To some people your shoes are your pride and joy. Hey, I can understand I like to give a good impression. But that won’t happen if you have dirty shoes. This post will show you how to clean your shoes effortlessly. So please read on and get those clean shoes that you’ve always wanted.

How To Clean Your Shoes

What’s the point cleaning your shoes?

OK, so you may not be fashion conscious and not even care if your shoes are clean or not. But if your shoes are dirty then this can actually cause damage to your shoes.

Any dirt that is on the shoes can dig into the material that make up the shoe. And it can have detrimental effect the stitches that bind the parts of your shoe together as well.

Over time your shoes can deteriorate due to a lack of cleaning them.

To save the expense of going to the shops and buying a new pair of shoes you can effortlessly clean them at home. It is really easy for you to do this. Trust me!

In this post I want to show you two methods. Which ever one you choose will depend on your circumstances.

Ways to clean your shoes (and shoe laces):

Very Easy Way – Hand Scrub Your Shoes Clean

This method is more hands on than the following suggestion. Even though you will need to apply a little elbow-grease here this method will ensure that no damage will occur to your shoes as I am sure that you will take great care when cleaning your shoes.

Credit: SneakerheadPat

If your insoles are dirty or there is a bit of an odor coming from them then please head on over to Wikihow. Check out the neat videos and steps included to clean your insoles.

What You Need:

  • Dirty Shoes (yep)
  • Sink or Bucket
  • Container or Cup for your shoe laces
  • Hot Water
  • Hand Soap, Bar of Soap or Detergent
  • Small Brush
  • Hand Towel

What You Don’t Need:

  • Elbow grease (don’t worry this is just a common expression that means that you need to apply a little effort)

Step 1 – Remove your laces first

First thing that you will need to do is to remove the shoe laces from your shoes. It will be a lot easier for you to clean these two separately.

The above video does show you how to clean both your laces and your shoes. And I will discuss each of these below.

After that just give your two shoes a quick knock together to dislodge any dirt .

Step 2 – Clean your laces

Put hot water into either a cup or container followed by a generous amount of detergent. There is no need to purchase any special kind of cleaning product.

Anything that you have around the home will suffice. But if you are using bleach I would recommend that you use gloves and do not leave your shoes and laces in bleach for too long. This will cause irreversible damage.

Then place your shoe laces into this mixture and mix together.

This step will help to loosen the dirt from your laces. This is a great way to ensure that the entire shoe laces are cleaned thoroughly.

When you think that you have mixed the laces with the mixture enough then take each of them out in turn and scrub with your hands. You may want to soak the laces again if dirt is still visible.

Please check out my How To Clean Shoe Laces post for more information on this step.

Step 3 – Scrub them shoes

Fill up either your sink or bucket with hot water and again apply some detergent to the water. Then dip your scrubbing brush into the water and then scrub your shoes.

Elbow grease may be required, lol. But please do take care when working around the stitches of the shoes.

Obviously there will be a build up of dirt around the stitches but you will want to take care around this area. If you do break the stitch then obviously your shoes will start to become undone.

Step 4 – Remove the soap

Once you have cleaned your shoes as much as you can the next step is to rinse off the soap from them. For this it will be best if you use your sink and run the faucet/tap.

Just put your shoe underneath the water and let the soap run off the shoe. Yep, it’s as easy as that.

Step 5 – Dry your shoes

Then when all the soap has been removed from the shoes you will then need to hand dry them using a towel. Make sure that you get into the shoe itself as water will undoubtedly have gotten in there.

It is a good idea for you to leave your shoes to dry overnight. There will still be some moisture left in them from this method. So you will want to give them a good airing.

A hair dryer or a tumble dryer is not advised!

Step 6 – Dry your laces and wait

You will then want to clean your shoe laces like you did for your shoes. For this take each lace in turn and scrub them under a running tap.

Working with one lace at a time will make sure that they do not become tangled together and that both of them get a good clean.

Then you will need to hold one of the laces at the tip and use your other hand to wring the water out of it. You can use a towel for this instead of your hand. The towel will absorb most of the water.

Apply the same technique to the other shoe lace.

Together with your shoes you will want to leave these overnight, or even for a few hours, to let them dry.

Even Easier Way – Put Them Into The Washing Machine

I do highly recommend that you follow the above method. But if you do not care to clean your shoes by hand then this method will definitely work.

 Clean Shoes In Washing Machine

This method will require you to use your washing machine, (or your friend’s), so make sure that your shoes are indeed machine-washable.

What You Need:

  • Dirty Shoes (yes that’s what we’re cleaning)
  • Small brush
  • Washing Machine
  • Detergent

Step 1 – Remove the shoe laces

Similar to the above method you will first want to untie your laces from your shoes. This will help ensure that everything will be cleaned thoroughly and that no dirt will be caught underneath the shoe lace.

