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How to Clean Your Shoes on Rainy Days, Depending on the Material

Don't let the rain permanently destroy your go-to pair.

Photography: Unsplash/Alexandra Gorn (main)

Wearing a soaking wet pair of shoes is never a good feeling, so it's understandable if you'd want to take yours off ASAP. But before you carelessly leave your shoes outside, know that not properly cleaning and drying your wet footwear can permanently damage its color and texture, shortening its lifespan overall; the next thing you know, you've stopped wearing them because they're ruined! This is especially true if your everyday flats or sandals are made of delicate leather or suede fabric on which signs of wear and tear tend to be obvious.


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Here's a quick guide to properly drying and caring for your shoes to make them last way past the gloomy days:

How do you dry shoes after rain?


Soaked shoes can produce an unpleasant odor when they aren’t properly dried, (as bacteria loves moist environments), so try to do some damage control as soon as you take your shoes off. Take note that how you dry your sneakers isn’t the same for your leather shoes; different shoes require different care if you want to maintain its unique textures. 

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1. Running shoes and sneakers

In a video tutorial made by Jeff Dengate, Shoes and Gear Editor of Runner's World, he suggests taking off the insole of your shoes. Especially if it's extremely soaked, this sock liner is only going to be a home for bacterias to grow in. "It's gonna stink," he warns. Once you've done this, stuff (and cover) your kicks with newspaper and let it absorb the water from the inside out. This can help speed up the process of drying out your sneakers.

2. Leather shoes


Unlike sneakers, leaving your leather shoes out to dry under the sun shortens the lifespan of its material. Direct sunlight dries out leather too quick, leading it to crack or to lose its color or shine. 

Using a soft cloth, start off by wiping away any mud or water that can harden or leave a spotty stain on your leather pair. Stuff a few sheets of old newspaper inside to absorb the moisture but be sure to leave them to dry indoors afterward. 


3. Suede shoes

Perhaps, this is the last pair of shoes you'd want to get drenched by the rain! Dust and dirt easily cling to a suede leather's delicate, velvety texture so clean it as soon as you can. According to GQ magazine, "The goal is to revive the nap of the suede [the fibers] before it dries and hardens, at which point it will be very difficult to save." 

Start by blotting (yup, blot, not scrub) your suede pair with a paper towel or tissue to absorb moisture; leaving it to dry on its own will make the fibers feel stiff. Once it’s nice and dry, it’ll be easier for the dirt to be brushed off using a toothbrush (be sure to brush the suede in one direction.)


How to clean your shoes during the rainy season?

Drying them out is one thing, and cleaning them is another. The rainy season is a crucial time to give your shoes a little TLC, because chances are, your shoes a lot dirtier than usual during these months and if you neglect the pesky dirt and mud, they could end up permanently staining your shoes.

Here’s how you can deep clean your footwear on rainy days: 

1. White sneakers

Keeping your white sneakers white is a struggle many women know too well. Grab a bowl of warm water and mix in a few drops of dishwashing liquid soap. Dip a toothbrush into the cleaning mix, and use it to gently scrub your sneakers. Wipe off the soap residue with a damp towel.

P.S. Don't forget to refresh your dirty shoelaces! Before throwing them into the washer, let it soak in a bowl of warm water mixed with a few drops of laundry detergent to initially loosen the dirt. 


RL Tip: Make it a habit to spot clean your white sneakers so they stay white a lot longer. Use a wet wipe to instantly get rid off superficial stains before they leave a hard-to-clean mark. 

How do you keep your white sneakers from turning yellow after being washed?

If your white sneakers ever turned yellowish, it’s probably because you’ve cleaned it with way too much bleach. Bleach effectively works to whiten sneakers but be sure to dilute the harsh cleaner. Who What Wear recommends creating a mix of one part bleach and five parts water. “Any more than that and you risk turning your white fabrics a weird yellow tone.” Dip your toothbrush in it and scrub away. 

2. Patent leather shoes

These glossy shoes are always sexy to look at...but not until you've scuffed them. The good news is, ruining the sleek, shiny appearance is interestingly as easy as cleaning it. Reach for a hand sanitizer or a petroleum jelly from your bag, and rub it on your shoes. Using a cloth or a cotton swab, wipe off any water stain or scuff (this cleaning trick helps minimize the look of scratch marks, particularly on black patent heels.) 


Bonus: If you gravitate towards wearing a certain pair of shoe way too many times in a week (or worse, every day), Youtuber Kate Color suggests wiping the sole of the shoe with a baby wipe each time you wear it; this is to avoid foot odor and to make your shoes last longer. 

3. Leather flats, heels

As previously mentioned, leather is prone to drying out and cracking and these could happen sooner if your go-to pair is overused and neglected (not to mention after a downpour). Every now and then, brush off any dirt from your leather shoes. Dip a clean cloth into a mix of water and liquid soap, and use it to wipe down your shoes and to provide moisture to the leather. Once you've done that, use another clean, damp cloth to get rid of any soap residue. Allow it to air-dry indoors. 



9 Ways To Store and Care For Your Shoes Properly

Here's How to Store Your Shoes If You Don’t Have A Shoe Cabinet

4. Suede shoes

Don’t wash them with water! Suede leather has a fuzzy texture so it’s best cleaned when dry by brushing off the accumulated dust and dirt like mud stains with a soft-bristled nailbrush or a toothbrush. Older, more stubborn stains, however, are better treated by professionals like Mr. Quickie and more other places where you can get your shoes cleaned


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This story originally appeared on

* Minor edits have been made by editors.

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