How To Clean Used Shoes | Complete Step By Step Guide For 2023

Penned By Product Reviewer & Influencer

Always worried about how to clean used shoes properly?

Buying old and discounted shoes is a great way to save money.

Oftentimes, you can find discontinued brands trending again or rare styles from decades ago that you just won’t find anywhere else.

When the shoes have already been broken in, they are less likely to give you blisters or rub your skin away!

In order to avoid injury, it is important to clean shoes.

These are ideal for fungus and bacteria that can lead to serious problems like infections.

Cleaning your used shoes is important to guarantee their quality.

There are a variety of ways to invest time and effort into cleaning them so that they are ready to be worn again.

Here, you will find a solution accordingly.

How To Clean Used Shoes

Try the methods below for a deep cleansing that removes stains and dirt.


Clean Insoles Properly

A Pair Of Shoes With Insoles

One fun thing that you can do when you find shoes at a thrift store shoes is to clean them up.

You can remove the inside part of the insoles and wash them in warm, soapy water.


  • Bowl
  • Warm Water
  • Laundry Detergent
  • Clean Towel
  • Toothbrush or Hard Bristled Brush


  1. Mix a few cups of hot water with several drops of laundry detergent or baking soda.
  2. Mixed it around until the detergent dissolves.
  3. To clean your insoles, place them in a bowl with water and let them soak for a few minutes.
  4. Scrub the soles gently with a washcloth while wringing out excess water.
  5. It’s best not to scrub aggressively or use heavy-duty cleaners on your soles.
  6. Don’t store them near moisture sources including windows & bathrooms.
  7. Instead, place them in a pouch or on a clean towel to help air dry.
  8. Use the dishwasher to wash them and use cold-running water for rinsing.

Insoles have a tendency to tighten with every use, so they are more likely to fit you well.

Even if insoles are clean, they might not offer the comfort you’re looking for.

That’s why so many people replace them when they buy used shoes and take care of any hygiene-related issues.


Clean Used Shoes By Hand

How To Clean Used Shoes
Clean Used Shoes By Hand

It’s always good to wash delicate shoes by hand.

For the best quality, choose a gentle soap that won’t harm their structure or stain your clothes.


  • Plain Water
  • Detergent
  • Bowl
  • Raged Brush


  1. Mix the detergent with the plain water until it is mixed together well.
  2. Clean the delicate shoes with a ragged brush.
  3. Also, use warm clean water to rinse off the mixture afterward.
  4. When cleaning suede shoes, use a soft brush in one direction (Alternatively, clean delicate shoes by wiping downwards with a damp cloth).

Machine Wash Used Shoes

Machine Washing Used Shoes

Cloth shoes like sneakers, canvas footwear, fabric flats, and running shoes can all be tossed in a washing machine.

If you know that they are machine washable, spin them on the warm cycle with concentrated laundry detergent.

Be careful about putting your shoes in the dryer.

Because they might warp, melt or have a different odor after being helped along with the round of heat.

To create the ideal environment for drying your shoes, reduce the moisture in them, and air-dry them in areas with good ventilation.

Running shoes can be washed in a washing machine just like other types of shoes.

However, some fabric shoes may allow water to seep through the weave, if it is made out of a combination of cloth & leather like the Reebok Zalaris.

When in doubt, always look up the proper washing instructions on the used shoes manufacturer’s website.

Some other tips for cleaning second-hand shoes in the washing machine include:

  • Take the laces out of your shoe and take the insoles out.
  • Use detergent or baking soda and put them in a warm washer to loosen dirt.
  • Set it on low spin speed so that the washer doesn’t get unbalanced.

Remove Scuffs On Used Suede Shoes

A Man Removing Scuff From Suede Shoes

You’ll have to be extra careful with this delicate material.

  1. Try using a pencil eraser to rub out dry stains.
  2. Sprinkle corn starch on oily stains to draw them out.
  3. Let the powder sit on the suede shoes for a minimum of one hour.
  4. Then, brush it away using a soft toothbrush.

Keeping suede shoes looking new is hard. You can use these spot methods if the cleaning didn’t help much:

  • Place a small amount of baking soda into a small bowl.
  • Add water to the bowl until it is dissolved and make it slightly foamy
  • Rub all over the surface of your shoe with a damp cloth, using circular motions
  • let dry and buff cleanly.

