How To Clean the Bottom of Shoes to Return Them?

Having to return your shoes is never a fun situation, especially if a store has a strict return policy. However, ensuring your shoes are as clean and fresh as possible makes the entire process much more manageable. Your shoes need to be in brand new condition before returning them. To achieve this, they must be clean. 

Let’s look at different techniques to learn how to clean the bottom of shoes to return them.


How To Clean the Soles of Shoes 

Cleaning the soles of your shoes may seem like a tiring task, but it’s something that has to be done if you intend to return them. Luckily, there are countless ways to go about cleaning your shoe soles. 

It doesn’t matter what kind of material the shoes are made of. If any cleaning solutions get onto the fabric, it won’t cause damage. These are all very safe and will help keep your soles in good shape.


Rubber Soles of Shoes

There are several ways to clean the bottoms of rubber shoes. These are all straightforward techniques that won’t take much time. 

Using any of these techniques will leave your soles looking very fresh and clean.

clean bottom of shoes

Nail Polish Remover 

Surprisingly, you can use nail polish remover as an aid to keep white rubber soles on shoes clean. It especially helps to get rid of stubborn scuff marks. 

Make sure you remove the dirt from your shoes. Grab a cotton ball, or however many are needed, and soak it with nail polish remover.

Firmly scrub the soles until the marks and dirt are gone. Make sure the cotton ball only touches the rubber sole and not the fabric part of the shoe. 


Laundry Detergent & Baking Soda

This combination is an excellent solution for quickly getting the dirt off white rubber soles. You only need baking soda, laundry detergent, a toothbrush, and water. 

After loosening and removing some of the dirt, start by mixing the solution. Put a tablespoon of laundry detergent and a tablespoon of baking soda in a bowl and mix.

Once it becomes a paste consistency, take the toothbrush and apply it to the bottom of the soles. Be careful not to touch the cloth of the shoes; scrub the soles in a circular motion.

Rinse the mixture off your shoes or wipe it off using a cloth. Dry the shoe soles with a towel. 



Vinegar is an excellent cleanser for your household and other things since it naturally disinfects. So it’s no wonder it works well for cleaning shoes, too. Here’s how you can use vinegar to get your soles nice and squeaky clean.

After loosening and removing some of the dirt on the soles, you’ll want to grab your vinegar and pour it onto a washcloth.

Next, clean the shoe by rubbing the sole with the cloth. You’ll want to clean as much as you can until there’s no dirt. Repeat as many times as needed. Once you’re done cleaning, leave the shoes to dry.


Leather Shoes 

Leather is a very high-quality material that requires consistent upkeep. Leather that is not well taken care of will lose its longevity. It will also become very worn, dry, and cracked. 

Luckily, one easy way to maintain leather shoes is by cleaning them with soap and water. Take out the laces and wash them. Use a brush or cloth to gently remove any debris or dirt. Mix dish soap and warm water into a pan or a bucket.

Use a washcloth and dip it into the mixture. Wring out the washcloth and wipe the leather part of the shoes. Next, take another cloth and wet it with water. Wring it out and wipe the soapy solution from the shoes.

After this, you’ll need to grab some leather conditioner. You can purchase it or make it yourself with just warm water, vinegar, and baby soap. Lastly, let your shoes dry. Just leaving them in an open space is ideal. Do not leave them in the sun or the heat. It will destroy the leather by causing it to crack. 


White Rubber Soles on Shoes

Shoes with white rubber soles are always great to have, except for the challenge of keeping them clean. Especially since dirt can easily taint the color if left on for too long. 

Despite how fast dirt accumulates on them, it’s also easy to get them clean once again. Here are some steps to get your white rubber soles looking nice and clean before returning them.


Loosen the Dirt

First, you want to ensure you loosen the dirt on the soles before you start cleaning them. Doing this makes it much easier to clean because it will help remove a great deal of dirt and debris. 

It’s best to do this outside to avoid a mess. First, take the shoes and face the soles in the same direction. Then firmly hit the soles together until the dirt loosens and falls off. 

Next, use a dry toothbrush to remove any remaining dirt. Steel bristle brushes aren’t recommended as they can damage the rubber soles. Be sure to do a thorough scrub and get in between the cracks and grooves as much as possible. 

