Walking around with a clean pair of shoes is a clear indicator that you are someone who takes care of themselves and cares about their appearance. Besides that, cleaning shoes regularly helps to prevent premature wear and tear, while extending their lifespan. Also, cleaning shoes regularly will help to prevent bad odors and foot infections. However, cleaning shoes is more than just wiping the outer surface with soap and water or throwing them in the washer. You need to learn how to remove all the dirt completely, without damaging the material. Whether your shoes are made of canvas, full-grain leather, synthetic leather, suede or nubuck, here are some tips on how to clean them properly.

Patent Leather Shoes

Patent leather refers to real, full-grain leather, which has been processed to achieve a glossy, high sheen finish. Patent leather tends to be stiffer or tougher than untreated leather. It’s made into various types of shoes like dance shoes, tuxedo shoes, dress shoes, as well as military uniform shoes. One of the biggest advantages of patent leather is that it doesn’t as much cleaning as other types of leather like nubuck or suede. However, the glossy surface might begin to fade after some time. Therefore, it’s highly advisable to clean your patent leather shoes as soon as you see dirt or smudge on the surface. So, how do you clean patent leather shoes? Well, there are several ways of cleaning these types of shoes. For instance, you can clean them with water or wipe them clean using baby wipes.

If you are cleaning your shoes using soap and water, you should first brush off debris or loose dirt using a soft bristle brush. Once you brush off the debris and dirt, you should then wipe the entire surface, using a soft piece of cloth, soaked in water and soap. After that, you should dry the patent leather surface using a soft polishing cloth, and then allow the shoes to dry at room temperature, for approximately 24 hours. If you opt to clean them with baby wipes, you will follow the same procedure as you did with the soap and water. After the shoes are dry, you should apply a leather conditioner.

In case your patent leather shoes are scuffed, you can buff it out using a soft cotton washcloth, soaked in mineral oil. You should then rub the scuff using gentle circular movements until it’s less noticeable. It’s important to note that patent leather gets easily scuffed and scratched. Also, it’s surface will become dull easily, if you use the wrong products. Therefore, don’t use bleach, hard brushes, or excessive water. Also, avoid scratchy or rough washcloths when cleaning your patent leather shoes.

Suede and Nubuck Leather Shoes

As much as suede shoes will add a stylish and smart appeal to your outfit, the leather used to make them is also quite delicate. It can become easily scuffed or stained. Therefore, cleaning your suede leather shoes regularly is vital, if you want to keep them looking fresh at all times. However, special care should be taken when cleaning nubuck and suede leather shoes. The leather used to make them is quite delicate, which means that you might end up damaging the shoes if you are not careful. To clean your suede and nubuck leather shoes, you will need a brush that is specifically made for these types of shoes or a self-clean sponge, magic gum, combi foam, and a protector spray. In case you don’t have a suede or nubuck cleaning brush, you can still use an old toothbrush. The toothbrush will have a similar cleaning effect to a nubuck or suede brush. Furthermore, its bristles are gentle, which means it will not damage the leather.

First, you should gently brush off the dirt that is lodged on the surface of the shoe. If your shoes have stubborn stains, you should use the magic gum to clean the surface and then brush the surface to remove any residue. After that, you should wipe the surface gently using a soft piece of fabric, spray the shoe protector, and then allow them to dry, away from direct sunlight. If your shoes have ugly stains or scuff marks, you can remove them using a rubber eraser. You can also opt for commercial stain removers. Prevention and proper maintenance are vital if you want to keep your suede shoes clean and fresh. After every year, you should brush them evenly to remove any dirt.

Faux Leather Shoes

Synthetic leather or faux leather shoes are made from polyvinyl chloride or petroleum-based plastics. It’s an affordable alternative to full-grain leather. However, its lifespan is considerably shorter than real leather. But with proper care and maintenance, you can keep your faux leather shoes looking great and maximize their lifespan. As much as some synthetic leather shoes are machine washable, it’s highly advisable to clean them by hand. You first need to brush off loose dirt from their surface using a suede brush or any soft-bristle brush and then wipe them using a dry piece of cloth. You should then proceed to clean them using mild leather shampoo. Once you’ve removed all the dirt and stains, you should then allow your shoes to dry completely. Apart from cleaning your faux leather shoes, it’s also advisable to protect them against stains. Applying some baby oil on the entire surface of these shoes will help to keep them looking fresh and new since it will form a protective barrier against dirt and stains. Also, you should apply a leather conditioner or a protective gel to prevent the leather from cracking or drying out. At no time should you dry your synthetic leather shoes using a commercial dryer. Putting them in a dryer will make them melt and damage them beyond repair. Also, just like shoes made of full-grain leather, you should never expose your faux leather shoes to direct sunlight. Direct sunlight will fade their color and even accelerate their wear and tear.

