How to Make Old Shoes Look New

by Ryan Mooney

No one likes showcasing an old pair of shoes. But what do you do when you don’t have the money to spend on a new pair? A couple simple techniques can liven up your entire collection of old shoes. You can even use common household products and appliances to assist in the process. If you can run a washing machine, clean a dish or stitch a common thread, then you are ready to make old shoes look like new.

Items you will need

  • Shoes
  • Laces
  • Soles
  • General household cleaning supplies

Renew Shoes

Step 1

It is important that you pick a pair of shoes that still has all the major parts. Large holes in leather or soles are going to be too tough to fix. A good candidate for updating your shoes is a pair that is dirty, has ripped laces, or only minor physical tears. You’re looking to get rid of stains and accessory damage, not rebuild the shoe itself. There are high rates of success with old running shoes, grass-cutting sneakers and suede casual shoes.

Step 2

Now that you’ve got the shoes, it’s time to start cleaning. If you have nice shoelaces, leave them in. If they are torn or damaged, pull them out and drop them in the trash. Evaluate the in-soles of the shoes. If they can be salvaged, keep them in. If not, put them in the trash.

Step 3

If the whitewalls of the shoes are dull gray in color, get household bleach and an old toothbrush. Stand near a sink and pour the bleach in a container that you can keep at your side. Be careful because bleach will stain and damage any colors or clothing. Dip the toothbrush in bleach and then shake off the excess. Very carefully scrub the whitewalls with the toothbrush, dipping the brush in bleach as needed. Once scrubbed, let the bleach get to work for about one minute. When the bleach has had its time, turn on the water and rinse away all the excess bleach. Again, be careful not to let the bleach run all over the shoes. It’s okay if the get wet, just not with bleach.

Step 4

The easiest and least time-consuming way to wash your shoes is to put them in the washing machine. Add a little detergent and run a normal cycle on cold (warm may make your colors run). If you do not have access to a washer and detergent, stay at the sink and grab the dish soap. Plug and fill the sink with cold water. Add a proportioned amount of soap and submerge the sneakers. Slosh the shoes around and then let them soak for a little bit. After about 20 minutes, drain the sink and rinse the soap out of the sneakers.

Step 5

You must dry the shoes quickly. If you let the shoes dry at their own pace, they are more than likely to develop an unpleasant odor. You have a couple of options for a quick dry. If you don’t mind shoes that fit a little more snug, toss them in the dryer with a bunch of towels. Run a low-heat cycle. You need the towels to keep the shoes from repeatedly kicking the dryer door open. If a dryer isn’t available, get a hairdryer. It may be more time consuming, but it will prevent a terrible odor. If you don’t have a hairdryer, find a warm and sunny spot. The sun dries the shoes in a couple of hours.

Step 6

The last part is the easiest. Buy a new pair of laces (try a new color for a fresh makeover) and lace up your shoes. If your in-soles were shredded, purchase a new pair at the local pharmacy or grocery store. If the exterior soles are a problem, super-glue or apply an automotive adhesive to keep them from flapping open and closed.

About the Author

Ryan Mooney has been a professional writer and editor in the technology, game, and design industry for seven years. Currently, he works in the mobile technology field. He has been published on eHow, About, Today, and New York Magazine (nymag.com). He has a Bachelor of Arts in English from East Stroudsburg University.