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How to Disinfect Shoes Effectively

Jennifer L. Betts
Disinfecting black sneakers

You know how to disinfect doorknobs and countertops, but did you consider your shoes? The bottoms of your shoes are crawling with nasty germs that have the potential to make you and your family sick. Make sure you stay safe from pathogens like MRSA or COVID-19 by learning how to disinfect shoes. You'll even learn how to disinfect used shoes or gym shoes.

Disinfecting Germs on the Bottom of Shoes

When you go out into the world, you come into contact with viruses and bacteria. In a world with viruses like the coronavirus or H1N1, you have to take extra precautions. Therefore, before you go into the house, it's important to disinfect the bottom of your shoes. To clean the shoe sole, you'll need:

Disinfecting the Bottoms of Shoes

The Center for Disease Control has guidelines for decontaminating your shoes, which are good to follow when trying to avoid bringing bacteria and viruses into your home. However, unless you're a medical professional, you can be a little more lenient. To disinfect your shoes, you'll need to:

  1. Take off your shoes, preferably outside.
  2. Use the soap, water and cloth to remove any debris from the bottom of your shoes.
  3. Allow a minute to dry.
  4. Spray the disinfectant on the sole of the shoe and wipe it down. You can also use the disinfecting wipes. If neither are available, spray the sole down with straight 3% hydrogen peroxide. Allow to sit for 5 minutes, then wipe away.
  5. Dry shoes and wash your hands.
Woman washing sneakers sole

Disinfecting Germs on the Top Shoes

Germs are in the air. Therefore, it isn't just the sole of your shoe that will get dirty. However, depending on the material of the top of your shoe, you'll need to take a little more care when it comes to disinfecting. Before you even start, you'll need:

Leather, Patent Leather and Running Shoes

Most men's dress shoes and high heels are made of either leather or patent leather. This material is a bit more delicate than other types of materials. Therefore, you'll want to use caution when it comes to sanitizing the outside. To sanitize your shoes, you'll want to grab the rubbing alcohol.

  1. Create a three to one mixture of rubbing alcohol to water.
  2. Dip the cloth in the mixture.
  3. Rub the damp cloth over the outside of the shoe.
  4. Leave the shoes outside for 5-10 minutes to dry.
Cleaning dirty trainers

White Sneakers

For white sneakers, you can break out the bleach to sanitize them. You'll want to mix one part bleach to five parts water for this method.

  1. Dip your cloth in the mixture.
  2. Wring it out and thoroughly run it over the shoes.
  3. Leave outside to completely dry.
  4. Don't forget to wash those germs off your hands.

Open-Toed Sandals and Wedges

Sandals and wedges come in a few different types of materials. They can be cork, rope or even leather. No matter what material your shoe is made of, just follow these steps:

  1. Mix a couple cups of water with a drop or two of soap.
  2. Dip the cloth in the mixture and thoroughly wipe down the shoes.
  3. Create a three to one mixture of rubbing alcohol to water.
  4. Dampen a cloth with the mixture, wipe down the shoes.
  5. Allow to completely dry.

Canvas Shoes

When it comes to canvas shoes, you might want to just consider throwing these in the washer with bleach or a bleach alternative as directed. This will make sure that all those vicious germs are completely off your shoes.

How to Disinfect Used Shoes

You can find some pretty amazing shoes second hand. However, you might not want to put your foot where someone else's foot has been. To ensure that there isn't any lingering fungus living inside or on those used shoes, you'll want to make sure to disinfect them. For this, you'll need:

  • Rubbing alcohol
  • Bleach or bleach alternative
  • Antibacterial spray for shoes

Machine Washing Shoes

If the shoes are machine washable, this is going to be your best bet for getting rid of those pathogens. To do this, you'll need to:

  1. Remove the insoles and place them in alcohol to soak.
  2. Put the shoes in the washer.
  3. Use the appropriate amount of bleach and detergent for disinfecting. This can vary based on product and load.
  4. Allow shoes to air dry.

Disinfecting With Alcohol

For shoes that are made of cloth, you can pour rubbing alcohol into a bowl and just let the shoes sit for about 30 minutes. However, for more sensitive materials like leather men's shoes or high heels, you'll:

  1. Mix a three to one mixture of rubbing alcohol to water.
  2. Dampen a cloth and rub down the entire shoe.
  3. Allow to dry completely.
  4. Take the antibacterial spray and spray the inside of the shoe.
  5. Allow to dry.

This method can also work great for getting rid of germs on your gym shoes.

How to Disinfect Shoes

Germs are everywhere. To keep your family safe and healthy from dangerous pathogens, you should consider disinfecting your shoes. This is especially true if you work or walk in an area that might have a lot of pathogens.

How to Disinfect Shoes Effectively