How to Wash Shoes

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How to Wash Shoes

Washing shoes can seem like a difficult and somewhat daunting task for those who don’t know where to begin. So many factors come into play during the process of washing shoes, such as knowing what sort of material the shoe is, how it should be handled, what, if any, products may be used on it, and whether or not it’s machine washable. It’s also important to know what sort of cleaning may ruin certain materials and which materials are more sensitive than others. Though washing shoes can leave the wearer baffled on where to begin, knowing the difference between one type of shoe and another can transform a formidable job into an easy task. Once shoe owners have a firm grasp on the varying materials, a simple knowledge of cleaning products for each material and a few simple tips will make them confident in their shoe-washing abilities.

Owners can then opt to purchase shoes that are easier to clean at their local shoe stores, department stores, or shoe outlets where they can ask the retailer about specific materials or cleaning products that are offered. Buyers can also search online at eBay, where they can choose shoes listed by material, style, and condition. They can also search for cleaning products, such as suede erasers or leather cleaners for those necessary, but tougher to clean shoes.

Types of Shoes

Shoes come in many different colors, styles, and materials, making it difficult for owners to know where to begin when cleaning them. Owners should first become familiar with some of the basic materials of their shoes and learn to recognize them before attempting to clean their shoes. Each material requires a specific cleaning regimen, and if it is not followed properly, it can lead to ruin. Knowing the difference in these materials can aid shoe owners in their cleaning endeavors.

Sneakers and Athletic Shoes

Though sneakers and athletic shoes can be made from several kinds of materials, they are generally built with rubber for the bottom soles, and canvas, leather, or synthetic leather on the upper part of the shoe. They come in a variety of colors, but white is the standard shade. White is also the hardest to clean, because dirt and other marks show easily on its surface.

How to Clean

First, sneakers should be unlaced and the laces washed separately, or replaced. Visible surface stains should be removed with a wet cloth and a basic household cleaner before washing. Owners should read the labels on any cleaner they use to check for fabrics that should be avoided. Sneakers are generally machine washable, but they should first be placed in a mesh laundry bag or pillowcase to avoid wear and tear while in the machine. They can be washed on a delicate cycle using cold water and a small amount of detergent. They should not be placed in the dryer. Instead, owners can set them out to air dry so that they don’t lose their shape. Since these shoes are machine washable, they are considered fairly easy to clean.

Leather Shoes

Several kinds of shoes can be made from leather, including men’s dress shoes, women’s high heels, and boots of all kinds. They usually come in darker colors, making it harder to see dirt and stains; however, these shoes can retain unwanted odors that make cleaning a necessity. The type of leather used will make a large difference in its care. Owners should be cautious of the shoes’ sole material, as well as any added features the shoes may have, such as rope or cloth material on heels or boots.

How to Clean

Cleaning leather is very similar to cleaning sneakers, especially since sneakers are sometimes made from leather. If the leather shoe has laces, owners should be sure to remove them first and wash them separately. They may use household products such as a wet toothbrush and a cleaner or detergent to scrub away any visible stains. Next, owners should wash these shoes in the washing machine on a short, cold wash, much like with sneakers. This technique works well for leather boots or dress shoes, but should be avoided for more delicate shoes, such as heels. In either case, these shoes should be cleaned first with a wet brush and cleaner and then left to air dry.

Vinyl Patent Shoes

Vinyl patent material has a two-way stretch with a thick coating and a shiny finish that gives shoes a distinct, polished look. These shoes can range from men’s dress shoes to women’s high heels and are usually considered simple to maintain, though they are not machine washable.

How to Clean

Owners should first clean these shoes with a rag and warm water, without the soap. Next, they should apply a mild soap to any deep scuffmarks and stains until they have been wiped away. The shoes should be left to air dry for about thirty minutes. Lastly, owners may add a drop of furniture polish to the shoes and rub in circular motions to achieve a high-gloss shine. Though vinyl patent shoes are not machine washable, they remain one of the simplest shoes to clean by hand, as the material yields well to mild soap and water.

