Many people wonder what is the need to clean the bottom of their shoes. After all, aren’t they supposed to stay in constant touch with the ground and supposed to get dirty?
Well, we understand that cleaning shoe soles is not everyone’s cup of tea. However, it is an essential step toward maintaining shoe quality and keeping them looking neat.
In this article, we are going to quickly take you through a couple of methods you can use to clean the soles of your shoes. Follow some easy steps and regain the brand-new look of your favorite pair.
Method 1: Baking Soda and Laundry Detergent
Step 1: Brush off the dirt
The soles of our shoes carry huge bits of dirt from the outside environment. The first step toward deep cleaning your soles is to brush off the debris and dirt that has been caked on.
Take them outside and slap both the shoes together to loosen up large pieces of debris before you begin. Doing this will make the entire process so much smoother.
Make sure to do this outside, or you’ll end up making a massive mess in the house. You can also take a butter knife or scraper with you to deal with the mud and waste.
Step 2: Remove the loose dirt
Now that you have dealt successfully with the caked-on parts, time to tackle the loose dirt. We advise you to brush off any loose and noticeable dirt before you jump to washing the soles. Use a dry toothbrush for this job and avoid steel bristles as they can damage the sole (especially the rubber sole).
Again, this is an essential step that will make the sole-cleaning process so much less time-consuming and effective.
Don’t worry if you are unable to get some of the stubborn dirt off right away. You will be once you create your cleaning solution for this method.
Step 3: Dilute baking soda and laundry detergent
Take one part each of baking soda and laundry detergent and mix them well. Remember that since you’re cleaning only the sole area, you would probably not require copious amounts of this mixture.
We recommend a minimum of one tablespoon each of both elements. But don’t worry if you mess up; you can always add more baking soda or detergent later.
Baking soda has abrasive qualities when mixed with soap, which helps in eliminating tough grime, dirt, and stains. We advise against the use of detergents with bleaching agents since you do not want to end up discoloring your shoes.
A quick tip: If your shoes aren’t too dirty, you can use the alternative mixture of warm water and dish liquid for this step! It works just fine.
Step 4: Get to cleaning!
Now is the time to religiously clean your soles. Take your brush (avoid steel bristles) and apply some of the solutions we created on it, and start scrubbing. Here, a handy tip is to practice a circulation motion while brushing the sole, as that is the most effective way to remove grime and dirt.
Ensure the solution does not end up on the upper or sides of the shoes since baking soda can be a nasty ingredient to get rid of. If you wish to clean the fabric area of the shoes, we recommend you create another solution with only laundry detergent and water.
Step 5: Rinse and dry
In order to rinse the soles, you can take either a sponge pad or cloth to remove the solution with the help of clean water gently.
Keep running the sponge or cloth long the rim and sole of the shoe till the cleaning solution has come off entirely. Please note, if you are unable to remove the solution thoroughly, you risk discoloration of soles.
Leaving the residual detergent on the soles can also be detrimental since it can make your steps slippery. Once you rinse the sole well, you can let it dry outdoors under sunlight for a couple of hours.
If you’re unhappy with the results, you can carry on the entire process for a second round. Remember not to leave the shoes wet since that can lead to a foul smell.
Method 2: Soaking The Soles With Dish Soap
Step 1: Take a pan and fill water
To begin, you need a large pan that can accommodate the sole area of the shoes. A cookie trap can work just fine for this task. Fill up the tray or pan with at least an inch of water.
Ensure that the water is lukewarm, as that will make removing debris and dirt easy peasy. If you are unable to find a pan large enough to take in both shoes, you can go forward with one shoe at a time for this process (although that will take longer).
Step 2: Dilute dish soap with the lukewarm water
Once you have filled the pan with water, go ahead and squirt some dish soap and mix well. Dish soap is the highlight of soak working since water alone is not enough to fight tough dirt and grime.
If both your shoe fabric and shoe sole are white in color, you can even choose to add a tiny bit of bleach to fasten the process.
Step 3: Soak, soak, soak!
Now’s the time to leave the shoes in the diluted solution and let it work the magic. We recommend you leave them for at least 15 minutes, but you can keep them in for longer if your soles are extremely dirty.
Make sure that only the sole area is soaked into the water.
Step 4: Scrub away remaining dirt
After the shoes have soaked in for some time, please remove them and make use of the soapy water to brush away the remaining bits of dirt. We want to reiterate the advice of not using a steel bristle brush for this task since it can damage the sole of your shoe.
You can put the shoes back in the solution if the dirt hasn’t loosened up. Also, ensure you’re using gloves in case you’ve added some bleach to the mix.
Can I use a nail paint remover to clean the soles of my shoes?
Yes and no. While nail paint remover can be an excellent choice for soles suffering from discoloration and stains, it will stand no chance against caked-up packs of mud. We recommend using a mixture of water and soap for dried-up dirt and grime.
Can bleach be used for sole discoloration?
A small amount of bleach can be used in your sole cleaning solution if both your shoe sole and upper fabric are white in color. Please also make note that wearing gloves is a hundred percent necessary if you’re working with bleach.
How do you care for leather-soled shoes?
You can use a stiff leather brush in order to eliminate caked-on debris, grass, or mud. Wet the sole and sprinkle a little bit of baking soda to help not only with the cleaning but also act as a disinfectant. A melamine-foam eraser can be used for tough stains or black scuffs.
Brandon R. Katz is a registered professional nurse who has been instrumental in providing us with an informed opinion on the medical aspects of footwear. He graduated from NYU Rory Meyers College of Nursing with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) and currently provides his services at a non-federal long-term care hospital in Brooklyn, NY.
Brandon proves to be the champion in the group of expert writers with his in-depth knowledge in foot health, how to take care of it adequately, and what shoes, socks, or insoles will be supreme for you. He has previously worked with hospitals where he has foreseen both inpatient and outpatient departments and has been a practicing nurse since 2009.
Brandon hails from Jersey City, NY, and has a loving family of four with a small popper called Rozo. His decision to become a nurse arises from the desire to be in the position of helping and rehabilitating people.