Common Household Items You Can Use to Clean Shoes

January 5, 2022 0 Comments

Investing in good shoes doesn’t end with just buying the shoes.  It comes with a shoe care routine that you have to diligently follow if you wish for your shoes to last long.  An excuse often used by self-proclaimed shoe enthusiasts with a rather poor shoe care routine is that keeping a shoe care kit is quite expensive.

But does it have to be that way?  Did you know that there are common household items that you can use to create your own shoe care kit?

We gathered these items that you might already have on hand so you wouldn’t have to be making excuses not to give the proper care that your shoes deserve.

White Cloth

You don’t have to go out and buy a white cloth by the yard.  You might have an old white shirt that you are thinking of throwing out.  Don’t just yet. You can use that as your basic shoe polisher or dirt remover.  Why white, you might ask?  The chances of staining your good old shoes are nil.  Dye from colored fabrics may stain your shoes especially when you use it to apply polish or other cleaning solutions.

Old Toothbrush

Don’t underestimate the power of an old toothbrush especially when you are out to remove dry mud, sand and soil from your shoes.  You can scrub lightly the dry dirt away then finish it off with the cloth above.  This will work best on rubber shoes, slippers, canvas and rope wedges and some fabric. 


With your old toothbrush, you can apply toothpaste to clean your shoes – sneakers, in particular.  Just like the principle of using white cloth, it’s best to use a non-gel, white toothpaste to avoid possibly staining your sneakers especially when they are white.  Apply the toothpaste on the spots you are trying to clean, leave it on for 5 to 10 minutes then wipe them off with a damp cloth.

Petroleum Jelly

No shoe polish available to enhance the look of your leather shoes?  No problem, grab that jar of petroleum jelly that you use for your chapped lips or skin.  After you wipe your shoes clean with cloth, you can apply a layer of the slimy petroleum jelly over the leather. Then, rub it lightly with a soft cloth.

Dish Soap

The dish soap can be used to clean your shoes especially as a maintenance routine.  You can handwash your white sneakers using water and dish soap.  This also works well with patent leather shoes, cork and rope wedges.

White vinegar

This kitchen condiment is almost always present in DIY home cleaning remedies.  This can be used in cleaning almost any surface and material.  For shoes, you can also use this to remove stubborn stains.  Dip your white cloth in the vinegar then apply on the spot that you want to clean.  Gentle scrubbing then wipe with a cloth.  

Baking Soda

A good working partner of vinegar is the baking soda.  We have a devoted post about how baking soda is an essential cleaning agent in our homes.  Well, it never disappoints as it can also be used to clean your shoes.  When mixed with vinegar and water, altogether you can create a cleaning paste that you can apply to your shoes, white sneakers in particular.  You use the old toothbrush to apply the paste and make sure that it’s all covered.  You can then leave the shoes out in the sun to dry and once the mixture is dry, you can shake or brush it off.

Rubbing Alcohol

Your suedes are not left out here.  Rubbing alcohol when mixed with equal parts of vinegar creates a safe DIY cleaning solution for your suede shoes.  Do a spot first to ensure that the suede fabric of the shoes do not adversely react to your DIY solution.  What the rubbing alcohol does is brighten the color of your suede shoes.

Magic Eraser

This is also known as melamine foam that’s used in soundproofing and insulation.  But this is also available as an abrasive cleaner that is proven effective.  It can remove crayon stains on walls, adhesive residue, grease and grime.  The scrubbing however should be done gently as it can scratch surfaces especially those that are not hard enough.  For shoes, you can use this to clean the soles and the harder materials of your shoes.  It can work in leather, rubber, plastic and some fabric.  

Nail Polish Remover

Just as you use this on your nails, you need a cotton ball to apply this to your shoes.  Dip the cotton ball in the nail polish remover but don’t get it too saturated.  Then, apply it on the dirty spot that you want cleaned.  Others swore to how effective this is on scratches on patent leather and rubber shoes.  Others also suggest applying baby powder or petroleum jelly after to protect the material of the shoes.

No Excuses – Clean Your Shoes

It is a fact that shoe cleaning solutions and tools are not on the cheap side.  There are those that are made purposely for a particular material and for a particular type of dirt.  There are those made for a particular brand that comes with a guarantee that if you use the said cleaning solution, your shoes are going to last a lifetime.

 This is actually a good investment especially if your shoes are on the higher scale of the price range.  But not all can afford a shoe cleaning arsenal that’s top of the line.  But it’s no justification either for you to skip the cleaning or maintenance routine for your shoes.

The household items listed above are good alternatives to the expensive shoe cleaning kits.  These are everyday items that you use or you already have hanging around in your house.  Make use of them so you can give the proper care that your shoes need.