Before cleaning or conditioning shoes, make sure you have the right products. Identify the material you are working with (located on the tag inside the shoe, sometimes under the tongue) before attempting to clean. If you’re not sure, take the shoes to a professional.

Hand washing

Chip off any dried or crusty material on the shoes. Remove laces, inserts, and any other removable parts. Mix a solution of gentle detergent, such as Ivory Snow, and warm water. Use a terrycloth towel dipped in this solution to clean the smooth rubber parts and soles of the shoes. Using the same solution, go …

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Machine washing

If they are crusty and covered in dirt, chip off as much as possible so you don’t end up giving them a mud bath instead of a wash. If they are really soiled, hose them off outside. Spot-treat any stains with a solution of warm water and gentle detergent, such as Ivory Snow. Use an …

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Canvas sneakers

Prevent stains on new canvas shoes by spraying them with Scotchgard or similar fabric protector. Basic canvas sneakers (such as Converse All-Stars or Keds) can be machine washed. However, if they are only soiled in a few places, or if they are very precious to you, hand washing is a better option.

Athletic sneakers

Athletic shoes undergo a lot of wear and tear, but regular cleanings can help them last longer. Most are constructed from many different materials, so use an all-purpose shoe cleaner or one that is recommended by the manufacturer. If you don’t have any on hand, mix up a solution of a mild detergent, like Ivory …

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Suede and nubuck leather

Get a special suede cleaning brush to clean with. Use short strokes in the same direction—not back and forth or circular—to buff away scuff marks and raise the nap. If the brush isn’t getting the dirt out, try a pencil eraser. To remove water stains, use a small, soft paintbrush to moisten the entire outside …

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Cleaning & Polishing

Remove dirt and grime with a leather cleaner intended for smooth leather shoes, or saddle soap. Use a soft cloth to clean with. Let shoes air dry completely. Conditioning your shoes protects them from drying and cracking. To keep them soft and smooth, rub in a commercial shoe conditioner after each cleaning. To polish leather …

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Smooth leather shoes

To extend the life of smooth leather shoes and keep them looking like new, clean, condition, and polish them regularly. Use shoe trees that are specially designed for your type of shoe to help shoes keep their shape. If shoes are very stiff or difficult to put on, use a shoehorn to prevent wear on …

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General tips for all shoes

When using shoe cleaners and polishes, always work in a well-ventilated area so that fumes aren’t an issue. Put newspaper down or work outside to avoid staining things around you. Remove laces before cleaning and polishing, and wash them with a load of laundry. To remove odor from any kind of shoe, sprinkle baking soda …

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