How to Disinfect Shoes? The Most Effective Guide! [in 2024]

Written By Mahia

Think everywhere you walked in today.

Perhaps you went shopping, picked some groceries, brought your kids to school, and jogged around your neighborhood.

Now, think about how much germs or dirt your shoes encounter every day from all these places.

Certainly, you just greet a whole species of bacteria when you step inside your house!

Your shoes can even carry the deadly Coronavirus and make all of your family members sick

But It’s inevitable to avoid such exposure as a social being, right?

The thing you can do to avoid such damage is to sanitize your shoes from time to time.

Hence, I’m about to make your life easier by showing you a quick yet effective guide on how to disinfect shoes.

After reading till the end, you’ll become a pro at sanitizing your shoes at home easily.

So, let’s get started.

How Do Microorganisms on Shoes Sabotage Your Health?

When you walk around, harmful substances are stuck-up to your shoes and get back home with you.

These dangerous microorganisms can contaminate your house and make you sick.

Moreover, they can sabotage your shoes which will be beyond fixing.

However, bacteria can grow faster and stay longer inside your shoes because of the nature of the shoe’s damp environment.

And it’s said that the bottom of your shoes is dirtier than toilet seats!

Researchers at the University of Arizona found 440,000 units of bacteria from 9 different species on a single pair of shoes.

On top of that, they found it within only two weeks!

And 90-99% of these dreadful bacteria can easily transfer to a clean floor.

Now, think how severely such a huge volume of germs can make you and your family sick.

Diseases such as Covid-19, Diarrhea, Pneumonia, Urinary tract infections, Respiratory tract infections, and you name it.

The dirt on your shoes causes all kinds of dangerous illnesses. Furthermore, it creates a bad odor which is super annoying for anybody!

Follow our other guide to know how to Clean Yellowing Soles Effortlessly.

Can Your Shoes Spread Coronavirus?

It’s possible to get Coronavirus on your shoes and spread it everywhere you step your foot.

The chance of getting Covid-19 from shoes is higher when you walk in a common area where Covid patients sneezed or coughed and accidentally dropped their contaminated droplets.

Consequently, you may invite Covid-19 to your home if you don’t take off your shoes outside.

So, be careful and remember to leave the shoes outside, especially when you have kids or pets in the house who crawl on the floor all the time.

How to Disinfect Shoes – the Bottom!

Every day you bring home all kinds of nasty bacteria and dirt on your shoes. Most of the germs are stuck to the bottom of the shoe.

As I mentioned earlier, shoe bottoms are nastier than toilet seats!how-to-disinfect-shoes-the-bottom

So you should do hard work washing and disinfecting the shoe bottom.

I’ve put together an easier yet more effective guide to washing your shoe bottom to make your life easier.

Let’s see those quick fixes.

Required Materials

The bottom of your shoes can get hold of the viruses and travel with you everywhere you walk on them. So clean them thoroughly using the proper materials.

Before starting with the shoe bottom, make sure you gather around the followings:

  • Disinfectant spray
  • Hydrogen peroxide
  • Clean cotton cloth, preferably white color
  • Plain water
  • A Bowl
  • Detergent powder or soap
  • Brush

Disinfecting Bottom of the Shoes

Every day we walk on different kinds of surfaces and get into contact with all types of bacteria and viruses.

Thus, the bottom of your shoes contains more germs and dirt than you can even imagine.

It’s really hard to tell what dangerous elements we’re carrying with our shoes, right?

So, you better keep yourself and your family safe by cleaning and disinfecting your shoe bottom daily or at least twice a week.

To clean your shoes first, make sure you follow the steps below:

  • First and foremost, take off your shoes outside.
  • Use a brush to initially clean the dry debris as much as possible.
  • Mix soap and water well and use the cloth to clean more precisely. Here you can also use a used toothbrush.
  • Now, after done with the cleaning, let it dry naturally.

Once you clean the bottom of your shoes, it’s time to disinfect them properly to kill viruses.

Follow the steps and be sure you kill all the germs and viruses from your shoes:

  • Spray the disinfectant solution on the bottom. Use at least 3-4 puffs for each pair to cover the entire bottom area.
  • Wipe the solution with a clean cloth. (preferably sanitized cloths or disinfecting wipes).

If you don’t have access to any decent shoe sanitizer, then use hydrogen peroxide.

  • Spray the bottom down with 3% hydrogen peroxide and let it be for 5 minutes.
  • After 5 minutes, wipe the shoes and let them dry.

Make sure you clean and sanitize the surface where you frequently put your shoes off. Also, the area where you clean your shoes.

Pro Tips

We’re living such a time that passes so quickly. Thus, we became so busy.

Consequently, it may become hard for some of you to clean and sanitize your shoes daily.

For such busy rats, here’s my pro tip:

  • Create a ‘Shoe Off Zone’ outside of the front door and put a banner requesting to take shoes off there.
  • Get shoe covers to put your shoes on them and avoid spreading any germs.

You can also go through our epic guide on How to Clean Shoe Insole.

How to Disinfect Shoes – The Outside!

