reach the deep crevices of the shoe and hit all the angles. The entire cleaning process will be much easier without the laces in the shoe. 

If you’ve been wearing your shoes for a while, it’s probably about time anyway to replace the laces, anyway. Alternatively, you can clean your laces with warm soap and water or bleach them if they’re white. Sometimes, just having a fresh pair of laces will completely change the look of a shoe. 

Keep in mind that if the aglet of your laces is broken or frayed, it may be difficult to put the laces back into the shoe when you’re done cleaning. It is recommended to replace your laces if they reach this condition. 

Remove Dirt

The next step is to remove any dirt from the outer layer of the shoe. Using a dry, soft-bristled brush, scrub off the outsole, midsole, and uppers. If you don’t have a brush made specifically for cleaning shoes, an old toothbrush will work. You can even use a towel if you don’t have any brushes. 

While wearing your shoes, it’s likely that some kind of dirt will build up on the surface. You can generally remove most of this debris with a basic rubdown. 

You’ll also want to rub off any oil on the outer surface of your shoes using a towel or washcloth. If the shoe is made of leather or suede, be as gentle as possible when scrubbing, as you can potentially scratch it. Brush in the same direction every time. 

If your shoes are smudged, you can use an eraser to remedy them. Very carefully, rub the smudges with the eraser until they’re not visible anymore. Suede is one of the easiest materials to restore with an eraser. You can also use a silicone spray on suede shoes to prevent new stains or water damage. Silicone spray can significantly prolong the life of your suede shoes. 

Wash Soles

Finally, it’s time to get your shoes wet and wash the soles. Before doing so, make sure you have a shoe cleaning solution available. You can buy solutions online or in shoe stores or make them at home by yourself. 

To create your own cleaning solution, mix some warm water with a mild laundry detergent. Stir the solution until it’s thoroughly mixed. Don’t use too much detergent, as you don’t want the solution to be too soapy. Make sure your detergent does not contain bleach. 

Next, apply the solution to your brush. Start cleaning the outsole and midsole, removing any remaining debris from the previous step. Then, clean the bottoms of the shoe. You may need to use a sharp object like a fork or a knife to get rid of all the dirt entirely. Dry the shoes with a soft towel or cloth. 

Now, you can move on to the uppers of the shoe. Be gentler with the uppers, especially if they’re made of suede or leather. Just like brushing, scrubbing too hard on the shoes can damage the material. When you’re all done, dry the uppers with a soft towel or cloth. Repeat this process until you’re satisfied with the results. 

Hit Outer Stains

If you have any major stains on your shoe, you may need to treat it with some extra attention. One method of removing stains is quickly blotting it with a cleaning solution, then leaving the solution on the stain for several minutes. After waiting, you can rinse off the solution, and the stain should be smaller or gone completely. 

Note that some stains are just too deeply embedded into the shoe to treat. You can also buy stain remover products online or in shoe stores. Make sure to test your stain remover on an unimportant part of your shoe first since some stain removers can fade or stain the material. 

Clean The Insoles

Now that the outer surfaces of your shoes are clean, you can focus on the inside of the shoes. Though the outer layers of your shoes are exposed to the most dirt and grime, the inner layers of your shoes can also become filthy. You may not even realize it, but you’re actively sweating in your shoes throughout the day. 

For this reason, it’s worthwhile to clean the insoles of your shoes from time to time. To do so, grab your brush and your cleaning solution, and remove the insoles from your shoes. Softly scrub the insoles with the brush and cleaning solution until it appears clean. 

Once you’re done cleaning, give the insoles a solid rinse before using a soft towel or cloth to dry them off. Afterward, air dry the insoles, as using a dryer machine can damage the insoles. Also, keep them away from heat, air vents, and sunlight. Exposure to heat can shrink or change the shape of your insoles. Don’t put them back into the shoes until they’re 100% dry.  

Optionally, you can also spray some air freshener on your insoles to give them a nice, pleasant smell. Just make sure that it doesn’t contain bleach. If your insoles smell bad and the odor won’t go away, you may need to replace the insoles. 

Washing Machine

You may have heard of people washing their shoes in the washing machine. This is possible but should only be done on certain materials. Washer-friendly shoes include canvas, certain kinds of pleather, rubber, and mesh. Never use a washing machine to clean suede or leather shoes, because you’ll almost certainly destroy them. 

Before putting your shoes in the washing machine, remove the laces, place them in an empty pillowcase or mesh bag, and then tie it closed. You can also use a rubber band to keep it closed. You want some kind of protective layer surrounding your shoes, so the aggressive cycles of your washing machine don’t damage it. 

Run the washing machine on the most delicate setting possible using cold water. Remember that shoes are not meant to be washed in the washing machine and should only be done so with extreme caution. You may also want to run an extra rinse cycle, so you can ensure that there is no soap left on the shoes. 


Decades ago, shoe shining businesses were the go-to place to get your shoes cleaned. Nowadays, it is simple and easy to clean your shoes from the comfort of your home. With a little bit of sweat and elbow grease, you can have your dirty shoes looking pristine in a matter of minutes. 

Here at Printed Kicks, we are committed to providing the widest selection of high-quality mesh sneakers possible. We do our best to offer a broad range of designs and prints. We make it easy to keep your shoes fresh! 

If you’ve followed the steps above and still can’t get your shoes to look as clean as you’d like, it might be time to get a new pair of shoes. Though you can make any pair of shoes look better with a solid cleaning, some shoes are just too far gone to restore. 

There really is no better feeling than to walk around with a clean pair of shoes. Whether you’re at school, work, or just taking a stroll around the neighborhood, you want to leave a good impression. Now that you know how to properly clean your shoes, you can walk with confidence! 



How to Clean 5 Types of Shoes Properly | The Spruce 

How To Clean Sneakers: Guide on Washing & Cleaning Shoes | Complex 

How to Clean Sneakers and Keep Your Feet Lookin' Fresh | The Manual

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