How to Clean Different Types of Shoes - A Professional Guide

Revive the life in your old and dirty shoes with this professional guide on how to clean your fabric, leather, suede or sheepskin shoes!

How to Clean Different Types of Shoes - A Professional Guide


Shoes! The number of people who love shopping for shoes, or collectors in that case, all have one problem. Keeping these shoes clean. But, trust us, it does not take much time to clean them, and it would not even cost you a fraction of your shoes' price to do so. All it takes is 30–40 minutes of your time and some cleaning materials. Here are the things you will need:

  1. A pair of dirty shoes (obviously, you would not want to clean it otherwise)
  2. Soft-bristled toothbrush
  3. Microfiber cloth
  4. Cleaning brush (soft-bristled or really careful hands)
  5. Dishwashing liquid
  6. White vinegar
  7. Baking soda
  8. Glass cleaner (Ammonia-based and alcohol-free)
  9. Cornstarch or talcum powder

How do you clean your shoes?

Before answering this question, we need to consider what type of shoes we are dealing with. Fabric, leather, suede, sheepskin, and a lot of other types of shoes all have different cleaning methods. Let's answer the question now!

Fabric shoes

Shoes with fabric:

Handwashing is the way to go. If you want your shoes and washing machine to last longer, don't toss them into it! The excess speed and temperature a washing machine produces is not good for the glue holding your shoes' soles together.

Firstly, all the dirt and dust on your shoes has to go. Use a brush or cloth to do this. You don't need to be a chemist; just mix warm water with a little dishwashing soap (1 tablespoon soap for 2 cups of water). Wash the laces separately in a smaller bowl or mug. The laces can be washed in a washing machine with other clothes once they have been soaked in the solution for at least 30 minutes.

Scrub all the dirt and marks on the fabric of the shoes with a toothbrush. Use as little water as possible—just enough to wet your shoes enough to lather up. Otherwise, it can cause serious decoloring and take too long to dry. Air-dry the shoes at their normal temperature after wiping off all the soap with a wet microfiber cloth, and ensure that they are completely dry before wearing them again.

Brown Leather shoes

Leather Shoes:

Leather shoes are prone to dirt and fading. To prevent this, regular cleaning and maintenance of the leather is required. Fill a container with vinegar and water in equal parts; be careful not to overapply the solution. Use it with a microfiber cloth to clean the surface of the leather. When dried, apply some good old shoe polish. Now, you might not always find the right color, so you can always use a wet cloth dipped in baking soda to do the trick. Let it dry and wipe them with a clean cloth.

Alcohol-free and ammonia-free glass cleaners are best to get the long-lost old shine of your shoes back. Petroleum jelly like Vaseline is great for polishing and buffing up the scuffs, too.

Suede shoes

Suede, NuBuck, and Sheepskin Shoes:

These shoes will get ruined if you use the same amount of water used to clean fabric shoes. These special materials are usually cleaned in a dry setting. We must clean the shoes with a toothbrush after every wear and treat stains as quickly as possible. If you let the stain linger for longer, it might ruin your shoes with a permanent stain. How do we do this?

Use an ordinary eraser to remove all marks on the shoes. In the case of oil stains, we must let some cornstarch or talcum powder sit on the stain for at least an hour before brushing it off. Keep repeating the process until all of the oil has been absorbed.

Wet stains can easily be blotted away with a paper towel. After all of the moisture has been absorbed by the paper, leave the shoes to air dry at room temperature.

Sheepskin shoes are prone to mold buildup. The same solution of water and detergent used to clean fabric shoes can be used in very small quantities to wipe the insides of these shoes. Then, to sanitize the spots even more, a vinegar and water trick comes in handy. They will be good to wear after 24 hours of air drying.


Take care of your shoes like you would yourself. Shoes must be cleaned at least once a month to retain their glow and color. If you are a person who loves adventures, you might want to wash your daily wear shoes more often whenever they get dirty. As long as you don't get lazy and toss them in the washing machine, your shoes will last you a lifetime.