My $5 Magic Trick For Making Dirty Shoes Look New Again in Seconds

updated May 29, 2023
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In the spirit of buying less and taking better care of what we already have, I’m going to let you in on a little magic trick I use to clean my shoes and make them look new again in just a few seconds. This tip is especially helpful for sneaker lovers, caretakers of small children, and online resellers who want to get those soles looking brand new again! Ready for it?

A Magic Eraser and a little bit of water goes a long way on dirty shoes. Melamine sponges—the generic term for a Magic Eraser—work their sorcery by physically removing dirt and stains from surfaces, like the rubber on the bottom of your shoes or even many cloth surfaces. The sponge works sort of like sandpaper to get your shoes looking brand new.

How Effective Is It To Use Magic Eraser?

You’ll truly be amazed at how quickly the transformation happens; it’s simple, and totally effective. They’re so effective that you do need to use a bit of caution when cleaning shoes to make sure that color treated areas don’t bleed or rub off.

If cleaning a colored surface, find an inconspicuous area and test to see if any color rubs off on the sponge. If you don’t see any color on the sponge, keep on cleaning! If there is color on the sponge, try to just stick to the white areas and soles of the shoe. I’ve used both the name brand Magic Eraser, as well as generic store brands and had excellent results with both.

Credit: Joe Lingeman/Apartment Therapy

Here’s How I Do It

  1. Wipe as much of the “ick” off the shoe as you can with a dry rag before you start with the damp sponge—the last thing you want to do is make an even bigger mess.
  2. Once the shoes are free of loose debris, wet a corner of the sponge and start working away on the stains and discoloration on the shoes. The sponge will probably crumble, so be sure to do this over a garbage can or lay out newspapers to catch the debris.
  3. Marvel at your sparkling clean shoes!

Rubber shoes and rain boots clean like a dream (I used to have an entire highlight reel on my Instagram dedicated to the cleaning of rubber shoes, it was an obsession for a while) and they’re great for getting the soles of tennis shoes looking brand new again. Even shoes with dirt-magnet foam soles (like the sparkly ones I cleaned for these photos) end up looking new again.

Hot tip: Bring along a small piece of the sponge when traveling, especially if you’re heading to an outdoor event. You never know when the elements are going to attack your shoes making them look sad and dingy. Just trim a 2-inch piece from the sponge, stick it in a zip top bag and pop it in your toiletries bag.

Try it, you’ll be glad you did!