You wouldn't wear the same clothes for months on end without washing them. So why do so many of us go for months, if not years, without investing in a quality shoe cleaner to freshen up our footwear?
After all, shoes aren't just an essential style consideration for any outfit, they're arguably the most essential clothing item you need to leave the house. Whether you're going for a run, to a formal event, or just a casual get-together, your shoes keep you strutting comfortably and safely, weathering the elements so that your feet don't have to. But those elements they weather certainly leave their mark, taking the shine away from dress shoes and leaving dirty streaks on sneakers.
They say you can tell a lot about a person by their shoes, so whether you’re going on a date or a job interview or just meeting some new people, you may want to refresh those kicks so you can make a good impression.
Thankfully, there’s an array of shoe cleaners on the market to tackle every type of material and shoe. Whether you’re looking for a liquid cleaner to tackle stains and streaks, a cream specifically to clean your suede, or even a simple “just add water” solution to spruce up your sneakers on the go, there’s a readily available solution out there.
The Best Shoe Cleaners
What to Consider
Shoe Material: It may seem fairly obvious, but when buying a cleaning solution, consider what you’re cleaning. While most of the cleaners we’ve assembled here will work well with most types of shoes, each has certain material it’s best suited for. So while a catch-all solution may work best if you’re trying to routinely clean a range of shoes, it might be best to seek out a more specialized solution for more difficult-to-maintain materials such as suede or leather.
Consistency: Shoes have been around for thousands of years, so it stands to reason that in the ensuing millennia since their invention, we’ve developed a number of means by which to clean them. From the solid soap bar style of a Fiebing’s Saddle Soap to the more dish soap-like consistency of the concentrate cleaner that is Pink Miracle, to more recent innovations like the “just add water” SneakERASERS sponges, there’s all manner of cleaners on the market. While there’s no singular “best consistency” when it comes to shoe cleaners, odds are you know whether you personally would rather work with a compact wipe or sponge, or a possibly more unwieldy, more viscous substance that could deliver a more intense cleaning.
Ease of Use: Don’t take “easy to use” to mean “How lazy are you?” Sure, there is some element of being honest with yourself about how likely/often you are to use a more involved cleaning method compared to how much it costs. But when thinking about “ease of use,” it’s less about some universal idea of what’s an easier or more involved method, and more about your cleaning style. Are you more of "clean as needed" person, where a spot-cleaning sponge or wipe works best? Or are you more of a “It’s cleaning day” type, where you set aside an hour or two at home to work up some suds and put your whole shoe collection through a thorough scrub?
How We Chose
With so many different types of shoes, and so many different ways to clean them, we endeavored to try and cover as many bases as possible regarding what footwear you might be cleaning, and what consistency of cleaner you'd want to use. Once we narrowed down those parameters, we sought out the opinions of the kinds of people who are passionate about polishing their footwear.
Thankfully, as anyone who's ever discovered that scoring a pair of limited-edition Nikes makes getting Taylor Swift tickets look easy can tell you, there's a world of shoe collectors out there with an obsession and expertise that they are more than happy to share with whomever will listen. So we turned our attention to customer reviews on shopping sites like Amazon, as well as browsing collector forums like SneakerTalk.com and the Sneaker subreddit.
So whether you have a favorite pair that recently took a beating, or you want a cleaning solution that can clean a whole closet full of shoes, we have you covered.