10 Shoe Cleaning Hacks You'll Wish You Knew Sooner

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It doesn't matter how crisp and perfect your outfit is. If your shoes are dingy and scuffed, that's all you'll notice in a full-length mirror. Keep your favorite kicks looking new, or bring new life back to a shabby-looking old pair, using nothing more than stuff that's probably already in your home.

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1. Brighten White Canvas With Vinegar

It only takes one quick stroll in your bright white kicks for them to take on a dingy, grey cast. Luckily, there's a simple cleaning technique for white canvas shoes. Mix together equal parts white vinegar and baking soda, plus a little water, and rub the paste into the white fabric. Let it dry, brush off any residue and rinse the shoes in clean water.

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2. Clean Suede With Micellar Water

People who wear makeup may already have micellar water in their bathrooms. It's a gentle cleanser that doubles as a makeup remover, and it can also remove marks from delicate suede. Dampen a cotton ball or cotton swap with micellar water and dab at spots on your suede or faux-suede shoes. If they're not too set in, the spots should lighten or disappear altogether.

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3. Clean Patent Leather With Vaseline

Patent leather makes a statement with its noticeable shine. That same quality also makes scuffs and marks highly noticeable. Petroleum jelly is an effective solution. Dip a soft cloth in the jelly, rub it over any imperfections on the shoes and follow with a clean cloth.

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4. Try Pencil Erasers on Scuffs

The humble pencil eraser can do more than just correct Sudoku mistakes. It could erase marks on your shoes, especially on the rubber midsoles. Pencil erasers won't magically remove all spots, but because this method also won't damage your shoes, it's worth a try.

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5. File Down Scuffs on Suede

Keep an emery board on hand to treat those scuffs on suede shoes when they happen. A simple nail file is especially useful for sanding down spots of dried mud and other muck that might cling to your suede shoes.

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6. Treat Scuffs With Polish Remover

Nail polish remover could damage certain kinds of shoe materials, but it can be used to clean dirty midsoles and other rubbery parts of your favorite shoes. This is a technique to try on marks that a pencil eraser couldn't treat. Soak a cotton ball with nail polish remover and swipe it across stubborn stains and scuffs.

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7. Banish Odors With Baking Soda

Baking soda treats the outside of your shoes, but it's also a powerful aid in ridding your favorite shoes of any not-so-pleasant odors. One option is to sprinkle baking soda directly in shoes, but it's cleaner to make fabric sachets filled with baking soda. Add a few drops of an essential oil if you wish. Tuck sachets inside stinky shoes each night and remove them in the morning, changing out the baking soda every so often.

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8. Deodorize With Tea Bags

If baking soda isn't strong enough to rid your favorite sneakers of bad odors, or if you don't have any on hand, give black tea a try. Like baking soda, dry tea is absorbent enough to soak up some of that stink, and may give your shoes a pleasant smell instead. Pop a few tea bags in smelly shoes whenever they're not being worn.

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9. Use Toothbrushes to Scour Cracks

The cleaning methods that will erase stains and whiten dirty canvas shoes won't necessarily leave your footwear looking really clean. There may still be dirt and mud trapped in the little crevices, like where the fabric meets the midsole or around the shoelaces. Fix that by grabbing a new, cheap toothbrush. Use the dry brush to loosen debris, then dampen it and do another pass to hopefully brush that gunk away.

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10. Stock Up on Melamine Sponges

If you've ever used a Magic Eraser, you've used a melamine sponge. It's the generic name for a kind of stiff, abrasive foam that does wonders cleaning all kinds of surfaces. Dampen a melamine sponge and use it to remove scuffs from athletic, suede or leather shoes. Go very slowly with gentle swipes of the sponge to avoid damaging the material.

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