We've all been there. You start your day (or night) with a fresh set of heels or sneakers, only to return home with each shoe caked in mud, drinks, or scuffs. Keeping shoes in tip-top condition can feel like a full-time job, especially if you're rocking them on the regular. But don't sweat — there's hope.
Any shoe obsessive or sneakerhead can vouch for the power of a handy shoe cleaner in extending their shoes' lives. Sure, conservative use is one way to slow the signs of aging on your leather or suede favorites, but why put your life on hold just to keep them fresh? After all, shoes were made for wearing.
Ever since the advent of shoe cleaners, I've been stepping out of the house in my best shoes, safe in the knowledge that they're only moments away from a quick touch-up, fresh and back to their former glory — whether they're leather loafer, suede desert boots, or an ice-cold pair of Nikes. So, before you throw yours in the washer, look to these savvy sprays, foams, and travel kits — all suitable for an unforgiving student or young professional's budget. Thank me later.
How can we help?
These nine shoe cleaners weren't just featured because the Real Homes team loves them, but most importantly, because they scored highly with shoppers. Serving users in their quest to reinvigorate beaten and bruised shoes, these shoe cleaners have you covered. Patent leather? All good. Suede and nubuck? Squared away. The Hypebeast sneakers you plopped in a puddle? Good as new. Including everything such as easy foams, wipe-clean solutions, and conditioning serums, this guide has something for every material and need. For clean shoes, this is your foot in the door.
The best shoe cleaners to revive your shoes
Shoe cleaner for sneakers
Why you can trust Real Homes
Keeping your sneakers in box-fresh condition is no small feat, but with specialized solutions, you can keep your whitest whites gleaming with just a few simple applications. Of all the shoe types, sneakers have the hardest time, acting as a go-to for casual events and lunchtime strolls, although fine leather and suede are a little more sensitive.
Size: 2.5 oz.
If it's stubborn dirt you're reckoning with, consider this a must. Working with almost every material, from full-grain, patent, synthetic and faux leather to suede, canvas, and nubuck, this potent formula gets to work on footwear almost immediately. Start off by wiping your shoes with a wet cloth, and take the cleaner, applying its sponge brush to the shoe's outer, activating the solution by working it in with circular motions. From here, wipe away the residue, let the shoes dry for half an hour, and then check back in for serious results. White tennis sneaks, this way.
Size: 6.08 oz.
Canvas, leather, vinyl, mesh, or flyknit: almost every sneaker material works with this impressive, foaming hero. According to buyers, the simple, pumping function works smoothly, and even little ones could operate it. Made from 99% sugar and coconut, the natural solution works wonders, restoring footwear to its former glory without the risk of yellowing marks. One of the main benefits is its gentle touch, which is always welcome when dealing with dyed canvas. Oh, and with plenty to pump per bottle, it's real value for money.
Type: Cleaning solution with brush
Size: 4 oz.
When it comes to sneaker cleaning, no one is mistaking Jason Markk for anything less than legendary. One of the earliest pioneers in the game, the specialist brand offers up one of the most effective formulas yet. As such, shoppers were blown away by its ability to revitalize shoes they had retired to garden work. A simple and easy product to use, it's less ideal for out-and-about use, but for touch-ups at home, it nails the brief. Add water, grab the brush, and apply some elbow grease. Then say hello to a new pair of shoes.
Shoe cleaner for leather
Leather is a sturdy material but requires a unique type of care. And that's where these smart and safe cleaners come in. Sure, many sneaker cleaners double up as leather cleaners, however, we would always err on the pedantic side, opting for fine-leather-specific formulas like these, avoiding tears over destroyed dress shoes or stilettos.
Type: Liquid solution
Size: 8 oz.
Arriving pre-mixed, this miracle worker is perfect for fine-leather footwear, offering a chemical-free and odorless solution to the dirt, oil, and grime that daily life throws our way. Suitable for black, white, brown, red, and yellow leather, plus exotics, this cleaner is an absolute breeze to use, requiring only a fresh cloth, gently applied to the leather surface. One thing to note, however, is formula should not be used on suede, although it does work well with vinyl, plastic, rubber, and faux leather.
Type: Clear solution
Size: 8 oz.
Working especially well with leather — although it can handle canvas, suede, and mesh, too — this all-natural solution is made with a heavenly concoction of coconut, jojoba, and other natural oils. Offering up to 100 shoe pairs' worth of solution, this concentrated product should be used sparingly, as just a few drops do a lot. Conditioning, as well as cleaning, this formula works best with a brush, which should do the heavy lifting instead of your arms. Leather kicks never looked so good.
Type: Liquid solution
Size: 4 oz.
