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How To Clean Shoe Laces

How to clean shoe laces
How to clean shoe laces

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Did you just clean your shoes but they still don’t squeaky clean? This often happens when you don’t clean shoelaces properly.
The best way to keep your shoes shining like new is to ensure laces are clean too. Sadly, most people don’t know that crisp and clean laces can make a big difference in the overall look of any footwear (especially in the case of white & light-coloured shoes).

If you don’t know how to clean shoelaces with perfection, you need this article. We have shared some tested super easy ways to clean all kinds of shoelaces.
Now, let’s see how to clean shoelaces in 3 ways:

3 Best Ways To Clean Shoelaces

  • Using Bleach (Best for Stain Removal)
  • Using Detergent or Soap (Easy and Convenient)
  • Using Baking Soda (Works on Moderate Stains)

How To Clean Shoelaces Using Bleach – Best For Stain Removal

Two types of bleach are used for cleaning purposes: Oxygen bleach & Chlorine bleach.
While using bleach for cleaning purposes, there are certain Do’s & Don’ts that you must know. We can’t use any bleach randomly on any shoelace, so let’s have a look at different types of laces before moving ahead.

Different Types Of Shoe Laces – What are they made up of

Shoelaces can be made up of:

  • Cotton: Shoelaces made up of cotton are generally flat in structure and they come mostly with canvas shoes. It is easy to clean cotton laces in comparison to other laces. 
  • Synthetic materials: Some shoelaces are made up of polyester, nylon, polypropylene, and other synthetic materials. They are generally round and narrow in shape.
  • Leather: Generally leather shoes and boots have leather laces too. You can identify them by merely looking at them or touching them. Both original and faux leather laces look the same often. While cleaning shoelaces made up of leather you have to be extra careful as leather tends to get damaged very easily. 


Cleaning leather shoelaces is an entirely different procedure no matter whether they are coloured or white, you must not apply any type of bleach on them.

We have a separate article on leather shoe cleaning, in case you want to know how to clean shoelaces made up of leather – Click here

Another categorization of shoelaces can be done on the basis of their colour. When it comes to clean shoelaces, the ingredients slightly differ for coloured and white laces. Here’s what you should consider while using bleach:

Read this before using bleach on shoe laces
Read this before using bleach on shoe laces

Use chlorine bleach for cotton laces and oxygen bleach on synthetic laces to remove colour, ink, blood, vomit, food or egg stains. Here is what you can do:

Caution: Do not use chlorine bleach on coloured laces even if it is made up of cotton. It can fade out the colour. Always go for oxygen bleach to clean coloured shoelaces, be it cotton or synthetic lace.

Steps to clean shoelaces using bleach – Best for stain removal

Pro-tip: Always wear rubber gloves while dealing with bleach. Your skin might be sensitive and suffer redness, itching or rashes due to bleach.

  • Step 1: Pour two cups of lukewarm water (30°C) into a large bowl or mug. 

  • Step 2: Add 1 teaspoon of bleach to the water.

  • Step 3: Stir the mixture well using a spatula or the handle of a toothbrush. 

  • Step 4: Put the shoelaces having stains in the bowl. 

  • Step 5: Swish them through the solution for 20-30 seconds or until they get completely soaked.

  • Step 6: Leave them in the bleach mixture for 5 minutes if you are using chlorine bleach and 2-8 hours if you are using oxygen bleach.

  • Step 7: Take them out and rinse them with cool and clean water.

  • Step 8: Press the laces lightly to remove excess water.

  • Step 9: Tie them on a hanger and hang it to air-dry laces.

  • Step 10: Once the laces are dried completely you can put them back again in the shoes.

How To Clean Shoelaces Using Detergent Or Soap – Quick & Easy

How to clean shoe laces with soap or detergent
Cleaning shoe laces in soapy water
  • Step 1: Remove the laces from the shoes

    Always remove the lace from the shoes. The biggest mistake people do is they don’t remove laces from the shoes before cleaning. This is why the laces don’t get cleaned properly.

