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How to disinfect shoes


Lady sat on the ground tying up the laces of here trainers.

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Think of your shoes as having two main areas of possible bacteria: 1) inside the shoes next to your socks and feet, and 2) the outsides of your shoes that have picked up bacteria from when you’ve been out and about. This distinction will make it easier for you to put a reasonable and regular plan in place for disinfecting both the insides and outsides of all your shoes.

As well as your everyday footwear, be sure to disinfect used shoes you may have been given or purchased at a used clothing store, as well as brand new shoes. Here are few tips as to how to disinfect shoes at home so you can stop bringing unwanted germs into your living space. Let’s all stay safe!

THE INSIDE JOB: Disinfect the inside of shoes

How to disinfect shoes inside is to rid them not only of harmful bacteria, but to eliminate unpleasant odours. Hiking books, dress shoes, athletic shoes, sandals… basically any and all footwear will be susceptible to bacteria, dirt, sweat, grime, oils, dead skin, and odours. Keeping your shoes clean and disinfected goes a long way to mitigate harm to you and your family. Sources online suggest the following daily or at the very least weekly cleaning practice to keep everyone safe.

  • Isopropyl alcohol, or rubbing alcohol, is a powerful antiseptic that can fight odour-causing bacteria in your shoes. 
  • Simply mix some alcohol and water in a spray bottle and mist the interior of your shoes. 
  • Be sure to use an alcohol that ranges in strength from 70–99%, and let your shoes dry overnight. 
  • Come morning, any lingering odour inside of your shoes should be gone.
  • When drying your shoes overnight, do not put them in the wardrobe; leave them in an area with plenty of air circulation. 
  • Avoid getting alcohol on the outside of your shoes because it can ruin their surface, especially leather.

THE OUTSIDE JOB: Disinfect the outside of shoes

Since our shoes pick up everything from the garden, street, path, trails and simply everything wherever you go make a new “clean shoe area” practice as you re-enter your home. How to disinfect shoes at home includes designating a shoe area for the purpose of shoe cleaning and disinfecting. Here are few tips to get started:

Create a Shoe Off Zone

The first easy step is to declare that the inside of your home is a SHOE OFF ZONE as many experts suggest – and more and more people are starting to put into practice. Put a small sign at the entry way, politely asking family members and guests to remove their shoes. It is also easy to have some shoe covers on hand to cover the shoes if you are OK with that approach.

Disinfectant Wipes

You might already have these on hand, which is a good thing. Disinfectant wipes are convenient to use and usually kill up to 99% of bacteria. Simply clean the soles, heels, and edges of your shoes with the wipes. 

Washing Powder Solution

Put a capful of laundry detergent in a spray bottle and fill it with water. Shake to mix well and to dilute the detergent. Leave to dry on a newspaper or paper towels.

Disinfectant Spray

You can also use specially formulated commercial product designed to disinfect shoes, not the ones you would use on your household surfaces. They will kill the bacteria on the outside of your shoes and deodorise the insoles as well.

We hope you enjoyed our tips on a how to disinfect shoes. Be sure to check out our other shoe cleaning tips such as how to clean white shoes, how to wash trainers in the washing machine and what is a prewash.