Bringing you both a leather cleaner and conditioner, this handy kit is essential for longer-lasting footwear. Appropriate for use on any color or finish of leather, this takes down dirt, oil, and sweat with the first solution, and then, subtly restores the leather's surface with the latter. The best part? By carrying out this routine regularly, you prevent creasing, cracking, and general wear, while looking fresh in the process. Whether it's boots or sneakers, shoppers hold this in high regard.
Shoe cleaner for suede
A textural alternative to leather, suede is another animal-derived hide, distinguished by its softness. Due to the fibrous surface, it requires a brush for cleaning, so consider investing in one of these, too. Before diving into our picks though, it's worthwhile brushing up (sorry, not sorry) on your suede cleaning techniques. Ultimately, as long as you're light-handed and comb with the grain of the nap, all should go swimmingly.
Type: Liquid solution
Size: 8 oz.
Removing surface dirt from suede, buck, linen, leather, and more, this is a premium cleaner that can be applied directly to footwear with a brush. It's advised you test it on an unseen area beforehand and that any excess solution be wiped away, but don't sweat it: it's relatively gentle, too. Providing serious bang for your buck, it also freshens up the soles and sidewalls with ease. My favorite part? It works super fast, putting you out of your misery in record time. Oh, and that price is hard to argue with.
Type: Foam with brush applicator
Size: 9 oz.
Suede can be a tricky customer, so it's better to be safe than sorry. Fortunately, it's easier to care for than you would think, thanks to Sof Sole's unique product, which excels at removing greasy marks and stains that would otherwise seem impossible to clear. Of course, as with anything like suede or nubuck, testing for colorfastness in an inconspicuous area beforehand is vital — just in case. As for the operation, this product is a breeze, complete with a lid cum-brush-applicator. Ugg boots, Birkenstock sandals, or any dupes in this area, this foam is your answer to a spruce-up.
Type: Spray oil
Size: 5 oz.
A genie in a bottle, this suede spray is a triple threat of cleaning, conditioning and protecting suede and nubuck surfaces, ideal for desert boots or chunky suede heels. Alcohol-free, it works its magic on stains and any unwanted doors, leaving a blemish-free set of shoes. As for its ingredients, these ward off cracking, increasing the lifespan of the lifespan of the material. Discoloration: bye. Future stain prevention: hello. And yes, shoppers confirm a soft and clean result on their end.
How we chose these shoe cleaners
Shoppers spoke; we listened. Only choosing top-notch picks that reviewers can vouch for, we curated this list of shoe cleaners based on affordability and quality. In short, these are tried-and-tested products, guaranteed to freshen up your fav footwear.
Where to buy shoe cleaners?
For the most sought-after shoe cleaners, check in with some of our reverred retailers, all handily listed below.
- Amazon shoe cleaners
- Walmart shoe cleaners
- Etsy shoe cleaners
- Wayfair shoe cleaners
- Target shoe cleaners
Can you use soapy water to clean shoes?
Ideally, we would suggest using a specialized shoe cleaner, like those listed above. However, there are times when soapy water does the trick. Certainly, for suede and leather dress shoes, it's best to stick with a shoe cleaner as these can be a little more delicate or nuanced — especially if they're particularly expensive. As for most sneakers, though, you're good to proceed.
To begin, start by brushing away dry debris like mud, gum (yuck!), and twigs. Then, you can get cracking. Keep in mind that your soapy water should never be too concentrated as it can damage treatments on the shoe or lead to discoloration. Remove the laces and place them in their bowl of solution, rubbing them to remove the dirt. Then, fill another bowl with your solution, before dipping an old toothbrush in it, and gently scrubbing the shoes' surface. Finally, grab a microfiber cloth, blot the soap suds, and leave your shoes (and laces) somewhere to air dry. If you're. For white shoes, you can also incorporate baking soda and other tips but tread carefully as these are harsher products.
How can I wash my shoes without ruining them?
Easy does it, is the short answer. It's about taking the softest approach you can. In practice, placing your shoes in the washing machine should be a last resort and a no-no for things like fine leather or suede. If you're at this point, though, opt for a low temperature to prevent melting the glue on your shoes. Elsewhere, steer clear of excessively potent products, such as kitchen bleach, as this can strip the surface oils.
Ideally, the safest way is to use a shoe cleaner and a brush, working away the dirt with smooth and light circular motions. Remember: suede and specially treated or textured leathers are their own kettle of fish, so proceed with caution, opting first and foremost for a suede- or leather-specific cleaner. In the case of sneakers, a sneaker cleaner from the likes of Jason Markk is wise, but if they're less fancy numbers, a little soapy water has it covered.