  • Step 2: Brush off the dust, mud or loose dirt

    Brush off loose mud, dirt and dust from the shoelaces using a hard-bristled brush. You don’t have to assert heavy pressure.

  • Step 3: Mix detergent with warm water

    Take a large bowl, mug or a small bucket. Fill it with lukewarm (30 ° C) water. Mix 4-5 drops of your regular laundry detergent or ½ teaspoon of powdered detergent. Stir it with your hands for 1 minute or until you see lather.

  • Step 4: Soak and stir the laces in soapy water

    Soak the shoelaces in soapy water (mixture of detergent and water) for 15 minutes. This will help the detergent to loosen dirt particles from the laces and it will detach from the surface of the laces.
    You can stir the shoelaces in the water 5-6 times for a better result too.

  • Step 5: Brush off the dirt

    Use a small scrub brush (or an old toothbrush) to scrub the laces. Be mindful of the aglet as these can crack or peel off if handled roughly.

  • Step 6: Rinse off the soapy residue

    Drain the soapy water and refill the mug/bowl or bucket with clean water. Now, rinse the shoelaces. Repeat the process until you don’t see soapy leather in the rinsing water.

  • Step 7: Hang dry the laces

    Press the laces gently to remove excess water. Don’t press them too tightly as it may make them look wrinkled. Now, tie them on a clothes hanger and let them air dry.

    Caution: Do not dry shoelaces in a clothes dryer machine

    The heat of the clothes dryer can melt the plastic tips of the shoelaces.

    Once the laces are dried completely you can put them back in the shoes. 

What you should know: How to clean shoelaces in a washing machine

If you are planning to clean shoelaces in the machine, you can proceed after step 3, here is what you can do:

  • Take out the laces from the soapy water.
  • Press lightly to remove excess water.
  • Put them in a laundry bag.
  • Place the bag in the washing machine.

Caution: Avoid colour-bleeding stains

  1. Clean coloured laces along with coloured clothes in the machine.
  2. Clean white coloured laces along with white and light coloured clothes in the machine.

How To Clean Shoelaces Using Baking Soda or Vinegar (For Moderate Stain Removal)

If you want to try a homemade cleaner for your shoelaces, you can either use baking soda or vinegar, here is how you can do that:

How to clean shoelaces using vinegar

  • Mix 10 ml of white distilled vinegar and 10 ml of water in a bowl.

  • Dip an old toothbrush in this mixture.

  • Rub the vinegar mixture all over the laces using the toothbrush.

  • Leave it for 5 minutes.

  • Rinse the laces with clean water.

  • Let the laces air-dry. You can tie them on a hanger and hang it on a clothesline.

  • Once they are dried, put them back in the shoe.

How to clean shoelaces using baking soda

  • Make a thick paste of 4 tablespoons of baking soda with 4 ounces of water in a bowl.

  • Cover the shoelaces entirely with this paste.

  • Let them sit for 15-20 minutes.

  • Rinse the laces properly using clean water.

  • Press them lightly to avoid wrinkles while getting rid of excess water.

  • Tie them on a hanger and hang it to let the laces air-dry

Key Takeaway

If your shoelaces have very tough stains go for the bleach method. In case there are minor stains you can choose detergent, baking soda or vinegar as per your wish. Cleaning shoelaces with detergent or soap is quick and easier. Whereas, using baking soda or vinegar may be a little time-consuming.

Frequently asked questions on how to clean shoelaces?

People often clean shoelaces without removing them from the shoes. This is the worst way to clean them. Laces don’t get fully cleaned this way. 

Take a mixture of mild detergent or soap. Dip a clean cloth in this mixture and wipe the entire shoelace. Thereafter, wipe away the leftover soapy residue from the lace using a clean damp cloth. You can read the detailed method of how to clean shoelaces made up of leather by clicking here

Yes, laces made up of cotton and synthetic fibres are washable. You can hand wash them or wash them in a washing machine as well. However, leather shoelaces are not meant to be washed. It is best to wipe them with a soapy mixture. 

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author. They do not necessarily purport to reflect the values or views of Tumbledry.

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