Skip to main content

How to remove scuff marks from shoes (6 different methods that really work)

These tips for how to remove scuff marks will make you your shoes' best friend

We've all been there, so at some point knowing how to remove scuff marks from your favorite shoes will be a lifesaver. A familiar scenario: you get a brand-new pair of shoes and walk around as carefully as possible so they don't get scuffed up. But it happens no matter how hard you try to avoid it. Of course, you don't just toss out those scuffed shoes. Instead, you work to get those marks out. And we have the handy list of methods that will get those ugly marks off of your favorite pair of shoes.




5 minutes

What You Need

  • Baking soda

  • Rubber eraser

  • Petroleum jelly

  • Nail polish remover

  • Rubbing alcohol

  • Toothpaste

Before you dive headfirst into any cleaning methods, make sure to take an inconspicuous spot on your shoe to spot clean. Doing a test run will ensure you don't stain, damage, or make the scuff mark worse. When just a clean cloth and elbow grease or warm water and mild liquid soap doesn't do the trick, switch over to one of our tips for how to remove scuff marks from your shoe lineup.

A box of Arm and Hammer baking soda on a table
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Remove scuff marks with baking soda

This widely available product is likely sitting in your pantry or refrigerator right now. It has a wide range of applications and is often used in toothpaste for its ability to remove stains.

Step 1: Combine 1-2 tablespoons of baking soda and enough warm water to create an evenly consistent paste.

Step 2: Using a cloth, polish the shoes and remove the excess paste with a second clean, damp cloth.

A lot of rubber erasers.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Remove scuff marks with a rubber eraser

This school kid staple should be in every adult’s shoe repair quiver. And while the more common, pink-colored erasers work, you'll likely have to remove the residue once done. White erasers leave less of this residue.

Step 1: Make sure to brush any dirt or debris off the shoe before using the eraser method.

Step 2: Utilizing small circular motions, gently polish the scuff marks away.

Step 3: Use this method on vinyl, patent leather, and suede shoes.

Scooping petroleum jelly out of the jar.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Remove scuff marks with petroleum jelly

In addition to reducing diaper rash in babies, petroleum jelly (i.e., Vaseline) is also a game-changer in helping to heal minor injuries on human skin as well as leather shoes.

Step 1: Using a clean and dry cloth, apply a small amount of petroleum jelly in circular motions to the affected area of the shoe.

Step 2: Allow the product to sit briefly on the surface before removing it with another clean cloth.

Nail polish remover
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Remove scuff marks with nail polish remover

This bathroom cabinet staple is as effective at removing scuff marks as it is at removing nail polish.

Step 1: Apply a small amount to a cotton ball and polish the scuffs with small, circular motions.

Step 2: Use this method for patent leather shoes and sneakers.

A view of isopropyl alcohol on a plastic dispenser on a white background.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Remove scuff marks with rubbing alcohol

It’s excellent for sterilizing, but did you know that this inexpensive ingredient is also a great solution for removing scuffs and stains from patent leather? It's extremely simple to use, as well.

Step 1: If you don’t happen to have any rubbing alcohol at your disposal, you likely have hand sanitizer around.

Step 2: Slightly dampen a cloth and rub the area until the scuff is gone.

A toothpaste tube with the cap off.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Remove scuff marks with toothpaste

The next time you swap out your toothbrush, put the old one aside and save it for countless cleaning opportunities. In addition to working on canvas shoes, toothpaste is a good solution for leather and faux leather footwear. As a bonus, the toothpaste solution is also a great way to brighten up those rubber soles.

Step 1: Apply a small amount of white (non-gel) toothpaste to the brush and gently polish the scuffs.

Step 2: With a damp cloth, wipe away the toothpaste and allow the shoes to air dry.

Man sitting in a chair with dress shoes
Rene Asmussen / Pexels

5 ways to prevent scuffing your shoes

Protecting your shoes from scuffing is essential to maintaining their appearance and longevity. Here are five effective methods to prevent scuffs:

  1. Invest in protective products: Apply a quality shoe protector spray to create a barrier against scuffs and stains. Regularly reapply to ensure future protection.
  2. Store properly: Store your shoes individually in cloth or felt shoe bags to prevent them from rubbing against each other.
  3. Be mindful of your surroundings: Be cautious of your environment, avoiding abrasive surfaces or rough terrains that could lead to scuffs. Stay clear of areas that pose a higher risk of damaging your shoes.
  4. Use toe taps or guards: Attach these thin protective layers to the front of your shoe soles to absorb impact and shield the leather from scuffing when walking.
  5. Apply regular maintenance: Clean your shoes regularly with a soft brush or cloth to remove dirt and debris that could lead to scuffs. Apply a leather conditioner to keep the material supple and less prone to damage.

Nothing is worse than getting a new pair of shoes only to have them ruined when you mark them up on their first time out of the house. Scuffs happen, but it doesn't have to be the end of your spotless shoes. Using these methods, prolong the life of your shoes and keep them looking as brand-new as possible.

Editors' Recommendations

Mark McKee
Mark is a full-time freelance writer and men's coach. He spent time as a style consultant and bespoke suit salesman before…
6 reasons you need to buy these ultra comfortable shoes right now
Wally Patriotic shoes displaying the American flag.

