what detergent is best for washing shoes 4
what detergent is best for washing shoes 4

Are your shoes in need of a good cleaning?

I was wondering which detergent will give you the best results. Look no further than this article as we explore the question: What detergent is best for washing shoes?

Discover the answer and how to revive your dirty kicks and give them a brand-new shine.

What Detergent Is Best For Washing Shoes?

Types of detergents

When it comes to washing your shoes, there are different types of detergents you can choose from. The three main types are liquid detergents, powder detergents, and pods or capsules.

Liquid detergents

Liquid detergents are popular for washing shoes because they are easy to use and can be applied directly onto the shoe’s surface. They are effective in removing dirt and stains and can be used for machine and hand washing. Liquid detergents are also great for spot cleaning as they can be easily targeted to specific areas that need extra attention.

Powder detergents

Powder detergents are another standard option for washing shoes. They are typically used for machine washing and work by dissolving in water to create a soapy solution.

Powder detergents are known for removing tough stains and odors from shoes. They are also effective in brightening white shoes and can be used on various fabrics.

Pods or capsules

Pods or capsules are a convenient and mess-free option for washing shoes. These pre-measured detergent pods contain a concentrated formula released during the washing cycle.

Pods are designed to dissolve quickly and evenly, ensuring your shoes are cleaned thoroughly. They are trendy for use in front-loading washing machines. However, it is essential to note that pods may not be suitable for all shoe materials, so checking the label before use is essential.

Considerations when choosing a detergent

When choosing a detergent for washing your shoes, there are several considerations to remember. These factors will help you find the detergent that best meets your cleaning needs and ensures the longevity of your shoes.

Fabric type

Different shoe materials require different cleaning approaches. Leather shoes, for example, may require a gentler detergent than canvas or fabric shoes. It’s essential to consider the specific needs of your shoe material when selecting a detergent to avoid any potential damage.

Stain or odor removal

If your shoes have stubborn stains or unpleasant odors, you’ll want to choose a detergent specializing in stain or odor removal. Look for detergents that explicitly mention these features on the packaging. These detergents often contain enzymes or additives that tackle tough stains and eliminate odor-causing bacteria.

Color protection

Color protection is crucial, especially for shoes with vibrant or delicate colors. Some detergents are specially formulated to protect colors and prevent them from fading or bleeding during the washing process. These detergents typically contain color-safe ingredients and are labeled as such.

Allergies or sensitivities

Suppose you or someone in your household has allergies or sensitivities to certain chemicals or fragrances. In that case, it’s essential to choose a hypoallergenic detergent labeled as suitable for sensitive skin. These detergents are generally free from harsh chemicals and perfumes, making them gentler on the skin.

Environmental impact

Choosing an eco-friendly detergent is an excellent option for those who are conscious of the environmental impact of their cleaning products. Look for detergents that are biodegradable, free from phosphates and optical brighteners, and made from plant-based ingredients. These detergents are designed to be safer for the environment while still effectively cleaning your shoes.

Recommended detergents for shoe washing

Now that you understand the different types of detergents and the considerations to keep in mind, let’s explore some recommended detergents for washing shoes. These detergents have been widely praised for their effectiveness and are suitable for various shoe materials.

1. Sneaker Cleaner

Sneaker cleaners are specifically formulated to clean sneakers and athletic shoes. They are designed to remove stains and dirt without damaging the shoe’s materials. Sneaker cleaners often come in spray or foam form and can be applied directly to the shoe’s surface. They are generally safe for various materials, but always check the label for specific instructions.

2. Laundry Detergent

Using a laundry detergent suitable for your shoe material can be a practical choice. For example, if you have canvas or fabric shoes, a gentle laundry detergent should be sufficient for cleaning. However, always ensure the detergent is suitable for the specific shoe material and follow the manufacturer’s instructions.

3. Dish Soap

Dish soap can be surprisingly helpful for cleaning shoes, especially for removing grease or oil stains. It is gentle and can be used on a variety of materials. Simply mix a small amount of dish soap with water to create a soapy solution, apply it to a soft brush or cloth, and gently scrub the shoes. Rinse thoroughly and allow them to air dry.

4. Oxygen Bleach

Oxygen bleach is a non-chlorine bleach that is great for brightening white shoes or removing tough stains. It is gentler than chlorine bleach and safe for most shoe materials. You can dilute oxygen bleach in water according to the manufacturer’s instructions and soak your shoes in the solution. After soaking, rinse the shoes with clean water and let them dry.

