How To Make Homemade Shoe Cleaner (6 Formulas)

Nobody wants dirty shoes!

While commercial shoe cleaning kits are available, they’re often expensive and can even include chemicals that might damage your kicks. Instead, try making shoe cleaner at home.

Homemade shoe cleaner is a simple, safe, and cost-effective way to keep your shoes looking their best. Even better, it’s extremely easy to make, and you likely already have everything you need.

You can make different cleaners using baking soda, detergent, dish soap, lemon juice, or rubbing alcohol. Here’s a closer look at different homemade shoe cleaners you can use today.

Benefits of Homemade Shoe Cleaner

Your shoes mean a lot to you. Should you trust their care for homemade shoe cleaners? Absolutely. Homemade shoe cleaner offers several benefits:

  • Cheap – All the ingredients you need are basic items found at any grocery store.
  • Quick – You can create enough cleaner for several pairs of sneakers in just a few minutes.
  • Easy – The cleaners tackle the toughest stains, marks, and build-up.

Before we get started, it’s important to note that not all cleaners are suitable for every type of shoe. A few cleaners can even damage certain shoes, such as if you use a cleaner meant for sneakers on patent leather shoes.  

1. Water and Dish Soap

A solution of water and dish soap is the most popular and versatile method. It’s safe for sneakers, canvas (including white canvas), and shoes made from synthetic materials.

Before you start, a word of warning. Please don’t use dish soap to clean patent leather. The chemicals found in dish soap can dry out leather and potentially change the coloring. 

Ingredients:

  • Mild dish soap
  • Bowl, bucket, or sink
  • Three white cloths
  • Old toothbrush

How To Use:

First, use the toothbrush to remove any large chunks of dirt or debris. Toothbrushes are an excellent tool for cleaning shoes as they fit easily into the nooks, crannies, and contours.

Next, make the cleaning solution. Use a teaspoon of dish soap for every three cups of water. Mix the solution inside a medium or large bowl until it becomes foamy.

Apply the solution to the shoes using a cloth and a toothbrush. Use the cloth to clean the sides and top of the shoes and the toothbrush to clean the treads and other irregularly-shaped parts.

After cleaning the shoes, rinse the shoes using a clean cloth and water. Finally, dry them with the third cloth. A white cloth tends to work best as it’s least likely to leave behind visible fibers.

2. Water and Laundry Detergent

Instead of dish soap, you can also clean shoes using water and detergent (powdered or liquid). It’s an effective way to clean most types of shoe material, including canvas, leather, and synthetic.

Ingredients:

  • Laundry detergent (unscented is best)
  • Old toothbrush
  • Three clean, white cloths

How to Use:

First, use the toothbrush to remove any large chunks of dirt or debris. Toothbrushes are an excellent tool for cleaning shoes as they fit easily into the nooks, crannies, and contours.

Next, make the cleaning solution. Use one tablespoon of detergent for every 300 milliliters of water. Mix the solution inside a medium or large bowl until it becomes foamy.

Apply the solution to the shoes using a cloth and a toothbrush. Use the cloth to clean the sides and top of the shoes and the toothbrush to clean the treads and other irregularly-shaped parts.

After washing the shoes with the solution, rinse them thoroughly using water and a clean cloth. Finally, pat them dry with a clean cloth and leave your shoes to air dry.

3. Baking Soda and Vinegar

A solution of baking soda and vinegar is one of the gentlest cleaning methods. It’s safe for use on canvas and leather shoes. Baking soda and vinegar have a unique chemical reaction when combined that helps remove dirt and can even put out fires.

Ingredients:

  • Baking soda
  • White vinegar
  • Water
  • Toothbrush
  • Clean, white cloths

How To Use:

Use one tablespoon of baking soda and two tablespoons of white vinegar for every cup of water. Mix the ingredients thoroughly inside a medium or large bowl.

Apply using a cloth and toothbrush. Make sure to rinse the shoes thoroughly with a clean, damp cloth. Otherwise, your shoes can end up smelling like vinegar.

4. Lemon Juice and Olive Oil

Lemon juice and olive oil are often used together as a skin treatment, but this combination is also an excellent shoe cleaner. The solution is especially effective on patent leather shoes.

Ingredients:

  • Lemon juice
  • Olive oil
  • Clean cloth
  • Brush (horsehair works well)
  • Toothbrush

How To Use:

Combine the two ingredients together using one part lemon juice and two parts olive oil. The resulting mixture is a fairly thick polish (similar to leather shoe cream).

Use the toothbrush to clear away any dirt or loose debris. Then, apply the polish to the shoe using a clean cloth. Use small, circular motions to work the polish into the leather.

After applying the polish, let your shoe air dry. Many people prefer to apply several coats of polish. Once your shoes are completely dry, use the brush to remove any excess.

5. Baking Soda and Detergent

A solution of baking soda and detergent works well if you’re trying to remove smells (baking soda is an effective deodorizer). The solution works best for canvas shoes, running shoes, and sneakers.

It’s a good choice for cleaning white shoes, as it will restore their brightness without staining.

Ingredients:

  • Baking soda
  • Liquid laundry detergent
  • Three clean cloths

How To Use:

Mix the baking soda and detergent together in a one-to-one ratio. It’ll create a paste which you can apply like a polish. Apply it using a clean cloth, allow it to dry, and then wipe it away.    

6. Vinegar and Detergent

Vinegar and detergent are other types of homemade shoe cleaners. The solution is perfect for cleaning flip flops, Crocs, and other footwear made from a similar material.

Ingredients:

  • Baking soda
  • Vinegar
  • Liquid laundry detergent
  • A bowl or sink
  • Brush

How To Use:

Completely submerge the shoes in warm water. Then, while the shoes are still damp, cover them with baking soda. Leave the baking soda on the shoes for at least five minutes.

Next, create a solution of one part detergent and two parts vinegar. Use the brush to apply the solution to your shoes. As you scrub your shoes, you’ll end up removing the baking soda.

After cleaning your shoes, allow them to air dry. Don’t place them in direct sunlight.

Final Thoughts

Save money and time by skipping expensive, commercial shoe cleaners. Several effective and affordable solutions are available for you to make at home.

While dish soap and water is the most common type of homemade shoe cleaner, you can also make cleaners with vinegar, detergent, baking soda, and other ingredients you likely already own.

Homemade show cleaners are an easy way to keep your shoes smelling fresh and looking their best without spending money on pricey products made with potentially dangerous chemicals.

Related articles: