How to Clean the Bottom of Shoes & Make Them Look Like New

There will come a time when you buy a pair of shoes that catch your eye in the store, but after coming home and wearing them you realize that you don’t like them. The first thing that crosses your mind is to return them to the store and get a refund. However, that can be a problem if you’ve worn the shoes and they get dirty.

So, if you’d like to know how to clean the bottom of shoes to look new so you can return them, then keep reading. Keep in mind that whether the store accepts returns or not depends entirely on the store’s policy. Some stores don’t accept returns while others may take the shoes back on some condition.

Most of the time, stores that take back shoes want the shoes to be in a good condition and look brand new. If there’s any dirt on the shoes, it may disqualify them from being returned. To help you, here are a few things you can try to clean the bottom of the shoes so that you can return them.

How to Clean the Bottom of Shoes to Return Them

  • Use a mixture of detergent and baking soda.
  • Clean with warm water and dishwashing powder or liquid.
  • Use white toothpaste.
  • Use Vinegar.
  • Try nail polish remover on white bottom shoes.

Follow these simple steps with ingredients that you have right at home, and you’ll have clean shoe bottoms in no time.

Use a Mixture of Detergent and Baking Soda

Things you’ll need:

  • Soft brush or old toothbrush
  • Baking soda
  • Liquid detergent
  • Small bowl
  • Clean cloth


  • Clean off all loose dirt from the shoes. You can do this by slapping the soles of the shoes together or on the floor. Use a soft toothbrush to remove any dirt still lodged in the grooves of the outsole. do not use a bristle brush like a wire brush since it can damage the bottom of the shoes and make them unsuitable for return.
  • Add 1 tablespoon of baking soda to a small bowl and add a small amount of liquid detergent at a time until a thick paste is formed. You can use a clean, old, soft toothbrush to apply the paste to the bottom of the shoes.
  • Scrub gently for 5 minutes, rinse the brush, and apply another coat. After, wipe the bottom of the shoes with a clean, wet cloth. Repeat the process, if necessary, until the shoes are sparkling clean.

Cleaning Shoe Soles with Warm Water and Dishwashing Powder or Liquid

Things you’ll need:

  • Soft-bristle brush
  • Big bucket or bowl
  • Lukewarm water
  • 2 tablespoons of dishwashing powder or liquid


  • Use a soft brush or old toothbrush to scrape off any loose dirt from the shoes. Pay special attention to the furrows on the bottom of the shoes since dirt tends to get stuck there.
  • Place your shoe in a big enough bowl or bucket that can fit them. Make sure that you don’t bend the shoe to make them fit in the bowl or bucket.
  • Fill the bowl or bucket with enough lukewarm water to cover the sole of the shoe. Be careful not to get water on the upper part of the shoes while doing this.
  • Add 2 tablespoons of dishwashing powder or liquid and stir. Do not get any of the dishwashing powder or liquid on other parts of the shoe as it may not be friendly to some of the materials used in the shoe’s upper layer.
  • Leave the shoes with the bottoms soaking for about 15 minutes.
  • After the time has elapsed, remove and wipe the shoes with a clean, dry cloth. the shoes should be clean as new when you’re done and can be returned to the store.

How to Make Shoes Look Unworn using White Toothpaste

Things you’ll need:

  • Old toothbrush
  • White toothpaste (any brand)
  • Clean cloth


  • Again, we begin by cleaning the shoe to get rid of loose dirt by slapping the soles together and using a soft brush or old toothbrush.
  • Apply a thick coat of white toothpaste to the bottoms of the shoes and spread evenly. Be careful not to get toothpaste on any other part of the shoe.
  • Using your soft brush, scrub the soles of the shoes for about 3 minutes.

Clean the Bottom of Shoes to Look new with Vinegar

Things you’ll need:

  • Soft brush
  • Clean cloth or rag
  • Vinegar


  • Tap off any loose dirt from the bottom of your shoes and use a soft brush in the creases on the outsole.
  • Take a clean cloth and soak it in white vinegar for a little while until it is saturated.
  • Use the vinegar-saturated cloth and rub the shoe until there is no more dirt present. Be careful not to get vinegar on the upper layer of the shoe.
  • Leave the shoe to dry naturally in a well-ventilated area.

Using Nail Polish Remover as a Shoe Sole Cleaner

Do not use this method if the bottom of your shoes is colored. This method will not clean shoes that are muddy or have loose dirt.

Thing’s you’ll need:

  • Soft-bristle brush
  • Cotton balls
  • Nail polish remover.


  • Start by getting rid of any mud or loose dirt from the bottom of the shoes. If it’s still present, you can use either of the methods mentioned above to get rid of any stuck-on dirt.
  • Once completed, wipe the shoes clean with a soft, clean rag.
  • Saturate a cotton ball with some nail polish remover and rub it across the bottom of the shoes. Change the soiled cotton ball and use a clean one until you’ve covered the entire bottom of the shoe. If there are stubborn stains on some areas, apply more nail polish remover to the cotton ball and continue to rub until the stain is gone.
  • Use a dry, clean cotton ball to wipe away any nail polish remover residue and let the shoes dry.


If you want to return your shoes to the store but you’ve worn them, then you’ll need to make sure the shoes look new. The best way to do this is to clean the shoe bottoms so they look like they’ve never been worn.

All the methods outlined in this article use common household ingredients and the processes are very easy to follow. You can also use these methods to keep the bottom of your shoes clean as well even if you’re not returning them.

For more shoe tricks and tips, read this article that outlines 21 useful shoe hacks.

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