5. Baking Soda and Vinegar

You can create a cleaning paste using baking soda and vinegar for a natural and budget-friendly option. Mix equal parts of baking soda and vinegar until they form a paste-like consistency. Apply the paste to a soft brush or cloth and gently scrub the shoes. Rinse thoroughly and allow them to air dry.

How to use detergents effectively

Using detergents effectively is vital to achieving clean and fresh-smelling shoes. Follow these steps to get the best results:


Before washing your shoes, remove any loose dirt or debris by gently brushing or shaking them. If there are any laces or removable parts, take them off and wash them separately if necessary. This preparation step helps prevent extra dirt or grime from spreading during washing.

Spot cleaning

Spot cleaning is excellent if your shoes have specific stains or spots that need extra attention. Apply a small amount of detergent directly to the stained area and gently scrub the spot with a soft brush or cloth. Rinse thoroughly with clean water to remove any residual detergent.

Machine or hand washing

Depending on the shoe material and the washing instructions, you can choose between machine or hand washing. For machine washing, follow the manufacturer’s guidelines on the detergent packaging. Use the recommended amount of detergent and set the machine to a gentle cycle. If hand washing, dissolve the detergent in water according to the instructions and gently agitate the shoes in the soapy solution.

Drying and storage

After washing, it’s essential to dry your shoes thoroughly before storing them. Air drying is generally the best method, as excessive heat from a dryer can damage certain shoe materials.

Place the shoes in a well-ventilated area away from direct sunlight, and avoid using any heat sources like radiators or hair dryers, as they can warp or shrink the shoes. Additionally, make sure the shoes are completely dry before storing them to prevent mold or mildew growth.

What Detergent Is Best For Washing Shoes?

Specific considerations for different shoe materials

Different shoe materials require specific care to maintain their quality and appearance. Here are some considerations to keep in mind for each material:

Leather shoes

It’s best to use a gentle detergent specifically designed for leather cleaning leather shoes. Avoid harsh chemicals or abrasive tools that can damage or discolor the leather. Always test the detergent on a small, inconspicuous area first to ensure it doesn’t cause any adverse reactions. After cleaning, apply a leather conditioner or polish to moisturize and maintain the leather’s softness.

Suede and nubuck shoes

Suede and nubuck shoes require special care due to their delicate nature. Use a mild detergent formulated for suede or nubuck and a soft brush or cloth to clean the shoes gently. Avoid using water directly on the shoes, as it can cause staining or damage. Instead, apply the detergent to a soft cloth and gently rub the shoes in a circular motion.

Canvas and fabric shoes

You can use a gentle laundry detergent or sneaker cleaner for canvas and fabric shoes. If the shoes are filthy, you can create a paste using baking soda and water and gently scrub the shoes with a soft brush. Rinse thoroughly and let them air dry. Avoid using bleach or harsh chemicals on fabric shoes, as they can fade or damage the material.

Rubber and plastic shoes

Rubber and plastic shoes are generally easy to clean. You can use a mild detergent, dish soap, and a soft brush to scrub away dirt and stains. Rinse thoroughly to remove any soap residue and let them air dry. Avoid harsh chemicals or abrasive tools that scratch or degrade the rubber or plastic.

Exceptional cases: Activewear and sports shoes

Due to their unique features and materials, activewear and sports shoes often require specialized cleaning. Here are some specific considerations for these types of shoes:

Technical fabrics

Sports shoes and activewear often contain technical fabrics that require special care. Detergents explicitly designed for athletic wear or performance fabrics can effectively clean and remove odors from these materials. Look for detergents labeled as suitable for technical fabrics, and follow the recommended instructions for use. Also, avoid using fabric softener, as it can leave behind a residue affecting the fabric’s performance.

Sports shoes with odor

If your sports shoes have developed a persistent odor, detergents are available that not only clean but also target and neutralize odors. These detergents typically contain antibacterial agents or odor-fighting ingredients that help eliminate unpleasant smells. Follow the instructions on the detergent packaging for the best results.

Whitening yellowed soles

Over time, sports shoe soles can turn yellow due to oxidation. To whiten yellowed soles, use a cleaning paste made from baking soda and hydrogen peroxide. Mix equal parts of baking soda and hydrogen peroxide to create a paste, then apply the paste to a soft brush or cloth and scrub the yellowed areas. Rinse thoroughly and allow the shoes to dry.

What Detergent Is Best For Washing Shoes?

Tips for maintaining clean shoes

Keeping your shoes clean doesn’t end with washing them. Here are some tips to help you maintain clean and fresh-smelling shoes:

Regular cleaning routine

Establishing a regular cleaning routine for your shoes is essential for maintaining cleanliness. Depending on how often you wear your shoes and the conditions they are exposed to, aim to clean them at least once every few weeks. Regular cleaning prevents dirt, stains, and odors from building up, making cleaning more accessible and practical.

