6 Ways to Disinfect Your Sneakers

    Product Care

    Don’t let your sneakers track viruses and bacteria into your home. Disinfect your shoes safely and easily with these tips.

    Last updated: April 15, 2022
    4 min read
    How to Disinfect Your Sneakers
    Time Required
    15 min
    Estimated Cost


    • Disinfectant spray or wipes
    • Hydrogen peroxide
    • Rubbing alcohol
    • Bleach
    • Baking soda
    • Vinegar


    • UV shoe sanitizers
    • Spray bottle
    • Cloth
    • Brush

    Even if you’ve never had the unpleasant surprise of stepping on something the neighbor’s dog left behind, invisible bacteria can catch a ride home on the bottom of your shoes or stink up the inside of your shoes. And if you have a fungal infection like athlete’s foot, you’ll need to disinfect your shoes to avoid reinfection.

    That’s why everyone should disinfect their sneakers periodically. Disinfecting goes beyond cleaning by using chemicals to eliminate germs. There are a handful of methods you can use to disinfect your sneakers, and some work better on delicate materials than others.

    Before you start, take off your shoes outside or in your entryway and remove surface debris with a dry brush. Apply a mild soap and water solution to the bottom of your shoes and allow it to dry for one minute. Then, depending on the sneaker and the mess, you can use one of the following methods of decontamination.

    How to Disinfect Your Shoes

    1. 1.Disinfectant Spray or Wipes

      Best For: Eliminating viruses

      While you can use a regular household antibacterial spray or wipe, there are also products designed specifically for shoes. If using wipes, use a new wipe for each shoe. After you spray or wipe off the sole of your shoe, allow it to stay wet with the product for about three to five minutes or follow the instructions on the label.

      You can also use an antibacterial spray on the inside of your shoe, which will also help to prevent fungal growth.

      Or try a sanitizing mat with a disinfectant solution to clean the bottom of your shoes. Submerge your shoes in the solution for at least one minute or however long the manufacturer recommends.

    2. 2.Hydrogen Peroxide

      Best For: Stained shoes

      A three-percent solution of hydrogen peroxide can disinfect your shoes while removing visible stains. It’s typically safe for colors as well. Spray it on the bottom of your shoes and allow it to sit for five minutes before wiping it away.

      You can also mix one part hydrogen peroxide with two parts baking soda to create a paste to disinfect the uppers of your sneakers. Apply two layers of the paste, then either rinse away the paste or leave it to dry in the sun and then wipe it off.

    3. 3.UV Shoe Sanitizers

      Best For: Hands-off total shoe cleaning

      An ultraviolet shoe sanitizer utilizes UVC light to destroy up to 99.9 percent of bacteria on the surface of your shoe. The American Podiatric Medical Association offers its seal of approval for SteriShoe products, which can eliminate bacteria that cause things like athlete’s foot and warts.

      There’s no scrubbing or spraying required — insert one into each shoe, plug it in, and wait 45 minutes for the device to turn off automatically. While these products may be the easiest way to disinfect your shoes, they’re also quite expensive.

    4. 4.Rubbing Alcohol

      Best For: Leather, suede or nubuck shoes

      Leather is a durable but delicate material that requires special care. If your sneakers have leather uppers, use rubbing alcohol, which is gentler than other disinfectants but still effective at killing a variety of germs.

      Create a solution with three parts rubbing alcohol and one part water. Dip a clean cloth in the mixture. Rub the entire outside of the sneaker with the solution, then leave your shoes to dry for about 15 minutes.

    5. 5.Bleach

      Best For: White canvas sneakers

      Bleach is a powerful disinfectant, but it will ruin your colorful sneakers. But if you have a pair of white canvas sneakers, it’ll leave them looking bright white and good as new.

      Create a solution with one part bleach and five parts water. Dip a cloth in the mixture and rub the outside of your shoes. (You may want to remove the laces to sanitize these separately.) When you’re finished, allow your shoes to air dry in a well-ventilated area before you wear them.

    6. 6.Baking Soda and Vinegar

      Best For: Preventing fungal growth inside shoes

      Vinegar doesn’t kill all viruses, but it does slow down fungal growth. Baking soda also reduces the activity of fungal spores and can help eliminate odors.

      To use these products together, sprinkle baking soda on your sneakers, inside and out. Then, spray your shoes with white or apple cider vinegar diluted with water. Rub your sneakers all over with a clean white cloth, using a circular motion. Allow your shoes to sit for 12 hours before wiping them down with a wet cloth.

    Frequently Asked Questions

    How Do You Disinfect Used Shoes?

    Apply disinfectant spray, hydrogen peroxide, rubbing alcohol, or bleach to eliminate infectious diseases from dirty or secondhand shoes. Make sure to leave the shoes wet with the product for at least five minutes or follow the directions on the label. Allow your shoes to dry completely before wearing them.

    How Do You Disinfect Shoes From Athlete’s Foot?

    The best way to disinfect shoes from athlete’s foot is to use a UV shoe sanitizer. However, you can also use hydrogen peroxide and baking soda to get rid of fungus from athlete’s foot. Vinegar is also effective at slowing down fungal growth in shoes.

    Originally published: November 12, 2021

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