How To Disinfect Second Hand Shoes

fect Second Hand Shoes

Let’s explore the different ways to disinfect used shoes.

There are several methods available that will help get rid of the fungus.

Mostly People have queries about how to disinfect leather shoes.

You can also use this method to clean and disinfect leather-used shoes.

1. Sanitize Used Shoes With Ultraviolet Light

Senitize Used Shoes

Always sanitize your shoes with ultraviolet light.

Shoes might be clean, but the fungus can still grow in them and make you sick!  

Here, you only need to place the used shoes inside the sanitizing device and turn on the bulb.

The sanitization will take around 15 minutes.

There are some devices that automatically go off after the cycle of sanitization.

Avoid looking at the UV light directly with your naked eyes.

Solar drying is an eco-friendly way to dry your shoes so you don’t have to use toxic chemicals.

This is the best way for leather and suede because they fill light and kills the fungi and germs that might be present.

If your shoes are made of material that doesn’t need UV rays for sanitizing,

Let them air dry.

2. Use A Disinfectant Spray To Kill Germs


Some shoes have a bad smell that’s difficult to get rid of.

If you need to kill the fungus in those shoes, be sure to use an appropriate spray.

You should also remember that disinfecting sprays are not the same as deodorizing sprays.

It’s important to make sure you use a disinfectant spray,

That is EPA approved because it can avoid staining surfaces, unlike sprays that are not.

4. Use Wet Wipes For Shoes

A Girl Wet Wiping Shoes

It is important to keep your used shoes clean and deodorized.

After a long day, you can use the wipes to maintain these clean conditions wherever you are going next.

If your used shoes have a leather surface, they can be difficult to clean.

However, if you use these wipes before you give them an oil shine, they’ll be nice and germ-free.

3. Wear Clean Socks Daily

Another way to sanitize used shoes properly is to wash your socks daily.

You should make sure you switch them out for a clean pair every time they get damp, as this prevents the spread of fungi.

When in doubt, simply wash the socks on their own with detergent and then dry them before wearing them again.

It’s always a good idea to wear sweat and moisture-wicking socks with used shoes.

It’s best to dress in light color patterns to reduce the chances of them getting dirty,

But don’t worry, some dye chemicals might cause some bad odors and the dark colors can retain heat.

Remember that the socks should be a moisture barrier.

They should not trap moisture.

How to Buy the Best Used Shoes

Buying used shoes is an easy way to find a bargain and save money.

However, not all used shoes are worthy of your money.

If you want to buy the best quality used shoes, here are some tips that will help you get the most out of your purchase.

Do Your Research

Research a particular shoe before buying it.

There are many ways to do this like going through reviews or asking friends for recommendations.

Check Out The Condition

Check out the condition of the shoe before buying it.

You should be able to tell if there is any damage to it by looking at its exterior and interior parts.

If there is any visible damage, don’t buy it because you will just be wasting your money in case something happens later on down the road.

Cleaning Leather/Suede Shoes

Cleaning Used Leather Shoes

To clean leather, use minimal water and a soft sponge to remove dirt.

Always use minimal water with suede to help it retain its shape and not crack or wear out.

Suede is usually much more fragile than leather,

So it needs to be taken care of so that it can maintain its condition for years.

  1. Add soap in the water.
  2. To clean your shoes, dip a sponge or a brush in water and begin from the outside working your way in gently with strong strokes to ensure the shoes will stay intact. 
  3. Wipe any excess olive oil away with a damp cloth before it dries completely
  4. To dry shoes it is recommended that you use a soft, dry cloth.
  5. If your shoes are wet and you want to keep them from molding, allow them to air dry fully without shoes on.
Source: YouTube

How To Clean Thrift Store Leather Shoes

It is important to know how to sanitize shoes from thrift stores,

So you can keep your family and friends safe and avoid the risk of getting sick.

You should take good care of your health by knowing the proper way to clean your shoes.

Some people think that it is better to throw away the shoes.

Because they don’t want to be responsible for spreading germs on their floors or furniture.

However, there are some easy ways that can make your shoe shopping experience a little more pleasant.

Some people might be wondering how they can clean their used shoes.

