How to Remove Scuff Marks from Shoes

Shoes literally pound the pavement, leaving them scuffed and otherwise unattractive in pretty short order. Fortunately, some genius hacks (with the help of a few tools and products) offer plenty of ways to course-correct shoe scuffs on virtually any type of material. However, before going all out with any particular remedy, test it out on an inconspicuous part of the shoe to make sure it doesn’t further the damage.

Here’s how to get scuffs out of shoes, based on the type of material they’re made from:

Removing Scuff Marks from Leather Shoes

Leather is one of the highest-quality materials a shoe can be made from, but even so, leather shoes are not impervious to scuffs. Before tidying them back up, be sure they’re clean and free of debris. Then, do the following:

Light scuffs: Often, a light scuff only requires a little elbow grease to get out. Simply grab a shoe brush or cloth and buff the affected area until the mark is gone. If that doesn’t work, repeat the process or use one of the options below:

Heavier scuffs: More significant scuffs require a bit of product. Wipe the shoes with a damp cloth and air dry them. Apply some shoe polish on the shoes, then buff them with a brush or soft cloth. It might take a few coats to bring them back to 100 percent.

One way to prevent scuffs and scratches, or at least make them easier to get out, is by polishing leather shoes on the regular. This maintenance will keep them hydrated, thus looking newer for longer. Dried-out leather will always crack and scuff more easily than well-maintained leather.

Removing Scuff Marks from Crocs

Crocs are made with a proprietary material that’s delightfully resistant to damage. However, occasionally scuffs happen. The company says for the classic version (not canvas, wool, etc.), the answer is to use a mild soap and cold water combo and either spot-clean or fully hand-wash.

For wool Crocs, clean the upper with a soft wire or plastic brush, and apply a waterproofing spray. For fleece or canvas Crocs, use mild soap and a damp rag. In all cases, dry your Crocs by air as opposed to in a dryer.

Removing Scuff Marks from Sneakers or Rubber/Suede Shoes

For sneakers made of rubber and/or suede, a Mr. Clean Magic Eraser is often all it takes to get scuffs out. The sponge itself is nice and gentle when dampened and it’s shockingly effective. Just wet the sponge, squeeze out excess water and gently scrub at the scuff. Use a damp cloth to wipe away any leftover product. White vinegar and baking soda mixed in a paste can also clean off suede shoes. (You might have to remove the vinegar smell after they’re cleaned, though.)

Removing Scuff Marks from Patent Leather and Vinyl

No need to chuck those Mary Janes once the patent leather has a few scuff marks. Instead, apply some nail polish remover to a cotton ball or paper towel to wipe away scuffs. (Don’t apply the remover directly to the shoes.) Those kicks will be back in Catholic schoolgirl shape in no time.

For vinyl shoes, look no further than the cleaning closet! Window cleaning spray is all it takes to bring back the shine and eliminate scuffs. 409 is another solid option. Simply spritz the spray on a paper towel or on the shoe and rub in a circular motion.

Shoes get scuffed up, but did you know that they also do the same to the floor? Usually, tile and hardwood floors take the brunt of this abuse, but other surfaces, like tennis or basketball courts, can get seriously messed up. This is why many sports require shoes with non-marking soles to be worn during play.

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