How to Clean the Bottom of Shoes to Return Them

Imagine this scenario, you bought a pair of shoes that felt good when you were trying them out in the store. However, once you reached home, you didn’t like it as much. It felt tight, uncomfortable. Or maybe you just wanted a different color or design. But when you went to get it replaced, the shop would not take it back.

Sounds familiar? Well, this happens quite commonly and the shopkeepers are rarely to blame when it happens. A lot of shoe stores have a strict policy against returning damaged or dirty shoes. So, if you already wore the shoes around, there is a chance that the bottom is dirty from mud or grass stains.

Thankfully though, there is a way around this. If you want to return a pair of shoes that you bought recently, make sure you clean the bottom. That’s what I do and I have never had a problem with returns thus far. “How?” you ask?

In this article, I will show you a few nifty tricks to clean your shoe bottom easily to make them eligible for returns without any hassle.

Can I Return Shoes After Wearing Them Once?

The return policy for bought products can vary from one store to another. But in most stores, there is a 30-day return policy for products as long as they are not damaged. The unfortunate thing about shoes is that they can get dirty quite easily if you wear them only once.

So, if you wear that shoe somewhere there is a good chance that the bottom will be dirty. Many stores will give you trouble if you are trying to return a dirty pair of shoes. However, if the shoe is clean and size is the only issue, you should be able to return it without any hassle.

If you want to return a pair of shoes that you wore only once, then make sure you clean the bottom properly. And to be safe, it might be best not to tell the store that you wore it when you are returning it.

Seven Easy Ways to Clean the Bottom of Shoes

Shoes are delicate things. It gets dirty quite easily, especially the bottom. That is why it can be difficult trying to return it even if you wear it only once.

I had my share of troubles returning shoes before. But after I learned some tricks to clean the bottom and took the time to actually do it, life became a lot easier.

Now, I will share my secrets so that you too can return shoes that you do not want without any hassle.

1. Detergent Powder

If you thought detergent was only good for cleaning your laundry, well think again. When it comes to cleaning rubber or leather shoes, it is just as effective. Just make sure you follow the process, and you’re golden.

Things You Need:

  • A soft bristle toothbrush
  • Detergent powder
  • Water
  • A clean rag

Steps to Follow:

  • Dilute the detergent powder in water
  • Take the toothbrush and dip it in the mixture
  • Rub the bottom of the shoe with the solution in a gentle, circular motion
  • After covering the entire area, wipe it off with a clean rag
  • Let the shoe air dry

2. Dishwasher Soap

Your over-the-counter dishwasher soap is an excellent cleaning agent. It contains high amounts of surfactants, salts, dyes, and fragrances. So your shoe will not only look clean but will also have a fresh smell.

Things You Need:

  • Lukewarm water
  • A big round bowl
  • Dishwasher soap or gel
  • A clean rag

Steps to Follow:

  • Brush off the shoe to take away any loose dirt and dust
  • Take the bowl and fill it with lukewarm water
  • Make sure the water level matches the height of the bottom of the shoe
  • Before putting the shoe in, mix dishwasher soap in the water
  • Let the shoe sit in the water for around 10 to 15 minutes
  • Scrub the sole gently and wipe it off with a towel
  • Let the shoe air dry

3. Use toothpaste

You can also use toothpaste to clean the bottom of the shoe quite effectively. Toothpaste contains many rich minerals like fluoride, glycerol, sorbitol, etc. that can eliminate any dirt or grime from the bottom making it look new.

Things You Need:

  • White Toothpaste (non-gel)
  • A clean toothbrush
  • A clean rag

Steps to Follow:

  • Wet the toothbrush and apply a bit of toothpaste to it.
  • Apply it over the dirty area gently
  • Leave it for around 10 minutes
  • After 10 minutes wipe off the paste using a clean rag

4. Vinegar

There are thousands of hacks on the internet using vinegar as a cleaning solution. Well, here is another one for you.

Things You Need:

  • White Vinegar
  • Two clean rags

Steps to Follow:

  • Start with dusting off any loose dirt
  • Take a few drops of vinegar on the rag
  • Rub the bottom of the shoe in a gentle, circular motion
  • Once the entire bottom area is clean, take another rag and wipe off the excess vinegar
  • Leave the shoe in a well-ventilated area to dry

5.   Use bleaching powder

Bleaching powder is another fantastic cleaning agent that can help you quickly remove any dirt and grime from the bottom of your shoe. However, since it is a corrosive material, you want to be careful when you use it. Always wear gloves when handling bleaching powder.

In addition, make sure you only use a small amount of it. Since it contains calcium hypochlorite, it is great at washing away any dirt.

Things You Need:

  • Bleaching powder
  • Water
  • Protective gloves
  • A clean piece of cloth

Steps to Follow:

  • Dilute a moderate amount of bleaching powder with water
  • Start by rubbing off the loose dirt from the bottom of the shoe
  • Take a small amount of the solution in a clean cloth
  • Clean the bottom of the shoe gently in a circular motion
  • Once clean, let the shoe air dry

6.   Washing Powder and Baking Soda Mixture

You can also mix washing powder and baking soda to create a solution that can remove soli, dirt or grime, from the sole of your shoe quite easily. For this to work, you need to make sure you are preparing the mixture the right way.

When making the mixture, you want to take a large bowl filled with water first. Then add the baking soda and washing powder in a ratio of 1:1.5. Stir the solution thoroughly.

Things You Need:

  • Washing powder and baking soda mixture
  • A clean towel
  • A brush (to apply the mixture)

Steps to Follow:

  • Take the brush and dip it in the mixture
  • Gently rub the mixture on the sole of the shoe
  • After a couple of seconds, wipe off the sole using a wet towel
  • Let the shoe air dry

7.   Nail Polish Remover:

Using a nail polish remover is a great way to rejuvenate the muddy sole of a shoe. It is also quite easy to do.

Things You Need:

  • A Q-tip
  • Nail polish remover
  • A clean cotton

Steps to Follow:

  • Take your Q-tip and dip it in the nail polish remover
  • Apply the Q-tip to the bottom of the sole and scrub it for a couple of seconds
  • You should already start to see the dirt come off
  • Wipe the bottom clean with cotton

What Is the Fastest Way to Clean Dirty Shoes?

If you are in a rush and want a quick and easy way to clean the bottom of a dirty shoe, try using alcohol pads. These are extremely cheap and can be found in any local departmental store. Essentially, these are small strips of paper with rubbing alcohol on them.

However, they do not work well for tough stains. For that, you need to use one of the seven methods that I mentioned above. If you wore the shoe only once, then it should not pick up too much dirt. Mostly you would have to deal with grass stains which you can easily clean using alcohol pads.

How To Protect Bottom of Shoes To Return?

If you are planning to return a pair of shoes, then you should try to keep it away from any dirt in the first place. The bottom of the shoe can get dirty quite easily. If you are wearing the shoe, make sure you avoid any muddy roads. In addition, while storing the shoe, try to put it inside the box that it came with.

Now That We’re Here

If you are like me, then you buy shoes quite often. But sometimes, you just make an investment that does not feel good once you get home. There is nothing wrong with that and if you do not want a pair of shoes, you should be able to return them. Keep in mind though, some stores do have a strict no-return policy. But as long as your store takes returns and the bottom of the shoe is clean, you should not have any trouble getting the shoe replaced.

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