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How to Clean School Shoes

A step-to-step guide on how to clean the different types of school shoes with or without polish.

A good pair of shoes gives kids the perfect foundation to grow, learn, explore and play, and as they spend a great deal of their childhood at school, their school shoes will become some of their most-worn pairs.

A child’s life is a whirlwind of adventure, imagination, and learning, and with so much going on, pretty much every parent will agree that it’s virtually impossible to keep kids’ school shoes clean! From the walk to school and games in the playground to arts and crafts lessons and even lunchtime, there are so many contributing factors to the wear and tear of school shoes.

You simply can’t avoid dirty shoes, but when the inevitable happens it helps to be prepared with the right tools and tactics to make life a little easier. Take a look at our tips for cleaning school shoes.

How do you look after school shoes?

We all know what little ones are like, but encouraging your child to look after their school shoes will do them the world of good. As well as maximising the life of your kid’s shoes, keeping them clean and fresh will also give your child a good grounding in being considerate and responsible.

Encourage your kids to remove their shoes straight after they get home from school so that they can be aired out for as long as possible before their next use.

Store their shoes in a dry place away from moisture and water. If they’re wet, stuff them with newspaper overnight to draw out the moisture. Damp and warm shoes can breed smelly bacteria—and no one wants stinky feet!

Laces can be fiddly for smaller hands, so if your little one is trying laces for the first time, make sure they get to grips with tying their own knots to avoid any trailing laces becoming frayed or dirty.

How to clean your child’s school shoes

You’ve probably thought at some point, can school shoes go in the washing machine? Well, how you’re able to clean school shoes depends largely on the material they are made from. As a rule, school shoes made from animal-based materials such as leather and suede should not be soaked in water. Hence, leather and suede shoes should not go into a machine.

Below are our step-by-step guides to help you clean various types of school shoes including suede school shoes, leather school shoes and muddy trainers.

Suede school shoes

Suede is a delicate material, but don’t let that worry you as stains are easy enough to remove if you have the right tools for the job! Here is a step-by-step guide on how to clean suede black school shoes

Step 1: Begin by using the Multi Brush to gently remove any dirt, brushing in the same direction as the grain.

Step 2: For more stubborn dirt, use the rubber attachment on the Multi Brush or rubber from your child’s pencil case to rub a little more vigorously

Step 3: Leave the shoes to air and dry.

Step 4: Finish off by applying the Clarks All Purpose Protector to your kids’ suede school shoes to add a protective layer against dirt and stains.

How to clean black school shoes without polish

As we’ve mentioned, you can’t put leather shoes in the washing machine. However, it’s easy enough to clean your kid's leather school shoes without a machine if you have the right tools. The best product to clean leather school shoes is a damp piece of cloth or our shoe cleaning wipes.

Follow these steps when cleaning your kid’s leather school shoes.

Step 1: Use the Clarks shoe cleaning wipes or a piece of damp cloth to remove excess dirt.

Step 2: You can also use an old toothbrush to scrub away the more stubborn stains.

Step 3: To restore that new-shoe sparkle, use our Quick Shine Sponge or our Clarks All-Purpose Protector to protect the shoes and give them a dirt-repellent layer.

How to clean black leather shoes with polish

The best way to clean black leather school shoes is with a leather cleaning kit, comprising a shoe brush, soft cloth or an old clean T-shirt, rags, leather cleaner and shoe polish.

Step 1: Remove shoelaces to avoid getting polish on them and give the shoes a good clean and buff with the brush. Then take your clean cloth and dampen it with water before wiping down the shoes and laces to remove dirt.

Step 2: For a fast and easy clean, polish using our Quick Shine Sponge and Rich Polishing Cream. Put a small amount of polish on a clean, dry, soft sponge or cloth and spread a thin layer on the school shoes lightly over the surface of the shoe until they look shiny and spotless.

Step 3: After 15 minutes or so, polish the shoes with another clean, soft cloth, using circular motions to slowly rub it in. Let this dry for 20 minutes, and if the shoes still look dull apply another layer.

Step 4: Buff the shoes again when dry and scrub them thoroughly to remove excess polish. Then use a damp cloth, take a tiny bit more polish and go over your shoes again in circular motions. Your child’s shoes should now be looking as good as new!

How to clean muddy trainers

Follow our step-to-step guide below on how to clean muddy trainers using a washing machine and get them looking tip top.

Step 1: Allow your child’s muddy trainers to dry and brush off the dried mud gently using our shoe Multi Brush.

Step 2: Remove the shoelaces and dirty insoles, place them in a mesh laundry bag and put them in the machine drum ready to wash.

Step 3: Wrap the trainers in an old, clean towel or piece of cotton cloth, put them in the machine and add detergent.

Step 4: Set the machine at the lowest possible spin to ensure your child’s trainers do not wear out from the intensity of the spinning.

Step 5: Once, the wash is done, put the trainers out to air dry. Avoid tumble drying - this can weaken the glue in your kid's white trainers or cause shrinkage

How to clean Velcro

Children’s shoes often come with Velcro fastenings to make it easier for little hands to take shoes on and off. But just like the rest of the shoe, riptape is just as prone to getting dirty. Since riptape is deliberately sticky, hair, fluff and dust can gather in it over time - what a pain!

Luckily, you can easily remove this with an old toothbrush, tweezers or a fine-toothed comb. Simply brush through the tape with your equipment of choice until you’ve collected up all the debris from within. Riptape stays cleanest when it’s correctly fastened, so try to make sure the top strap is always nicely lined up with the bottom before closing.

Cleaning school shoes couldn’t be easier with the Clarks shoe care range. For children who have just started at school or need a new pair, take a look at our collection of boys’ and girls’ school shoes.

For best tips on how to find the best school shoes for your kids and teenagers, check out our school shoes buying guide.