How To Get Your Shoes Looking Brighter/Cleaner

Jun 17, 2015


If you're like me, you never bother to clean your shoes. It either takes up too much time or you don't think it's necessary to do. I wear sneakers almost everyday and I trudge them through sun, snow, and rain so the dirt collects fast. Cleaning my shoes is not something I normally do, but after all that they have gone through these past years, I think they deserved some TLC. And now they look like I can wear them for a few more years!

Although this method isn't exactly "new" out there, I wanted to share this because I have never seen my shoes looking this nice, and I was so impressed by the outcome that I thought you may want to try it out too. I also don't like getting the entire shoe wet so this way worked out well for me. I picked up a few tips from Melissa at Clean My Space and altered them a bit, and used them on a wider range of shoe surfaces.

If you're looking for squeaky clean shoes, then this may not be the DIY for you. It gets a lot of stains out, but if you never clean your shoes like me and have stains from things other than dirt, the solution used below won't be able to get out everything.


What you'll need:
Toothbrush, baking soda, and laundry detergent

Melissa from CMS suggests mixing equal parts baking soda and detergent, but I found it working best when there was a little more baking soda. Adding more baking soda thickened the solution which made for an easier application and reduced the mess. The baking soda doesn't really dissolve either so a little more acts as an extra scrub. Don't worry about measuring it out perfectly.

Take your toothbrush, dip it into a bit of your solution, and start scrubbing it onto your shoe surfaces. Work in circular motions as I found that helped get dirt off better than using a straight brushing motion. This does not work on every material, and results will differ depending on how long your stains have been on your shoes. Once the dirt has come off, wipe it off with a damp paper towel or cloth.


I found that it worked best on the rubber soles of my shoes and the leather of the Jack Purcell's. Surfaces that are easily "wipe-off-able" would work well, such as rubber and leather. I tried some of it on canvas and it got a bit of dirt out, but not all, though canvas stains are usually recommended for hand or machine wash. I highly do not recommend this on suede and fur.

If your surface is a dark colour, a white residue may be seen, but don't fret! Just use a paper towel to wipe off the excess solution and then scrub over the area with a DRY toothbrush. The rest of the white colour should come off and you're left with a nice shoe.


Why it works:
Just cause I have an opportunity, I'm going to throw in a bit of science here.

Detergent and baking soda are both alkaline substances (pH > 7). The chemical name for baking soda is sodium bicarbonate (NaHCO3).

Detergent attracts to the dirt. There is a lot of jargon that I won't explain but just know that there is a component in detergent that will bind to dirt, which is why scrubbing your surfaces with it will will help lift off the dirt and have it bind into your detergent mixture.

Baking soda adds that extra punch to the detergent. It also has some similar properties to detergent to help remove dirt. It also acts a bit like a scrub. If you noticed, the baking soda doesn't really dissolve into the detergent because there is no chemical reaction, and detergent does not have the properties like water to dissolve it. The structure remains and helps you further to get the dirt out when scrubbing.


Have you ever cleaned your shoes and used this method? Or are you like me and don't really bother cleaning your shoes? If you have time, definitely try it out. You'll be a happy camper when your shoes go from an ugly duckling to wowww. HAPPY CLEANING!


Although the canvas on my shoes have lost quite a bit of colour, you can see that the soles on my Keds are looking brand new. My Jack Purcell's also finally look white again!


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