why does baking soda clean shoes 4
why does baking soda clean shoes 4

Did you know that baking soda can work wonders when it comes to cleaning your shoes? It may sound surprising, but this household ingredient has the ability to remove stains, eliminate odors, and restore the vibrant appearance of your footwear. In this article, we will explore the fascinating science behind why baking soda is such an effective cleaning agent for shoes. So, grab your favorite pair and get ready to discover the secrets behind this remarkable cleaning technique!

Why Does Baking Soda Clean Shoes?

What is baking soda?

Baking soda, also known as sodium bicarbonate, is a white crystalline powder that is commonly used in baking and cooking. It is a chemical compound composed of sodium, hydrogen, carbon, and oxygen. Baking soda has various properties that make it a versatile ingredient, not only in the kitchen but also for household cleaning purposes. It is an affordable and readily available product that can be found in most supermarkets. In addition to its culinary uses, baking soda can be incredibly effective in cleaning and deodorizing shoes.

Chemical composition

As mentioned earlier, baking soda is composed of sodium, hydrogen, carbon, and oxygen. Its chemical formula is NaHCO3, which indicates the presence of one sodium (Na) atom, one hydrogen (H) atom, one carbon (C) atom, and three oxygen (O) atoms. This unique composition gives baking soda its characteristic properties that make it effective for cleaning shoes.


Baking soda possesses several properties that make it an excellent cleaning agent for shoes. Firstly, it is a natural deodorizer, meaning it can absorb and neutralize odors effectively. Moreover, baking soda acts as a mild abrasive, allowing for the gentle removal of stains and dirt without causing damage to the shoe material. Additionally, baking soda has pH balancing properties, which can help restore the natural pH levels of shoes that may have been affected by sweat or other substances. Lastly, baking soda is non-toxic and safe for use on various materials, making it a versatile option for shoe cleaning.

Why use baking soda to clean shoes?

Before delving into the specifics of how baking soda cleans shoes, it is essential to understand why it is a preferred choice for this task. There are several reasons why baking soda is highly recommended for cleaning shoes.

Natural deodorizer

One of the primary reasons for using baking soda to clean shoes is its natural deodorizing properties. Shoes, especially those worn frequently and for extended periods, can develop unpleasant odors. Baking soda can effectively absorb and neutralize these odors, leaving your shoes fresh and odor-free.

Mild abrasive

Another advantage of using baking soda for shoe cleaning is its mild abrasive nature. It can help remove stains and dirt gently without causing any damage to the shoe material. This makes it suitable for use on a wide range of shoe types, from leather to canvas.

pH balancing properties

The pH levels of shoes can be disrupted by various factors, such as sweat, dirt, or exposure to acidic substances. Baking soda, with its pH balancing properties, can help restore the natural pH of shoes. This is particularly beneficial for those with foot odor issues, as it can neutralize the acidity and create a less favorable environment for odor-causing bacteria to thrive.

Non-toxic and safe for various materials

Unlike some commercial cleaning agents that may contain harmful chemicals, baking soda is non-toxic and safe to use on a variety of shoe materials. Whether your shoes are made of leather, suede, canvas, or synthetic materials, you can use baking soda without worrying about causing damage or discoloration.

Why Does Baking Soda Clean Shoes?

How does baking soda clean shoes?

Now that we understand why baking soda is an excellent choice for shoe cleaning, let’s explore how it effectively cleans and rejuvenates your shoes.

Absorbing odors

Baking soda is renowned for its ability to absorb and neutralize odors. When used on shoes, baking soda works by attracting and trapping odor-causing molecules, eliminating unpleasant smells. It acts as a natural odor absorber, leaving your shoes smelling fresh and clean.

Removing stains and dirt

Baking soda’s mild abrasive properties make it effective at gently scrubbing away stains and dirt from shoes. By creating a paste with water or a suitable cleaning solution, you can apply the baking soda mixture to the affected areas of your shoes and gently scrub with a soft brush. This process helps lift and remove dirt, grime, and stains, restoring the original appearance of your shoes.

Neutralizing acidity

Sweat and other acidic substances can disrupt the pH balance of your shoes, leading to unpleasant odors and potential damage. Baking soda’s pH balancing properties help neutralize the acidity, restoring the natural balance. By applying baking soda to the interior of your shoes, you can reduce the acidic environment that promotes odor-causing bacteria, thus preventing foul smells and maintaining a healthier shoe environment.

Restoring freshness

After prolonged use, shoes can accumulate various smells, such as sweat, foot odor, or other unpleasant scents. Baking soda works by absorbing these odors, leaving your shoes smelling fresh and clean. By eliminating the cause of the odor rather than simply covering it up, baking soda provides a long-lasting freshness that can make your shoes more enjoyable to wear.

Tips for using baking soda to clean shoes

To ensure the best results when using baking soda to clean your shoes, it is essential to follow proper techniques and guidelines. Here are some helpful tips to maximize the effectiveness of baking soda for shoe cleaning:


Before starting the cleaning process, gather the necessary supplies, including baking soda, a soft brush or cloth, water or a cleaning solution, and a small bowl if creating a paste. Make sure your shoes are dry and free from excessive dirt or debris before applying baking soda.

Step-by-step instructions

  1. For general cleaning and deodorizing:

    • Sprinkle baking soda generously on the interior of your shoes.
    • Leave the baking soda to sit overnight or for a few hours to allow for maximum absorption of odors.
    • Shake out the excess baking soda from the shoes.
    • If necessary, use a soft brush or cloth to remove any remaining residue.
  2. For stain and dirt removal:

    • Create a paste by mixing baking soda with water or a suitable cleaning solution in a small bowl.
    • Apply the paste to the stained or dirty areas of your shoes.
    • Gently scrub the paste into the shoe material using a soft brush or cloth.
    • Rinse your shoes with water or wipe away the paste with a damp cloth.
    • Allow your shoes to air dry naturally.

Additional care tips

  • For delicate or sensitive shoe materials, such as suede or nubuck, test baking soda on a small, inconspicuous area before applying it to the entire shoe.
  • Avoid using excessive amounts of baking soda, as it may leave a residue on your shoes.
  • If your shoes have a strong odor, you can place them in a sealed bag with baking soda overnight to maximize deodorization.
  • Regularly clean and deodorize your shoes using baking soda to maintain freshness and prolong their lifespan.

Why Does Baking Soda Clean Shoes?

Other uses of baking soda in shoe care

Aside from cleaning and deodorizing, baking soda has several other applications in shoe care.

Preventing odor buildup

To prevent odor buildup, sprinkle baking soda inside your shoes after each use. This will help absorb moisture and odor-causing bacteria, keeping your shoes fresh and odor-free. Regular use of baking soda in this manner can prevent the accumulation of unpleasant smells.

Cleaning insoles and footbeds

The insoles and footbeds of your shoes can harbor bacteria, sweat, and odors over time. To clean and refresh these areas, remove the insoles (if possible) and sprinkle baking soda directly onto them. Allow the baking soda to sit for a few hours or overnight before shaking or brushing off the excess. This will help eliminate odors and maintain a hygienic environment for your feet.

Freshening shoe storage

If you store your shoes in a closet or other enclosed space, you may notice a musty or stale odor. To freshen up your shoe storage, place an open box or container of baking soda in the area. The baking soda will absorb any odors, leaving your shoes and storage space smelling clean and fresh.

Considerations when using baking soda on different shoe materials

While baking soda is generally safe to use on a wide range of shoe materials, it is essential to consider the specific characteristics and care requirements of certain materials. Here are some considerations when using baking soda on different shoe materials:

Leather shoes

Baking soda is generally safe for use on leather shoes. However, it is recommended to test it on a small, inconspicuous area first to ensure compatibility. Additionally, avoid using excessive amounts of baking soda and thoroughly remove any residue to prevent potential discoloration.

