How To Disinfect Shoes From The Thrift Store

Do you buy used shoes? You might want to know how to disinfect shoes from the thrift store . That way, when you wear them, they will be fresh and clean and you can wear them without fear.

You may wonder why it is important to know how to sanitize used shoes. Well, these are dangerous times, you know, with the Covid-19 and all.

Therefore, we know that viruses, bacteria and germs are always lurking on the surfaces of used shoes, clothing and other items.

When you know how to clean second hand shoes, you will no longer be afraid of buying footwear from thrift stores. Keep reading to see how to disinfect leather boots and other shoes.

How to clean thrift store shoes

Everyone should learn this skill. Today, some of the biggest designer names are too costly to afford when new. However, we can get them from thrift stores.

You should never use these shoes without sanitizing them. Therefore, here, we are going to consider a few tips for how to disinfect used shoes.

Clean your shoes thoroughly

Cleaning your used shoes in the old-school way never fails to work. By cleaning the shoes, we don’t mean dip them in water alone. We mean you need to set out and give them a thorough cleaning from all dimensions.

First, you need to find out from the label on what the manufacturer recommends.

If they recommend that you can clean the shoes in a washing machine, you can do that. If they say to avoid harsh chemicals and soaps, avoid using such.

Remove the insoles and clean them keenly

OK, even without going to the insoles, you also need to remove everything that is removable from the shoes. This includes the laces and the insoles.

Inspect them visually for any signs of wear and tear. At the same time, you need to check for stains, grime and such.

Dip the insoles in warm water and cleaning detergent solution. That is enough for how to remove bacteria from shoes.

Dip a small towel, sponge or piece of cloth in the solution and scrub away at the insoles. That should help to clean them up thoroughly.

After they are clean, rinse them in clean, warm water without soap. Be sure not to leave traces of soap and at the same time, smell them.

If they have a weird smell, you may need to leave them overnight  covered in baking soda to remove the smell completely.

Cleaning your shoes by hand

Now that the insoles are clean, it is time to move on to the shoes. Here, you will see how to clean them by hand.

When it comes to how to disinfect leather boots, you will be happy to know that you can clean leather and suede footwear by hand. It is more recommended than using a cleaning machine.

You need:

  • Soft brush or rag
  • Clean rags/towel pieces
  • Warm water and laundry detergent

To start cleaning the shoes, add soap to water in a basin. Check the out soles first to see whether there is stuck pebbles or grime. If there is, you can scrub it away with the brush.

If there isn’t, dip the shoes in the water and detergent solution and then proceed to wash them with a rag. When you are finished, use a clean rag to wipe the shoes. Keep dipping the rag in water until the soap traces are gone.

How to clean shoes with shoe sanitizer spray

Sometimes, you want to sanitize the shoes to remove all bacteria that may not be removed by water and soap. The most common product for killing bacteria and bad smell is bleach spray.

Image of how to sanitize thrift store shoes

The bleach comes in a spray bottle. Make sure you only spray the inside of the shoes. If you spray it on the outside, it can cause discoloration of your shoes. When disinfected, the bacteria and the smell will be gone.

Clean your shoes with alcohol

Rubbing alcohol is one of the strongest cleaning solutions. Depending on the types of shoes that you want to sanitize, you can either dip them in cleaning alcohol or rub them with it.

Only dip shoes made of cloth/textile in rubbing alcohol solution. For leather, dip a piece of cloth and rub the shoes with it.

Can you clean shoes with Clorox wipes?

This is the last technique for disinfecting shoes that we will discuss here. You can use Clorox wipes or Lysol spray to clean the shoes.

You can spray the shoes with Lysol or wipe the inside of the shoes with Clorox disinfectant wipes. They kill more than 99% of germs and they clear out any odors that the shoes might come with.

Using Lysol anti-fungal shoe spray can also protect your feet from fungal infections in the future.

Using baking soda and vinegar to deodorize shoes

Baking soda and vinegar are also useful for deodorizing shoes. These can kill germs in used shoes too, as well as prevent the occurrence of odor.

If there is smell that just won’t go away even after cleaning your shoes with warm water and soap, sprinkle them with baking soda, slip them into airtight bags and leave them overnight. The baking soda will absorb all the smell.

To use vinegar as you deodorizer, you just need to add a few drops to your soapy warm water.

When the shoes are dry, they will have the distant smell of vinegar, but it will soon disappear. However, you will also note that the strange smells will have disappeared.


How to disinfect shoes from the thrift store need not be hard at all once you have read our tips. If you bought used shoes in good condition, disinfecting them will give them a new leash of life and they will feel almost brand new.