Canvas Shoes

Canvas shoes are usually made of different types of fabrics. And just like clothing, they can get stained and dirty. If you fail to clean them properly, they will end up with unsightly stains, and you might even be forced to replace them. But unlike clothes, you cannot toss your canvas sneakers into a washer, since the excessive amount of water in the washer can damage both the sole and the upper. Therefore, hand cleaning or hand washing is usually the most effective method of cleaning canvas shoes, whether they are from Vans, Sketchers, Converse or Crocs. To clean your canvas shoes, you will need a bowl of water, a mild detergent, a soft brush, and a soft towel.

First, remove the laces from your shoes if there are any. After that, dip your soft brush in water mixed with the detergent, and then scrub the canvas thoroughly. Ensure you focus on the hidden areas when scrubbing the shoes since dirt mostly accumulates in such areas. Avoid scrubbing over any printing or label, since the brush might remove or damage it. Once you’ve finished scrubbing them, you should then wipe them using the soft towel. Ensure you also clean the interior and the sole. After that, you should let your shoes dry in a warm, airy location.

General Cleaning Tips

As much as cleaning shoes appears like a demanding task, it can be significantly easier if you observe certain things. First, you should clean your shoes as soon as they become dirty. If you went through mud and dirt on the trail using your hiking boots, you should clean them immediately you get home. Allowing your shoes to sit on too long with dirt will make the cleaning job significantly challenging. Also, the longer you allow stains to sit on your shoes, the harder it will be to remove them. If the stains are hard to remove, you might be forced to scrub the shoes aggressively, trying to remove them. And you might end up damaging your shoes during the cleaning process. While you don’t have to clean your shoes every time you remove them, you should make it a habit of cleaning them as frequently as possible.

Second, don’t try to clean all the parts of the shoe at the same time. The laces, the sole, the upper and the inner components should be cleaned separately. By attending to each component separately, your cleaning task will be much easier. Apart from that, the cleaning will be much more effective and efficient. Therefore, when it’s time to clean your shoes, ensure you first remove the laces if they have any, take out the insoles, and then lift their tongue out. Start with the outsole, proceed to the upper, move to the inner parts, and then finish off with the laces.

Third, if you are using cleaning products, you need to be careful with them. Different cleaning products are designed for different types of shoes. It’s, therefore, important to ensure the product you are using is suitable for the shoes you are cleaning. The same case should apply to conditioning and treatment products. Also, it’s important to note that cleaning products can be your best friend or your worst enemy. They can make your cleaning work easier or damage your shoes permanently. But regardless of the shoes, you are cleaning, it’s not advisable to use pure bleach. If you have to use bleach, make sure you use small amounts and you dilute it properly.

Fourth, always follow the manufacturer’s instructions when it comes to washing or cleaning shoes. These instructions provide will guide you on how best to clean the shoes. For instance, they will indicate the method you should follow as well as the right products to use. In case the shoes you’ve purchased don’t bear the manufacturer’s cleaning instructions, you can check their website if they have been posted. And if you can’t seem to find any instructions anywhere, then you should follow your intuition.

Closing Remarks

No matter how you mind your step, treat your shoes, or treasure them, they will eventually get dirty at some point. How often you should wash your shoes will depend on the number of times you wear them in a week, how dirty they are as well as how you use them. If you wear them regularly, then you should clean them at least twice per week. On the other hand, if you only wear your shoes sparingly, then cleaning them once per month should be enough.

About the Author Cindy

Hello, I'm Cindy. I’m a super duper mega hiking enthusiast, with a love for everything that has to do with outdoors, hiking, gear, footwear and more.

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