We all know the dreaded moment of getting the first stain on your new, clean shoes—especially if they’re a lighter color or white shoes. Yes, it’s pretty much unavoidable, and more times than not it’s a pesky dirt or grass stain that appears from simply going about your day normally. It always starts with one splotch of dirt that leads to the “whatever, they were bound to get dirty anyways” mentality. Then the stains keep building up, or you can’t bear to look at that one that just won’t come out, so you go buy a new pair, and the cycle repeats itself once more. But, this doesn’t need to be your fate. Getting the most common type of shoe stain out of your sneakers is actually a lot easier than you might think.
Grass stains are stubborn, but they can undoubtedly be conquered. It’s not as simple as scrubbing the life out of them with stain remover and hoping for the best (definitely don’t do that), but cleaning your shoes with the right materials and techniques can keep looking 10/10 for way longer than you ever have before. After some deep-dive researching on the internet, we’ve found the safest and most effective cleaning hacks to get rid of those annoying grass stains without ruining your shoes in the process. Say goodbye to your cute OOTD’s being ruined by musty, crusty shoes forever:
Canvas sneakers, particularly white ones, are practically a magnet for grass stains. Luckily, canvas material isn’t as delicate as suede or leather, so cleaning grass stains can be relatively easily with the right materials and approaches.
Materials: clear dish soap, white vinegar, baking soda, hydrogen peroxide, water, and a soft bristled brush (like a toothbrush).
1. First, brush any loose dirt off of your shoes to avoid scrubbing in even more stains
2. Then, after mixing a little bit of water and baking soda and hydrogen peroxide to create a thick paste, gently spread it over the grass stain to cover it entirely and let it sit for a couple of minutes.
3. Next, mix half a cup of warm water with one tablespoon of white vinegar and just a dab of clear dish soap.
4. Dip a clean toothbrush into the solution and start to scrub the stained area with the baking soda and hydrogen peroxide paste in small circular motions.
5. Once the stain is scrubbed out, rinse with warm water and let the shoes air dry completely.
While removing grass stains from leather is a little bit tougher, the thick and sturdy material is able to withstand a lot of different liquids and scrubbing techniques when they’re used appropriately. Remember that the older the stain is, the harder it will be to remove entirely—but a solid fading is totally possible.
Materials: molasses, dish soap, white vinegar, water, a clean cloth, isopropyl alcohol, cotton swabs, and leather cleaner
1. First, spread some molasses over the stain to cover it entirely and gently rub it in. Leave the molasses on the leather to sit overnight, then wash it off with warm water and dish soap in the morning (make sure the dish soap is alkaline free, as it can react with the plaint stain and worsen it).
2. Next, combine one part white vinegar with two parts water and a small amount of dish soap, and mix until the solution starts to turn bubbly. Dip a clean cloth into the solution and use it to gently rub away the stain.
3. If the stain still doesn’t seem to budge, dip a cotton swab in some isopropyl alcohol. Make sure to test the alcohol on a small, hidden area of the shoe first to see if it removes the leather dye. If it doesn’t, use it to gently rub away the stain.
4. Lastly, clean the stained area with a leather cleaner to remove any residue from the cleaning solutions to avoid the leather from drying out.
Whether its rain boots or the sole of a sneaker, there are specific techniques for removing grass stains from a rubber material. Unlike other shoe types, there’s actually two different approaches to use depending on how long the stain has been there. Be aware that older stains may not completely go away, but the right technique can lead to a significant amount of fading.
Materials: laundry detergent, a toothbrush or sponge, a bowl or spray bottle, and warm water
1. Start by mixing 1 teaspoon or generally small amount of detergent with 1/2 cup of warm water in a bowl or spray bottle.
2. Apply the solution to the stained area and covering it entirely.
3. Then, allow the solution to sit on the stain for about 5 to 10 minutes so the detergent can work to break down the stain.
4. Rinse the shoe with warm water and let dry. Repeat again if the stain still persists.
Materials: dish soap, white vinegar, a clean toothbrush, spray bottle or bowl, and warm water.
1. First, use the toothbrush to brush away an excess dirt or debris.
2. Next, mix a solution of 1 tablespoon of dish soap and 3 tablespoons of white vinegar in a bowl or spray bottle.
3. Spray or apply the solution to the stained area and allow it to sit for 10 to 15 minutes.
4. Gently scrub the stain with the toothbrush until the stain begins to lift off.
5. Rinse any soap residue from the shoes with warm water and let air dry. Repeat the process if steps if the stain persists.
6. If needed, repeat these steps until the grass stain has been completely removed.
Satin is the most delicate material when it comes to removing stains, so it may take a couple of tries to remove much as you possibly can due to the ultra-gentle nature you have to use in order to not damage the material. As long as you’re not too aggressive yet still persistent, your shoes will look almost brand new in no time.
Materials: mild detergent, a soft toothbrush, and cold water
1. Brush away any loose dirt or debris to avoid further staining.
2. Then, mix two parts mild detergent with one part cold water and gently brush the stains with the toothbrush.
3. Immediately pat the shoes dry with a clean towel.
Suede material is an interesting fabric to work with, and is similar to satin in the way that it needs to be cleaned very delicately. It has a tendency to lose its unique touch or become discolored if it’s handled too harshly, so be sure to keep that in mind while working towards results.
Materials: suede brush or pencil eraser, white vinegar, cotton swabs, and micellar water.
1. Use a suede brush or pencil eraser to remove any loose dirt and debris. While doing this, be sure to brush in the direction of the material and not go against the grain.
2. Next, cover the stain with a few drops of white vinegar and gently scrub with a dry cloth or brush.
3. Dip a cotton swab in micellar water and dab the stain until it disappears or fades as much as possible and let air dry.