How to Clean the Bottom of the Shoes to Return Them

How to Clean the Bottom of the Shoes to Return Them

Last Updated on March 14, 2022 by Nicholas

Getting a pair of shoes is always a nice feeling. But sometimes, after coming home from a retail store or after ordering one online, you’ll realize that it isn’t the perfect fit or you simply don’t want them due to incorrect size or shape. The only two options you have is to either wear them with difficulty or return them to ask for a refund or replacement. Personally, I’d go for the latter.

However, most shoe manufacturers require returns to be in a clean state which will be a problem if you’ve already walked a few miles with it. In this instance, how do you clean the bottom of your shoes so that they’re presentable when you return them?

How to Clean the Bottom of the Shoes to Return Them

There are many forms of simple home remedies to clean the bottom of your shoes before returning them. You can use dish soap, detergent, vinegar, bleaching powder, toothpaste, and more, to clean and remove particles that might have stuck in the outsoles so that there are no traces left behind once you return them. Cleaning the bottom of your shoes ensures the pair will get back its brand-new shiny look so that you wouldn’t feel embarrassed in returning them in used condition.

Can You Use Dish Soap to Clean the Bottom of Your Shoes?

Yes, you certainly can. To clean the bottom of your shoes using dish soap, simply make a mixture of it with water in a bowl and get a piece of cloth, a brush, or a soft-bristled toothbrush and dip it in the mixture.

Apply the dish soap and water solution to the bottom of the shoes to clean the dirt and stench. Repeat the process until you’re satisfied with the cleaning and dry the sole with a towel or under the fan.

Can detergent be used to clean the bottom of shoes?

Detergent can definitely be used to clean the bottom of shoes. Using detergent to clean the outsole is the ideal way to clean dirt from any kind of rubber or leather material. The steps to cleaning the bottom of your shoes with detergent are exactly the same with dish soap as you’ll have to mix the detergent powder with water to dip your brush, towel, or lint-free cloth into the mixture.

Once done, you can dry the outsole with a clean, dry cloth. Repeat the process if the bottom of your shoes is not up to mark.

Can you use vinegar to clean the bottom of shoes?

Using vinegar is another excellent way to clean the bottom of your shoes due to its naturally acidic nature. Before doing so, ensure to remove any loose dirt on your pair of shoes and the outsole with a brush or a toothbrush.

Once this is done, use a rag or an old piece of cloth to apply some vinegar to start rubbing onto the sole. Repeat as necessary until the bottom is thoroughly cleaned before cleaning it with water for drying.

Can bleach be used to clean the bottom of shoes?

Using bleaching powder is a quick way to put your shoes back in pristine condition. Don’t forget to wear protective gloves when using bleaching powder as it’s highly reactive and can be harmful to your skin. Mix the bleaching powder with water and use a brush, or a soft-bristle toothbrush to apply it on the bottom of the outsoles. Remember to not use too much bleaching powder as this can also be harmful to the rubber of your shoes.

Can you use toothpaste to clean the bottom of shoes?

Toothpaste is suitable for cleaning white colored soles as it’s an excellent whitening product. It removes stains as well as germs and dirt to give your shoes a brand new look. Remove loose dirt on the bottom of your shoes with a brush before applying toothpaste on the outsoles with a wet toothbrush.

Apply thoroughly and let the toothpaste sit for a few minutes before rubbing off the toothpaste. Wipe off any remaining paste from the outsoles and let the shoes dry completely.

What are home remedies to clean the bottom of your shoes?

The other ways to clean the bottom of your shoes is by using baking soda, lime and salt mixture, leather/rubber polish, or vegetable oil.

Baking soda works just the same as vinegar due to its acidic nature which is great in cleaning stains and spots on the surface of your outsole. A lime + salt mixture, on the other hand, is a natural cleaning home remedy that’s very effective in removing stains.

This method also translates really well when cleaning the bottom of your shoes with the proper preparation. Start with mixing lime and salt in a bowl and take an oil brush to apply it on the dirt and grime of the outsoles. Use a lint-free cloth dipped in water for cleaning afterwards to remove excess mixture on the bottom of your shoes. Let it dry afterwards for a dazzling shine.

Lastly, vegetable oil is a readily available kitchen aid to return the smoothness and shine of your outsoles. Apply the vegetable oil using a lint-free cloth to apply on the outsole and rub in circular motions. Let the oil soak for a few minutes before removing excess oil.

Can I wash the insoles of shoes?

Washing your insoles is a great way to remove odor, sweat, and bacteria before returning your pair. Simply use cold water and soap to wash the insoles of your shoes.  You can also use hydrogen peroxide and water to get rid of unwanted smells as well as kill bacteria.


Cleaning the bottom of your shoes is a must if you have to return them to the store for various reasons. This is because the shop might deny the return if it’s dirty. Clean your pair as a form of courtesy to another customer in case the shop offers the same shoe in the same condition to the next buyer.

The numerous home remedies we’ve listed should help you return your pair of shoes to a brand-new condition to ensure you won’t experience any hassle during the return process.

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