A Guide to Keeping Your Shoes Looking Brand New

A Guide to Keeping Your Shoes Looking Brand New

Life can be daunting at times, so we might often lag behind in cleaning our shoes. But shoes are an investment. We spend considerable money on our beloved kicks to pull together our outfits — from sneakers to finish off our head-to-toe workout getup to chic flats for a comfortable day at the office. And fresh-looking shoes matched with a well-coordinated, stylish outfit makes you look more polished and put together.

In addition to being busy, life can be unexpected, too. Puddles caused by sudden rainfalls may endanger your recently cleaned shoes. Knowing the correct way to clean your footwear will save you time and headaches down the line. Taking preventative measures can also aid in keeping your kicks looking like you just bought them. It’s a good idea, for example, to spray new shoes with a waterproof sealant to protect them against the elements. Start building your shoe-cleaning arsenal with simple household tools, like an old toothbrush or a rag. By following the steps below, you’ll have cleaner footwear in no time.

Suede, Nubuck & Soft Leathers

Water is the worst enemy of shoes in this category, which is ironic since many people tend to wear suede, nubuck, and other soft leather footwear (think bootsand booties) during colder seasons where there’s a chance for snowfall. We love our comfy suede boots, but you never know when you’ll step in a puddle or snowbank. Try to keep these shoes as dry as possible — it might be best to opt for women's duck boots if it's a wet day.

To keep suede, nubuck, and other soft leather shoes looking good, you must clean them regularly. By treating marks, stains, and scuffs as soon as possible, you’ll avoid more time-consuming, extensive cleaning down the line. Invest in a soft-bristle brush. The brush will help to remove loose dirt and grit after every wear. You can use an eraser to rub away stains and marks. For more stubborn stains, try applying white vinegar with a cloth. And remember to spray your newly cleaned shoes with a protective spray.

Leather & Faux Leather

Leather and faux leather are commonly used for making flats, pumps, oxfords, loafers, and sandals. Wipe away stains with a wash cloth dipped in equal parts white vinegar and water, then rub them dry. Remove tough stains with a leather cleaner and a soft-bristle brush or microfiber cloth, and remember to condition your shoes after cleaning them for continual protection. For extra TLC, buff them with leather polish and watch them shine like brand new!


Cleaning fabric like canvas, linen, or denim may seem intimidating at first. You may even be tempted to throw these shoes in the washer and dryer with your laundry. Don’t do this if the shoes feature leather or jute detail because glue usually holds together embellishments. To avoid ruining the shoes’ structure, you’re better off washing them by hand. Use a toothbrush to wipe off loose dirt, then, dip your shoes in warm water with a little mild detergent or dishwashing liquid without completely submerging them and continue scrubbing the dirt with the toothbrush. After rinsing the shoes with clean water, wrap them in a beach towel to squeeze out excess water, then air dry them.

You may be able to get away with machine washing women's slippers made from cotton or polyester (or another synthetic fabric) if the care tag or washing instructions say that they’re machine washable. However, pretreat tough stains with detergent before throwing them in the washer; be sure to work the detergent into the spots before machine washing them. Always air dry your slippers; never toss them in a dryer. You can also wash slippers by hand by soaking them in warm water with one teaspoon of detergent for about 30 minutes; afterward, rinse and squeeze out all water.

Bright white kicks can really bring an outfit to life. That’s why keeping your white shoes in top shape is a must. After every wear, wipe them down with a damp cloth. For a deeper clean, mix a little detergent in warm water, dip a cloth in the mixture, and scrub the shoes. Then, wipe off any residue with a cloth dipped in clean water. You can also apply nail polish remover or vinegar to a cotton ball and use it to clean stains.

Fur, Faux Fur & Jute Trimmings

If you like to add a bit of luxe to your life by rocking shoes trimmed with fur or faux fur, you’ll need to know the details that’ll keep them primed and ready for any outing. Spray fur or faux fur trim with cold water and gently dry the trim with a hairdryer. Then, fluff it out and let it set. You can also use a fine-tooth comb to remove loose dirt.

Espadrilles’ wedges feature wrap-around braided jute, perfect to pair with a casual comfy dress. To prevent it from unraveling, clean the jute by hand. Start by wiping off loose dirt with a cloth. Then, use your trusty toothbrush to remove the rest of the dirt — dip the brush in some water with a bit of detergent mixed in and gently scrub. Wipe off the trim with a damp clean cloth.


Finally, you can get away with throwing laces in the washing machine and dryer — just be careful not to lose them like you would a sock in the laundry hamper. You can instead soak them in a mixture of hot water with dishwashing liquid or laundry detergent for about 15 minutes. After rinsing and squeezing the laces, hang them to air dry.

With these tips and a few household items, you’ll be keeping your shoe collection in tip-top shape season after season.


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