Cleaning Shoes: The Ultimate Guide

In the Korean dramas that people watch, they have taken a good look at it: everyone enters the shoes there and puts on slippers. That makes cleaning shoes less urgent. After all, the dirt is not entered.

But in most Dutch households people just walk in with shoes and all. Fortunately, there are doormats that are used to scrape the worst dirt from the soles, but more is needed to really clean shoes.

Apart from the fact that dirty shoes run into the house, it just doesn’t look good. A pair of once white shoes, which has turned gray and gray, quickly looks unkempt. The same applies, for example, to leather shoes that have become dull, with mud splashes.

But how can you clean shoes? That’s what this post is about! Read everything about cleaning tennis shoes for men to espadrilles for women

Cleaning Shoes: Types and Materials

How you clean shoes depends on the material of your shoes. For example, you have to clean suede shoes differently than, for example, a pair of sport shoes or a pair of Allstars. Below an overview of the most common materials for shoes:

  • Leather
  • Suede
  • Canvas or shoes made of fabric
  • Artificial leather

And then you also have special types of shoes that need to be cleaned in different ways:

  • White shoes
  • Running shoes
  • Sheepskin boots or Uggs
  • Tennis shoes
  • Sneakers

General step-by-step plan plus instructions per shoe type

Whatever the material of your shoes is, the first step is always the same. Wipe off any dirt on the shoes with a clean, dry cloth. This is also possible with a clean brush. If you do not have a shoe brush, you can also use a clean toothbrush for this. With this you carefully remove all loose dirt from the shoe.

From here, the cleaning method differs per shoe type and material.

Clean leather shoes with baking soda

After you have wiped away all the loose dirt with a dry cloth, then go over the shoes with a slightly damp cloth. Then let the shoes dry, and finish with a nourishing shoe cream or shoe polish. Are your shoes damaged? Then you can treat it carefully with baking soda. For this, take your damp cloth and dip the tip in some baking soda. Then carefully go over the damaged areas. Then wipe away the baking soda, and let the shoes dry.

Clean suede shoes with an eraser

Use a special nubuck brush for your suede shoes. Wipe the same direction each time, otherwise you get a strange color effect. You can remove small stains with an eraser! Are they very persistent? Then keep the shoes above the steam of a pan of boiling water for a while and then try again. Finally, spray your shoes in with a special suede spray to protect them from wind and weather.

Tip: You can remove grease stains in suede shoes with a crust of stale bread.

Cleaning canvas shoes with green soap

After wiping off the dust, make a mixture of water and green soap. Use 2 cups of water for this and add 1 teaspoon of washing up liquid. Dip a clean toothbrush into this soap and gently clean the shoes. When you’re done, wipe your shoe with a damp cloth to remove all soapy water. Then let them dry gently before wearing them again.

Cleaning artificial leather shoes

Leatherette shoes have the advantage that they are low in maintenance. They need less care than leather shoes. You can clean them well with a damp cloth. If they are very dirty, just like with canvas shoes, you can make soapy water with green soap and clean them.

Cleaning sport shoes

You have athletic shoes for different types of sport. Running shoes, for example, are really different than tennis shoes, or general sport shoes. Running on tennis shoes can lead to injuries, for example, because tennis shoes offer less cushioning. Fortunately, cleaning sports shoes is not really different! Whether it’s running shoes for men or a pair of tennis shoes for women.

As always, you start brushing off the dirt. Don’t forget the soles of sneakers! A lot of sand and dirt always collects in the soles of running shoes.

Step 2

Step 2 is again to make a mild soapy water according to the same recipe as for the canvas and leather shoes: mix 2 cups of water with 1 teaspoon of green soap or washing-up liquid. Wash the laces of your sneakers in this soapy water, and then let them dry. Now go into the soapy water with a toothbrush and carefully clean the sides and top of your sneakers. Finally, thoroughly clean the soles with the soap solution.

Are your shoes clean? Then go over it with a dry cloth, so that you can remove any residues from your soapy water. Let the shoes dry well.

Clean shoes with baking soda and vinegar

Baking soda is a kind of miracle cure that you can use for anything and everything. You can use it to wash your hair, brush your teeth and bake a cake. And you can also clean shoes with baking soda! The recipe below is mainly used to clean white canvas shoes. You mix 1 tablespoon hot water, 1 tablespoon white vinegar and 1 tablespoon baking soda. Stir in until it has become a kind of pasta. Carefully spread this paste on your white canvas shoes with a toothbrush.

Leave them in warm sunlight for about three or four hours if possible. The pasta will dry, and after three hours you can almost easily tap the baking soda paste off your shoes. After this, your white canvas shoes will be a lot whiter.

Cleaning do’s and don’ts with shoes

  • Do you know the advice that you can wash your canvas and sneakers perfectly in the washing machine at low temperatures? Opinions are nevertheless divided on this. It often comes at the expense of the fit and quality. In general it is therefore not recommended and the soap with green soap is advised.
  • Have your shoes got wet? Do not place them near the heating to dry quickly, but simply allow them to dry at room temperature.
  • Do not put artificial leather sneakers in the washing machine.
  • Do not use old newspapers to put in your shoes when they are wet: the ink can drain into your shoes. Use kitchen paper or tissues.
  • Dry cleaned sports shoes definitely not in the dryer!
  • You can try to remove water stains on canvas shoes with a little Vaseline.
  • Do you still want to put your shoes in the washing machine? Then do a separate laundry, and possibly put them in a laundry net to protect them. If necessary, wash a few towels with them to prevent them from hurling in all sorts of ways in your washing drum.
  • With the inside of a banana peel you can make leather shoes shine again.
  • With white toothpaste and a toothpaste you can clean the white plastic edges of white shoes.
  • As a home, garden and kitchen tool you can use baking soda, washing-up liquid, green soap, hydrogen peroxide and detergent to make mixtures to clean your shoes with. Always be careful with this, and first try a small piece.


Cleaning shoes is a preservation for your shoes and you prevent all kinds of dirt from entering your house. In this post you read how you can clean shoes, organized by type of material. As a special home, garden and kitchen remedy you can use baking soda and toothpaste to clean shoes!

Washing shoes in the washing machine is sometimes done, but be careful with it.