How To Clean Colored Shoes With Baking Soda

The summer is well and truly over here in the UK. I own a lovely pair of very comfortable Sketchers trainers that I’ve worn pretty much constantly over the summer. Now the weather has turned cold, it’s time to put them away until next year. To save time, I’d much rather put them away clean than be faced with cleaning them the next time I get them out. Once the summer comes back I just want to put them straight back on!

I was very tempted to just bung my trainers in the washing machine. But, I love them too much to risk damaging them. I got them in a sale, but they were still quite expensive, so I don’t want to have to replace them.

I’ve heard that it is very possible to hand wash colored shoes with just baking soda and dish soap. If it means I can get my trainers clean without the risk of putting them in the washer, then I’m willing to give it a try. Now is the perfect time to test out the theory!

So, can you clean colored shoes with baking soda by hand? It turns out that, yes you can, and the results can be very good. Plus you don’t run the risk of damaging your precious shoes in the washing machine.

Here’s the quick answer:

You can clean your colored shoes by making up a paste of equal parts dish soap and baking soda. Dampen your shoe and then rub the mixture into the upper and sole using a small scrubbing brush such as a nail brush or a toothbrush. Allow the mixture to sit on the shoe for a couple of hours and then rinse. Allow your shoes to dry naturally.

Read on for more details.

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How to clean colored shoes with baking soda

Before I start on this post. A word of warning …

Baking soda has a bleaching effect, so it can fade dark-colored shoes. My shoes are mainly grey so I didn’t think it would be a problem to use baking soda. However, if you have dark or black shoes it isn’t such a good idea to use baking soda to clean them. Just stick with the dish soap instead and use baking soda to clean the light parts of the shoe such as the sole.

Things you will need to clean your colored shoes with baking soda:

  • Baking soda
  • Dish soap
  • Toothbrush
  • Nail brush
  • One or two clean and dry microfibre cloths
  • Small bowl
  • Water spray bottle
Things you will need to clean your colored shoes with baking soda
Things you will need to clean your colored shoes with baking soda

Step 1 – Remove the inner soles and the laces

Remove the laces and the inner soles if you can with your particular shoe. Put the laces and soles in a laundry bag and put them in the washing machine along with your regular detergent.

The shoes I want to clean don’t have laces and I can’t remove the innersoles.

dirty colored shoes ready for cleaning with baking soda
Dirty colored shoes ready for cleaning with baking soda

Step 2 – Spray the shoes with water

Next, we will get the shoe wet. Take the water spray and spray the outside of the shoe. The aim is not to get the shoe sopping wet. We are looking for a damp kind of wetness.

Spraying the shoe to be cleaned with water
Spraying the shoe to be cleaned with water

Step 3 – Make up a mixture of equal parts dish soap and baking soda

Make up a small bowl of equal parts dish soap and baking soda. Then mix the two to make a paste.

If you have dark shoes make up another small bowl of only dish soap. We won’t be using baking soda on the dark parts of the shoe because it could fade the color. If you have some light parts to clean, then you will need the baking soda mixture.

Here I’ve used three tablespoons each of baking soda and dish soap as I have only one pair of shoes to clean.

Small bowl of dish soap mixed with baking soda for cleaning colored shoes
Small bowl of dish soap mixed with baking soda for cleaning colored shoes

Step 4 – Clean the inside of the shoe with a toothbrush

If you were able to remove the inner sole and wash it separately in the washing machine you can skip this step.

If you couldn’t remove the innersole, take a small amount of the paste on your toothbrush and scrub the inside of the shoe.

I have to say that I skipped this bit because I’m not too worried about the insides.

Step 5 – Scrub the outside of the shoe with a nail brush

Dip your nail brush into the cleaning paste and scrub the outside of the shoe or only the white parts if you have colored shoes.

For the colored parts use only the dish soap to avoid bleaching the color.

You can also use this mixture to clean the rubber parts of the shoe. If the sole is grubby or yellowed it should come up nice and clean too.

Cleaning the outside of a colored shoe with baking soda and dish soap
Cleaning the outside of a colored shoe with baking soda and dish soap

Step 6 – Leave the cleaning solution to work for one hour

Leave the soap to work for an hour. For my experiment, I only waited half an hour because I’m a bit impatient! But even so, I was impressed at how well the cleaning solution worked in that short space of time.

Step 7 – Rinse

It isn’t necessary to rinse your shoes with water, but if you feel the need to spray them with more water that’s fine.

