How To Clean Shoes With Baking Soda

While it seems easy enough to throw your shoes in the washing machine, you run the risk of damaging them. The good news is that there are even better ways – and using baking soda to clean your shoes is one of the best!

How to Clean Shoes with Baking Soda

how to clean shoes with baking soda

Cleaning white shoes

I’ve found Baking soda and water do the trick if I’m cleaning my plain white shoes. Here’s how:

  • Mix equal parts baking soda and water (one tablespoon for each will do the trick). 
  • Next, mix both ingredients until it forms a paste.
  • After mixing the paste, use an old toothbrush (one that you won’t be using anymore).
  • And finally, use the paste to gently scrub and clean your shoes.

I like to use a toothbrush because the small bristles help me scrub those tiny, hard-to-reach crevices.

Cleaning dark shoes

If your shoes have darker-colored fabric, it’s a good idea to substitute dish soap for baking soda because baking soda can fade dark-colored fabrics. Even so you can use baking soda on any white part of the shoe.

Just replace baking soda with a mild dish soap and follow the cleaning steps above.

How to Clean White Shoes Using Baking Soda and Vinegar

how to clean white shoes using baking soda and vinegar

What if baking soda and water aren’t cutting it to get rid of those stains on your shoes? In that case, I recommend including another wonderful ingredient that you can probably find lying around your kitchen: vinegar.

To make this baking soda and vinegar paste, use the following:

  • One tablespoon of baking soda
  • One tablespoon of white vinegar
  • One tablespoon of hot water

As with the previous method, you need to make the paste and then apply it to the stain using a toothbrush. Gently brush this solution in a circular motion directly onto the stain.

You can even soak your shoelaces in any leftover solution!

The main difference with this solution is that you will want to leave your shoes (with the solution still on them) directly in the sunlight for 3-4 hours to make the lightening process takes place to clean any stains off your shoes.

After that’s done, shake off any remaining paste over your trash can and then use a dry scrubbing brush (maybe another old toothbrush) to get all the excess paste off.

How to Clean White Shoes with Baking Soda and Hydrogen Peroxide

how to clean white shoes with baking soda and hydrogen peroxide

If baking soda and vinegar don’t do the trick to clean your stained shoes, that’s when I recommend bringing in the big guns: hydrogen peroxide.

While not everybody has some at home, it’s affordable and easy to find in stores so it’s worth picking up some.

To make this paste, use the following ingredients:

  • One tablespoon of baking soda
  • ½ tablespoon of hydrogen peroxide
  • ½ tablespoon of warm water

In this case, you don’t have to leave your shoes in the sunlight afterward. However, you do need to let them sit for 30 minutes.

After 30 minutes have passed, shake off the excess solution and rinse your shoes thoroughly with some water or wipe off with a wet rag.

Cleaning Shoes with Toothpaste

cleaning shoes with toothpaste

I like to call this the “in-a-hurry” method because it’s without a doubt the fastest and easiest method of all for cleaning shoes.

All you need for this is toothpaste. However, the type of toothpaste is very important. Only a non-gel white toothpaste will work.

Personally I recommend Arm and Hammer toothpaste because baking soda produces an extra whitening effect.

  • Scrub the toothpaste onto your stain in gentle, circular motions.
  • Let it sit for about 10-15 minutes.
  • Finally, wipe off the remaining toothpaste using a damp towel or a clean sponge.

How to Deodorize Shoes with Baking Soda

how to deodorize shoes with baking soda

To get rid of bad odors in shoes, all you’ll need is the same baking soda. To deodorize shoes with baking soda:

  • Cover the insole of your shoes with baking soda. (1-2 tablespoons should work but you might need more for larger shoes.)
  • After you’ve covered the insoles with baking soda, you’ll want to make sure it’s distributed evenly. Tilt the shoe back and forth until you see fit. Don’t worry if it looks like a box of cat litter – lumps and clumps are okay.
  • Next, wait at least a few hours. You can also leave the baking soda in your shoes overnight for an even better effect.
  • Finally, remove the baking soda from your shoes. You can easily do this by shaking them over a trashcan or sink until the excess powder is all gone.

As you may know from leaving baking soda in your fridge or freezer, baking soda kills any bacteria known to cause shoe odors. That’s why it’s such a powerful deodorizer.

How Should You Dry Shoes After Cleaning Them?

how should you dry shoes after cleaning them

Note: Don’t place shoes directly on top of a radiator to dry them as this can damage shoes. Not only that but placing any items directly on top of a radiator while it’s on and hot could lead to problems.

The easiest and safest method for drying your shoes calls for one simple ingredient: natural sunlight. Simply place your clean sneakers outside in the sunlight and let nature do the work.

The last method is one you can use if you’re in a hurry, but it’s a bit more complicated than the previous one. All you will need is a dryer with a tumble setting and do the following:

  • Turn the dryer on a low-temperature setting to let them dry.
  • Place your clean shoes in your dryer. You can even close the door on the laces to keep your shoes from bouncing all over the place and prevent damage to your dryer. Simply tie the laces in a knot and close the door on them to keep them suspended.

If you don’t have laces long enough to try the suspension method, or a convenient drying rack for inside your dryer, you can also use a fluffy sock or a pillowcase to put your shoes in to prevent the shoes from making loud noises while tumble drying.

Another way is to throw in some towels with your shoes for extra cushion to prevent damage to the dryer.

James Marshall

About the author

James is a business management professional and consultant with a former background in maintenance, repair, and hands-on projects. He enjoys DIY tasks and maintenance around the home as well as part-time writing. Read more »