How To Clean Your Shoes With Household Products, Because Nail Polish Remover isn’t Just for Your Old Manicure

I don’t really know why, but for some reason, when my shoes get dirty I think they’re done for. I think that any stain or scuff is a permanent resident. I realize this makes no sense. After we wear clothes, we wash them. But after we wear shoes, which constantly come in contact with the ground, how often do we actually take the time to clean them? If you’re someone who makes it a habit to keep her kicks in pristine condition, kudos! But if you’re more like me, and have irrational reasoning regarding the state of your shoes (please tell me I’m not the only one), then I have news: There are household items that clean shoes of dirt, scuffs, and stains! (Cue collective gasp.) Here’s a little anecdote for how I finally found that out.

I wore my favorite flats to a particularly rowdy night at a bar I sometimes go to. For me, a night out usually ends up with my shoes looking exactly the same as they started. But on this particular evening, I came home with sticky soles, grimy edges, and dirt smudges on the top where people had stepped on my toes and/or spilled foreign substances *shudder*. I might have shed a tear in mourning, because I thought my shoes would never be the same again. But the next morning, I felt a surge of confidence that I could find the beige under all that brown. I took a damp cloth to my flats, and, lo and behold, the dirt came off.

I realize that was an extremely anticlimactic story, but if a little water can erase a night at the bar, imagine what a cleaning agent can do. Here are six that you probably have around the house that will have your sandals, pumps, and tennies looking like new.

1. Toothpaste

Aquafresh Cavity Protection Toothpaste , $4, Amazon

For canvas shoes, put a little toothpaste on a cloth to polish away any marks. Just make sure to wipe off any residue with a clean, damp cloth afterward.

2. Nail Polish Remover

Cutex Quick & Gentle Polish Remove r, $5, Amazon

Scuffs on patent leather or tennis shoes are no match for nail polish remover. Add a little to a cotton ball to wipe away marks. Since this method can be a little harsh, make sure to apply baby powder or petroleum jelly to the newly clean areas to protect the shoe’s material.

3. Petroleum Jelly

Aquaphor Healing Ointment, $6, Amazon

Add a little Vaseline to a cloth to easily rub away scuffs from patent leather shoes. Then just use a damp cloth to wipe any leftover goo off after.

4. Windex

Windex, $8, Amazon

Windex is not just for windows: This household staple also works wonders on patent leather shoes. Just spray onto a cloth and wipe down shoes; it easily erases scuffs and makes shoes shine.

5. Rubber Erasers

Hello Kitty Pencil Top Erasers, $5, Amazon

Have scuff marks on vinyl shoes? Just erase them with a standard rubber eraser like the ones on the end of pencils (or, you know, Hello Kitty ones). Easy.

6. Baby Shampoo

Aveeno Baby Shampoo, $5, Amazon

If your shoes are OK getting wet (this isn’t for real leather loafers), put a little baby shampoo on it and scrub with a cloth until it is clean. Then just rinse with water and let your shoes air dry.