How To Clean Your Shoes With Toothpaste

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Medically reviewed by Othman Lahmaydi, RDH

While there are many ways to clean your shoes, the least popular idea is using toothpaste for the job. Indeed, this is one of the best mediums you could use if your shoes are stained and you want to get them looking like new again.

Toothpaste can clean the plastic and rubber parts of your shoes. To get started, brush off dirt on the shoe, then apply the toothpaste. Next, let it dry into them before cleaning with a damp cloth and some soap solution. A toothbrush or microfiber cloth can help in this process.

This method is suitable for removing those stubborn stains you struggle to get rid of with soap and water. However, using toothpaste to clean shoes is not recommended if your shoes are made of leather or fabric. Read on for detailed information.

Can You Use Toothpaste to Clean Your Shoes?

Woman cleaning stylish footwear on grey stone background

Whitening toothpastes like Colgate Optic White (on Amazon) are recommended for cleaning shoes because it contains different types of cleaning ingredients. If you’re using it for a quick job, it might not get all the stains off the shoes, but leaving it to sit for some time will loosen the stains effectively.

Besides, toothpaste is always available at home, so you don’t need to look for a particular product if you have stubborn stains on your sneakers. 

After applying the toothpaste, you don’t have to worry about the cleanup process, as this is a substance that you can clean off with water. In addition, some kinds of toothpaste smell good, which may be an added bonus if your shoes are also a bit smelly (though the toothpaste won’t address that long-term).  

Most toothpastes contain ingredients like baking soda (an abrasive), silica (an abrasive), calcium carbonate (an abrasive), hydrogen peroxide (an abrasive), sodium hydroxide (an abrasive), and sodium lauryl sulfate (foaming action). 

A small amount of toothpaste can fix dirty shoes, so you don’t need to apply the entire tube. This works best on white plastic shoes with a rubber sole. It’s a go-to option for minor marks and stains on your shoes. 

What Toothpaste is Best for Cleaning Shoes?

There are different types of toothpaste, each with varying levels of effectiveness when used to clean shoes. You can find gel or paste toothpaste for this job, but which is best suited?

It’s advisable to opt for white non-gel toothpaste (like the Colgate option linked above). While gels are gentle on your teeth, they may not do an adequate job. Pastes are more aggressive, which is important when removing stains on rubber. 

Using toothpaste that does not clean shoes well will leave the shoes with stubborn stains. For example, gel toothpaste is not recommended if you have white shoes. And if you use colored toothpaste, it might not clean the shoes well. 

Spot Testing

To avoid damage to your shoes, it’s advisable to test the toothpaste on a small spot on one shoe. Then, depending on the ingredients in the toothpaste, you will decide whether it’s a good idea to go full throttle and clean both shoes entirely.

Apply the toothpaste to a stain and check after 20 minutes, then wipe with a damp cloth. If it doesn’t stain, you can proceed to clean the shoes using toothpaste. 

Can Toothpaste be Used on Any Shoe?

Not all shoes are suitable for cleaning using toothpaste. The most recommended type is shoes with plastic and rubber parts because the toothpaste does not seep through. If you have leather shoes, the toothpaste can be absorbed into the shoes. 

You don’t want stains on your shoes, especially if you use colored toothpaste. While you can clean your fabric shoes using toothpaste, it takes a lot more work to wipe out the toothpaste. In addition, a good amount of toothpaste will seep into the fabric, which is not good. 

To know if your shoes can handle the ingredients in the toothpaste, apply a small amount to a small area and observe the results. If the toothpaste cleans well and does not leave stains, you can go ahead to clean all the shoes. 

Cleaning Your Shoes

White leather shoe cleaning

What You’ll Need

The things you need to clean your shoes are not complicated. For the cleaning process, ensure you have these: 

  • Whitening toothpaste. 
  • A bucket.
  • Bleach.
  • Laundry detergent. 

The Cleaning

Once you have these items, you can follow these simple steps to clean your shoes. 

  1. Scrub the shoes with toothpaste, soak them in warm water, and then add the laundry detergent.
  1. Fill the bucket with warm water and liquid bleach and allow the shoes to soak for about 6 hours.  
  1. Run a quick cycle in the washer to rinse the shoes, then allow them to air-dry overnight. 

Once you’re done with these steps, you should have them looking as good as new. 


Using toothpaste sounds like the most adventurous idea among the best ways to remove stains from shoes. However, it’s a good option if you have some stubborn stains you would like to remove. Toothpaste contains abrasives and other ingredients that can loosen stains, leaving your shoes looking almost new.

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