what detergent to use to clean shoes 4
what detergent to use to clean shoes 4

If you’ve ever wondered how to clean your shoes effectively, look no further.

This article will provide expert advice on the best detergent to keep your kicks looking fresh and spotless.

Say goodbye to stubborn stains and dirt as we reveal the secret to achieving squeaky-clean shoes.

Factors to Consider

Shoe Material

When cleaning your shoes, the first factor to consider is the material they are made of. Different shoe materials require different cleaning methods and detergents.

For example, leather shoes must be treated carefully to avoid damage, while canvas shoes can withstand a more rigorous cleaning process.

Understanding the material of your shoes is crucial to ensure that you choose the appropriate detergent and cleaning technique.

Type of Stain

The type of stain on your shoes is another essential factor when selecting a detergent. Different stains require different cleaning solutions. For example, mud stains may require a different treatment than grease stains.

By identifying the type of stain on your shoes, you can choose a detergent designed to effectively remove that stain.

Manufacturer’s Instructions

Before using any detergent on your shoes, it is essential to check the manufacturer’s instructions. Some shoes come with specific cleaning instructions that should be followed to avoid damaging the material.

The manufacturer’s instructions may also suggest a particular detergent or cleaning method that is safe for your shoes. Always refer to these instructions before cleaning your shoes to ensure you use the appropriate product and technique.

Common Types of Detergent

Liquid Detergents

Liquid detergents are the most commonly used type of detergent for cleaning shoes. They are versatile and can be used on a variety of shoe materials.

Liquid detergents are typically easy to apply and can be directly used for hand washing or added to a machine wash. They effectively remove general dirt and stains from most types of shoes.

Powdered Detergents

Powdered detergents are another popular option for cleaning shoes. They are known for their strong cleaning power and are particularly effective on tough stains.

Powdered detergents are usually applied by mixing them with water to create a paste-like consistency. This paste can then be applied to the shoes and gently scrubbed to remove stains. Powdered detergents are a good choice for heavily soiled shoes or deep cleaning.

Detergent Pods

Detergent or laundry pods or capsules are convenient and mess-free for cleaning shoes. These single-use pods contain pre-measured amounts of detergent and can be tossed into the washing machine and the shoes.

The pod dissolves during the wash cycle, releasing the detergent and effectively cleaning the shoes.

Detergent pods are a time-saving option for those who prefer machine washing their shoes.

What Detergent To Use To Clean Shoes?

Specialized Shoe Cleaners

Sneaker Cleaners

Sneaker cleaners are specifically designed for cleaning sneakers and athletic shoes. They are formulated to remove dirt, stains, and odors commonly associated with sports shoes.

Sneaker cleaners often come as a spray or foam and are easy to apply. They are effective at revitalizing the appearance of your sneakers and maintaining their performance.

Suede Cleaners

Suede shoes require special care and attention when it comes to cleaning. Suede cleaners are specifically formulated to clean and protect suede materials without causing damage.

These cleaners are usually available in spray form and should be applied gently and circularly. Suede cleaners help remove dirt and restore the soft texture of suede shoes.

Leather Cleaners

Leather shoes are a classic wardrobe staple but require proper cleaning to maintain their appearance and longevity. Leather cleaners are designed to clean and condition leather materials, keeping them soft and supple. These cleaners come in various forms, such as sprays, creams, or wipes, and effectively remove dirt, oil, and stains from leather shoes.

Canvas Cleaners

Canvas shoes are known for their durability and versatility. Canvas cleaners are formulated to remove dirt and stains from canvas materials without causing damage or fading.

These cleaners are often available in spray or foam form and can be easily applied. Canvas cleaners help restore the vibrant color and freshness of canvas shoes.

Home Remedies

Mild Soap and Water

For a simple and gentle cleaning solution, mild soap and water can effectively remove dirt and stains from various types of shoes.

Mix a small amount of mild soap, such as dish soap or laundry detergent, with water to create a soapy solution. Dip a clean cloth or sponge into the mixture and gently scrub the shoes. Rinse with clean water and allow the shoes to air dry.

Baking Soda

Baking soda is a versatile household ingredient used to clean and deodorize shoes. To use baking soda as a cleaning agent, sprinkle a small amount onto a damp cloth or toothbrush and gently scrub the shoes.

Baking soda helps remove dirt, stains, and odors from shoes. After scrubbing, rinse the shoes with water and allow them to dry.


Vinegar is another common household item that can be used to clean shoes. Mix equal parts of vinegar and water in a spray bottle.

Spray the mixture onto the shoes and use a clean cloth or sponge to wipe away dirt and stains. Vinegar is especially effective in removing salt stains from shoes. Rinse the shoes with water and let them air dry.