Storage and airing

Proper storage and airing can help maintain the cleanliness and freshness of your shoes. Ensure your shoes are stored in a clean and dry area, away from excessive heat, moisture, or sunlight. Consider using shoe trees or stuffing the shoes with newspaper to help them retain their shape and absorb any moisture. Additionally, allow your shoes to air out after each wear by removing the insoles or opening them up to promote airflow.

Protection products

Using shoe protection products can help prevent stains and maintain the cleanliness of your shoes. Consider applying a waterproof or stain-resistant spray to your shoes before wearing them, especially if they are made of fabric or suede. These protective sprays create a barrier against dirt, liquids, and oils, making it easier to clean your shoes and keeping them looking their best.

Common mistakes to avoid

While washing your shoes, it’s essential to avoid common mistakes that can cause damage or reduce the effectiveness of the detergent. Here are some mistakes to steer clear of:

Using harsh chemicals

Using harsh chemicals or bleaches unsuitable for your shoe material can lead to discoloration, fading, or damage. Always check the detergent’s label and follow the manufacturer’s instructions to ensure it is safe for your shoes.

Neglecting specific instructions

Each detergent may have specific instructions, such as dilution ratios or recommended washing methods. Neglecting these instructions can result in ineffective cleaning or potential damage to your shoes. Take the time to read and understand the instructions before using the detergent.

We are not testing on a small hidden area first.

Before using a new detergent on your shoes, it’s always a good idea to test it on a small, hidden area first. This will allow you to see if the detergent causes any adverse effects on the material before applying it to the entire shoe.

Overusing detergents

Using excessive detergent doesn’t necessarily mean your shoes will be cleaner. Using too much detergent can lead to residue buildup or require extra rinsing to remove. Follow the recommended dosage on the detergent packaging for optimal cleaning results.

What Detergent Is Best For Washing Shoes?

Alternative methods for shoe cleaning

In addition to using detergents, there are alternative methods you can try for cleaning your shoes. These methods may be suitable for specific shoe materials or situations:

Steam cleaning

Using a steam cleaner can effectively clean and sanitize your shoes without detergent.

Steam cleaners use hot steam to break down dirt and stains, killing bacteria and odor-causing agents. However, it’s essential to check if your shoe material can withstand steam cleaning, as some materials may be sensitive to heat or moisture.


Freezing your shoes can help eliminate odor and kill bacteria. Place your shoes in a resealable plastic bag and stay in the freezer overnight. The freezing temperature kills bacteria and reduces odor. Remember to let the shoes thaw entirely before wearing them.

Dry cleaning

For delicate or expensive shoes that require special care, dry cleaning may be a suitable option. Dry cleaning professionals have the expertise to clean and remove stains from delicate materials while preserving their quality. However, checking with the dry cleaner must ensure they can handle the specific shoe material.


Choosing the suitable detergent for washing your shoes is essential to keep them clean and well-maintained. With the variety of detergents available, it’s essential to consider your shoe material, cleaning needs, and any specific requirements, such as allergies or environmental impact.

By taking these considerations into account and following the proper cleaning techniques, you can effectively clean your shoes and extend their lifespan.

Remember that every shoe material is unique, so choosing a detergent that suits your needs and the environment is crucial. Happy shoe cleaning!

What Detergent Is Best For Washing Shoes?

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Lucy Markk
Hi, I'm Lucy Markk, your go-to shoe cleaning expert at shoescleaning.net. With years of experience in the industry, I have built a strong reputation as a reliable source for shoe cleaning tips and tricks. Throughout my career, I have received numerous prizes and rewards for my exceptional techniques and knowledge in keeping shoes looking brand new. I take immense pride in sharing my expertise with readers who are passionate about maintaining the longevity and aesthetics of their footwear. Whether you have a collection of high-end sneakers or need guidance on how to care for your favorite pair of leather boots, I am here to help. My writing philosophy revolves around providing practical, easy-to-follow advice that anyone can implement. I believe that with the right care and maintenance routine, you can extend the lifespan of your shoes and keep them looking their best. Besides being a shoe cleaning expert, I am also a dedicated enthusiast in the shoe industry. I understand the love and connection people have with their shoes, which is why I am committed to delivering content that not only educates but also inspires. Thank you for visiting shoescleaning.net. I invite you to explore the site and discover valuable tips and techniques to make your shoes shine. Stay tuned for regular updates and remember, a little care goes a long way in preserving the beauty of your beloved footwear. Best regards, Lucy Markk