Guide: How to Clean Shoes

We’re all a bit precious when we get a new pair of shoes. But once that’s worn off, we start wearing them absolutely everywhere. With that, they tend to pick up a little dirt here and there and can start to look a little, well, tired.

Luckily, cleaning shoes is a super quick and easy job that keeps them looking as though they are fresh out of the box. There are a few things you need to know before you start scrubbing up your favourite footwear. For example, how you’d clean a pair of suede shoes is very different to how you’d clean leather shoes.

Fear not, it’s not as complicated as it all sounds. We’ve put together a handy guide for you all about cleaning shoes.

How to remove stains from suede shoes

When dealing with light stains on suede shoes, firmly brush the affected area with a suede brush. Use a back-and-forth motion so as not to aggravate the fabric too much. Alternatively, you can use a suede eraser to buff out any marks.

If you’re dealing with a heavier stain, wet a cloth with white wine vinegar and gently rub the stained area in a circular motion. You can also use rubbing alcohol if you’d prefer. Let the area completely dry before going back in with your brush to remove any loose dirt.

Here’s a handy tip; you can use a razor to shave off any straggly bits. When cleaning suede shoes, you may notice over time that the fabric can become stringy. It’s nothing to worry about and is something that can easily be fixed. Gently shave the area in question to smooth the fabric. Any old razor will do, you can just pick up a cheap one at your local supermarket.

How to clean suede shoes

cleaning suede shoes

When it comes to everyday wear and tear, cleaning suede shoes is pretty simple. Here are our top tips:

  1. Never try to clean off wet dirt. Wipe off as much as you can and let the fabric totally dry before brushing. If you try to clean suede shoes while they are wet, you can actually press the dirt further into the fabric which will cause a deeper stain.
  2. When brushing, make sure to move with the grain, not against it. This gets rid of any dirt or grit sitting in the fabric and maintains the integrity of the suede.
  3. Use a suede rubber to buff out any light marks. If you don’t have one, you can use an everyday stationery rubber. Press down firmly in a back-and-forth motion. If that isn’t working, move on to the white wine vinegar trick.
  4. Once cleaned, finish your shoes with some suede protector.

See, cleaning suede shoes isn’t as tricky as you’d think. With regular care, your suede shoes can last even longer.

How to clean leather shoes

To clean leather shoes, you will need some leather polish and conditioner, a shoe brush or cloth, and some waterproof spray. Here’s a brief run-down of how it’s done:

  1. Use some leather cleaner to remove and top-level dirt from the shoe.
  2. Apply some leather conditioner to replace any of the lost natural oils.
  3. Polish up your shoes to restore the colour and shine.
  4. Apply some waterproofing products to protect the shoe from moisture damage.

Ideally, you should be cleaning and polishing your leather shoes every week to keep them in tip-top shape. The conditioning and waterproofing, however, should be done just a couple of times a year. Some of the top reasons leather shoes start to look worn down are:

  • They have had too much sun and heat exposure causing the leather to dry out and crack.
  • They are frequently moving between hot and cold. For example, keeping your leather shoes in a warm place and wearing them on a very cold day. Or, storing them somewhere cool and wearing them out on a hot day. The constant changing of temperatures can cause your leather shoes to become mouldy – which no one wants!
  • They have been cleaned with the wrong products that destroy the natural material and texture.

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How to clean canvas shoes

cleaning canvas shoes

Canvas shoes are incredibly easy to clean either by hand or in the washing machine. However, if your canvas shoes have any kind of embellishments, with say leather or suede, they should be hand-washed only. So, here’s how to get clean canvas shoes:

  1. Take the laces off the shoes. You can either wash them separately or pop them into a mesh laundry bag before putting your shoes in the washing machine. This stops them from getting tangled up and saves you the time and frustration of trying to figure out how to unpick it all.
  2. Add in regular laundry detergent before setting your washing machine off. If you have white canvas shoes, you can always use some chlorine bleach to make them dazzle. If your machine doesn’t have a pre-setting for shoes, just set it off on a low-spin cycle.
  3. Don’t wash shoes on their own. Throw them in with a couple of pairs of jeans or towels to balance the load.
  4. Air dry your canvas shoes, never put them in a dryer. The heat can cause them to warp and can potentially melt any glue holding the shoe together.

And there you have it, a simple guide on cleaning shoes. It’s so important to make sure you look after your shoes. Not every shoe is the same and some need more care than others. With the proper maintenance, you can increase the life of your shoe which means you can keep wearing them again and again for years to come.

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