Suppose you’re walking down the sidewalk, and someone sneezes or coughs on you.

Who knows what viruses he just put on your body!

Shoes upper is the part where viruses, especially Coronavirus, can survive. Disinfecting the upper is as important as cleaning the dirtiest bottom!how-to-disinfect-shoes-the-outside

So, let’s learn carefully how to sanitize the shoe’s upper within minutes!

Required Materials

Let alone the Bottom, Outside of the shoes are the area that mostly gets exposed to germs and dirt.

And that part is the most vulnerable part as there lives all the designs and such. So, you should sanitize that area with care.

Gather around the following before starting work on the upper:

  • Hydrogen peroxide
  • Chlorine bleach
  • Rubbing alcohol (preferably 91%)
  • Dish soap or detergent
  • Clean and white cloth
  • Used soft toothbrush

How to Sanitize Leather and Suede Upper

Leather and suede upper are more delicate than the leather sole and bottom. Thus, these should be disinfected very carefully.

Follow the following methods to clean leather upper without causing any harm:

  • Make a mixture out of rubbing alcohol and water on a ratio of 3:1.
  • Pour the clean and soft cloth into the mixture.
  • Rub the cloth gently on the upper.
  • Leave no more than 5-10 minutes to dry.

Some of you may be wondering why I didn’t suggest spraying the mixture all over the upper.

Well, you could fill the mixture into a spraying bottle and spray it over the shoe.

But when it’s made out of leather kinda materials, spraying makes an uneven distribution of the solution on the leather. Thus, your suede leather can be ruined immediately.

You don’t wanna do that to your precious pair, right?

How to Disinfect the White Sneakers

White sneakers are mostly made of fabric. Thus, it can be tricky to sanitize them. Germs can hide inside, and you may not reach them to clean properly!

Follow the steps below to get over with your white sneakers:

  • Put the clean white cloth into the mixture.
  • Don’t use a colored cloth.
  • Now, squeeze the cloth out and run it over the shoes thoroughly.
  • Let the sneakers dry out of a natural warm air (preferably soothing sunlight).

If your sneakers are machine washable, you can wash them easily using the machine.

Pro Tips

While disinfecting the shoes using the given methods is the best, sometimes it’s just not possible for us to invest much time from our busy schedule.

Moreover, we can’t do a thorough cleaning while we’re outside the home.

For such times, what you can do is:

  • Use your regular hand sanitizer spray to sanitize your shoe upper from time to time. You can even do this while waiting for the bus or metro!
  • Invest in disinfectant wipes. These will make your life easier.

How to Disinfect Shoes – Finally The Inside Job!

Your shoes can get into contact with bacteria in three areas– Insole, Upper and Bottom.

While catching up on the germs from an external source is inevitable, your internal source can also produce fungus.

That means you yourself can be one of the reasons for making bacteria inside your shoes that also produce a bad odor.

And nobody wants to unroll some malodor every time they open up shoes, right?

In order to avoid this embarrassment and keep your shoes fresh, you need to sterilize them by following the proper methods.

You should clean your shoes daily or at least weekly by following the steps below:

Required Materials

Before getting your hands dirty to clean your shoes inside, you need to gather some required materials and tools first.

Without the proper cleaning materials, you may not be able to get the desired result.

So before starting, make sure you have:

  • Isopropyl or rubbing alcohol
  • Baking soda
  • Socks
  • Spraying bottle
  • Hot water
  • Soap or liquid detergent
  • Bristled brush or used toothbrush

Get Rid of The Odor

It’s annoying when the insole of your shoe stinks. It’s the bacteria that is produced by your feet, germs and sweat which cause such odor.

Prior to sanitizing the insole, let’s first get rid of the odor:

  • Get a sock and fill it with baking soda.
  • Put the wet sock inside the shoe.
  • Keep it at rest for at least 24 hours.
  • After the resting period, pull out the socks from the shoe.

This method will help your shoes to clear out all of the bad odor, if there’s any.

So next time, do this instead of throwing away your stinky pair to get rid of the malodor!

Sanitize the Insole

After done with the odor, let’s shift our focus to disinfecting the insole so you can get rid of the bacteria as well.

You can sanitize the insole both with normal soap and high-quality alcohol sanitizers. I’ll show you both of the ways.

Disinfect your shoes with the use of soap and a brush:

  • Remove insoles and soak them in the mixture of water & soap.
  • Keep them resting for at least 5 minutes.
  • After 5 minutes, rinse the insole with room-temperature water.
  • Extract the liquid all together and use a brush to rub and clean the insoles.
  • After cleaning, hang them in a dry and well-ventilated area.
  • Don’t try to dry the insoles with any heating source.
  • Let the insole completely dry before putting them back on the shoe.

Cleaning your shoes using simple soap and water is the best way to disinfect some of the delicate pairs.

Disinfect your shoes with the use of alcohol:

  • Mix some alcohol sanitizer with clean water.
  • Put it in a spraying bottle.
  • Spray the liquid carefully inside the shoe.
  • Strictly avoid spraying alcohol outside of the shoe. It can ruin the upper drastically.
  • After spraying, let it dry overnight in a well-ventilated area.
  • You can use drying sheets to dry out the insoles.

