How to Disinfect Used Shoes Effectively at Home

Buying pre-owned shoes is a fantastic way to get yourself some top-quality, hardly worn bargains. If you have bought a great pair of second-hand nursing shoes at a rummage sale or a thrift shop, there are concerns you need to be aware of, for example, fungus and other microbes. That is why you need to know how to sanitize pre-owned shoes. This post will show you how to disinfect used footwear with ease. From clogs to sneakers, you can cleanse them in no time.

See also: Best Shoes for Nurses

How to Clean Used Shoes and Disinfect Them Properly

Cleaning the Insoles

If the footwear you purchased has detachable insoles, the best way to rid them of all the microbes is to remove those insoles and scrub them thoroughly. Follow the instructions below to do this.

What you will need:

  • Warm water ( two dishes)
  • A sponge or rag
  • A plastic bag
  • A towel
  • Laundry detergent
  • Baking soda
  • Vinegar


  1. Add some detergent and warm water into a small bowl and mix thoroughly to form a solution
  2. Immerse a rag or sponge within the solution and use it to clean the insoles. Rub vigorously until you have gotten rid of all the dirt, stains, and smell.
  3. Use clean warm water to rinse out the soles
  4. Hang the insoles on the line to sun-dry. If it is not a sunny day, you can place the insoles on a towel and leave them to dry naturally.
  5. If there is still a bit of smell on the insoles after drying, get a plastic bag and put the insoles and some baking soda inside the bag. Seal the bag and leave it overnight.

Note: If the shoes have been used for an extended period, the insoles will mold to the shape of the original owner’s feet. This means the shoes will be less comfortable for you. You should consider replacing the insoles immediately.

Machine Washing

If the pre-owned footwear is machine washable, this will be an excellent way to rid it of those microbes. You can machine wash most clothes shoes, sneakers, and running shoes. It is a good idea to Google the shoe brand for washing information to avoid damaging the footwear.

If you are using the washing machine to clean your shoes, be sure to use strong detergent and warm water. Also, set the machine to a low spin speed. This will help prevent your washer from damage. After washing, place the shoes outside under the sun to dry naturally. Do not use the dryer for this purpose.


  • Do not use the washer to clean shoes produced from delicate materials like suede, plastic, or leather.
  • Before you put your shoes in the washing machine, first remove the shoelaces
  • Placing the shoes within a mesh laundry carrier will help shield them from damage during the machine-washing cycle.
  • If your washer is the top-loading type, adding two or three towels to the washer will help balance the shoe’s weight.

Hand Washing

As mentioned earlier, shoes produced from delicate materials should not be machine-washed. There is however a simple way to wash them by hand. Get a large container or bowl and pour in some water and liquid laundry detergent. Mix thoroughly to form a soapy mixture. Dip a soft brush or rag into this mixture and use it to scrub your shoes in a gentle motion. After scrubbing, remove residual detergent from your shoes using a clean damp cloth or towel. Leave the shoes in a properly ventilated area to dry naturally.


  • To hand-wash suede shoes, always use downward strokes and be sure to use a soft-bristled brush or rag for this purpose. If there are tough stains on the material, the one-directional strokes work well to blot out the stains.
  • To hand-wash leather shoes, use a soft fabric to gently scrub the shoes using your water and soap mixture.
  • To get rid of scuff marks on leather shoes, make a paste with equal quantities of water and baking soda. Rub the paste gently over the affected area using a rag. After that, wipe off using a soggy cloth.
  • You can remove oily stains on suede shoes with the aid of cornstarch. Simply sprinkle some cornstarch powder on your footwear. The cornstarch will absorb dirt and stain and you can just give the shoes a good brush afterward.

How to Sanitize Pre-owned Shoes

Disinfecting with Bleach

Bleach is an extremely powerful disinfectant and that makes it a superb tool for sanitizing shoes. To produce your own sanitizing spray using bleach, fill a spray bottle with water, and pour in one tablespoon of bleach. Shake properly and your sanitizer is ready.  Do not spray bleach on the external parts of colored shoes to prevent them from getting bleach stains.

Sanitizing with Alcohol

If the nursing shoes you want to disinfect are sneakers or produced from cloth, simply pour rubbing alcohol in a large bowl or tub, soak the shoes within the alcohol and allow it to sit for approximately thirty minutes. However, for delicate footwear, immerse a rag into a bowl of rubbing alcohol and use it to scrub down the shoes using a gentle motion.

Deodorizing Second Hand Shoes

Use Baking Soda

This quick, easy fix will work wonders. Sprinkle some baking soda (about one tablespoon) inside any smelly second-hand shoes and it will soak up the odor as well as absorb moisture that helps microbial activity. Baking soda is known to dry out leather shoes, thus avoid using this fix on leather shoes.

See also: How to Clean White Shoes With Baking Soda and Toothpaste

Try White Vinegar

To eliminate unpleasant odors with this hack, wipe down the interior of each shoe using a rag moistened with white vinegar. Place the shoe in a place with good airflow to dry. If you used excess vinegar, stuffing the shoes with rolled-up newspaper balls will help remove the excess moisture.

Use Coffee Grounds

You can eliminate foul shoe smell by sprinkling a small quantity of dry coffee grounds into each shoe and allowing them to sit for about 3 hours. Avoid using wet coffee grounds as this will introduce moisture into the shoes thereby worsening the problem.

Bad microbes are everywhere. So, when next you get yourself a nice pair of pre-owned nursing shoes, be sure to disinfect them properly before you wear them.

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