How to Clean Leather Shoes with Baking Soda

Leather shoes exude a timeless charm that can become diminished over time due to the accumulation of dirt and a loss of their luster. If you’re looking for a way to bring back that polished appearance without causing any harm to your beloved pair, look no further. 

Among the countless options of cleaning agents available, baking soda truly stands out as a versatile and remarkable tool. Baking soda offers multiple benefits for leather care, including deodorization, gentle abrasion, and environmental friendliness.

In this comprehensive guide, we will walk you through a step-by-step process on how to clean leather shoes with baking soda. 

Can you clean leather shoes with baking soda?

Yes, you can use baking soda to clean leather shoes. Baking soda is known for its ability to absorb odors, lift stains, and act as a gentle abrasive cleaner, but it’s important to exercise caution and be aware of its limitations.

  • Harshness: Baking soda is mildly abrasive and can dry out leather if used too frequently or forcefully. Be gentle when scrubbing, and avoid using delicate leather.
  • Water sensitivity: Don’t get your shoes too wet while using baking soda, as excessive moisture can damage leather.
  • Stain type: Baking soda isn’t effective for all stains, especially water-based ones.

Despite these considerations, when used thoughtfully, baking soda remains a reliable ally in preserving your leather footwear’s cleanliness and freshness.

READ ALSO: How to Fix Patent Leather Shoes

How to Clean Leather Shoes with Baking Soda 

Baking soda is a fantastic natural cleaner for leather shoes, thanks to its gentle abrasiveness and odor-absorbing properties. What makes baking soda even more remarkable is its natural properties, which make it a safe and effective choice for various types of leather.

Here’s how to use it effectively:

Method 1: Baking Soda Paste

Step 1: Remove Dirt from the Shoes

Use a soft brush or toothbrush to gently brush away any loose dirt or debris from the surface of the leather shoes.

Tip: Remove the laces from the shoes for better cleaning.

Step 2: Create Baking Soda Paste

Mix a tablespoon of baking soda with a small amount of water to create a paste in a small bowl. The consistency should be thick enough to spread easily without being too watery.

Step 3: Apply Baking Soda Paste

  • Using a soft cloth, apply the baking soda paste to the stained or dirty areas of the leather shoes.
  • Gently rub the paste onto the leather in circular motions. 
  • Focus on areas with stains or odors.

Step 4: Let It Sit

Allow the baking soda paste to sit on the shoes for 15–30 minutes. This gives the baking soda time to absorb odors and lift stains.


  • If the shoes have stubborn stains, then leave them overnight.
  • Keep them in a dry area with a stable temperature to prevent clumping or dampness. 
  • Avoid direct sunlight to prevent drying or fading of the leather; choose a shaded, well-ventilated space instead.

Step 5: Scrub Gently

After the waiting period, use a toothbrush to scrub the leather gently. Be careful not to scrub too hard, especially if the leather is delicate. This step helps to lift stains and dirt further.

Step 6: Wipe Off Excess

Dampen a clean cloth with water and wipe off the excess baking soda paste from the shoes. Ensure that you remove all the residue. Then allow the shoes to air dry completely.

Step 7: Apply Leather Conditioner

After your leather shoes have been effectively cleaned using baking soda, it’s vital to proceed with conditioning. This step is crucial to maintaining the leather’s softness and preventing it from drying out or cracking.

Before starting the conditioning process, it is important to make sure that your leather shoes are completely dry. Conditioning damp leather can cause moisture to get trapped, which may result in deterioration.

Method 2: Deodorizing with Baking Soda

Step 1: Sprinkle it

Sprinkle a small amount of baking soda directly onto the stained or dirty areas of the leather shoes, focusing on the footbed.

Step 2: Brush Gently

Use the soft brush to gently brush the baking soda into the leather. 

Step 3: Let it absorb

Leave the shoes overnight with the baking soda inside. It will absorb odors and leave your shoes smelling fresh.

