How to Clean Dirty Shoes

by Renee Vians

If you love your shoes, chances are you will want to hold on to your favorite pair as long as possible.That means cleaning your shoes with care. Because shoes are constructed of various materials, consider the best cleaning methods for your particular pair of shoes. For instance, canvas tennis shoes are not cleaned the same way as suede shoes. Follow these steps to clean your dirty shoes.

Items you will need

  • Shoes
  • Brush (toothbrush)
  • Liquid dishwashing soap
  • Baking soda
  • Newspaper (optional)
  • Potato (optional)
Step 1

Consider the material of the shoes. Canvas shoes and most tennis shoes can be cleaned in a washing machine. But suede, genuine leather and man-made leather may not be suited for the washing machine.

Step 2

Test how your shoe will react to cleaning products. Gently scrub the shoes with a damp wash cloth and dishwashing liquid. Let the shoes air dry. If the test spot reveals damage, then the shoes are not suitable for the washer.

Step 3

Remove any shoelaces from shoes. With the shoelaces removed, you will be able to reach any soil trapped underneath laces.

Step 4

Mix dish soap and baking soda to create a paste. The paste will better adhere to the shoe, thereby allowing the paste to soak the shoes.

Step 5

Apply the paste to the shoes. Allow the paste to set for five to ten minutes.

Step 6

Use a brush with stiff bristles to clean the shoes. A toothbrush is also effective at removing dirt and grime.

Step 7

Place the shoes in a laundry bag or pillow case. Use safety pins to fasten the pillow case so that the shoes do not fall out during the wash cycle.

Step 8

Place the laundry bag or pillow case in the washer. Set the washer on the shortest cycle and the hottest temperature. Because glue or other bonding materials may deteriorate in the water, you will want to run the water on the shortest cycle possible. You will also want to adjust the temperature to the hottest setting.

Step 9

Allow the shoes to air dry.


  • Stuff shoes with a potato or rolled up newspaper so that the shoes retain their shape.


  • Some brands of bleach may turn shoes yellow. Do not scrub leather shoes. You run the risk of damaging the shoes.

About the Author

Renee Vians has been writing online since 2008. She earned a Bachelor of Arts in English and journalism and language arts certification from the University of Nebraska-Kearney. Her articles have appeared on various websites.