Our quick and easy shoe care guide will show you how to clean your suede, leather and satin shoes so they look as good as new.

Can You Put Shoes In The Washing Machine?

Depending on the material, you may be able to easily wash your shoes by popping them in the washing machine. Before doing anything, check the care label to ensure if they are machine-washable. Generally speaking, shoes made from textiles such as cotton, nylon, and polyester can withstand a machine wash. Some PU or PVC shoes may also be machine washable, be sure to look at the care label to be extra sure. Footwear made from natural or delicate materials such as leather, suede, satin and silk should never be put in the wash.

How to Wash Shoes in a Washing Machine
  1. Remove the laces.
  2. Use an old toothbrush to brush away any loose dirt from the surface.
  3. Place the shoes and the laces in a wash bag or pillow case. This will stop them from snagging on the inside of the drum.
  4. Put some towels in the washing machine to minimise the noise of your shoes banging against the drum.
  5. Set the wash at a cool 30 degrees to prevent colours from fading or running.
  6. Leave the shoes in a warm spot to air-dry. Stuff them with scrunched-up newspaper inside to soak up excess moisture and to help maintain shape.

How to Clean Suede Shoes

Before You Start

You will need to stuff your shoes - taking particular care to fill the toe area - with crumpled-up newspapers. This will ensure that the shoe will hold its shape as you clean it.

How To Clean Mud Off Suede Shoes

Excessive moisture can damage suede shoes, so you will have to fight the instinct to scrub away at the dirt with water. If your shoes get muddy, the best approach is to allow time for the mud to dry in. Use a hairdryer if you’re in a rush, but make sure to use the cool setting as heat can damage suede.

Once dry, wipe away any excess dirt and break off any hardened mud with a blunt knife or even with your hands. Then use a suede cleaning brush (an old toothbrush will work too) and gently brush away any remaining mud. Brush in the direction of the fibres. Keep a rag on hand so you can remove dirt from the brush as you go.

How To Get A Water Stain Out Of Suede Shoes

Suede is a delicate material and can become discoloured or stained if exposed to water. To remove any dried-in water stains, dampen a clean cloth and carefully dab the shoe. It’s important to get the entire shoe damp as spot-cleaning can create water marks. Then use a damp suede brush (a damp kitchen sponge will work too) and gently brush away at the stains until they disappear. Leave the shoes to dry naturally for as much time as they need. Once fully dry, use a suede protector spray to prevent further water damage in future.

How To Remove Scuffs From Suede Shoes

If you still have a few stubborn scuffs and marks that won't brush out, then it may be time to get creative. Try rubbing away tough stains with a pencil eraser.

How to Clean Leather Shoes

Before You Start

When it comes to keeping leather footwear clean, speed is key. The longer the dirt sits, the worse the long-term damage will be. Mud and dirt weaken leather fibres, and this can result in unsightly cracks.

Before getting started, you will have to cover the surface you are working on to protect it against spillages. If working with polish, it is also a good idea to remove the shoe laces to prevent staining.


Leather shoe polish and brushes

How To Remove Dirt From Leather Shoes

As a natural material, leather tends to be quite porous. This means that leather shoes will hold onto dirt, stains and cleaning products for a long time. Consequently, it’s important not to scrimp on leather cleaning products as the wrong choice could permanently discolour your shoes. Try to source a copy of the manufacturer’s instructions and follow these for guidance on the best way to care for your shoes.

To remove dirt or mud, rub a shoe brush (an old toothbrush will also work) against the surface, seam and soles. It’s important to be gentle when doing this, as hard rubbing might damage the material. Wipe the shoes or boots down with a damp cloth and a small amount of soap. Apply a leather cleaner to a clean cloth and gently rub over the shoes. Leave for about 30 minutes to dry. For best results, aim to polish your leather shoes about once a month.

How to Clean Satin Shoes

Always follow the instructions on the care label of your satin shoes and take care to note if the item is dry-clean only.

Before cleaning, brush away dirt with a soft bristle (ideally nylon) brush or dry rag. Gently blot any stains with a damp cloth. Follow the grain of the fabric and work your way up the shoe starting from the toes. Note that you should never use hot water on satin, as this can result in shrinkage.

If the stains persist, squirt a small amount of mild soap onto a damp cloth. Produce a lather and dab (do not rub) the remaining stains with the soapy cloth. Rinse the shoe of any soap residue straight away by patting it with a clean cloth and cold water.

Dab (do not rub) the shoes dry with a towel, aiming to remove as much moisture as possible. Use a blow dryer on the cool heat setting to gently dry the fabric.