Suede Shoes

Suede material is a kind of leather that comes from the underside of the animal’s skin and tends to be softer and more pliable than regular leather material. This makes suede a good candidate for clothing and shoes that are comfortable and somewhat malleable, but it also makes shoes made from it less durable and easily stained.

How to Clean

Unlike leather shoes, suede shoes are not machine washable. In fact, throwing suede shoes in the washer will ruin them entirely. For these shoes, a few small necessary products come into play, such as a nail brush,, a suede brush, and a suede eraser. Owners should begin by brushing away any dried mud or built up stains with a dry nail brush and remove scuffs with the gentler suede brush. Owners should be careful of the shoe’s texture and restore dented areas with a fingernail file. Next, owners may use a suede eraser to clean spots and stains, and then apply the suede brush to restore the shoe’s texture. Owners should avoid using water on their suede shoes, but when it is absolutely necessary, they can use a lightly dampened towel to clean away spots. Because this shoe needs to be kept away from water entirely, it becomes a difficult shoe to wash and maintain. However, with the right products, such a task becomes easier to perform.

Simple Cleaning Products for Shoes

For those shoes that are not machine washable or just need a little extra attention, there are a few good tools to have handy. Owners who are searching for some simple products to do the trick for their cleaning process should know the difference between certain products and how they are used.

Cleaning Product


Cleaning Brush

A simple cleaning brush can be used to remove dirt and stains; examples include a simple toothbrush or nail brush, as well as a specific shoe brush

Suede Brush

A suede brush can be used on suede shoes or any other shoe; has a wooden handle and a pattern of soft and metallic bristles for gentle cleaning

Suede Eraser

A suede eraser is shaped like a pencil eraser and is made from art gum; used by rubbing the shoe’s surface to remove dirt and scuff marks; works well on all materials

Leather Conditioner

Leather conditioner is used to moisten leather shoes to keep their texture; use requires rubbing a small amount into the leather after it has dried

Each of these products are simple and easy to use and most of them can be used on any material, regardless of their titles. Buyers can purchase any one of these items to make cleaning machine washable shoes a bit easier, or aid the cleaning process for those shoes that must be washed by hand.

How to Buy Shoes and Cleaning Products on eBay

Buyers looking for shoes may direct their search online to eBay to browse through an array of options, including style, condition, and material to decipher the best shoes for the easiest cleaning. For those who prefer to buy shoes made from suede or leather, you might also search eBay for special cleaning products, such as suede erasers or leather cleaners to make maintaining your shoes manageable and easy.

Ways to Search

To search for shoes of any kind, you can just type the keyword "shoes" in the search bar to receive a number of options and category selections. This can be done for cleaning products as well. Just type the product you are looking for in the search bar, such as "suede erasers," and browse the results.

You may also try a more comprehensive category search for your shoes. First, select the Fashion category, and from there you may choose either Women’s Shoes or Men’s Shoes, depending on your preference. Next, choose your desired shoe style, such as boots, athletic shoes, heels, or flats. Options are listed for material, color, width, and condition as well, making your search for your preferred shoe easy and fast.

Buy with Confidence

Buying shoes on eBay is made easy with the price feature. You can type in your desired price range to get a listing of shoes not only in the right material, but also in the right budget. You can be sure you are buying from a trustworthy source by researching eBay’s Top - rated sellers. Top-rated sellers are marked with a gold badge and buyers can view their feedback and ratings from past transactions to ensure a problem-free transaction.


Though washing shoes can be a complicated chore, understanding the different shoe materials and how they should be handled can make a stressful task into a simple one. Shoes come in many different styles and are made from materials like canvas, leather, vinyl patent, and suede, all of which should be cared for specifically. Owners should also be conscious of which shoes are machine washable and which are not. For those that aren’t, cleaning products can be purchased to make washing easier. Buyers can search eBay for shoes made from materials that require simple cleaning, or search shoe cleaning products for those less manageable shoes. eBay buyers can shop with confidence and search top-rated sellers to ensure that they are getting the best shoe from the best source.

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