The first time you wore your new jeans, they left an impression on everyone – including your shoes. The indigo dye that gives blue jeans their color has a nasty tendency to transfer to other materials, so many a jeans devotee has found their shoes stained blue at the end of the day. How completely you're able to get rid of those stains depends on the material of your shoes and how quickly you act. Tackling indigo dye stains is easiest when the stains are fresh.
Getting Stains off Fabric or Synthetics
A lot of casual shoes are made with fabric or synthetic materials, which tend to be easier to clean than materials like suede and leather. Because there are still a lot of different materials and combinations that can be used in shoes, getting rid of your blue-jean stains might take some trial and error.
A small amount of rubbing alcohol on a soft cloth may remove the stain. Another gentle option is to rub a damp cloth with a drop of dish soap over the spot, followed by a clean damp cloth to remove any soap residue. Shoes that are safe for machine washing can be submerged in a bucket of warm water and a little oxygen bleach. Even if the shoes are also safe for the dryer, don't put them in if any of the stain remains, as the heat of the dryer will lock in the stain and make it nearly impossible to remove.
Getting Stains off Suede or Leather
Rubbing a simple white pencil eraser over denim-stained suede may be enough to remove the marks, so this is the first strategy to try when you notice those telltale blue marks on your suede shoes. Starting with one small patch of the stain, rub the eraser over the mark. The rubber shavings should pull up some of the indigo, and they can then be brushed away. This won't fully remove the indigo dye in all cases, though.
Suede is expensive and can be easily damaged, so it's risky to use household cleaners or other DIY strategies. If stains remain after using the white eraser, the next step is to buy a suede cleaning kit. They're available for less than $20 and generally include a cleaning brush/block and a cleanser made just for use on suede. This is a good investment for anyone with suede shoes, as they need regular maintenance to get rid of scuffs.
If your denim leaves visible stains on leather shoes, pick up some saddle soap. It's a type of cleanser specifically designed for leather products. Working a small amount of the soap into the stain and following with a damp cloth is your best bet for banishing indigo dye from leather. This method may also work for removing denim stains from leather bags or jackets.
Preventing Blue Jean Stains
Once you have put in the elbow grease to get blue-jean stains out of your shoes, you'll never want to deal with this problem again. One preventative measure is to rinse new jeans in cold water before wearing them for the first time. This process should remove some of the excess indigo dye that would otherwise rub off on your shoes. You'll miss that crisp, just-home-from-the-store look that new jeans have, but your shoes will thank you.
If you're not willing to rinse new jeans, consider wearing the jeans cuffed until they've been washed enough times that they no longer transfer dye to your shoes. This look isn't for everyone, of course. If it's not for you, stick to wearing black shoes that won't show any stains until those new jeans become a beloved old favorite.