5 Effective DIY Solutions for Shoe Cleaning

DIY Solutions for Shoe Cleaning

No cleaning supplies to clean your shoes? Don't worry, you can easily clean them with items you already have at home.

Here are five effective DIY solutions for shoe cleaning that will save you time and money.

1. Baking Soda and Vinegar

Baking Soda and Vinegar

A staple to the shoe-cleaning game, especially for spick-and-span white shoes and sneakers, is the magic combo of baking soda and vinegar. This DIY cleaning solution is super simple to make and effective for tackling stubborn stains and shoe odor.

To start, you need to mix a small amount of baking soda and water to form a paste. This paste, when applied to the fabric of your shoes, especially mesh shoes, can remove even the most stubborn stains.

For the sole, a scrub should be enough to do the trick. After applying the paste, leave it for a few minutes before washing it off with warm water.

The concoction not only helps with the stains but also erases any unpleasant smell, leaving your shoes looking and smelling fresh.


  • Effective for stubborn stains
  • White vinegar removes odors
  • Economical and easy to prepare
  • Safe for most shoe materials


  • Might require additional scrubbing for extremely tough stains
  • Not suitable for shoes with delicate fabrics
  • Baking soda residue might need thorough rinsing

2. Toothpaste


Another surprising component in the shoe-cleaning game is toothpaste. Yes, that's right! The stuff that keeps your teeth clean can also keep your pair of shoes spotless, especially canvas shoes.

Here's a step-by-step guide to using this unlikely cleaner. You'll need a toothbrush and a slightly damp cloth.

  1. Firstly, aim to clean an inconspicuous area to ensure the toothpaste doesn't discolor your shoes.
  2. Next, apply a small amount of toothpaste to the toothbrush, then gently scrub the dirty areas of your shoes. The toothpaste acts to remove stains just like it does on your teeth.
  3. After scrubbing, let the toothpaste sit on your shoes for a few minutes, then wipe away the residue with a damp cloth.
  4. Finally, allow your shoes to dry. Be amazed at the results!


  • Inexpensive and readily available
  • Effective in removing stains
  • Can leave shoes smelling minty and fresh


  • Not suitable for all types of shoe fabric, especially delicate ones
  • May require a spot test to prevent potential discoloration
  • Requires a bit of elbow grease for stubborn stains

3. Hydrogen Peroxide

You might have this in your home but not sure how to use it for shoe cleaning—Hydrogen Peroxide. Yes, it's potent in killing mold on leather shoes, but remember, it's a harsh solution and should be diluted with water. This method is perfect for giving your white leather shoes a proper cleaning.

Here's how to clean your shoes in 6 easy steps:

  1. Mix an equal amount of water and Hydrogen Peroxide in a bowl.
  2. Dip a sponge into the solution, then gently rub the solution on your shoes, focusing on the stained areas.
  3. Use an old toothbrush or a soft brush to scrub the laces.
  4. After scrubbing, let the shoes dry completely.
  5. Once dry, check the color of your shoes. If they're still not pure white, repeat the process.
  6. After achieving the desired color, use a dry sponge to polish your shoes, giving them a fresh, clean look.


  • Effective in killing mold and removing tough stains
  • Leaves shoes looking clean and white


  • Might discolor shoes if not diluted properly
  • Not suitable for delicate fabrics
  • Requires complete drying between applications to prevent damage

4. Rubbing Alcohol

Rubbing Alcohol

Not just for wounds, rubbing alcohol, found commonly in most households, also doubles as one of the effective cleaning products for suede shoes. Here's how to go about it:

  1. Firstly, take a clean cloth and dampen it with some rubbing alcohol. Gently dab it over the stains on your shoes. Try not to rub it too hard as it can damage the suede. After you've treated all the stains, let your shoes air dry.
  2. Once dried, grab a suede brush and gently brush your shoes to restore the suede's texture. If some stubborn stains still persist, you can also use an eraser to rub these away gently.
  3. Finally, take a clean cloth soaked in clean water and wipe your shoes to remove any residue. Again, let them air dry before wearing them.


  • Effective for cleaning suede shoes
  • Leaves suede looking new and refreshed
  • Rubbing alcohol is a readily available household item


  • Might require multiple rounds of treatment for stubborn stains
  • The suede's texture might change if rubbed too hard
  • Should not be used for shoes made of delicate materials.

5. Dishwashing Soap and Warm Water

Dishwashing Soap and Warm Water

If you don't have any of the mentioned cleaning solutions at hand, there's another simple yet effective method to keep your shoes, especially the clean white ones, looking brand new. The common dish soap and warm water solution can work wonders on all types of shoe materials, including white canvas.

The dish soap is proven to remove scuff marks and stains, while the warm water helps to loosen dirt. Here's how you can create this DIY shoe cleaner:

  1. First, remove the insoles and laces if removable. This helps in thorough cleaning.
  2. Then, mix a few drops of dish soap in a bowl of warm water until it becomes soapy.
  3. Dip a soft brush or cloth into the soapy solution and gently scrub your shoes, paying particular attention to stained areas.
  4. Once done, rinse your shoes under cold water to remove any soap residue, then use a soft cloth to pat them dry.


  • Suitable for all shoe types
  • Easy to prepare and use
  • Effective in removing scuff marks and stains
  • Dish soap is readily available in most households


  • Might require additional scrubbing for stubborn stains
  • Thorough rinsing required to avoid soap residue
  • May cause color fading on brightly colored shoes if left on too long

Notable Mentions

Olive oil, cornstarch, and baby wipes are other household items that can be useful for cleaning shoes.

Olive oil can help remove scuff marks on leather shoes while cornstarch is great for removing grease stains on suede. And if you have a pair of patent leather shoes, baby wipes can work wonders in restoring their shine.

Remember to always do spot tests before using any household item on your shoes, and to clean gently to avoid damaging the material. With these household items, you can keep your shoes looking clean and new without breaking the bank.

So next time you have a pair of dirty shoes, try one of these methods and see the difference it makes!

Closing Thoughts

These DIY shoe cleaning methods using household items are not only budget-friendly but also effective in keeping your shoes looking brand new. Whether it's toothpaste, hydrogen peroxide, rubbing alcohol, dish soap and warm water, or even olive oil and baby wipes, there are various options for different types of shoe materials.

Remember to always test on a small area first to avoid damaging your beloved shoes.

Want to take it a step further? Consider investing in a shoe cleaning kit specifically designed for your type of shoes.

sneaker cleaning kit

Get your sneaker cleaning kit here!

From horsehair brushes and water-repellant sprays to shoe deodorizers and leather conditioners, there are endless products available to help you maintain your shoes.

Visit Stone and Clark's Amazon store today and find the perfect shoe-cleaning kit for you.

12PC Leather Shoe Shine & Care Kit for Men & Women

3.5 oz Mink Oil Leather Care Kit with Applicator

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