This content was produced in partnership with HEYDUDE.
Thanks to HEYDUDE, long gone are the days when you had to choose between comfort or style when it comes to footwear. Now, you can enjoy a pair of ultra-comfortable shoes that also look great, thanks to HEYDUDE’s wide range of shoes for the whole family. There’s something for every taste and interest here, so it’s a good idea to click through to the link below and see just what’s out there. If you’re new to all things HEYDUDE or need a reminder of why the company is worth checking out, you’re in luck. We’re on hand with a quick look at six key reasons why you need to buy shoes from HEYDUDE so you can feel confident you’re making the right choice.
Shop Now
HEYDUDE shoes are super comfortable
Comfort is a core part of the HEYDUDE ethos, and all their shoes are focused on providing plenty of support and comfort, no matter how far you’re walking or how hot it is. Features like mesh uppers and foam insoles all add to the experience, so you get plenty of comfort, along with breathability. After all, a comfy foot isn’t comfortable when it’s hot and sweaty, so it’s a smart move by HEYDUDE to prioritize comfort, no matter what the conditions.
HEYDUDE has the best collabs
One of the interesting things that HEYDUDE offers is their limited edition collaborations with various brands and specialty artists. One fan favorite is the Mossy Oak Country DNA collection, which combines Mossy Oak’s legendary camo print with HEYDUDE comfort for the whole family. With boots for those braving the great outdoors or slip-on styles for everyday wear around town, there’s a comfortable, foot-hugging style for all. Another exciting callout is their recently introduced Collegiate Collection, launching September 19th. Now, you can show off your school spirit in the best of ways with a head-to-toe look featuring a pair of specialty HEYDUDE shoes. While these unique collections aren’t eligible for promotions, they’re worth the splurge, especially if you want to rep your favorite school or blend in with the foliage.
Because you hate complicated lacing systems
No one likes to spend ages lacing up shoes. It’s inconvenient, takes a while, and can even fray the laces themselves (or your hands!). We won’t delve into how much of your life could involve lacing up shoes. Instead, we’re delighted to see that HEYDUDE shoes get rid of those issues. Their shoes have an easy-on lace system, so you can simply pull them onto your feet without any hassle. It’s so much easier than lacing, and it looks pretty good too.
They’re affordable
Usually, ultra-comfy shoes that look great tend to cost a small fortune, but that’s not the case with HEYDUDE. The company offers tremendous value, even when there isn’t a sale taking place. With styles available starting at $40 and many pairs only costing just $65, this is an impressive value for shoes that are built to last. Even the most expensive shoes at HEYDUDE are affordable - their Branson Boot Craft Leather boot is made from leather and still offers everyone’s favorite easy slip-on/off system at an amazing price. Boots that can be worn at work or on the town for just under $100? You can’t beat HEYDUDE’s value.
There are so many styles to choose from
There are a lot of different styles at HEYDUDE. For instance, the Wally Patriotic offers an American flag design that could look perfect for the 4th of July, Labor Day, or American celebrations. There’s also the off-white patriotic design, which is a bit more subtle. Away from that, there’s the Wally Stretch range, which suits every outfit, or you could always go for a camouflage design if it matches your aesthetic. That’s even before delving into the many boot designs or the Sirocco range, which closely resembles a pair of sneakers.
Your feet are going to love you for it
You’ve only got one pair of feet, and they need to last you a long lifetime. That means it’s vital you have the right footwear to facilitate that and avoid joint issues or simple aches and pains. Alongside that, what you wear on your feet can affect your hips and knees, and who wants to need surgery for any of those joints, right? The level of comfort that HEYDUDE brings is sure to give you a fighting chance. While none of us are guaranteed to be ache-free in our old age, it’s still a smart move to do what you can to keep you a little safer. On a basic level, life is way more fun when you can walk around without your shoes rubbing or hurting your feet. That’s the biggest reason of all why HEYDUDE is so irresistible, with its range of different shoes crafted for wherever your feet may take you.
Shop Now

Read more
How to clean sneakers so they look new again
Sick of seeing scuffs on your shoes? Then learn how to clean your sneakers the right way
Nike air max

Nothing makes you want to cry more than buying a new pair of shoes and scuffing them the first time you wear them. Few things ruin a great look worse than a scuffed or dirty pair of shoes. How on Earth are you supposed to enjoy your favorite sneakers while also keeping them as clean as the day you bought them? Aside from treating them like collectibles and keeping them in a pressure-controlled vault, there’s only one way to go about it - regular maintenance. Let us show you how to clean sneakers the right way so they'll always look new.

Read more
Top notch greens trotters: The best men’s golf shoes
Look and play your best with these options for the course
Man swinging a golf club

Golf is one of the most popular ways for us men to get away from the world and relax. We have become accustomed to unwinding by playing the most frustrating game in the world. Despite how bad some of us are at keeping the ball on the fairway, we still find ourselves loving every minute. And of course, not only do we love the game, but we're starting to love the style that goes along with it. From golf polos to athletic pants, and even some of the best golf shoes on the market. Of course, we never miss an opportunity for a good round up, and these are the best men's golf shoes you can get your hands on right now.

Do you really need golf shoes?

Read more