Toothpaste, mainly white, can be used as a quick shoe spot cleaner. Apply a small amount of toothpaste to a toothbrush and gently scrub the stained area. Toothpaste works well on scuff marks and other minor stains.

After scrubbing, wipe away the excess toothpaste with a clean cloth and rinse the shoes with water.

What Detergent To Use To Clean Shoes?


Patch Test

Before using any detergent or cleaning solution on your shoes, it is essential to perform a patch test. Apply a small amount of the detergent or solution to a discreet area of the shoe, such as the inside or an inconspicuous spot, and wait a few minutes.

If there is no adverse reaction or discoloration, it is generally safe to clean the entire shoe. However, discontinue use and consider an alternative cleaning method if you notice any adverse effects.

Avoid Bleach

Bleach is a powerful cleaning agent that should be avoided when cleaning most shoes. It can cause discoloration, fading, and damage to the material.

Unless specifically indicated by the manufacturer’s instructions, it is best to steer clear of bleach when cleaning your shoes. Opt for alternative cleaning methods and detergents that are safe for the specific material of your shoes.

Avoid Abrasive Cleaners

Abrasive cleaners, such as harsh scrub brushes or abrasive powders, should be avoided when cleaning shoes. These cleaners can scratch or damage the surface of the shoes, particularly delicate materials like suede or leather.

Instead, opt for gentle cleaning tools, such as soft brushes or cloths, to avoid causing any harm to your shoes.

Proper Rinsing

After cleaning your shoes with any detergent or solution, it is crucial to rinse them thoroughly. Leftover residue from the cleaning agent can cause discoloration or damage the material over time.

Rinse the shoes with clean water until all traces of the detergent or solution are removed. Ensure that no soapy or foamy residue is left behind before proceeding with the drying process.

Cleaning Process

Brush Off Loose Dirt

Before applying any cleaning agent, it is important to brush off any loose dirt or debris from your shoes. Use a soft brush or cloth to remove surface dirt, dust, or mud gently. This step will prevent further rubbing of dirt into the shoe during cleaning.

Remove Laces and Insoles

Removing the laces and insoles from your shoes before cleaning them is recommended for a thorough cleaning. Depending on their material, laces, and insoles can be cleaned separately using the appropriate methods.

Removing these components will allow better access to all areas of the shoe and ensure a more thorough cleaning process.

Pre-Treat Stains

If your shoes have any visible stains or spots, it is beneficial to pre-treat them before proceeding with the overall cleaning.

Apply the appropriate cleaning solution or detergent to the stained area and allow it to sit for a few minutes. Gently scrub the stain with a soft brush or cloth to loosen the dirt. This pre-treatment step will enhance the effectiveness of the cleaning process.

Hand Washing

Hand washing is often preferred for delicate or small items such as suede or leather shoes. Fill a basin or sink with warm water and add the appropriate detergent or cleaning solution.

Gently agitate the water to create a soapy solution. Dip a soft brush or cloth into the soapy water and gently scrub the shoes in a circular motion. Pay extra attention to areas with stains or dirt. Rinse the shoes thoroughly with clean water to remove any soap residue.

Machine Washing

Machine washing is generally suitable for shoes of more durable materials, such as canvas or rubber. However, checking the manufacturer’s instructions before attempting to machine wash your shoes is crucial.

If machine washing is recommended, remove the laces and insoles, place the shoes in a mesh bag or pillowcase, and select a gentle cycle with cold water. Use a small amount of detergent or a pod suitable for shoe materials. Avoid overloading the machine and ensure the shoes have enough space to move freely during the wash cycle.

Drying Methods

After cleaning your shoes, allowing them to dry thoroughly before wearing or storing them is essential. Air drying is the safest and most recommended method for drying shoes. Remove any excess water by gently blotting the shoes with a clean towel.

Stuff the shoes with crumpled paper towels or newspaper to help preserve their shape and absorb moisture. Avoid direct heat sources such as heaters or hairdryers, as they can damage the shoe material.

Place the shoes in a well-ventilated area and allow them to dry naturally. Depending on the material and thickness, the drying process may take anywhere from a few hours to overnight.

What Detergent To Use To Clean Shoes?

Specific Materials

Canvas Shoes

Canvas shoes are known for their durability and versatility, making them a popular choice for many. Remove dirt and dust with a soft brush or cloth to clean canvas shoes. Mix some mild detergent with warm water and gently scrub the canvas with a soft brush or cloth.

Pay special attention to any stains or dirt buildup. Rinse the shoes thoroughly with clean water and allow them to air dry. Avoid machine-washing canvas shoes if possible, as this can cause the material to lose its shape or shrink.

Leather Shoes

Cleaning leather shoes requires extra care to ensure they stay looking their best. Begin gently removing loose dirt or dust with a soft brush or cloth. Using a leather cleaner specifically designed for your shoes’ type of leather, apply the cleaner according to the instructions.

