“Mastering the Art of Cleaning Used Shoes For 2023”

Penned By Product Reviewer & Influencer

Did you know that, according to a study published in the Journal of Applied Microbiology, shoes can harbor an average of 421,000 bacteria on the outside and 2,887 on the inside?

Quite alarming, right? This statistic alone reinforces the importance of regularly cleaning and disinfecting your shoes, particularly if they’re used.

Fast Remedy For How To Clean Used Shoes
  1. Gather Your Cleaning Essentials: You’ll need a soft-bristled brush (an old toothbrush can work great), a mild detergent, a microfiber cloth, a magic eraser sponge for tough stains, and warm water.
  2. Remove Dirt and Debris: Brush off the dry dirt from the shoes gently. Use a damp cloth to wipe off any remaining dirt or dust.
  3. Create A Cleaning Solution: Mix a small amount of mild detergent with warm water. The detergent-to-water ratio should be around 1:2.
  4. Scrub, Scrub, Scrub: Dip the soft-bristled brush into your homemade cleaning solution and gently scrub the shoe’s surface. Pay particular attention to the stained or soiled areas.
  5. Magic Eraser To The Rescue: For tougher stains, especially on white shoes or soles, a magic eraser sponge can work wonders. Just dampen it with some water and gently rub it over the stubborn stains.
  6. Rinse and Dry: Rinse the shoes with warm water to remove any leftover soap. Do not soak them; just a gentle rinse will do. Then, pat dry with a clean microfiber cloth and let them air dry in a well-ventilated area.
  7. Disinfect: Lastly, to ensure the shoes are clean and free of germs, spray the inside with a disinfectant. For a natural alternative, you can use a mix of white vinegar and water.

Why Cleaning Used Shoes is Important

Before we get our hands dirty, it’s essential to understand why cleaning used shoes is crucial. As you’ll probably agree, used shoes can harbor dirt, germs, and bacteria.

Moreover, they can carry bad odors that might just make you the unwanted center of attention in a room. Believe me, I’ve been there. But fret not, my friend.

By the end of this piece, you’ll be equipped with all the necessary knowledge and techniques to clean your used shoes, making them almost as good as new.

Understanding Different Types of Shoes

A Pair Of Shoes With Insoles

Not all shoes are made the same, and that’s no groundbreaking revelation. There are running shoes, dress shoes, boots, sneakers, and more, each made from different materials and require distinct cleaning techniques.

Running shoes may require more rigorous cleaning, whereas dress shoes may need a more delicate touch. That being said, let’s delve into the nitty-gritty of how to clean these used shoes according to their type and material.


Cleaning Running Shoes

How To Clean Used Shoes

Running shoes are the workhorses of your footwear arsenal and tend to bear the brunt of daily abuse. Whether it’s the grime from a muddy trail or the sweat from an intense workout, running shoes take it all. So how do we clean them?

First, you’ll need to remove the insoles and laces, then brush off excess dirt using a soft-bristled shoe brush. For a more in-depth clean, mix warm water with a small amount of laundry detergent. Use a sponge or cloth to gently scrub the shoes.

Rinse them thoroughly and air dry. Never use a heater or dryer, as it could damage the shoe’s material.


Caring for Dress Shoes

Unlike running shoes, dress shoes often consist of leather, which requires a different cleaning approach. Start by removing the laces and using a dry cloth to wipe down the shoes.

A Man Removing Scuff From Suede Shoes

Apply a small amount of saddle soap to a damp cloth, then work it into the leather. Wipe off excess soap with a damp cloth and allow the shoes to dry. Afterward, apply a leather conditioner to keep the material supple and shiny.


Sprucing Up Sneakers

Sneakers, especially white ones, are notoriously difficult to keep clean. The best approach here is to remove the laces and insoles.

Then, mix a solution of warm water, a small amount of dish soap, and hydrogen peroxide.

Use a soft brush to scrub the shoes, focusing on stained areas. Rine thoroughly, then allow them to air dry.


Handling Boots

Boots can be made from a variety of materials, but most require the same care as dress shoes.

However, boots often come into contact with harsh conditions, like snow and salt, which can damage the material.

A mixture of vinegar and water can remove salt stains, while specialty cleaners can be used for materials like suede.


Disinfecting Used Shoes

fect Second Hand Shoes

Now, onto one of the most vital parts of cleaning used shoes: disinfection. The insides of used shoes are breeding grounds for bacteria and fungi, and you don’t want these hitching a ride on your feet.

A simple solution is using an antibacterial spray. Remove the insoles and spray the inside of the shoes. Allow them to dry fully before wearing them again.


Deodorizing Used Shoes

If you’re battling stubborn shoe odor, it’s time to deodorize. One popular method is using baking soda. Sprinkle a generous amount inside the shoes and let it sit overnight.

In the morning, simply shake out the excess. Baking soda naturally absorbs bad odors, leaving your shoes smelling fresh.

Senitize Used Shoes

Final Touches: Polishing and Protecting

After your shoes are clean and deodorized, why not give them the ultimate makeover with some polish? Not only will this make your shoes look new, but it also protects the material from future damage.

There you have it, friend. With these techniques, you can transform any used shoes into a pair that looks (and smells) as good as new. It’s not rocket science, but it does take some elbow grease. So roll up your sleeves, put on your favorite podcast, and give those used shoes the TLC they deserve!

Real-Life Scenario: A Case Study

Let’s dive into a real-life scenario. Meet John, a dedicated marathon runner and a lover of trails. John has a favorite pair of running shoes that have seen better days.

He’s reluctant to part with them due to their perfect fit and the memories they hold. Yet, the accumulated dirt and odor have become a hurdle he can’t ignore.

A Girl Wet Wiping Shoes

John decided to follow the cleaning method we described earlier for running shoes. After a dedicated session of scrubbing and washing, John was amazed at the transformation.

His shoes were not only visibly cleaner but also free from the persistent odor that once plagued them.

John learned that regular cleaning not only improved the appearance and smell of his shoes but also prolonged their lifespan. That’s what we call a win-win!

Cleaning Used Shoes: Detailed Specifications

Let’s go into a bit more depth with a table showing exactly what you’ll need to clean each type of shoe:

Shoe TypeCleaning SolutionTools Required
Running ShoesLaundry DetergentSoft Bristle Brush, Sponge
Dress ShoesSaddle Soap, Leather ConditionerDry Cloth
SneakersDish Soap, Hydrogen PeroxideSoft Brush
BootsVinegar, Specialty CleanerDry Cloth

Personal Experience

As a shoe enthusiast, I’ve had my fair share of used shoe cleaning challenges. One of my most notable experiences involved a pair of vintage leather boots I purchased at a thrift store. The boots were in good shape but needed a serious cleaning.

I followed the cleaning method for dress shoes and boots, adding the vinegar solution to tackle salt stains.

The process was time-consuming, but the result was worth it. The boots were restored to their former glory and became one of my favorite pairs. This experience taught me that with patience and the right techniques, any used shoe can be revived.

How to Buy the Best Used Shoes

Cleaning Used Leather Shoes

Know What You’re Looking For

Having a clear idea of the type of shoe you’re after can simplify your search. This includes knowing the shoe style, brand, and size you’re interested in. Once you’ve determined this, you’ll be able to quickly identify potential matches and pass on those that don’t fit the bill.


Consider the Source

Where you purchase used shoes can significantly impact their quality. Trusted consignment stores, vintage shops, and reputable online platforms like eBay, Depop, or Poshmark are typically safe bets. These sources usually verify the condition of shoes before selling them, and their reputation depends on honest descriptions and quality items.


Inspect the Condition

When buying used shoes, it’s crucial to inspect them thoroughly. Check for signs of overuse, such as worn-out soles, rips in the fabric, or an over-stretched shape. While some signs of wear are to be expected, excessive wear and tear could affect the shoe’s durability and comfort.


Check the Shoes’ Authenticity

For high-end or designer shoes, authenticity is paramount. Familiarize yourself with the brand’s distinctive markings or unique identifiers. For example, luxury brands often include serial numbers or brand logos on their products. If you’re unsure, consider having the shoes authenticated by a professional.


Don’t Sacrifice Comfort for Style

While a pair of used shoes might look great, they’re not worth much if they’re uncomfortable or don’t fit properly. Shoes that have been heavily worn may have conformed to the previous owner’s foot shape and might not provide adequate support or fit correctly. Always prioritize comfort over aesthetics.


Take Note of the Price

While used shoes are often less expensive than new ones, it’s still essential to ensure the price reflects the shoes’ condition. Do your research to understand the average price for the shoe style and brand you’re interested in. Remember, a deal that seems too good to be true often is.


Remember: Some Shoes Can Be Restored

Shoes, particularly high-quality or designer ones, can often be repaired or restored. Small issues such as scuff marks, minor stains, or worn-down heels can often be fixed by a professional cobbler. If the shoes are a good price and of high quality, don’t let minor imperfections deter you.


Be Mindful of Hygiene

Lastly, remember that used shoes have been worn by others. Be prepared to clean and disinfect the shoes once you’ve purchased them. Refer to the cleaning techniques mentioned earlier to ensure your used shoes are safe and fresh.

Buying used shoes can be a great way to add unique and high-quality items to your wardrobe without breaking the bank. With careful selection and thorough cleaning, your second-hand shoes can look and feel as good as new.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Can I wash my shoes in the washing machine?

While some shoes, like certain running shoes and canvas sneakers, can be washed in the machine, it’s generally safer to clean your shoes by hand. The harsh environment in the washing machine can damage certain materials and cause them to degrade more quickly.

2. Can I dry my shoes in the sun?

It’s best to avoid drying shoes in direct sunlight, as it can fade colors and cause some materials to shrink or become brittle. Instead, opt for a cool, well-ventilated area away from direct sunlight.

3. How often should I clean my shoes?

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.

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.