Grab the spring + summer capsule wardrobe!

yes, please!

How to Clean Shoes & Make them Last Longer

login to save


shop now

I'm a mom of two boys living in Denver. The Fox & She is where I share my easy outfit ideas, style tips, beauty hacks and wellness tips for inspired, happier living—everyday.

Favorite Find


I'm Blair Staky

These packing cubes are so cute—6 to a set, fun patterns, durable and make staying organized while traveling so easy.

Learn more

As a mom, knowing how to keep a pair of shoes clean is kind of essential. Between trips to the park, cooking meals, spills, to a random downpour that flooded my Golden Goose sneakers, my shoes and my kids’ shoes have seen it all!

superga sneakers #supergaUSA

Thankfully if you take a little time to properly clean your shoes, you’ll get a lot more use out of them and they’ll look newer for much longer.

Learning this essential skill has allowed our shoes to stay wearable for much longer and makes them look so much better on a daily basis! If your shoes are in desperate need for a makeover, this is for you!

What You’ll Need

Depending on what type of shoes you’re cleaning, you’ll need different materials, but here’s a general list of items that work well for getting your shoes back to beautiful!

How to Clean Your Shoes, Step by Step

How to Clean Leather Shoes

A few years ago I lent a pair of leather sandals to a friend and they when they were returned, I nearly cried. They were covered in dirt and grime that had settled into the crevices of the leather. They looked awful and I was so sad as they were some of my favorite sandals ever.

golden goose sneakers

I decided I’d try to clean them before tossing them and was so happy with the results. Admittedly, they were a bit old to begin with so they don’t look brand new, but wow, if you could have seen them before!

Here’s how to clean leather shoes, whether it be sandals or white shoes with laces. First off, remove laces if there are any.

Use a soft cloth or lightly damp sponge to wipe away any surface dirt or dust. Next, mix a solution of mild soap and water, then dip a soft brush or cloth into the solution and gently scrub the leather in circular motions. You want to make sure to not saturate the leather with too much water.

For tough stains, you can try using a soft-bristle brush dipped in baking soda.

sperry seacoast sneakers, floral blazer, white sneakers, spring outfit, preppy outfit, the fox and she, blair culwell staky

Wipe the shoes with a clean, wet cloth and allow them to air dry and don’t wear until they are dry again. Once the shoes are clean, buff them dry with a clean, soft rag to restore their natural shine if you want.

Lastly, you can apply a leather protector or leather conditioner, to keep the shoes soft and supple. Regular cleaning and conditioning will help maintain the quality and appearance of your leather shoes for longer.

How to Clean Running Shoes

My boys almost exclusively wear sneakers and they get dirty fast. To clean running shoes, start by removing and cleaning the shoelaces separately. Use a soft-bristle brush or toothbrush to gently scrub away any dirt or mud from the uppers, sides, tread, and crevices. Mix liquid dish soap with warm water in a medium bowl and use a sponge to scrub the mesh fabric upper, tongue, and sides of the shoes.

pink sneakers

For stubborn stains, a toothpick or even a skewer can be used to get debris out of deep tread grooves. To give the rubber sole and edges a thorough clean, scrub them with the soapy solution. Once the shoes are clean, it’s important to air dry them fully before wearing.

For a deeper clean, some running shoes can be washed in the washing machine on a gentle cycle with mild detergent. Just be sure to remove any insoles and stuff them with paper towels or use shoe trees to retain their shape during the drying process. Do not put them in the dryer as they material may shrink, unless their cleaning instructions specifically say to put them in there!

How to Clean Faux Leather Shoes

Similar to cleaning leather shoes, to clean faux leather shoes, start by removing any excess dirt or debris with a soft brush or cloth. Mix a solution of mild soap, such as dish soap, with warm water in a bowl. Use a clean cloth or sponge to gently scrub the surface of the shoes with the soapy water.

blush sneakers

Be careful not to immerse the shoes completely in water, as this can damage the material. For stubborn stains, try using a gentle scrubbing motion with a soft-bristled toothbrush.

Once cleaned, wipe the shoes with a clean, damp cloth to remove any soap residue. Allow the shoes to air dry completely before wearing them again.

As with cleaning any shoe, avoid using harsh chemicals or abrasive cleaners, as these can damage the faux leather material.

How to Clean Shoes with Rope or Cork Wedges

Calf Hair Wedge Espadrilles @TheFoxandShe

This is great for any pairs of summer wedges or espadrilles you might need to clean up!

Start by mixing a cleaning solution of warm water, white vinegar, and dishwashing liquid. Dip a soft toothbrush or cloth in the solution and gently scrub the wedges, making sure to work in only one direction, towards the “grain” on rope wedges to prevent fraying.

After cleaning, wipe down the wedges with a damp microfiber cloth and allow the shoes to air dry away from direct heat or sunlight for at least 24 hours.

How to Clean Suede, NuBuck, and Sheepskin Shoes

To clean suede, nubuck, and sheepskin shoes, start by using a firm brush to knock off any loose debris.

For suede and nubuck, use a suede eraser to get rid of marks and dirt, followed by a brass brush to remove any further debris and reset the nap.

kitty flats

Always avoid using water and soap on suede as it can affect the color and texture!

For sheepskin, use a white washcloth with white vinegar or rubbing alcohol to increase vibrancy. You can make a polishing mix from cold water and distilled vinegar for sheepskin shoes, just be careful not to use too much water. After cleaning, reshape the shoe and leave it in a well-ventilated space to dry.

How to Clean Shoelaces

To clean shoelaces, remove them from the shoes and apply a small amount of mild cleaning solution, like a mixture of warm water and laundry detergent or dish soap. Massage the laces with your hands to ensure the solution covers all areas and then let them sit for at least 15 minutes. Massage them again, then rinse thoroughly.

Dab dry with a soft cloth before allowing them to air dry completely. This process will help remove dirt, stains, and odor from the shoelaces, leaving them looking fresh and clean.

And if you can’t get the stains out, shoelaces are affordable and easy to replace. I’ve bought new ones on Amazon—they have just about every type of shoelace you’ll need.

How Often to Clean Your Shoes

Honestly, for me, it depends on how often they need it. Shoes like my sneakers or white shoes, get dirty faster, so I give them a clean more frequently.

It really just depends on how often you wear them and what they’re made of. For example, suede and sheepskin shoes should be cleaned more often due to their delicate nature and tendency to absorb dirt and stains easily. On the other hand, patent leather shoes may only need occasional cleaning to maintain their glossy shine. Canvas shoes, especially white sneakers, should also be cleaned regularly to prevent dirt and stains from really settling in.

There you have it—how to clean all different types of shoes to leave them looking great and lengthening their lifespan. I hope you found this helpful!

BTW, how to clean out your closet, and 7 DIY Thieves cleaner recipes that are non-toxic.



Want easy chic outfit ideas?

Download my spring capsule wardrobe and get 60+ outfits in your inbox.


Amazon Finds

browse all >

More Stories You'll Love

Grab the Spring Capsule Wardrobe

60+ chic, minimalist outfits done for you


get outfit & styling ideas

stay inspired

shop my daily outfits here