How to Clean Shoes

No one likes dirty shoes. But since their entire job is to protect and support your feet while out and about, chances are they will end up with a few scuffs and stains. Especially if you buy quality shoes and wear them for many years!

When it comes to looking after the condition of your shoes, preventing mess is a great place to start. Below, we’ll share tips on keeping your shoes spick and span, so you won’t need to clean them very often. If the dirt has found you, no problem! Read our advice on cleaning shoes here, too, with instructions for various common materials.

How to keep your shoes clean

Protect your footwear from mess and stains with these helpful hacks:

It’s often easier said than done, but try not to take your shoes out in bad weather conditions where the ground is expected to be muddy or wet. Stick to footpaths and pavements rather than grass, especially after a rainy spell. If you need to go out in the rain or snow, choose waterproof footwear that can wipe clean.

Before heading outside, spray your shoes with our Rain and Stain  for invisible, breathable protection against water, dirt and stains.

Keep your finest footwear looking exquisite with Aromatic Cedar Shoe Trees, available for men and women. They absorb moisture, reduce wrinkles, eliminate odor and extend the life of your shoes.

What to use to clean shoes

It’s super important to use the right cleaning products specifically designed for the material of your shoes. Use the following Clarks products for an easy and convenient cleaning solution for your pair of fabric, leather, suede, nubuck or cork shoes.

How to clean leather shoes

If your leather shoes could do with some TLC, use our Shine Sponge or apply some leather polish with a dry rag and allow it to dry for 30 minutes. This will clean, polish, and moisturize the leather.

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How to polish and restore leather shoes

Although leather is naturally durable, it can become worn and distressed due to weather, humidity and age. Each of these factors can have a different effect on the leather, causing the material to look old and neglected if not treated with love.

To ensure your pair of leather shoes stands the test of time, occasionally take the necessary steps to treat them. To help extend the life of your favorite shoes, use the following products for an easy and convenient restoration.

  • For a fast shine solution on the go, use Clarks’ Instant Shine Sponge to moisturize, protect and shine

  • For a long-lasting finish, apply some cream polish in a circular motion with a dry rag and allow to dry for 30 minutes

  • For lasting protection on lightly worn shoes, spray Clarks’ Rain and Stain  to the entire exterior of the leather

How to remove salt stains from leather shoes

Salt is used in the tanning process of most leathers; if your shoes get wet, you might notice some salt stains. Luckily, these are easy to treat following the steps below:

  1. Make a solution that is two parts water and one part vinegar

  2. Dampen a clean cloth with the solution and gently wipe the shoe

  3. Remove the solution with a cloth dampened with clean, pure water

  4. Ensure the shoe fully dries out, as it’s best not to soak leather in water for long – you could place the shoe within range of a heater or radiator (not too close; heaters can cause the leather to dry out, become brittle and can damage adhesives

How to clean suede or nubuck shoes

Suede and nubuck shoes are meticulously sanded to produce a velvety finish. While this process creates the soft texture we love, it also causes the leather to become porous and more susceptible to scuff marks and staining. Luckily, there are plenty of practical ways to keep these materials looking great no matter what life has in store.

  1. To clean suede shoes, gently apply a suede and nubuck foaming cleaner

  2. Scrub lightly with the grain in the direction that the suede naturally sits

  3. Wipe with a clean, dry cloth and leave to dry for 30 minutes

  4. Lightly spray on Clarks’ Rain and Stain

How to remove stains from suede or nubuck shoes

Follow these simple steps to remove stains from suede shoes:

  1. Use a brush or cloth to remove any dry dirt and stains

  2. Make a solution that is two parts water and one part white vinegar

  3. Dampen a clean cloth with the solution and gently wipe the shoe, following the grain

  4. Let the shoe air-dry

How to clean fabric or canvas shoes

Due to their absorbent material, fabric and canvas shoes require a different cleaning method than leather and suede. Here’s how you can quickly restore your fabric shoes:

  1. Mix one tablespoon of baking soda, two tablespoons of white vinegar and a cup of warm water until the mixture forms a paste

  2. Apply a small amount of the paste to your shoes using a dabbing motion, then lightly scrub with a cloth or a clean toothbrush

  3. When the stain has disappeared, leave your shoes to air-dry before brushing off any excess paste

  4. Finish with a spritz of Shoe Refresher to keep shoes fresh and clean

How to clean cork shoes

Naturally antimicrobial, cork sandals or wedges are super easy to clean, making them a popular summer shoe choice. They repel moisture and bacteria and don’t trap heat, keeping your feet nice and fresh in the warmer weather.

If you’ve noticed some wear and tear on your cork shoes, follow these simple steps to get them looking good as new:

  1. Mix one tablespoon of baking soda with two tablespoons of water

  2. Dip a toothbrush into the mixture and gently scrub using a circular motion to remove dirt – try not to get your shoes too wet

  3. Wipe away the solution with a damp cloth and leave your shoes to dry for at least 24 hours

Can you put shoes in the washing machine?

You can wash shoes in the washing machine so long as they’re the right material. To reduce the risk of damaging them, remove the laces and pop your shoes in a closed mesh bag before placing them in the washing machine. Use a cold, gentle cycle with a slow spin setting for the best results.

Want to be certain that your shoes can be put in the washing machine? We have plenty of styles that are machine washable, including our Roxby Lace, Breeze Skip and Breeze Shore.

Why can’t I wash my shoes with soap?

Imagine going to wear your favorite pair of leather shoes, only to find they look dirty. You might head to the kitchen sink for a quick fix. This isn’t always a good idea!

Although soap is excellent for cleaning, it shouldn’t be used on leather-based items like shoes. Shoes are often made of high-quality leather that is naturally porous, which means the material will easily absorb cleaning agents.

In addition, leather contains oils designed to keep it moisturized and looking good. Soap works to extract oils, which means drying out your shoes, causing discoloration or stains that are nearly impossible to remove. With that in mind, sticking to the cleaning tips above is best to avoid spoiling your favourite shoes.

Browse our collection of women’s shoes and men’s shoes to find your perfect pair, and keep exploring our blog for more tips and advice.