In Part one of our Shoe Tools guide, we looked at travel bags, shoe stretchers and shoe pops, today we are going to have a look at shoe polishers and methods to get your shoes clean, including a great tip.  As always, if you have any other tools that we should feature, please let us know in the comments below.

How to Clean Muddy Shoes – Introducing the Grout Brush!

Yes, it turns out that one of the best shoe cleaners around is a grout brush!  But first, here are some other methods for cleaning your shoes. I’ve spoken before about shoe polishes.  This is great for leather shoes, vinyl, suede and patent leather.  But, in keeping with the true spirit of mud week, we are going to talk about another kind of dirty shoe problem:  muddy shoes!  Muddy shoes require much more than shoe polish, first you really have to get the mud off of them.

Throw them in the Washing Machine

washing muddy shoes washing machinesOne method is the washing machine.  I wouldn’t do this if you either really love your washing machine or really love your shoes.  But if you aren’t completely attached to either one, it actually works pretty well.  Not for boots so much, but tennis shoes can be thrown in the washing machine.

You can expect some damage to the leather and possible washing machine damage, but I’ve done it before with older gym shoes and it turned out fine.

Bonus Tip: Really old shoes can be tossed in the dryer with your down pillows and comforters when you are drying them – this is how to make sure they stay fluffy and dry evenly.

Soak & Hand Wash

Another method of washing really muddy shoes is to soak them and hand wash.  Again, don’t do this if you really care about the leather or the quality of your shoes, but for older shoes that you wear out in the mud anyway, this might be a good solution for you. Simply soak them in warm water with a tiny bit of hand washing soap (used for delicates and lingerie) until the mud loosens up.  Then you should be able to finish up with a washcloth removing the rest of the debris.

Grout Brush!

grout brushFor really caked on mud, I have found that a grout brush works really well.  These are much stiffer brushes than a regular dish brush, so they can come up against tough caked mud and still win!

Tie a string through the hole in the brush and then loop it over the end of your shoe rack, especially great for outdoor shoe racks or in the mud room, to remind folks to de-mud their shoes before entering your house!

Shoe Polishers

For a totally polished, perfect look, consider purchasing a shoe polishing system. If you have nice shoes, especially expensive ones, then you should polish them often to keep them looking their best at all times.

A newly polished shoe serves two functions:

  • It looks like a new shoe and you look classy
  • It also keeps leather shoes in tip-top shape, maybe even extending their lifespan.

There are many levels of shoe polishing methods, and each has its pros and cons. Check out my guide below to selecting a home shoe polishing system – It is broken into three categories – choose the one that matches your needs and make sure to keep it right by your shoe rack so that you’ll actually use it!

Electric Shoe Polisher

electric shoe polisherI have to admit I don’t have one of these and I’m not sure I’d necessarily spend the money on it this year, but I have tried an electric polisher at a friend’s house and it is really nice. They fit right into the closet and do all the buffing for you, you don’t even have to use cleaners or chemicals – great if you have kids and pets.

Shoe Polish and Sponge Method

This is by far the most affordable method, great for young adults and college students. It also takes up the least amount of space, but, it requires the most amount of elbow-grease, so, you have to really want polished shoes if you are going this route. Polishing shoes is surprisingly easy and very gratifying. You just buy shoe polish at any shoe store or even drug store, rub it on the shoes, wait a minute and shine it off and… voila! An instant facelift for your favorite shoesMake sure to cover the floor with a towel or newspaper to avoid stains.

Shoe Valets and Boxes

cedar shoe vallet boxThis is one step up from method 1. You still have to use your very own muscles to polish, but the nice thing here is that the shoe sits up on the box (less mess) and more comfortable. Also, there is usually storage in a box underneath the shoe for polishes and rags. This cedar shoe valet comes with everything you need to get started.


Now, Get Polishing!!!