Nothing ruins an outfit faster than having scuffed-up soles, and it’s all too easy for that perfect pair of moccasins or loafers to become dull and dingy. Don’t let dirt, grime, and tough stains be a roadblock anymore! 

We have the ultimate guide for adequately cleaning your shoe soles to look newer and longer. Follow our tips on cleaning techniques, materials, and recommendations for specific leather types so your shoes sparkle again quickly! 

Tools And Materials: What You Need To Clean Leather Soles?

Cleaning leather soles requires gentle handling to ensure the leather is not damaged. Here’s a list of tools and materials you’d typically need:

  • Soft Brush
  • Mild Soap
  • Soft Cloth or Sponge:
  • Water
  • Leather Conditioner or Cream
  • Towels
  • Rubbing Alcohol

Step-by-Step Guide: How To Clean Leather Soles of Shoes?

Remove Excess Dirt:

Start by knocking the soles of the shoes together to dislodge any loose dirt or debris.

Brush Off Dirt:

Using your soft brush, gently brush the soles to remove any remaining dirt or debris. Make sure to get into crevices and ridges.

Prepare Soap Mixture:

Mix lukewarm water with a small amount of mild soap in a bowl. You want a slightly soapy mixture. If using saddle soap, follow the directions on the packaging.

Clean The Soles:

Dip a soft cloth or sponge into the soapy water, wring out excess liquid, and gently scrub the leather soles. Be careful not to oversaturate the leather. If there are tougher stains, you can use a little rubbing alcohol on a cloth, but be cautious as it can dry out the leather.

Rinse (Optional):

If you feel too much soap residue, lightly rinse the soles with lukewarm water. Be careful not to wet the upper part of the shoe.

Dry The Soles:

Pat the soles dry with a towel. Leave the shoes to air dry, but avoid placing them in direct sunlight or near heat sources, as this can cause the leather to warp or dry out.

Remember, leather is a natural material that requires a certain level of care to maintain its look and feel. Regular cleaning and conditioning can ensure your leather-soled shoes serve you well for years to come.

DIY Solutions - Homemade Cleaners For Leather Soles of Shoes:

Before using any homemade solution, always do a spot test on a discreet area of the leather sole to ensure it doesn’t cause discoloration or damage.

Mild Soap Solution:

Mix a few drops of mild dishwashing soap with lukewarm water. Dip a soft cloth into the solution, wring out excess water, and gently clean the soles.

Vinegar Solution:

Mix equal parts white vinegar and water. This solution can help remove light stains. Apply using a soft cloth, and ensure you rinse the soles with a water-dampened cloth afterward.

Lemon Juice And Cream of Tartar:

For tougher stains, mix equal parts of lemon juice and cream of tartar to form a paste. Apply it to the stain, let it sit for a few hours, and then wipe off. This mixture can act as a gentle bleach, so avoid using it too frequently.


For oil or grease stains, sprinkle a bit of cornstarch on the affected area. Let it sit overnight, and brush it off the next day. The cornstarch helps to absorb and lift the stain.

Common Mistakes: What To Avoid When Cleaning Leather Soles?

Over-saturating The Leather:

While it might seem like a good idea to give those soles a thorough soaking, too much water can warp leather and diminish its natural oils, always wring out excess water from cloths or sponges before applying them to the soles.

Using Harsh Chemicals:

Household cleaners or bleach can cause irreversible damage to leather. Always opt for mild soaps or products specifically designed for leather care.

Rough Scrubbing:

Being overly aggressive when scrubbing can scuff the leather or remove its finish. Always use soft brushes and a gentle hand.

Drying Near Heat:

Placing wet leather soles near heaters, in direct sunlight, or using hairdryers can cause the leather to dry out, shrink, or warp.

Neglecting Conditioning: 

After cleaning, leather can be stripped of its natural oils. Neglecting to condition the leather after cleaning can lead to drying and cracking over time.

Not Testing Products: 

Before applying any cleaning or conditioning product, it’s a good idea to test it on a small, inconspicuous area of the sole to ensure it doesn’t discolor or damage the leather.

Expert Tips - Insights from Shoe Care Professionals on Cleaning Leather Soles:

  • One of the best ways to care for leather soles is to avoid wearing the same pair continuously. Rotating between shoes gives leather soles time to air out and dry naturally, reducing wear and tear.
  • Professionals often recommend saddle soap for cleaning leather. It’s formulated to clean, condition, and protect leather all in one go.
  • Even if you need to clean your leather soles more frequently, occasionally applying a leather conditioner can help maintain suppleness and shine.
  • When drying leather soles, pat them dry rather than rubbing. This prevents unnecessary stress on the leather.
  • Consider adding a thin rubber sole protector if you frequently walk on rough or wet surfaces. This can prolong the life of the leather sole and can be replaced when worn out.
  • Store leather-soled shoes in a cool, dry place when not in use. Using shoe trees can help maintain their shape and absorb any excess moisture.

Maintaining Cleanliness: How To Keep Your Leather Soles Clean Over Time?

  • After wearing your shoes, give the soles a quick brush or wipe to remove dirt or debris. This simple habit can prevent dirt from building up.
  • If your leather soles get wet, let them dry naturally in a well-ventilated area. Avoid placing them near heat sources, which can dry out the leather.
  • Cedar shoe trees can help absorb moisture, reduce wrinkles, and maintain the shoe’s shape. This preserves the shoe’s upper part and benefits the sole.
  • Consider adding a thin rubber protective sole. This can shield the leather from water, rough surfaces, and general wear and tear, making it easier to keep clean.
  • Conditioning isn’t just for the upper part of leather shoes. Conditioning the soles occasionally repels dirt and prevents it from drying out.
  • While it might sound obvious, avoid stepping in puddles or muddy areas. If you live in a rainy area, consider protective soles or using water-repellent products.


With proper care, your leather shoes can look great for many years. It’s important to always clean leather soles immediately after buying new shoes and regularly clean them whenever they get dirty to protect them from damage. Taking a few extra minutes each week to deep-clean your shoes will pay off greatly in the long run when they remain looking brand-new for years, and your feet continue to feel comfortable. So don’t hesitate to keep your shoes sparkling with these simple cleaning steps today!

Sniper Jones
Hi there, I'm Sniper Jones, mastermind of My digital platform is devoted to sharing valuable knowledge about various types of footwear that can help refine your shoe selection process. Shoes have always intrigued me, leading to an impressive collection of over 1000 pairs! was launched in 2023 with the objective to provide extensive information that aids you in making well-informed shoe purchases. I've assembled a squad of shoe aficionados who share my enthusiasm for delivering unbiased reviews and thorough buying guides. Our evaluations are rooted in our personal experiences, ensuring the advice we offer is practical and usable. I always welcome feedback and discussions. If you have any questions concerning footwear, feel free to leave a comment. I'm here to assist!