4 Ways on How to Clean the Bottom of Shoes to Return Them?

We all get the excitement of buying a new pair of shoes. We do our regular shopping spree in the store and pick out one that gets us feeling giddy and excited to wear them. We go home and try it on for some time and walk around a bit until we realize that it is not precisely the pair we hope for. During this time, we would realize how much of a loss it is to keep it, so we resort to what is natural – we find ways to return it and exchange it for a better pair. Stores will not accept pairs that show signs of use or damage, so what can we do to get the pair looking new again?

How to Clean the Bottom of Shoes to Return Them

The Secret to Cleaning Shoes Before Returning Them

If you think there is no way to get your shoes clean for a return, you thought wrong. Here are a couple of practical and proven ways to have shoes looking new again. You will be surprised to know that all you need are a couple of pantry staples in your home.

Baking Soda and Detergent Mix

Your shoes will most likely have dirt, dust, and debris lodged into them. To make the cleaning process easier, you can start by slapping your shoe against a wall or any other surface. Make sure to do it gently to prevent damage. This will take excess debris and loose dirt off your shoes.

Baking Soda and Detergent Mix
You can resort to getting a toothbrush to scrape the mud out of the shoes’ crevices. Again, extra care should be taken to avoid scratching or damaging the shoes.

In a basin or a container, create the mixture of baking soda and detergent. Get a tablespoon of baking soda and put about 250 ml of water; add more if you deem necessary. Mix until the consistency is thick. Caution should be taken on your choice of detergent; make sure it does not have bleaching properties to prevent further damage.

Take a cloth or a brush and dip in the solution. Start by concentrating on the dirtiest part of the shoe and proceed to the rest of the area. Dip the cloth or brush as necessary if dirt or mud is too thick. Once you see the surface clearing, take out a dry towel to remove the solution and dirt remnants. Wipe it clean and dry. Repeat the process until the shoes are clean, leave to air dry, and make sure not to expose it to direct sunlight or other sources of extreme heat.

Nail Polish Remover

Like any other method, this requires the removal of dirt, dust, or debris present in your shoes. Similar to the first step of the previous cleaning method, in a slapping motion, try to slap the soles of the shoes on a solid surface until excess dirt and debris are removed. If the dirt is too thick, you can opt to do a simple washing on the parts of your shoes made of rubber. Make sure to use a gentle cleaning solution that is bleach-free.

Nail Polish Remover
Take note that nail polish remover should not be used on cloth. Continue with the process by getting a cotton ball and dipping it into the nail polish remover. Once the cotton balls are soaked, you can start to scrape or scrub off scuff marks present on your rubber soles or rubber areas of the shoes. If your cotton ball becomes too dirty, do not hesitate to change as continuing to clean it with a dirty cotton ball may cause more damage than good. Use as many cotton balls as necessary. Once you are finished cleaning the scuff marks with the nail polish remover, you can then finish off by running another piece of the soaked cotton ball along the surface of the entire shoe. In this way, the surface will look even and not discolored.

Toothpaste and Toothbrush

Toothpaste works like magic for cleaning shoes. The trick is to get toothpaste that does not come in the form of a gel. Take out an old toothbrush and get a bit of toothpaste, do a test in a small area of your shoes. Leave for 20 minutes and observe; if it does not accrue any form of damage, continue to the next step.

Toothpaste and Toothbrush
Put toothpaste to the brush, about a size of a pea or more if you deem necessary. Start by brushing the dirty areas; make sure to wash the toothbrush if drenched with too much dirt and debris. Scrub the area with light strokes to avoid damaging the surface, avoid getting it on the cloth part of your shoes. Leave to soak for 10 minutes, then wipe off with a towel. Get another towel and add water until it is damp. Wipe the surface clean with a cloth. Repeat the process as needed.

Basic Soaking Process

Start by shaking debris, mud, or loose dirt off your shoes. Grab a basin or a container that can accommodate the size of your shoes. Fill it with water until its level is enough to soak the soles of your shoes. Go for water with a lukewarm temperature for more effectiveness.

Basic Soaking Process
Once the water level is right, continue to add dishwashing soap to it. Start by putting a little amount and then continue to add more as necessary. This is recommended because water alone is not enough to get rid of grime, and hard to remove debris or mud. Mix until the soap is well-distributed.

Put the shoe on the mixture and make sure the entire sole is soaked. Leave it to soak for less than 15 minutes, but feel free to soak it a bit longer if the shoe is very dirty. After the soaking process, you can take it out of the container and do a bit of brushing to remove the excess suds, water, and debris. Repeat the process as necessary. If you feel that you have cleaned it enough, take a clean cloth and wipe it dry. Air dry if needed.


Having shoes cleaned by professionals will surely give you outstanding results without putting in the effort but doing it on your own can give you more savings. If you plan on returning a pair of shoes that you may have used to walk around for a bit, try to do the cleaning yourself by following the steps mentioned above. These methods are proven to work effectively.

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