Do you have any shoes that have gotten super dirty and think they can’t be saved? Do you dread having to buy your kids more shoes because they are so muddy and hate cleaning them?
Being a mom and coach of baseball, it never fails that my tennis shoes get dirty. Really dirty… with Red Georgia Clay from the field, or mud, or grass. Every year I try to have an extra pair of shoes just for the field.
Sometimes it is just not possible to have an extra pair of shoes. Years ago, my arch collapsed and planters fasciitis set in, so it became imperative to have good shoes, especially when I am on my feet in the dugout or running drills with the boys on the field. These shoes are so expensive, I was forced to find a way to clean them.
My favorite cleaning trick is whitening toothpaste and an old toothbrush! It works wonders on solid leather tennis shoes.
If your shoes are solid leather, when you rinse them, the inside of the shoes will not get wet. Look at the difference when I scrubbed one side of my shoe with the whitening toothpaste and an old toothbrush. These were my “baseball shoes” from a year ago, so this is not fresh dirt…it still came off and looks like NEW.
Recently, due to new problems in my feet, I was forced to get a different kind of tennis shoe. They have mesh on the sides and top, so when I tried to wash the soles using the toothbrush and toothpaste, the inside of the shoe got wet. Not good. I had to find a new way to clean them….
Perfect Example: Yesterday, the family and I went to the ballfield to practice hitting and fielding. I love to get out there with them and run around. We have had so much rain here, the outfield was like a marsh pit. The soles of my shoes got so packed with mud (since they are my only athletic shoes now) I had to do something.
I scraped off as much dirt outside as I could, but still my shoes were a mess. I found 2 Foil Lasagna pans in my kitchen that I had never used, and put them to work. Don’t worry, I won’t be using them now for Lasagna! I put some hot water (just enough to cover the bottom) and a squirt of Dawn Dishwashing Detergent. I swished around the detergent until it produced some bubbles and put a shoe in each pan. I was careful not to get the water too high in the pan so the inside of my shoes would get wet.
I soaked them for about 20 minutes and was pleased to find that most of the dirt had come off and out of those pesky little grooves on the sole of the shoe. I still used my toothbrush to scrub out the dirt in those tiny places. My shoes were so dirty and packed with field dirt (mud really) that my shoes required a second soak. Overall, I am pleased with the results. I was able to remove about 99% of it. Not bad since my shoes were really bad off.
What you will need:
- An old tshirt to wear because if you are using any brush to scrub, there is a good chance it’s going to splatter
- For good solid Leather shoes, you will need a spare tube of Whitening Toothpaste and an old toothbrush: Please don’t use the same tube of toothpaste to brush your teeth with. This tube of toothpaste will be declared, “For Cleaning Only” as will the toothbrush. Eek! Lol!
- Two Foil Lasagna pans that you can find in any grocery store. I like them because they are bendable and you can bend the pan to get to the parts of the shoe that need it most.
- Paper Towels
- HOT water. Fill it with just enough to cover the bottom of the pan and to the desired height to surround the sole of the shoe.
- Dawn dishwashing detergent. I added a squirt in each pan and stirred with my fingers to produce the bubbles. This solution will break up the dirt in the little grooves of the bottom of the shoe.
- A toothbrush. A great tool to use for those tiny, hard to reach places.
- After scraping as much dirt off outside that you can, let the sole of the shoes soak for about 10-15 minutes, check and see what dirt has been loosened or falling off. My shoes were so bad, I needed a second soak. I would not recommend leaving your nice shoes in for a super long period of time as it is not good for the rubber soles.
My kids have always appreciated when I can work on their dirty, yucky, shoes and give them new life. As they get older, it is something they can work on, too. With a lot of desire, and a little bit of effort, it is always rewarding to make something feel and look new again.