I simply took a microfibre cloth and dabbed off the cleaning paste.

Dabbing the outside of the shoe with a microfibre cloth to remove the soap
Dabbing the outside of the shoe with a microfibre cloth to remove the soap

And here are the cleaned shoes.

After cleaning shoes with baking soda and dish soap
After cleaning shoes with baking soda and dish soap

They are much cleaner than they were. I could probably have given them another clean to get them even more pristine. Overall I am impressed with the result. Plus, I am really happy that I didn’t have to get the shoes drenched in water. They should be ready to wear pretty soon because they are only slightly damp.

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A very useful video

I found this video very useful for learning how to clean my shoes by hand. I hope you do too.

YouTube video

How to dry your shoes

For this cleaning method, we didn’t drench the shoe with water so it shouldn’t take long for the shoe to dry naturally.

Here are some tips for drying your shoes naturally:

  1. If you have some sun put them outside to dry.
  2. Don’t be tempted to dry them directly on a radiator because you could damage them.
  3. If you need to wear your shoes very soon, use this tumble dryer hack to get your shoes dry quickly.

Related reading:

How to clean the laces and innersoles of shoes

You can clean your shoelaces and innersoles in the washing machine with your normal washing powder. If they are very grubby and stained add some baking soda or washing soda crystals to the wash. For small items like these, it is best to put them inside a small washing laundry bag.

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How to clean white shoes with toothpaste

Did you know you could use toothpaste to clean your shoes? Whitening toothpaste is designed to remove stains from your teeth, but you can also put it to work on your shoes!

The best kind of toothpaste to use is the white kind, not gel.

  1. Squeeze some toothpaste onto an old toothbrush.
  2. Rub it onto the shoe in circular motions.
  3. Let the toothpaste sit for 10 to 15 minutes.
  4. Take a damp microfiber cloth and wipe off the toothpaste.
  5. Repeat the above as necessary.

Related reading:

How To Clean Cloudy Glasses With Toothpaste

How do you stop your shoes from yellowing?

White shoes can go yellow over time. The primary of yellow shoes is humidity and light.

Here’s are some tips for preventing your shoes from going yellow:

  1. Store your white shoes in a cool dark place.
  2. For extra protection, store your white shoes in a vacuum-packed bag or add some silica gel packs to a ziplock bag. This will reduce the moisture level around the shoes.
  3. Avoid using bleach when washing your white shoes.
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How to clean white shoes with baking soda and hydrogen peroxide

If your shoes were originally white and now look grubby, the great news is that you can get them white again using baking soda and hydrogen peroxide.

Maybe your shoes are just a little yellow? If you are wondering how to clean yellowish shoes, either the upper or the sole, you can do it with plain old baking soda mixed with hydrogen peroxide.

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1. In a small non-metal bowl mix up the following ingredients to make a paste

  • 1 tablespoon of baking soda
  • 1/2 tablespoon of hydrogen peroxide
  • 1/2 tablespoon of water

If you don’t have hydrogen peroxide use 50% more baking soda.

2. Put on some rubber gloves and then take a small scrubbing brush such as a nail brush or a toothbrush and dip it into the paste

3. Work the paste into the shoe and then leave it to sit for 30 minutes

If you need to clean yellowed soles, rub some into the sole too.

The paste will dry onto the shoe.

4. Tap off the excess paste and then rinse the shoe in water

If you still have stains repeat the above 3 steps.

5. Allow the shoe to dry naturally

How to deodorize shoes with baking soda

Baking soda is perfect for absorbing smells including those found inside shoes.

Here’s what I do to get rid of smells inside shoes:

  1. Pour a generous amount of baking soda into the shoe.
  2. Shake the shoe gently to distribute the baking soda evenly.
  3. Let the baking soda sit in the shoe for several hours or overnight.
  4. Empty the baking soda from the shoe.
  5. If necessary vacuum up any baking soda still left in the shoe.

If your shoe still has an odor, repeat the above.

If you are short of time and wondering, how long does it take baking soda to deodorize shoes, the answer is that you will need at least a couple of hours for the baking soda to do its job. For best results, you will need to let the baking soda sit inside the shoe overnight.

This article and its contents are owned by sparklingpenny.com and was first published on 29 November 2021.
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Penny | SparklingPenny

Hi, I'm Penny. A busy mum of two boys, with the aim to enjoy life to the full.