How to wash sneakers and leather shoes

November 23, 2014

Shoes endure a lot, but with regular cleaning you can keep your favourite footwear going for years. To help you, here are the best ways to wash your shoes to help make them last.

How to wash sneakers and leather shoes

Like other dirty laundry, the sooner you tackle tough stains, the better your chance of success in removing them. Shoes are no different, and with regular care you can keep your favourite footwear going for years. We'll show you how.

How to wash sneakers

First, remove the shoelaces and insoles. Wash shoelaces by placing in a mesh bag in the laundry or hand washing in the sink. Likewise for the fabric insole.

To spot clean shoes:

  • Mix a teaspoon of baking soda with a small amount of liquid detergent and warm water.
  • Scrub the solution over the shoe’s exterior using a toothbrush.
  • A paperclip or other pointy object can be used to scrape any dirt or grime caught in the treads.
  • Wipe clean with a damp cloth.

For a more thorough cleaning:

  • Place sneakers in a mesh bag and wash in the washing machine along with a load of towels.
  • This will prevent the shoes from banging around during the wash and spin cycles.
  • Opt for a cool or warm water setting – never hot.
  • For smelly shoes, add a cup of vinegar to neutralize odours.

Don’t put sneakers in the dryer.

  • Place sneakers in a well-ventilated area and allow them to air dry.
  • Stuff crumpled paper towels or newspapers in the shoes to help them retain their shape as they dry.

How to wash leather shoes

To keep leather shoes clean, first wipe off any excess dirt. If the leather has a finish, you can clean with mild soap and a damp cloth or sponge.

  • Wipe shoe with a soft, dry cloth.
  • Winter salt stains can be removed with a 2:1 mixture of water and white vinegar.
  • Apply this solution using a sponge, wiping until the stains disappear.
  • Then, dry with a soft cloth.

On unfinished leather use saddle soap. It's specially designed to clean and condition, preserving the smooth surface of leather.

  • Using a moist cloth, create a lather with the soap and rub gently onto leather surface.
  • Wipe off excess.
  • Allow to dry. Then use a dry cloth to buff into a shine.
  • Saddle soap contains a wax that will seal and protect unfinished leather.

How to wash suede shoes

Always allow wet suede shoes to dry before removing dirt or mud.

For basic dirt, brush shoes gently with a suede brush.

  • The stiff metal bristles are specially designed for suede.
  • A rubber eraser can be used to remove scuffs and smudges. (Avoid colored erasers, as they can transfer dye to the shoe.)

Tackle grease stains using talcum powder or baking soda.

  • Blot first with a paper towel to remove any excess liquid.
  • Next, sprinkle baking powder directly onto stain.
  • Let sit for a few hours or overnight.
  • Brush lightly with a suede brush.

By taking the right care to regularly wash your sneakers and leather shoes, and they’ll last a long time.

The material on this website is provided for entertainment, informational and educational purposes only and should never act as a substitute to the advice of an applicable professional. Use of this website is subject to our terms of use and privacy policy.
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