How to Remove Stains on Shoes

If you take care of your shoes, they should last you a long time…how many times have you heard that advice? And taking care of your shoes means promptly tackling and removing any stains which may be on them.

Leather Shoes

Most leather is quite stain resistant, especially if you protect it with good shoe polish – unless it is suede or other types of specialised, more fragile leather. However, one thing which does stain leather is mould and mildew.

To remove mould and mildew stains from leather shoes, moisten a cloth with dilute alcohol solution (e.g. 1 cup rubbing alcohol in 1 cup of water) and then use the cloth to gently wipe the surface stained with mildew. Leave to dry naturally in an air current (e.g. by an open window). If the stain persists, you may need to make up a solution containing a mild detergent or a soap containing fungicide and using a cloth dipped in this solution, wipe the stain then leave the shoes to dry in a well-ventilated location. In general, though, it is best to avoid wetting leather if possible.

Once the shoes are clean, protect them with a good coating of shoe wax. You can also treat mildew inside shoes with a special commercial spray available from shoe stores.

Sports Shoes (Tennis Shoes)

These shoes tend to be primarily white and quickly pick up marks and stains, particularly if you have been running on grass and soil. The good news is that most modern sports shoes are made of synthetic, easy-to-clean materials.

In general, sports shoes are water-resistant so giving them a thorough wipe with a wet cloth (or even a scrub with a wet brush and soap and water) to get most of the dirt and mud off them is a good way to start. However, don’t use hot water as this may affect the shoes’ durability in the future.

Once you have removed most of the dirt and grime, you can see if there are any persistent stains on the shoes. Grass stains is a common one. The chlorophyll contained in grass juices is a green pigment which easily stains fabrics and can be difficult to remove. If you see a stain, try and tackle it immediately as this will prevent it from setting in further. A paste made of baking soda and vinegar is a very effective treatment for grass stains. Molasses can also be very effective on grass stains – simply coat the stain with molasses overnight and then rinse in the morning.

Grease and oil marks on tennis shoes can be tackled with a strong shampoo, using an old tooth-brush with firm bristles to scrub away the marks. Alternatively, you can also sprinkle starch on the stain and then rub with glycerine.

Finally, chewing gum stuck on shoes can be very irritating. The best way of removing this is to place some ice cubes in a plastic bag and then press it to the gum. This will cause the gum to harden and crumble, which makes it much easier to scrape off with a blunt knife.

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