How to get rid of scuff marks on shoes

There’s nothing more infuriating than finding scuff marks on your fabulous new pair of shoes. What you may not realise though is that scuff marks are an indication of superficial damage to the top layer of the shoe only. In many cases, this can easily be fixed using DIY solutions. After doing a bit of research we’ve discovered the following tips to help you get rid of those pesky marks and restore your shoes to their former glory. Please note that many of them are specific to certain materials so read (and tread) carefully! And remember to always start by testing on an inconspicuous surface first. 

Use Baking Soda


Suitable for - this should work well on most materials but always patch test on an inconspicuous spot first.


Baking soda is one of the most widely recommended agents to test out. Apply one to two teaspoons to some warm water to get a thick and consistent paste. Apply the paste directly to the scuff marks and rub it in with a cloth. Polish as needed and once done, wipe off the excess paste with a new damp cloth. Allow your shoes to air dry.

An eraser or magic eraser for rubber, suede & leather


Suitable for - rubber, suede & leather (especially patent leather)


You’ll need a white eraser (no colours!) to avoid residues for this. It might not always work but it’s most effective on suede. For that, make sure to gently brush the suede to dislodge any dust or dirt first. Next, apply the eraser. As with the brush, be careful to stroke in a single direction and never back and forth. 


For other materials, rub in gentle circular motions. 


Try a magic eraser for white sneakers, scuffed soles on athletic sneakers and shinier fabric, in particular.

Apply Nail Polish Remover


Suitable for - patent leather shoes & sneakers


Apply some nail polish remover to a cotton ball and rub it in in gentle circular motions to the scuffed area. Make sure you do not pour this directly onto the shoe though.

Use Non-gel Toothpaste for canvas shoes


Suitable for - canvas shoes


You’ll need white toothpaste for this. Avoid gel and whitening toothpaste and those heavy on chemicals. Apply a little bit on a cloth and then rub it onto the scuff gently. Wipe off the residues with a second damp cloth and allow your shoes to air dry. 

Shoe Polish & renovator cream


Suitable for - smooth leathers


As scuffs only cause surface-level damage to the shoe and do not rip the actual leather upper, a little bit of good old shoe polish or renovator cream should do the trick for leather shoes. Apply as you normally would. A renovator cream is similar to shoe polish but contains restorative qualities that help build up and temporarily recolour worn out spots on the leather. It needs to be reapplied regularly.

Petroleum Jelly


Suitable for - patent leather & leather


You’ll need some petroleum jelly, a dry cloth, damp cloth and lots of elbow grease. As always, test on a small inconspicuous surface first, especially with soft leathers. Apply a small amount of petroleum jelly to the dry cloth and rub it onto the scuff in circular motions. Finish off by wiping of the jelly with the damp cloth. 

Cleaning spray


Suitable for - shiny vinyl/PVC only


All-purpose cleaners such as the kind you’d use to wipe down surfaces and window cleaners are what you’re after here. But please note, this is only applicable for vinyl footwear skinned with PVC). Using these chemicals on leather and other delicate material will ruin them. Spray a little of the cleaner onto a streak-free cloth and wipe down the shoe.

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