A Comprehensive Guide: What to Use to Clean Shoes


Keeping your shoes clean is essential not only for maintaining their appearance but also for prolonging their lifespan. Whether you have leather, canvas, suede, or synthetic shoes, knowing the right cleaning methods and products is crucial for keeping them looking their best. In this guide, we’ll explore various cleaning solutions and techniques to help you effectively what to use to clean shoes.

Assessing Your Shoes

Before you begin cleaning your shoes, it’s important to assess their material and condition. Different materials require different cleaning methods and products, so take a close look at your shoes to determine the best approach.

Removing Surface Dirt

Start by removing any surface dirt or debris from your shoes. Use a soft-bristled brush or a damp cloth to gently brush away dirt from the surface of the shoes. Be careful not to scrub too vigorously, especially if you’re dealing with delicate materials like suede or canvas.

Choosing the Right Cleaning Product

Once you’ve removed the surface dirt, it’s time to choose the right cleaning product for your shoes. There are numerous shoe cleaning products available on the market, including specialized cleaners for leather, suede, canvas, and synthetic materials. Consider the material of your shoes and any specific cleaning requirements they may have before selecting a product.

Cleaning Leather Shoes

For leather shoes, it’s best to use a mild leather cleaner specifically formulated for this material. Apply the cleaner to a clean cloth or brush and gently rub it onto the surface of the shoes in circular motions. Wipe away any excess cleaner with a damp cloth and allow the shoes to air dry.

Cleaning Suede Shoes

Suede shoes require a different approach due to their delicate nature. Use a suede brush or eraser to gently remove stains and dirt from the surface of the shoes. Be careful not to rub too hard, as this can damage the suede. For stubborn stains, consider using a specialized suede cleaner following the manufacturer’s instructions.

Cleaning Canvas Shoes

Canvas shoes are relatively easy to clean with the right products. Use a mild detergent mixed with water to create a cleaning solution, then apply it to the surface of the shoes using a soft brush or cloth. Gently scrub the shoes in circular motions to lift away dirt and stains. Rinse the shoes with clean water and allow them to air dry.

Cleaning Synthetic Shoes

Synthetic shoes can usually be cleaned with a mild soap and water solution. Apply the solution to the surface of the shoes using a soft brush or cloth, then gently scrub away dirt and stains. Rinse the shoes with clean water and allow them to air dry.

Dealing with Tough Stains

For tough stains that won’t come out with regular cleaning methods, there are specialized stain removers available for various shoe materials. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions carefully when using these products, and always test them on a small, inconspicuous area of the shoes first to ensure compatibility.

Drying Your Shoes Properly

After cleaning your shoes, it’s essential to allow them to dry properly to prevent mold and mildew growth. Avoid placing them near direct heat sources like radiators or heaters, as this can cause the material to warp or crack. Instead, stuff the shoes with newspaper or a shoe tree to help them retain their shape and absorb excess moisture. Allow the shoes to air dry in a well-ventilated area away from direct sunlight.

Conditioning Leather Shoes

Once your leather shoes are clean and dry, consider conditioning them to keep the leather soft and supple. Use a leather conditioner or cream to moisturize the leather and restore its natural oils. Apply the conditioner evenly to the surface of the shoes using a clean cloth, then buff away any excess with a soft brush.

Protecting Your Shoes

To prolong the life of your shoes and keep them looking their best, consider applying a protective spray or coating after cleaning. These products help repel water, dirt, and stains, keeping your shoes cleaner for longer and making them easier to maintain.

Storing Your Shoes Properly

Proper storage is essential for preserving the shape and condition of your shoes. Store them in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight and humidity. Consider using shoe trees or inserts to help maintain their shape and prevent creasing. Avoid stacking shoes on top of each other, as this can cause them to become misshapen or damaged over time.

Regular Maintenance

To keep your shoes looking their best, it’s important to perform regular maintenance and cleaning. Set aside time every few weeks to inspect your shoes for dirt, stains, and signs of wear. Address any issues promptly to prevent them from becoming more significant problems down the line.

Seeking Professional Help

If you’re unsure about how to clean your shoes or if they require more extensive cleaning or repairs, consider seeking professional help. A shoe repair shop or cobbler can provide expert advice and services to restore your shoes to their former glory.


Knowing what to use to clean your shoes is essential for maintaining their appearance and prolonging their lifespan. By following the appropriate cleaning methods and using the right products for your shoe material, you can keep your shoes looking clean, fresh, and stylish for years to come. Remember to assess your shoes’ material and condition, choose the appropriate cleaning products, and take care to dry and store them properly. With regular maintenance and care, your shoes will continue to look their best and serve you well for many seasons to come.

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