A dirty kids shoe ready for cleaning

How to Clean your Kids’ Shoes

Kids love to play outside, no matter the weather. This means that their shoes can get pretty dirty. But, with a few simple steps, you can clean your kids’ shoes and make them look good as new.

Cleaning your kids’ shoes does not mean you have to spend money on specialized shoe cleaners. Often, you can use products that you already have in your home. If you want to, you can buy dedicated cleaning products, brushes, and clothes for shoes. However, you do not need to do that. Products like baking soda, dish soap, vinegar, and laundry detergent will do the job fine.

How to Clean Different Shoe Materials

While using the products mentioned above will be fine for the majority of shoes, it is important to think about what material the shoes you are cleaning are made of. When cleaning shoes made from leather or fabric, the products above will work fine. They will not damage the shoes and will clean them at ease.

If the shoes are made of suede, you can use baby wipes or a damp cloth to clean them. And, it your kids’ shoes are made from other materials, it is a good idea to use products made for those specific materials.

On the other hand maybe your kids’ shoes are treated or coated with something, for example, fluorescent material. In this case, look at the instructions inside the shoes or on the manufacturer’s website for tips on cleaning and care.


Spot Removal and Light Cleaning

Cleaning your kids’ shoes does not have to be a project. If the shoes are only slightly dirty cleaning them takes very little time and effort.

For slightly dirty shoes, add a few drops of dish soap to a wetted kitchen sponge and rub the shoes with the coarse side of the sponge. If the dirty parts of the shoes are made of fabric, wipe them over with a clean cloth and let them air dry at room temperature. You can also take out the kids insoles and was it slightly separately from the shoe itself. If the cleaned parts of the shoe are made of fabric, make sure that they are completely dry before using them.

When removing spots from white soles or shoes , you can use a Magic Eraser if you have one. Alternatively, you can make your own mixture using:

  • 1 tbsp baking soda
  • ½ tbs of water
  • ½ tbs of hydrogen peroxide

Additional Tip: Remove any dark marks and scuffs on the shoes more quickly and easily with a pencil eraser. Gently rub the dark marks with the eraser until they disappear.

Please note: This technique only works on materials like leather and rubber. Also, remember to use a pencil eraser that matches the color of the shoes. Otherwise, discoloration can occur.

Step-by-step Guide for Cleaning Fabric and Plain Leather Shoes

Here is the six steps guide on how to clean your kids’ shoes made of fabric and plain leather.

  • Step one: Before cleaning the shoes, remove the laces and let them soak in a bowl of hot water. Don’t forget to add a few drops of dish soap.
  • Step two: Before cleaning the shoes, stuff them with folded socks or use an adjustable shoe tree. This is to prevent the shoes from getting creased during the cleaning.
  • Step three: Cleaning the soles. If dirt has built up in the grooves and pattern on the soles, use a pointy object. For example, a straight-edged screwdriver to clean it out. If the shoes do not have a deep pattern, you can use a small brush and some soapy water to remove any dirt.
  • Step four: Cleaning the shoes. Put a few drops of dish soap onto a wetted dishcloth, dish sponge, or soft brush. Rub and scrub the shoes gently all over until you have removed all the dirt. For this step, you can use a dedicated shoe-cleaning product if you wish. If you do that, remember to follow the directions on how to use the product.
  • Step five: Drying. When the shoes are as clean as you want, use a dry microfiber towel and wipe the shoes dry all over. Make sure the shoes are completely dry before using them.
  • Step six: Cleaning the laces. Rub some hand/dish soap between your hands to make foam. Remove the laces from the water they have been soaking in, and rub them between your hands with the soap. When you have removed all the dirt from the laces, rinse them off in clean water. Then give them a good squeeze to remove as much moisture as possible. Leave the laces to dry, either over a heating unit, outside, or at room temperature. The laces are not temperature sensitive, so how you dry them is not important. Once the laces are completely dry, relace the shoes.

Soaking Heavily Soiled Shoes

If your kids’ shoes are very dirty, it can be a good idea to let the shoes soak for a while before cleaning them. Use a bowl of water with some added dish soap, remove the laces and place the shoes in the bowl. Make sure all the caked-on dirt is submerged in the water. Treat the laces as described in the step-by-step guide above.

Let the shoes soak until the dirt comes off easily with a scrub brush. If you don’t want to soak your kids’ shoes, let them dry completely, then try banging the shoes together with the soles facing each other. This should get rid of a lot of the caked-on dirt or at least loosen it so it becomes easier to clean off. You can also use a stiff brush to remove the caked-on dirt once it has dried.


Removing The Smell From Insoles

If the insoles in your kids’ shoes smell bad, it is probably because of stinky feet. You can, of course, get rid of that smell using a deodorizer spray designed for shoes. But, you can also use products you probably already have in your home. Let’s see what we can do!

  • Stuff the insides of the shoes with tea bags. The tea leaves will absorb the smell from the insoles.
  • Rib a scented dryer sheet in half, and use them to line the inside of each shoe. Leave them in overnight.
  • If the insoles smell very bad, remove them from the shoes and leave them to soak for a couple of hours in a solution of one cup of vinegar to one gallon of water. This will kill the bacteria that causes the insoles to smell. Remove the insoles from the vinegar water, rinse them with water, and squeeze as much water out of the insoles as you can to minimize drying time. Let the insoles dry completely before putting them back in the shoes. Bacteria thrive in warm and moist environments, so letting the soles dry out completely is a very important step.

When to Machine Wash and When to Hand-wash Your Kids’ Shoes

When it comes to machine washing your kids’ shoes, what you should do again depends on the shoe material. If the shoes are made from canvas or other types of fabric, machine washing them should be fine. Always remember to look at the care instructions for the shoes before putting them in the washing machine. If your kids’ shoes are made from leather suede, rubber or vinyl, machine washing is not recommended. At this situation, always hand-wash those shoes by using the guide above.

Before putting the shoes in the washing machine, prepare them by removing any caked-on dirt, you can use any of the techniques mentioned above. Remove the laces and clean them as described in the step-by-step guide. It is also a good idea to remove the insoles, as they can take a very long time to dry. If the insoles are a little dirty, wipe them clean with a cloth. If they smell bad, use the techniques mentioned in the previous section to clean out smell and bacteria.

How to do it?

When machine washing shoes, it is recommended that you put the shoes in a wash bag or put a couple of towels in the machine with the shoes. This will soften the impacts when the shoes tumble against the inside of the drum. Set the washer to its “Delicates” setting and use as low temperature and spin options as possible. Always use liquid laundry detergent, as powdered detergent may build up in nooks and seams during the cycle.

When the wash cycle is finished, do not put the shoes in the dryer. Let the shoes air dry at room temperature or outside. Stuff the insides of the shoes with paper towels or silica gel bags, to help absorb moisture and lower drying time. Do not put your shoes on a radiator or another hot place. High temperatures can soften the glue that holds the sole and the upper part of the shoe together, which can cause the parts to separate. Also, exposing the shoes to direct sunlight can cause discoloration.