If your shoe is made out of some delicate materials and, of course, expensive, then try to clean them with your hand.

Don’t put them into a washer. And, wash your hands well afterward!

How to Sanitize the Leather Insole

Leather insoles are in those exquisite shoes that you don’t wanna ruin while washing.

So, sterilize them carefully. Try to use your hand and strictly avoid the washing machine or alcohol.

Follow these steps to sanitize the leather insole:

  • Mix some soap with warm water.
  • Take a toothbrush and smear it with a little bit of liquid.
  • Use the circular motion to remove the stain, if any, or just gently rub them.
  • Now, cleanse the mixture with plain room-temperature water.
  • Let it rest overnight to dry properly.

Pro Tips

When you don’t have time to wash your shoes and eliminate odors, you may want to throw away your shoes and buy a new pair. It would be expensive, right?

And who wants to throw away their favorite pair of shoes?

For them, here are some tips to get rid of malodors from shoes:

  • Take a fresh citrus peel and put it in your shoes. Let the peel there overnight until you wear your shoes next time.
  • You can also use the Deodorizing Sprays to get rid of odors.

2 Advanced Ways to Disinfect Shoes

Disinfecting shoes manually using hands can be time-consuming. Who has such time in this busy world where there are options to make life more comfortable?

For them who don’t have time to wash their shoes with hand-care, here are some advanced ways:

Machine Washing Shoes

In your busy life, machine washing shoes can be your savior. Though you can’t wash those leather-built shoes or heels using a machine, fabric and mesh shoes and sneakers are machine washable.

Follow these steps to machine wash your shoes:

  • Remove insoles and shoelaces.
  • Place them into an alcohol-based solution.
  • Now, put your shoes in the washing machine.
  • Make sure you use an appropriate amount of detergent or bleach.
  • If your washer has a sanitizing section, put the shoes on it.
  • After washing and sanitizing, let it rest for air-dry. Try not to use the dryer to dry your shoes.

UVC Light To Disinfect Shoes

It will be a good investment if you’re capable of spending $20-150 on cutting-edge technology like UV-C Shoe Sanitizer.

Ultraviolet rays can effectively kill germs and are safer than any other disinfectant.

Most UV Shoe Sanitizer comes with 3 most needed features – a sterilizer, a dryer and a deodorizer.uvc-light-to-disinfect-shoes

Thus, it can kill germs, dry your shoes and eliminate bad odor from your shoes. UVC sanitizers are the best option to disinfect the office area where people from all places put their shoes off!

4 Things to Keep in Mind During Disinfecting Shoes

Cleaning shoes to remove bacteria is really important. But you should be doing it in the right way and be aware of some major things.

Here are those crucial things you should be concerned about before starting the serialization:

Wear Gloves

Shoes are always full of germs and dirt. You never know what nasty yet deadly substances are stuck in the shoe.

So, always make sure to wear gloves when you clean your shoes.

Don’t even try to wash your shoes with bare hands. It can catch viruses and make you sick overnight.

Remove Laces

Most shoes come with laces, whether it’s organic fiber or synthetic fiber. And when you try to wash your shoes, these laces can cause disruptions.

So, remove the laces first and clean them separately whenever you attempt to wash your shoes.

Don’t forget to disinfect them as they might also contain germs!

Know Your Shoes

The materials and techniques used to sanitize shoes can damage some delicate shoes like leather and heels.

So, before applying any cleaner to your shoes, make sure you know the shoe material properly.

Clean & Sanitize Your Hand Properly

Let alone the dirt, shoes can contain the deadliest viruses like Coronavirus.

Therefore, it’s obvious that your hands will get filthy and full of dangerous germs during disinfecting shoes.

To avoid getting sick, make sure you wash and sanitize your hand property after washing your shoes.

Why Should You Sanitize Your Shoes Regularly?

After a hard-hit pandemic, we are all more conscious than ever.

Germs can be spread through anything, even through shoes!

In fact, the possibility of attracting viruses at home is higher through the shoes!

So why take chances?

It’s not hard to disinfect shoes. And when it comes to health, it doesn’t matter, even if it was hard, right?

Therefore you should sanitize your shoes on a regular basis. And try leaving shoes outside the front door so that viruses can’t get in your house.

Final Words

Roaming around wearing a shoe is what we all do and will be doing unless one of us gets immobilized!

However, your shoes can be exposed to dreadful viruses while walking outside. Bacteria caused by external germs and internal stains can harm your feet and the shoes.

So, sanitize your shoes regularly to avoid discomfort and stay safe from Covid-19.

Use UV light technology if you don’t have time, and carry disinfectant spray and wipe with you every time you go out.

Stay clean, Stay safe!

About The Author
Since childhood, Mahia is a shoe freak. And this is what lead her to do more research and gather knowledge about shoes.Mahia has always wanted to share her skill and knowledge about footwear with a mass audience, which ended her up in this amazing workplace.When Mahia is not writing, you can almost always find her in the kitchen experimenting with different recipes to upgrade her catering menu.

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