Use a soft cloth or brush to gently scrub the shoes, paying attention to any stains or scuffs. Rinse the shoes with a clean, damp cloth to remove any excess cleaner. Allow the shoes to air dry, and once dry, apply a leather conditioner to maintain their softness and prevent cracking.

Suede Shoes

Suede shoes need to be handled with care to avoid damage. Use a suede brush or a soft cloth to remove loose dirt or dust. For stains or marks, use a suede cleaner specifically formulated for suede materials.

Apply the cleaner to a clean cloth and gently rub the stained area in circular motions. Once the stains are removed, leave the shoes to air dry. To restore the suede texture, use a suede brush to brush the shoes in one direction. Finally, give the shoes a light spray of water repellent to protect them from future stains.

Rubber Shoes

Cleaning rubber shoes is a relatively straightforward process. Start by removing loose dirt or mud with a soft brush or cloth. Next, mix a small amount of mild detergent with warm water and use a soft brush or cloth to scrub the rubber surface.

Please pay attention to any stubborn stains or marks and gently scrub until they are removed. Rinse the shoes thoroughly with clean water to remove any soap residue. Allow the shoes to air dry, and once dry, apply a rubber conditioner or protectant for added durability and shine.

Mesh Shoes

Mesh shoes, often used for athletic or running shoes, require a slightly different cleaning approach. They remove loose dirt or debris from the mesh surface using a soft brush or cloth.

Fill a basin or sink with warm water and add a small amount of mild detergent. Immerse the shoes in soapy water and gently scrub the mesh using a soft brush or cloth.

Pay particular attention to any stains or dirty areas. Rinse the shoes thoroughly with clean water to remove any soap residue. Squeeze out excess water and allow the shoes to air dry.

Maintenance Tips

Regular Cleaning Routine

Regular cleaning is essential to keep your shoes looking their best. By cleaning your shoes regularly, you can prevent dirt and stains from building up and extend the lifespan of your footwear.

Set aside time to clean your shoes, especially after wearing them in harsh conditions or encountering difficult stains. A regular cleaning routine will help maintain the appearance and performance of your shoes for years to come.

Proper Storage

Proper storage is essential to preserve the condition of your shoes when they are not in use. Avoid tossing your shoes in a pile or leaving them strewn across the floor. Instead, invest in shoe racks or storage boxes to keep them organized and protected.

Ensure your shoes are stored in a cool, dry area away from direct sunlight, as excessive heat or humidity can damage the materials. Consider using shoe trees or stuffing the shoes with tissue paper to help them maintain their shape.


Consider weatherproofing to protect your shoes from the elements and prolong their lifespan. Weatherproof sprays and treatments are available for various shoe materials and can provide additional protection against water, dirt, and stains.

Before applying any weatherproofing product, ensure the shoes are clean and dry. Follow the instructions provided with the weatherproofing product to apply it correctly. Regularly reapply the weatherproofing treatment to maintain its effectiveness.

What Detergent To Use To Clean Shoes?

When to Seek Professional Help

Deep Stains

If you face deep, stubborn stains on your shoes that household remedies or standard cleaning methods cannot remove, it may be time to seek professional help.

Professional shoe cleaners have specialized tools, techniques, and products to tackle even the toughest stains. They can provide a deep clean and restore the original appearance of your shoes, especially when dealing with delicate or expensive materials.

Delicate Materials

Shoes made from delicate materials like satin or silk require extra care and attention when cleaning. These materials are vulnerable to damage if not handled properly.

If you are unsure about the appropriate cleaning methods for shoes made from delicate materials, it is advisable to consult a professional shoe cleaner. They have the expertise and experience to handle fragile materials and ensure your shoes are cleaned safely and effectively.

Expensive Shoes

If you own a pair of expensive shoes that hold significant value, both sentimental and monetary, it may be best to entrust their cleaning to a professional. Professional shoe cleaners have the knowledge and expertise to handle high-end shoes delicately.

They understand the nuances of different materials and can ensure that your expensive shoes are cleaned without any risk of damage. Seeking professional help for your expensive shoes can provide peace of mind and help preserve their value.


Cleaning your shoes is an essential part of their maintenance and care. By considering factors such as shoe material, specific stains, and manufacturer’s instructions, you can choose the appropriate detergent and cleaning method for your shoes.

Whether using common types of detergent, specialized shoe cleaners, or home remedies, following proper precautions and cleaning processes is crucial to avoid damaging your shoes.

Additionally, understanding the specific cleaning requirements of different materials, maintaining a regular cleaning routine, and seeking professional help when needed will help keep your shoes looking their best for a long time.

So, roll up your sleeves, gather your cleaning supplies, and give your shoes the care they deserve. Your feet will thank you for it!

What Detergent To Use To Clean 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