Little girl sitting on the ground, trying to tie her shoelaces on her own

Step by Step Guide on How to Maintain and Clean School Shoes

Kids’ footwear can easily get dirty since they wear it 20+ hours per week. This especially refers to those kicks intended for school purposes. At this point, buying new footwear each month can be expensive and inappropriate, so the questions pop up: how to clean school shoes?

Water, dish soap, and a dry piece of cloth will do the job. You won’t need any special equipment, nor will you spend some extra money to take care of them. 

For that purpose, we crafted 5 easy steps to maintain and clean school shoes for kids with some additional tips. Let’s check them!

How Do I Make School Shoes Look New?

The school year has started, which means back-to-school shoe shopping. While some prefer buying new footwear, some prefer using perfectly fitted old shoes. However, those shoes usually look worn out or too dirty, so making them look brand new is an option you might consider. 


A simple solution is to mix baking soda with water. Take an old toothbrush, scrub and work it into the shoe. Once you are finished, let it sit for a few minutes before you rinse it off with water.  

This is an easy, convenient and fast solution for fixing any shoes, including those dirty, all-in-the-mud kids’ rain boots.

However, maintaining kids’ school shoes is half the job done. So in order to prolong their lifespan, teach and help your kids how to maintain them and clean them so they can look as good as new. 


How to Maintain Kids’ School Shoes?

The best thing you can do for your kid is to encourage them to take good care of their school shoes. Tutoring them to maintain their shoes will extend their lifespan and teach them to be considerate and responsible.

Firstly, you need to do is to encourage them to take off their shoes straight home from school so that they can air them out for as long as possible before wearing them again. Then, you want to place them in a dry area, usually the shoe closet, where no moisture or water is present. 

If the footwear is wet both inside and out, wipe them with some clean and dry piece of cloth, and stuff them with dry paper towels or newspaper overnight to draw out the moisture. But, if the kid was damp and warm shoes, they are likely to breed smelly bacteria. We don’t want stinky kids’ feet!

In the case when your kid wears velcro shoes, then just follow the given instructions. On the other hand, if there are laces, ensure to take the off and wash them separately with the mixture mentioned above. 

How Do You Clean Dirty School Shoes?

The following instructions will show you how to clean school shoes, including materials such as suede, leather school shoes, and muddy kicks. All of our instructions are very simple and require only equipment that could be found in every household. 


Cleaning suede school shoes

Despite suede’s delicate nature, you can easily remove stains and dirt with this little guide. 

  1. Remove dirt with the shoe brush by brushing in the same direction as the grain.
  2. Rub a little more vigorously on those heavily stained spots with the rubber side of the shoe brush. 
  3. Do not use water, but let them dry like that for a day.
  4. Apply some suede protector spray to protect your kid’s shoes from any further stains.

Cleaning leather school shoes

The best way to clean leather shoes is with a leather cleaning kit. You can buy these kits in almost every shoe store, which are affordable. They usually include:

  • A shoe brush
  • A shoe polish
  • A soft piece of cloth 
  • A few rags
  • Leather cleaner

And, here’s how to clean them.

  1. Remove shoelaces to prevent polish from getting on them, then thoroughly clean and buff the shoes with the shoe brush. Then, using a clean rag and water, wipe the shoes and laces to eliminate any dirt.
  2. Using a clean, dry cloth, apply a small amount of polish to the school shoes’ surface and lightly buff it until it is bright and pristine.
  3. Let them dry for around 15 minutes, and use another dry cloth to polish the shoes, softly rubbing it in with circular motions. If the shoes still look dull after 20 minutes of drying, add another layer.
  4. When the shoes are completely dry, buff them once more and scrub any remaining polish off of them. Then, use a damp cloth and a small amount of polish. The shoes on your kid should now have a brand-new look!

Leather school shoes are usually very delicate, especially if they are black. In that case, if you want to avoid polishing like this, you can simple use a dry piece of cloth or some shoe cleaning wipes to remove the dirt. Here are a few easy steps.

  1. Take a dry piece of cloth and remove all the dirt from the shoes.
  2.  As in our simple and first solution, take the dry, old toothbrush (without the paste mixture of soda and water) and scrub those stubborn spots.
  3.  To restore the shine to kids’ old shoes, use the leather protector spray to protect the footwear and make them dirt-resistant.

Cleaning Velcro shoes

The thing with Velcro shoes is their closure gadgets that get dirty quickly. It gets sticky and easily collects dirt, hair, and dust over time – a headache for parents!

Fortunately, you can simply get rid of this with items from your household like:

  • Old toothbrush (a savior for pretty much any shoe type material
  • Tweezers 
  • Fine-toothed comb

With the equipment you have available, brush through the gadgets until you remove all of the inside dirt. Ensure the top strap is always neatly aligned with the bottom before closing. Gadgets are clean when they are properly fastened.

Can I Wash School Shoes in Washing Machine?

School shoes for kids made from leather and suede should not be washed in the machine or soaked in water. However, kids’ kicks not driven by animal material can easily go in the machine washing.

Before you place them in the machine, ensure you remove all the excess dirt; please take off the laces, and place them in a laundry bag.

Put your machine on the lowest spin and add some detergent. Once they are done, let them dry in some area without direct sunlight and avoid clothes dryers since they can loosen the glue on the sneakers.

Additional Tips on How to Clean School Shoes

Use a waterproof spray 

To keep the rain out and to maintain their finest appearance, it’s good to apply waterproof spray on school shoes. Waterproofing them truly pays off since it prevents leather from drying out and shrinking. There are also other sprays for non-leather shoes, such as synthetic ones.

Dry them properly each time

When school shoes get wet, don’t dry them in a dryer, in the sun, on a radiator or on any other heat source. Instead, take some paper towels or old newspapers and stuff shoes with them. Let them dry naturally. These materials will remove moisture and prevent the leather from drying out or cracking.

Polish is always a good idea

We know that polishing sounds boring, but we promise it will take you 5 minutes. This is the easiest and the best way to maintain school shoes and thus prolong their lifespan. To help keep your shoes looking sharper, use these products quickly and simply cover scuff marks and help restore the shoes’ color and shine.

In Conclusion

Your kids’ shoes are not the only ones that are dirty. We bet that all parents can sympathize with the fact that no matter how much you take care of them, your kid somehow manages to get them dirty. 

However, simple tricks can alleviate your pain on how to clean school shoes. With our little, straightforward guide, the job will be done in just a few minutes. The best thing of all is you will not need to spend some extra money for God knows what equipment. Instead, you already have everything for cleaning and maintaining your kids’ shoes in your household. All you need to do is to apply it to your routine. 



  • Petra Moskatelo

    Petra is the main editor and writer here at Footmeter. She is passionate about helping people find the right solution. She holds a university Master's degree in pedagogy, and she knows a lot about children and learning.