After this, you’ll want to take a bucket or a pan and fill it with water. You only need enough to cover the depth of your shoe soles. Then add a few drops of dish detergent and mix it well with the water. Let the shoes sit in the water for 20 minutes. 

Once the 20 minutes are up, take the toothbrush and scrub your soles while they’re wet. This helps to remove any dirt further. Dry them with a towel or a cloth. 


Black Rubber Soles of Shoes

One excellent but unconventional way of cleaning black rubber soles is by using toothpaste. This method is unique but also really practical, and it’s great for black rubber soles because you won’t have to worry about toothpaste staining them. 

Grab a soft bristle brush or a toothbrush. Use either to loosen the dirt from the soles. Be very gentle so as not to leave any scratch marks. This can potentially make it harder to return the shoes.

Next, apply the toothpaste in a very thick layer across the bottom of the sole. White toothpaste is great to use, but any color will suffice as it won’t stick to the sole. 

Leave it on for three minutes, then wipe it off with a cloth. If it’s not clean enough, you can repeat the steps until they are. 

Once you’re finished, you want to make sure you’ve thoroughly cleaned any remaining toothpaste from the shoes. You don’t want there to be any residue left upon returning them. 

Aside from this method, you can use the previously mentioned techniques for cleaning rubber soles. 


clean bottom of heels

How To Clean the Bottom of Heels 

Like any other shoe style, it’s essential to keep high heels clean, especially if you plan on returning them. Here’s how you clean the bottoms of heels.

First, like other shoes, the dirt must be removed before cleaning. You can take an unscented baby wipe or a damp washcloth to remove the dirt from the shoes. Wiping in a circular motion helps to remove the debris easily.

If there are visible marks or scuffs, you can use a patent leather cleaner. If there are any stains, use petroleum jelly to remove them. Apply it to the heel and wipe it off with a cloth.

After you’ve finished those steps and the bottoms are clean, you can buff them to add a little shine. Simply use a cotton cloth to buff the heels. 

As for the fabric part of the shoe, it’s essential to look at the labels to find out what the material is made of. From there, you can decide how to clean the fabric.

clean bottom of shoes to return


Tips for Returning Shoes in Good Condition 

Returning shoes after wearing them can be stressful if they aren’t in good condition. That’s why it’s vital to ensure they are tidy and clean before taking them back to the store. 

It’s also important to know the policy before returning them. Ultimately, it’s up to the store to decide whether to refund them or not. Keep in mind there are certain defects that disqualify a refund.

For example, if the shoes have cuts or are in a completely different state than when you first purchased them, it’s unlikely that you’ll be able to receive a refund.

If they are defective due to how they were made, you will likely receive a full refund. However, if they are dirty or tattered from wear and tear, you probably will not.

When cleaning them, make sure they not only look good but smell good too. It’s important to know how to clean the bottom of shoes to return them, because retailers can always tell when a shoe has been worn too much.


Get Rid of Bad Odors 

One way to remove any bad smells inside the shoes before returning them is by using hydrogen peroxide and water. This mixture will help kill odor-causing bacteria. 

Another way is by a mixture of essential oils, baking soda, and baking powder. You can put a combination of baking powder and baking soda in your shoes and leave it overnight or for a full day. You can also add a few drops of the essential oils.


Remove moisture 

To remove the smell, the shoes need to be void of moisture. This is because bacteria love moist environments as it’s easier for them to thrive. 

Leaving them out to dry is an easy way to remove moisture. However, placing them in the sun may not be good if you’re returning them. 

Instead, leave them to air dry in an open space. Also, ensure to wear socks to keep your feet dry and cool. This will help reduce the chance of moisture building up within the shoe.


Store Them in Clean Areas

Lastly, you want to make sure you store them in clean areas. If you have even a slight feeling you may wish to return them, but you are unsure, place them in the most pristine, safe places.


Key Points

When cleaning the soles, you want to be sure you don’t cause any irreversible messes. Keeping them in an unclean area will certainly ruin any chances of returning the shoes if they are damaged or stained. Hopefully, this article has you feeling confident about how to clean the bottom of shoes to return them. 


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