Can You Dry Clean Shoes?

Dry Cleaning Shoes

If you are very possessive about your pair of shoes and always want to keep them spic, span, and clean, then one of the best methods is to dry clean them. However, is it really possible to dry clean shoes? The answer is YES.

But, several factors apply when it comes to dry cleaning shoes. These are the material, quality, waterproofing, sole type, etc. If your shoes are too delicate, say in the case of pure leather or suede, we recommend that you take them to a professional for the best care. However, if your shoes require basic cleanings like removing minor stains and dirt particles, then you can easily dry clean at home with some minimum tools at dispense.

Therefore, we decided to clarify the confusion on this subject and help you with a step-by-step guide on how to dry clean shoes and take care of different shoe materials.



Cleaning Shoes in A Dry Cleaner (Steps)

Cleaning Shoes in A Dry Cleaner

Dry cleaning shoes with a few minor stains here and there is very simple. However, you may not want to risk spoiling your shoes, especially if the material is slightly sensitive. Therefore, we decided to give a step by step guide that you can follow to clean your shoes:

Things you will need:

  • Soft-bristled brush OR Old toothbrush
  • Laundry detergent
  • Warm Water
  • Sponge cloth


  • First, to clean the upper material and the outsole, you can use a soft-bristled brush and move it around the shoes to remove the excess dirt.
  • Next, take a small amount of mild laundry detergent and mix it with warm water to create a soapy solution.
  • Use a soft sponge cloth and dip it in the solution. Rub the wet cloth all over the surface of the shoes and even on the insoles.
  • Use another sponge cloth to remove excess water and detergent from the shoe surface and the insides.
  • Keep the shoes at room temperature for drying.


Tip: You can also spray some baking powder inside the insoles of the shoes to prevent them from harboring moisture and bacteria due to sweat

Tip: You can also use a professional shoe cleaning kit readily available at any shoe outlet, retail store, or even online. These are mild, eco-friendly, and safe for various shoe materials. They do not spoil or impact the quality of the shoes in any way.

If you have purchased a good quality branded leather or mesh shoe, the brands have their own set of shoe cleanser kits available, which promise better cleaning. In fact, you can use these kits for dry cleaning instead of a laundry detergent that may be harsh for your shoe material.


  • Do not use a heater or air dryer to dry the shoes. This will spoil the stitches and the shoe fibers reducing the life span of the shoes.
  • Allow the shoes to dry completely before using them.
  • If the insoles are removable, make sure to remove them and wash/clean them separately.
  • If the shoes have laces, remove the lace and rub some detergent over them.


How To Clean Different Types of Materials?

Suede shoes

Suede shoes

Suede shoes are the trickiest of all as they are relatively difficult to clean and manage. The material is exceptionally absorbent and soggy; washing them with water or a wet cloth becomes out of the question. You can use a terry cloth dipped in slight amounts of water and rub it on the shoes’ surface if there are any stains. Make sure to dry the surface of these shoes thoroughly if they have gone wet else; they can harbour fungal growth.

Professional dry cleaners are well versed when it comes to cleaning suede. However, they can charge you a hefty buck, so be ready for some heavy investment for cleaning and maintaining suede boots. If there are any dry stains on the surface, you can always rub them off with an eraser. When it comes to wet stains, corn starch is a useful hack for getting rid of stains.


Leather shoes

Leather Shoes

Leather shoes are relatively easy to clean, but one has to be careful about the material running extremely sensitive. Once in a while, it is advisable to deep clean the shoes, but for routine care and maintenance, you can always use a soft sponge cloth or a soft-bristled brush to remove the dust from the surface.

Make sure that if you are using water and detergent soap solution, do not soak the leather completely in water unless it is waterproof. This will only cause the material to shrink and spoil the shoes. Shoe polish or shoe wax is also a handy tool for cleaning leather shoes and preventing dust and dirt from sticking on their surface. These are extremely handy for protecting your boots as they create an extra layer and prevent your shoes from getting scratches or scuffs. For deep cleaning, you can consult a shoe specialist or a professional dry cleaner.


Tennis Shoes

Tennis Shoes

When it comes to tennis shoes, they are fairly easy to wash and are made for severe, long-lasting wear. The shoe’s material is such that it can ideally withstand both hand wash and machine wash. However, you would always want to check the bottom label of the shoe if they have specifically mentioned hand wash only. If it has hand wash mentioned, then you may want to use a scrub cloth or soft-bristled brush and rub some mild detergent on the surface to clean the dirt and stains.

