5 Ways to Clean or Fix Shoes from the Thrift Store

Please note: This post contains affiliate links. It will cost you no extra money but I get a small commision from each purchase. All items in this post are items that I have tried and tested.

Refurbishing shoes saves them from the landfill and reduces consumer waste

Shoes have one of the greatest returns when reselling. Something as simple as cleaning the sole can improve your profits a significant amount. Whether you’re reselling or trying to bring back your favorite sneakers to life, these are my go-to methods for shoe cleaning.

1. Suede Brush

Get the one that I use on Amazon HERE (affiliate link) for about $7 

Suede is one of the easiest types of shoes to take care of. You just need the right tools!

Getting a suede brush is worth the investment. It only costs about $7 and using it is simple. Use either the bristle end or rubber comb based on the severity of the stain and stroke it repeatedly in the same direction. By this I mean do not scrub back and forth. Pick up the brush after your stroke and repeat. 

2. Dr. Martens Wonder Balsam


Get it on Amazon HERE (affiliate link) for about $10


This stuff is magic. Like I literally went around my apartment and cleaned all of my leather items after getting it because it works so well.

Remember that a little goes a long way! It is a little pricey but it is worth it.

3. 100% Acetone

You can buy this at most drugstores! I got mine at Walmart for about $1

100% acetone is one of the cheapest and most useful items for a reseller toolkit. Above is the before and after of acetone on rubber soles. Sadly, I couldn’t get off all of the sharpie but there is a huge difference!

What it can clean:

  • Dirt on soles
  • Marks on patent leather
  • Residue from tags

4. Hydrogen Peroxide and Birkenstocks


Birkenstocks sell really well…but they also look dirty very easily. To clean them for max profits, follow the steps below.

Combine two tablespoons of water with one tablespoon of baking soda. If it is too watery, add more baking soda until it is a paste. Scrub the sole in a circular motion. Then wash it off with a damp washcloth! 

It should clean the sole including getting rid of any smell.

5. Magic Erasers

I never buy the name brand Mr. Clean Eraser. I personally think it is a waste of money. Some people feel that off brand ones break apart too easily but I disagree.

I usually get mine at the Dollar Tree but HERE (affiliate link) is a 20 pack on Amazon for $10

Magic eraser’s work amazing on sneakers or anything made of rubber. Before I started reselling, I would commonly use them on my Adidas to extend their life. It is amazing what these sponges can do!

Do you all use anything else to clean your shoes from the thrift store? 

Let me know down in the comments!


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