It’s crucial to know how to clean thrift store shoes to breathe new life into these vintage treasures. We’ll walk you through the steps to make your thrift store shoes shine like new again. So, let’s dive in and rescue those Thrift Store Shoes features you’ve fallen in love with!

Are you the kind of fashion enthusiast who loves the thrill of hunting for hidden gems in thrift stores? If you’re nodding your head enthusiastically, you’re not alone! Scoring unique and stylish thrift store shoes is a true art, but the journey doesn’t end when you find that perfect pair.

The Charm of Thrift Store Shoes

Thrift stores are like treasure troves for fashion aficionados, offering an array of styles and brands that tell stories of the past. Each pair of thrift store shoes has its own unique charm, often showcasing the craftsmanship and fashion trends of yesteryears. Whether you’re into vintage elegance, boho chic, or classic sneakers, thrift store shoes have something for everyone.

Why Clean Thrift Store Shoes?

Before we delve into the cleaning process, let’s talk about why it’s so important to clean thrift store shoes.

  1. First and foremost, cleaning ensures that your shoes are hygienic and safe to wear. You never know where those shoes have been!
  2. Secondly, cleaning restores the original luster, color, and freshness of the shoes, allowing you to proudly flaunt your unique finds.
  3. Finally, it prolongs the life of your thrift store shoes, ensuring they stay a part of your fashion arsenal for years to come.

Gathering Your Cleaning Arsenal

Now that we understand the significance of cleaning thrift store shoes, let’s get into the nitty-gritty of how to do it effectively. To begin, you’ll need to gather your cleaning supplies. Here’s a list of what you’ll require:

Cleaning Supplies You’ll Need

  1. Soft-bristle brush or toothbrush
  2. Mild detergent or specialized shoe cleaner
  3. Water
  4. Soft cloths or microfiber towels
  5. White vinegar
  6. Baking soda
  7. A toothpick or cotton swab
  8. Shoe polish (if applicable)
  9. Shoe deodorizer (optional)

Preliminary Cleaning

Before you start scrubbing away, it’s important to perform some preliminary cleaning. This step helps remove loose dirt and grime, making the deep cleaning process more effective. Follow these steps:

Dusting Off Dirt and Debris

Begin by gently tapping the thrift store shoes together to dislodge any loose dirt and debris. Then, use a soft-bristle brush or toothbrush to gently brush away remaining dirt. Be sure to cover every nook and cranny, including the soles, seams, and any embellishments.

Cleaning Fabric and Canvas Shoes

Fabric and canvas shoes are a common thrift store find due to their comfort and versatility. Cleaning them is relatively easy. Here’s how:

Step 1: Pre-treatment with Baking Soda

If your thrift store shoes have stubborn stains or odors, sprinkle a bit of baking soda inside them. Let it sit overnight to absorb odors and loosen stains.

Step 2: Soak and Scrub

Create a mixture of mild detergent or specialized shoe cleaner with warm water. Dip a soft cloth or toothbrush into the solution, then gently scrub the fabric or canvas surface of the shoes. Pay extra attention to stains and scuff marks.

Cleaning Leather and Faux Leather Shoes

Leather and faux leather thrift store shoes can exude timeless elegance. To clean and preserve their beauty, follow these steps:

Step 1: Removing Stains

If there are stains on the leather, dip a soft cloth into a mixture of mild detergent and water. Gently rub the stained area in a circular motion. For stubborn stains, add a drop of white vinegar to the mixture.

Step 2: Conditioning

After cleaning, apply a leather conditioner to keep the leather supple and prevent it from drying out or cracking. This step is essential for maintaining thrift store shoes' longevity and softness.

The Final Touches

Now that your thrift store shoes are clean and refreshed, it’s time for some final touches to make them look their best.

Step 1: Drying

Allow your thrift store shoes to air dry naturally. Avoid using direct heat sources like radiators or hairdryers, as they can damage the shoes.

Step 2: Polishing and Protecting

If your thrift store shoes are made of leather, give them a gentle polish using a shoe cream or polish that matches their color. This step not only enhances their shine but also provides a protective layer.

Maintaining the Magic

Cleaning thrift store shoes is a labor of love, but it’s worth it to breathe new life into your unique finds. To ensure your thrift store shoes stay fabulous, remember these tips:

Regular Check-ups

Periodically inspect your thrift store shoes for signs of wear, dirt, or damage. Promptly address any issues to keep them in tip-top shape.

Storage Matters

Store your cleaned thrift store shoes in a cool, dry place, away from direct sunlight. Use shoe trees or stuff them with newspaper to maintain their shape.

Rotate Your Shoes

Don’t wear the same pair of thrift store shoes every day. Rotate your collection to allow them to air out and reduce wear and tear.


Cleaning thrift store shoes is not just about restoring their appearance; it’s about preserving the stories and styles they carry. By following these steps, you can ensure that your thrift store shoes remain a beloved part of your wardrobe, ready to make a unique fashion statement whenever you step out. So, go ahead, embrace the world of thrift store treasures, and let your personality shine through every step you take in those beautifully cleaned shoes!

Andrew Robert
I am Robert Andrew and I have been reviewing shoes for the past 4 years. Living in California, I have a wide variety of shoes to choose from and review. I enjoy sharing my thoughts on different types of shoes with others who are looking for information before making a purchase.