How to Clean the Tongues of Shoes

by Jaimie Zinski ; Updated September 28, 2017

Avoid wearing the same shoes everyday to keep them appearing newer, longer.

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Shoes, from canvas sneakers to leather loafers, become soiled and stinky from daily wear and tear. This includes the shoe’s tongue, which will become covered in dirt and lessen the overall appearance of the footwear. Cleaning and deodorizing the tongue of leather or canvas shoes does not require any specialized tools. All you need is the right cleaners for the specific material and baking soda to make the shoes smell fresh.

Cleaning Canvas Tongues

Remove the shoe’s laces and wipe off any lose dirt or mud from both sides of the shoe’s tongue with a damp cloth.

Create a mixture of 1 tbsp. mild dish soap and 4 cups water. A mild soap will contain no dyes or perfumes.

Lift the tongue backwards to expose the underside. Dip an unwanted toothbrush into the soapy mixture and scrub off the tongue. Move the tongue into its original position to clean off the top of the tongue.

Allow the soapy mixture to remain on the tongue for 10 to 15 minutes before wiping off both sides of the tongue with a damp cloth.

Set the shoes in a cool, dry place and allow them to dry completely.

Sprinkle the tops and underside of the tongue as well as the inside of the shoe with baking soda. Allow the baking soda to sit inside the shoes for eight hours, or overnight.

Hold the shoes upside down over a garbage can and shake to remove the baking soda, which will absorb the shoe’s unwanted odors.

Cleaning Leather Tongues

Remove the shoe’s laces and wipe off any loose mud and dirt with a damp cloth.

Dampen a cloth with water and dip the corner into a container of saddle soap. Do not load up the cloth with saddle soap.

Lift the tongue to expose the underside and work the saddle soap into the leather using overlapping circles.

Wipe away the saddle soap with a dry cloth and repeat on the top side of the shoe’s tongue.

Buff the tongue with a soft cloth to restore its shine.

Photo Credits

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About the Author

Residing in Chippewa Falls, Wis., Jaimie Zinski has been writing since 2009. Specializing in pop culture, film and television, her work appears on Star Reviews and various other websites. Zinski is pursuing a Bachelor of Arts in history at the University of Wisconsin.