Step 2 – Scrub dirt off (optional)

To be honest this step is optional but I’ve included it so that your shoes, (and laces), will be as clean as possible.

Using your brush you will want to scrub off as much dirt as you can. This will help when you put your shoes into the washing machine.

Step 3 – Use the washing machine

Next you will want to put your shoes and the laces into the washing machine. As your shoes will be rattling around the machine you may also want to put some towels in there as well.

This will obviously save your from hearing a lot of noise coming from the machine as your shoes will not be banging inside.

It is definitely a good idea for you to put the washing machine on a delicate setting and also use cold water.

Step 4 – Leave to dry

Once the washing machine has finished its cycle take out both of your shoes and laces and leave them to dry.

You will NOT want to use a tumble dryer or a hair dryer for this. Also, direct sunlight can cause damage.

The excessive heat from these appliances, (and the sun), can result in shrinkage and cause colors to fade.

Thank You and Please Leave A Comment

I hope that this how to clean your shoes guide was both helpful and useful. If you think that this post will be helpful then please share it with family and friends using the social media buttons below.

If you have any questions or comments then please leave a comment below. I would love to hear from you.

Owain Couch

Making and repairing boots and shoes has been an occupation in my family for generations. I want to carry on the family business by helping you find the best footwear, as well as provide useful guides that will help make them last longer.


Misty · February 5, 2018 at 2:45 pm

I am so glad that I ran across this article! My son is 12 and he is ALL boy! It seems like he can dirty a pair of shoes within an hour of getting a new pair! This drives me nuts!

Is it best to allow them to dry outside if it is warm and sunny out or is inside recommended? We definitely don’t need any weird bacteria or fungus contaminating them!

Thanks again for your article. Can’t wait to try this out! ((:

    Owain Couch · February 5, 2018 at 10:09 pm

    Hi Misty,

    Thanks for the comment and query. I hear what you’re saying. Sounds like you will be cleaning his shoes quite often, lol.

    You can put them outside as long as you can guarantee that they will be in the shade. Same goes for if you keep them inside. Just make sure that they are not in the sun and you see hound be right.

Will · February 5, 2018 at 4:02 pm

Very informative in depth post! This will help myself as being a sneaker collector of over 100 pairs of shoes. Also being a visual learner watching the video was a great addition to the posts!

    Owain Couch · February 5, 2018 at 10:16 pm

    Woh, that is a collection Will. I am impressed. Are you going to buy anymore or have you finished collecting?

    I feel that people are more visual so that is why the video is at the start of the sections. If you want more detail then the instructions are underneath.

    All the best with cleaning all of those shoes 😉

Kristen Zins · February 5, 2018 at 4:31 pm

I choose Washing Machine! It’s just so much easier for me that way. I do give them a quick scrub though before I put them into the machine. Is there any cleaning products that I should be mindful of?

Thanks, and I love the site.

    Owain Couch · February 5, 2018 at 10:23 pm

    Hi Kristen,

    Just make sure that you put towels into the wash so that your shoes don’t get knocked around so much. Any cleaning product will do but just make sure that you do not put bleach in the machine.

    All the best.

Valerie · February 5, 2018 at 5:32 pm

Hi Owain, I enjoyed reading your post. There are many people who could benefit from the information you provide. I see so many shoes that appear to seldom be cleaned, if ever. The days of highly polished shoes are certainly long gone. Men, in particular, used to take pride in cleaning their shoes every night, or early morning. They had a routine. Both my Dad and my late husband could be proud of their immaculate shoes.

Now, I know the shoes you are talking about in this post are not shoes that require polishing. But, they certainly do require frequent cleaning and it is great that you have taken the time to explain the correct way to clean these shoes. I hope that this post is widely read and that your directions to clean this type of shoe are followed.

I also enjoyed reading your ‘About Me’ page and to learn that you are a descendant of family rich in the knowledge of boot making. Couch the Boots, a brand name to be proud of.

    Owain Couch · February 5, 2018 at 10:30 pm

    Thanks Valerie for your kind comment.

    I know what you mean about people taking care of their boots. My ancestors, (like many others), were agricultural laborers and so you had to keep your boots well maintained. Shoes these days are pretty much throw away and don’t cost very much. That is probably one reason why people don’t care for them much.

    At the moment I am writing guides for people to clean all kinds of shoes. I will though be looking into boots afterwards. So please keep checking back for that.

    As for the name of the site and my brand I am really loving putting this site together. I want to make my ancestors proud.

David · February 6, 2018 at 5:24 pm

I could really use this! I try to keep my kicks looking brand new, but that barely happens. Most of the time I just end up buying new ones. This is really going to save me a lot of money! Thanks!

    Owain Couch · February 6, 2018 at 10:53 pm

    Yeah you can save a lot of money David by just giving them a good clean 🙂 Take it easy on those shoes.

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