Step 4: Shake it out

In the morning, tap and shake the shoes to remove the baking soda. Repeat if needed.


Sprinkling Baking Soda: If your leather shoes have light surface dirt or mild odors, sprinkling baking soda directly onto the affected areas can be sufficient. This method is quicker and simpler.

Using Baking Soda Paste: If your leather shoes have stubborn stains, deep-seated dirt, or strong odors, creating a baking soda paste allows for a more concentrated and targeted cleaning approach. 

READ ALSO: How to get Gasoline out of Leather Shoes

How long to leave baking soda on leather shoes?

The amount of time you should leave baking soda on your leather shoes depends on the method you’re using and the specific situation:

  • If using baking soda paste, then the ideal duration can vary from 15-30 minutes or an hour. If there are stubborn stains, then you can leave the shoes overnight.
  • For sprinkling the baking soda, ideally, leave the soda in your shoes overnight to give it ample time to absorb all the odors.

General Tips:

No matter the method, it’s always best to exercise caution and avoid leaving the baking soda on for longer than necessary. Leaving it on for too long can potentially dry out the leather or cause discoloration.

If you’re unsure about the severity of the stain or odor, it’s always better to start with a shorter application time and reapply if needed.

Additional Tips for Maintaining Your Leather Shoes Post-Cleaning

After cleaning your leather shoes with baking soda, keeping them in excellent condition is key to ensuring their longevity. Here are additional care tips:

1. Regular Conditioning:

To prevent your leather shoes from drying out and cracking, apply a quality leather conditioner every few months or as needed. Conditioning helps maintain the leather’s elasticity and luster.

2. Proper Storage:

When not in use, store your leather shoes in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight. Shoe trees can help maintain the shape of the shoes and absorb moisture.

You can also use newspapers in the absence of shoe trees, simply crumple sheets of newspaper into tight balls and insert them into your shoes. You can use multiple sheets per shoe, depending on the shoe’s size.

3. Weather Protection:

Apply a water-repellent product designed for leather to shield your shoes from rain and stains. Remember to reapply the protector periodically, especially if you wear the shoes in harsh weather conditions.

4. Polishing:

Buff your shoes with a soft cloth after every clean. For an extra sheen, use a color-matched shoe polish to both enhance the appearance and add a protective layer against scuffs and scratches.

5. Mind the Heels and Soles:

Check the soles and heels regularly for signs of wear. Repair or replace them when necessary to preserve the structural integrity of your shoes.

By following these additional tips, your leather shoes can not only stay clean but also retain their shape, finish, and comfortable fit for an extended period.


Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Is baking soda safe for leather shoes?

A: Baking soda is a safe option for cleaning leather shoes, effectively removing stains and odors. To use it wisely, limit application to once a month to prevent oil depletion. 

Moreover, condition leather shoes after cleaning with baking soda to maintain softness and prevent drying or cracking.

Q: Does baking soda whiten leather shoes?

A: Although baking soda may not be as powerful as bleach when it comes to whitening, it can assist in enhancing and reviving the natural white look of your leather shoes.

Baking soda effectively lifts dirt and grime, resulting in whiter shoes without the need for harsh bleaching. Additionally, it can neutralize odors and gently remove light stains, leaving your shoes looking fresher and more radiant.

Keep in mind that baking soda’s main purpose is to maintain good condition and prevent dullness. Instead of aiming for a stark, bleach-like whiteness, focus on restoring the natural brightness and radiance of your leather shoes.


Maintaining leather shoes with eco-conscious methods is both an art and a commitment to the environment. When individuals opt for baking soda as a cleaning agent, they are taking a step towards sustainable living.

It is through these mindful practices that shoe enthusiasts can ensure their favorite pairs remain timeless, not just in style but also in their minimal impact on the environment. 

By choosing eco-friendly methods for leather shoe care, one not only preserves their footwear but also contributes positively to the greater ecological narrative.

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