If it has machine wash mentioned, you can always toss it inside a laundry bag or a pillow cover and cover it well. Then toss it in the washing machine with a few towels and soft cloth materials to ensure that the shoes don’t hit against the walls and do not keep bouncing when the machine tub rotates. Wash it in a cold cycle and use slight amounts of mild detergent. Air-dry the shoes at room temperature. If tennis shoes have laces, clean them separately.


Canvas Shoes

Canvas Shoes

Ideally, cleaning Canvas Shoes is more or less like cleaning tennis shoes. However, this depends upon the material being thick or thin. For thin canvas shoes, it is advisable to use a soft-bristled brush and make a soap water solution to clean over the surface and the insides. When it comes to thick canvas shoes, you can toss them in the machine but give it a gentle and cold cycle. Cover them inside a laundry bag or pillow cover, and you can toss them in the machine. Make sure to check specifically if the shoes are machine washable. Air-dry the shoes once done washing.


Mesh shoes

Mesh shoes

If you own a pair of athletic shoes or mesh shoes, cleaning them can be easy, but you need to be careful. Mesh fibers are susceptible to tearing off pretty quickly apart from being flexible and well ventilated. The fibers especially are very delicate, and running them for a wash in the machine is next to destroying them.

For which, mesh shoes should be dry cleaned with a brush and a mild detergent just like you would treat any other delicate canvas or tennis shoe. However, since they are usually made of rubber for the midsoles and the outsoles, you can try cleaning and whitening them by using some bleach. Dip a highly absorbent cloth around a pinch of bleach and rub over the midsoles and outsoles.

If you do not want to get your mesh shoes overly wet, cover the eyeholes of the laces with a paper towel or a cloth. This will prevent water from entering the insoles. Additionally, you can wash the insoles separately with a brush and mild detergent. Make sure not to get too harsh. For minor dirt and dust, you can always consider brushing them off.




Espadrilles are a very delicate set of shoes. Hence it is advisable to clean them very carefully using delicate materials. A small toothbrush is suitable for rubbing over the surface to clean any stains or dirt gently.

Even if you are cleaning the dirt, ensure that the cleaning process is dry, not allowing the water to seep into the shoes’ materials and spoil the fabric. Do not scrub the fabric too hard. You can purchase a cleaning kit specifically made for espadrilles as they are sensitive and non-harmful for your shoe material.


Tips & Tricks To Care For Your Shoes

Washing and dry-cleaning your shoes is an essential aspect of shoe care. But not at the cost of spoiling your expensive pair. Cleaning and caring for your shoes, if done correctly, can increase your shoes’ life and make them look fresh as new. Here are a few handy tips to keep in mind when you decide to dry clean your shoes the next time:

  • Always use a soft brush. Hard bristles can spoil the surface of your shoes and cause scratches or marks.
  • Make a baking soda paste to clean the rubber outsoles. This also helps in removing any foul odor.
  • Before using water on your shoes, use a mild stain remover. Most shoe materials are not waterproof. They are water-resistant, which wear off with time.
  • Never use a heater or dryer to dry your wet shoes. It will only spoil the material, especially in the case of leather. It will get too dry and start cracking.
  • Use a mild detergent to clean your shoes. Instead, it is advisable to use a cleaning kit instead of a detergent with a chemical or two. This can cause discoloration and spoil your shoes.
  • Use a shoe deodorizer to keep your shoes smelling fresh and to avoid odor due to sweat. You can also sprinkle some baking soda on the shoes’ insides to keep them dry and odor-free.
  • As much as possible, remove the insoles if they are removable and wash them separately. The same goes for shoelaces.

The bottom line

One of the many ways to clean your favorite pair of shoes is to dry clean them. Many of us are scared to experiment with cleaning tricks with our shoes simply because we may end up spoiling them. However, if done correctly, dry cleaning and manual washing are the safest and effective ways of cleaning shoes without causing any harm to the material.

We have suggested a step-by-step guide above to help you clean your shoes to perfection. Alongside, if you are worried about cleaning different materials of shoes, we have a solution for that too—no more hassles and confusion about dry cleaning any type of shoe.

Read our article above and tell us if it worked well for you and your shoes through the comments section below.

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