How To Clean Sneaker Soles: Five Tips & Tricks

How To Clean Sneaker Soles: Five Tips & Tricks

Nothing is more infuriating than leaving the house in your favorite pair of sneakers, only to come home later and discover that the soles are scuffed up and dirty. Your shoes show off your fantastic style and give added confidence to any outfit.

However, when your shoes are grungy and look less than fabulous, that confidence can come down faster than Miley's wrecking ball (and we know you just sang that line in your head).

Sometimes, it even feels like those rubber soles are magnets for dirt! It always ends up finding a way to mess up your kicks.

Worry no more!! We have put together a list of the most effective ways to clean your sneakers for the cleanest soles. There’s no way to avoid scuff marks and dirt stains entirely. Still, with these tips and tricks, you'll make your shoes look squeaky clean and can prevent long-term stains from ruining your look.

Keep on reading to find which method of cleaning sneaker soles works best for you.

Tip 1. Baking Soda

No matter what kind of stains or mess you need to clean, you can almost always count on baking soda to get the job done.

Why is baking soda so reliable? Well, simply because of its status on the pH scale! Baking soda leans towards the basic end of the pH scale, so when it's combined with more acidic compounds to clean, the mixture of substances creates a well-balanced solution that removes dirt, grease, and grime with ease.

Scientific explanations for baking soda's ingenious cleaning properties aside, it's also something that most of us already have in our own cabinets. So, baking soda methods require minimal effort and essentially no money! Yay for your bank account!

There are a few methods to experiment with when cleaning your sneakers. The most convenient way is to just combine a tablespoon of baking soda with a tablespoon of warm water. Apply the mixture to the soles of your shoes and scrub. The water and baking soda hack is quick, easy, and effective.

Sometimes the grime on your shoes requires something a little stronger than just water. For those harder-to-clean spots, you can combine a teaspoon of hydrogen peroxide with your baking soda water concoction.

The hydrogen peroxide will provide the extra oomph your shoes need to become spotless. If you're short on hydrogen peroxide, you can also combine a teaspoon of vinegar with water and baking soda for strong results.

The soles of your sneakers will look spotless after a quick scrub with some baking soda.

Tip 2. Vinegar

Much like baking soda, vinegar is another substance that doubles as a cleaning agent. Vinegar's strong, acidic properties prove to be extremely effective when it comes to cleaning. This is especially true of removing the little dirt spots on the soles of your kicks.

As we already mentioned, vinegar and baking soda can be combined to create a sort of super-cleaner. However, vinegar is also a powerhouse agent all on its own and can get the job done just as well.

Try soaking the rubber parts of your sneakers in vinegar, or use a soft rag soaked in vinegar to wipe off any unwanted stains and spots that you can find. Vinegar is especially good at removing grease stains, so if you wore your sneakers in the kitchen while trying that new TikTok food hack and made a disaster of your shoes, vinegar will come to the rescue.

You don't even need to go beyond your own kitchen to find the right remedies for stained shoes. A quick glance in your cabinets is all you need to gather the right ingredients, and then it is just a matter of scrubbing your shoes.

Using vinegar (and baking soda) is a natural way to remove unwanted grime from your shoewear, and even better, it is cost-effective too!

Tip 3. Toothpaste

White, non-gel toothpaste is another harmless way to make your shoes look spotless.

It might seem a bit silly to apply toothpaste to your sneakers, but you would be amazed at all the ways you can use toothpaste, aside from brushing your teeth. Besides, if you trust toothpaste with keeping your smile fresh and your teeth healthy, then it only makes sense to use it for other cleaning purposes as well.

To start, take a very small amount of toothpaste, and apply it to the soles of your sneakers. Gently scrub the soles until the grime is removed. Afterward, take a clean, wet rag and wipe off your sneakers to reveal their new pristine condition.

This cleaning logic can be applied to your other shoes as well. For instance, if you have any leather shoes that need a little TLC, use toothpaste! You can gently scrub them with a dab of toothpaste to make them look as clean as they did when you first took them out of the shoebox!

Toothpaste is definitely an unconventional cleaning supply, but it is effective. All of us already own toothpaste anyways, so if you find that your shoes need a quick cleaning, you can count on toothpaste to help you out.

Tip 4. Grab a Toothbrush

We've covered the DIY cleaning solutions you'll need to clean your shoes, but now you'll need an easy and inexpensive tool to clean your soles, and a toothbrush is just the thing!

Toothbrushes are perfect for light scrubbing. They are just the right size to reach small spots with ease, and the bristles are compact and pointed just right to get those in-between places, so no spot is ignored. The next time you head to the store, grab a pack of toothbrushes and put one aside as your designated shoe-scrubbing brush.

The soles of shoes seem like they are easy to clean with just a rag, but certain stains can be frustrating and need some extra attention. A toothbrush is abrasive and small enough that it'll successfully clean every inch of your sneaker soles. Even the harder-to-reach spots.

For surface-level stains, a wipe or rag will work just fine, but if you want your shoes to look spotless, a toothbrush is still the best tool to use.

Tip 5. Don't Forget Water

Water is perhaps the most important ingredient when it comes to cleaning the soles of your sneakers. No matter what supplemental ingredients, like baking soda or vinegar, you choose to clean with, they should always be cut with water.

Sometimes very minimal stains and spots really only need water to make your shoes clean. Soak a rag in warm water, lightly rub it around the soles of your shoes, and notice how quickly stains disappear.

If you want to target the bottom-most part of your sneakers, soak them for a few minutes in warm water and then rub the soles with a dry towel afterward. Warm water can achieve a lot, and sometimes all your shoes need is a quick rinse without bringing in the tougher ingredients.

When you do have big stains that require excessive scrubbing, also make sure to rinse the soles off with water after the fact. You want to remove any leftover residue from your homemade concoctions so that you don't have dry toothpaste stuck to your shoe.

Water is an obvious solution, but it is the most reliable cleaning agent around.

Why Cleansing the Soles Matters

We can all get a little lazy when it comes to cleaning, but it is very important to stay on top of your shoe care.

Every year, nearly 300 million shoes end up in landfills. People go through shoes quickly, which leads to more and more sneakers rotting in landfills each year. If we are more careful with our shoes and make sure their life cycle lasts a bit longer, we can minimize the number of shoes that are just needlessly thrown away.

If you let dirt and grime build up on the soles of your shoes, they can fall apart much quicker. But, if you quickly rub off those dirty spots and take the extra time to scrub your soles with some baking soda and a toothbrush, you can extend the life of your favorite shoes. And really, that means less time looking for the perfect replacement pair!

Cleaning your shoes more regularly is a sustainable habit, and it also makes you look better too! Whichever cleaning method you choose, your shoes will end up looking squeaky clean in no time.

To amp up your style and stay comfy all day, try KOKOLU's sustainable shoes. With fabulous styles, supreme comfort, and less waste, they're a fashion choice you won't regret!


Best Baking Soda and Vinegar Cleaning Solutions | Reader's Digest

20 Surprising Uses for Toothpaste | HealthyWomen

Engineering students' project keep shoes out of landfills | Wichita State News

pH Scale | US Geological Survey