The first step is to remove any dirt, dust, or sand on the shoe.

If the shoe is wet, make sure to dry it before you start cleaning it.

After that, use a brush and dustpan to remove dust from the surface of the shoe.

Then use a damp cloth and lukewarm water to clean up any dirt on the shoe’s surface.

Finally, use a brush and vacuum cleaner to get rid of any remaining dirt particles from inside the shoe.


When you have a pair of shoes with a lot of scuffs and stains,

There are some ways that you can clean them up and make them look new again.

Here are some tips on how to clean your used heels/shoes:

  • Remove the laces from your shoes and soak them in cold water for 10 minutes.
  • Fill a sink with cold water and add one tablespoon of baking soda. Soak the shoe for about 15 minutes.
  • Soak the shoe in a bucket filled with warm water mixed with two tablespoons of vinegar for about 20 minutes.
  • Put the shoe on top of a towel or cloth to dry off while it’s still wet.

How Do I Clean The Inside Of My Shoes?

Cleaning the inside of your shoes is very important because it keeps them in good condition.

Here are some simple steps to follow to clean the insides of your shoes.

  1. Remove laces and shoes.
  2. Put a bucket under the tap and fill it with cold water.
  3. Soak your shoe in the water for a few minutes, then shake off excess water.
  4. Put your shoe on a damp cloth or sponge. You can use a brush if you have one.
  5. Fill up another bucket with warm soapy water and put it in another room, but make sure that you can still hear running water from the first bucket.
  6. Dip a sponge into the soapy water and scrub away dirt from the inside of your shoes by using circular motions.

how do you sterilize second-hand shoes?

There are a few ways to sterilize second-hand shoes.

  1. The best method is to use a steam cleaner and let it dry for about 45 minutes.
  2. You can also use the sun or a hairdryer to help dry the shoe out.
  3. You can also use a microwave to sterilize your shoes, but this method should only be used if you are in an emergency situation and don’t have time for other methods.
  4. For those who don’t have access to these methods, you can try washing your old shoes with soap and water before wearing them again – but they may still retain some bacteria so it’s best not to wear them until they’re completely clean
  5. If you cannot wash your old shoes, you can sanitize used hand wash leather shoes.

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. How do you clean shoes from a thrift store?

    The best way to clean shoes properly from a thrift store shoes is by using a vacuum cleaner. It will suck up any dirt, dust, and other debris that might be on the shoes. The best part about this process is that it takes just minutes to complete.

  2. What can you spray in used shoes?

    There are certain things that you cannot put in your shoes, but there are a few things that you can.
    You can spray some air freshener or antibacterial in your shoes before putting them on. It will remove any unwanted smells and leave your shoes smelling fresh. You can also spray some Febreze or another type of air freshener in the shoe to make it smell better.

  3. How do you deodorize shoes?

    The deodorizing shoe is a common problem in many households. You can use an enzymatic cleaner to get rid of the odor from your used shoes.

  4. Should I clean the bottom of my shoes?

    Use a toothbrush to remove any embedded dirt on the grooves or outsole. A bristle brush such as a wire brush may damage the shoe’s finish so use caution when using one.

  5. How do you clean used heels?

    To remove the dirt from your heels, you will need a pair of old and clean socks. You should also take a toothbrush to scrub off any dirt that might be leftover on your heels.


Keeping your shoes clean is essential for avoiding bacteria, fungi, and viruses.

Some shoes such as leather and suede require a more delicate approach.

These types of shoes can be cleaned with a machine.

Fabric shoes, however, can be thrown into the washer.

Buying second-hand shoes from charity and thrift stores shoes is an excellent way to support other communities and the environment.

You never know, you might just find a hidden gem such as a pair of vintage shoes or designer heels.

We already discussed some ways to clean used shoes.

We also hope you found this helpful and would love to hear your feedback! Don’t forget to share so others can learn as well.

Simpy Singh
I am a professional product reviewer and buyer's guide for online sites. I've been doing product reviews since my early teenage years. I started out reviewing books on Youtube, before moving on to other types of products such as makeup, clothing, shoes, and electronics. It is so much fun to give people honest feedback about the things they're thinking of buying! After graduating with a degree in Literature from university, I decided to move into this line of work full-time and never looked back.