Suede or nubuck shoes

Suede and nubuck shoes are more delicate and require extra caution when cleaning. When using baking soda on suede or nubuck, apply it sparingly and avoid excessive scrubbing. Instead, use a soft brush or cloth to gently work the baking soda into the material. Remember to test it on a small area to assess any potential adverse effects.

Canvas shoes

Baking soda is generally safe and effective for cleaning canvas shoes. However, avoid excessive scrubbing, as it may cause fraying or damage to the fabric. Gently work the baking soda paste into the canvas material and rinse off with water or wipe with a damp cloth.

Synthetic materials

Baking soda is safe to use on most synthetic shoe materials. However, as with other shoe types, test it on a small area first to ensure compatibility. Avoid using excessive amounts of baking soda and remove any residue thoroughly.

Why Does Baking Soda Clean Shoes?

Alternatives to baking soda for cleaning shoes

While baking soda is a popular and effective choice for shoe cleaning, there are alternative ingredients you can use if you don’t have baking soda readily available.

White vinegar

White vinegar is a versatile cleaning agent that can effectively clean and deodorize shoes. Mix equal parts of white vinegar and water, and use a cloth or sponge to clean the shoes. The vinegar will help remove stains, eliminate odors, and restore the brightness of your shoes.

Lemon juice

Lemon juice is another natural alternative for cleaning and brightening shoes. Mix equal parts of lemon juice and water, and apply the mixture to the shoes using a cloth or sponge. The acidity of the lemon juice helps break down stains and remove dirt while leaving a fresh citrus scent.


Cornstarch is an excellent alternative for absorbing excess moisture and odors from shoes. Sprinkle cornstarch inside your shoes and leave it overnight to absorb moisture and neutralize odors. Shake out the excess cornstarch the next day, and your shoes will feel fresher and drier.

Common misconceptions about baking soda and shoe cleaning

While baking soda is a highly effective cleaning agent, there are a few common misconceptions associated with its use for shoe cleaning that need to be addressed.

Baking soda as a substitute for regular cleaning

Although baking soda can help remove stains and odors from shoes, it should not be considered a substitute for regular cleaning. It is essential to clean your shoes regularly using appropriate methods and materials tailored to their specific needs. Baking soda can be used as a supplementary tool to enhance the cleaning process and maintain freshness, but it is not a replacement for thorough shoe maintenance.

Instant results

While baking soda can provide noticeable improvements to the cleanliness and freshness of your shoes, it may not produce instant results for certain stubborn stains or odors. Depending on the severity of the issue, multiple applications or a combination of different cleaning methods may be required. Patience and consistent use of baking soda can yield excellent results over time.

Why Does Baking Soda Clean Shoes?

The importance of regular shoe maintenance

Efficient and regular shoe maintenance is crucial for prolonging the lifespan of your shoes and enhancing their overall appearance. Incorporating baking soda into your shoe care routine can contribute to these objectives.

Prolonging shoe lifespan

Regular cleaning, deodorizing, and maintenance using baking soda can help remove damaging substances, prevent odor buildup, and maintain the structural integrity of your shoes. By reducing the accumulation of dirt, stains, and odors, you can extend the lifespan of your shoes and optimize their performance.

Enhancing overall appearance

Clean, fresh-smelling shoes enhance your overall appearance and can boost your confidence. Using baking soda to clean your shoes can remove unsightly stains, dirt, and odors, restoring them to their original beauty. Whether you wear them for work or leisure, well-maintained shoes can leave a lasting positive impression.


Baking soda is a versatile and effective tool for cleaning and maintaining your shoes. With its natural deodorizing properties, mild abrasive nature, and pH balancing capabilities, baking soda can remove odors, stains, and dirt, as well as restore freshness to your shoes. By following the tips and techniques outlined in this article, you can confidently incorporate baking soda into your shoe care routine and enjoy the benefits of clean, fresh-smelling shoes that last longer and look their best.

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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