can you use wd-40 to clean shoes

Can You Use WD-40 to Clean Shoes?

Everyone knows that WD-40 is the go-to solution for all things squeaky and rusty. But, did you know that this versatile product can also help you clean your shoes?

Yes, you can use WD-40 to clean shoes, particularly for removing scuffs, stains, and sticky residue. However, it’s not suitable as a conditioner or long-term protective agent for leather shoes.

That’s right, those trusty sneakers or leather shoes lying in the corner could do with a spritz of WD-40.

Let’s dive into how you can use this multipurpose solvent in your shoe cleaning routine.

Using WD-40 for General Shoe Cleaning

WD-40 is an effective solution for general shoe cleaning, and using it requires careful application to ensure that the material of your shoes isn’t damaged in the process. Here’s a detailed step-by-step guide:

  1. Prepare your work area: Place a clean cloth or towel under the shoes to prevent the WD-40 from staining the surface underneath.
  2. Prepare your shoes: Start by removing any loose dirt from the shoe’s surface using a dry cloth or a soft brush. This includes the soles and the crevices where dirt can accumulate. If your shoes have laces, it’s best to remove them to avoid getting them soaked with WD-40.
  3. Apply WD-40: Spray a small amount of WD-40 onto a clean, dry cloth. Do not directly spray it on the shoe to avoid over-application, which might lead to damage. If you’re dealing with a stubborn stain, you can apply a bit more WD-40 onto the cloth.
  4. Wipe the shoe: Use the cloth to wipe your shoe thoroughly. Pay special attention to stubborn spots and stains, applying more pressure if necessary. Be gentle on delicate materials to prevent causing any damage.
  5. Allow it to sit: Let the shoes sit for a few minutes to allow the WD-40 to penetrate the dirt or stains. This step is crucial as it enables the WD-40 to work its magic. However, do not let it sit for too long to prevent the WD-40 from seeping into the material and causing potential damage.
  6. Wipe off the residue: Use another clean, dry cloth to wipe off the residue. Ensure to clean thoroughly so that no WD-40 is left on the shoes as this could attract more dirt.
  7. Air-dry your shoes: Allow your shoes to air-dry naturally in a well-ventilated area away from direct sunlight. This will help to eliminate any remaining WD-40 odor from your shoes.
  8. Condition if necessary: If your shoes are made of leather, you might want to apply a leather conditioner after cleaning them with WD-40. This will help to keep the leather supple and prevent it from drying out.

Following this extended method should leave your shoes cleaner and shinier. However, remember that WD-40 is a powerful solvent and should be used sparingly and cautiously. Always perform a spot test on an inconspicuous area first before applying it all over your shoes.

Using WD-40 to Clean Sticky Residue From Shoes

One of the unique uses of WD-40 is its ability to remove sticky residue, like gum or stubborn sticker adhesive, from various surfaces, including shoes. Here’s a comprehensive, detailed method:

  1. Prepare your work area: Ensure you are in a well-ventilated space as WD-40 has a strong smell. Lay down some newspaper or a protective cloth to prevent any accidental spills or overspray.
  2. Identify the sticky area: Look for the area on your shoe where the sticky residue resides. Check the soles and sides of your shoes for any residue.
  3. Apply WD-40: Shake the can of WD-40 well, then spray it directly onto the sticky area. Make sure to apply enough to cover the entire residue, but don’t oversaturate.
  4. Let it soak: Allow the WD-40 to sit for 10-15 minutes to dissolve the residue. This dwell time is crucial for the WD-40 to break down the adhesive properties of the sticky substance.
  5. Scrape off the residue: Once the residue is loosened, use a plastic scraper, an old toothbrush, or a similar tool to gently scrape off the residue. Be careful not to scrape too hard, as you could potentially damage the shoe’s material.
  6. Wipe the area: After removing the majority of the residue, clean the area with a damp cloth to remove any leftover residue and WD-40. Be thorough to ensure that all the WD-40 has been removed.
  7. Clean the rest of the shoe: If necessary, clean the rest of the shoe to ensure uniformity and remove any overspray of WD-40.
  8. Dry your shoes: Allow your shoes to air dry naturally in a well-ventilated area, away from direct sunlight.
  9. Condition if necessary: If you were working with leather shoes, it’s a good idea to apply some leather conditioner after cleaning. This can help restore any moisture that might have been stripped away during the cleaning process.

Remember, WD-40 is a powerful product and should be used with care. Always do a spot test when using it for the first time on a particular material to ensure it won’t cause discoloration or damage.

Using WD-40 to Remove Scuff Marks on Shoes

Scuff marks can really dampen the appearance of your shoes, but WD-40 can come to your rescue here. This multi-purpose solvent can be employed to eliminate those unsightly marks. Let’s look into a more detailed method:

  1. Prepare your workspace: As with any cleaning task, it’s important to prepare your work area. Lay down an old towel or newspaper to catch any overspray or drips from the WD-40.
  2. Identify the scuff marks: Look over your shoe and identify the areas with the scuff marks. This could be on the sides, front, or even the soles.
  3. Spray WD-40: Spray a small amount of WD-40 onto a clean cloth or a sponge. Remember, it’s always safer to apply the product to your cloth rather than directly onto the shoe to prevent oversaturation.
  4. Rub the scuff marks: Gently but firmly, rub the cloth over the scuff marks in a circular motion. The WD-40 will start to break down the scuff marks. Keep rubbing until the mark disappears. For tougher scuffs, you may need to reapply WD-40 and repeat the process.
  5. Wipe clean: Once the scuff mark is gone, it’s time to clean off the residue. Wet another clean cloth with warm soapy water and thoroughly wipe the area where the WD-40 was applied. This ensures any remaining solvent and scuff material is removed.
  6. Dry your shoes: Pat your shoes dry with a towel and then let them air dry completely. Avoid direct sunlight or heat sources as they can damage the material of the shoes.
  7. Inspect your shoes: Once dry, inspect your shoes to ensure all scuff marks have been removed. If there are still some stubborn marks left, you can repeat the process.
  8. Condition if necessary: If your shoes are made of a material like leather, it’s a good idea to condition them after cleaning. This can help maintain their luster and prolong their lifespan.

Remember, WD-40 is a potent solution, and while it can help remove scuff marks, it should be used with care. Always test a small, hidden area first to ensure that the WD-40 will not discolor or damage your shoes.


Can you use WD-40 to waterproof leather shoes?

Indeed, WD-40 can provide a temporary water resistance for your leather shoes. The oil-displacing properties of WD-40 form a barrier that prevents water from soaking into the material. However, it’s important to note that this is not a permanent solution.

The protective layer will wear off over time and doesn’t match the performance of traditional waterproofing products designed specifically for leather. For long-lasting waterproofing, it’s recommended to use a professional leather waterproofing product that can provide protection while maintaining the breathability and integrity of the leather.

Does WD-40 condition leather shoes?

While WD-40 can clean leather shoes, it does not have the same nourishing and moisturizing properties that a leather conditioner has. Leather conditioners are specially formulated to replenish the natural oils in leather, keeping it soft, supple, and preventing it from drying out and cracking.

On the other hand, WD-40 is primarily a solvent and lubricant, and while it may give your shoes a short-term shine, it won’t provide the long-term care that a leather conditioner offers. Therefore, after using WD-40 for cleaning your leather shoes, it’s recommended to apply a quality leather conditioner to maintain their longevity.

Does WD-40 preserve the stitching on leather shoes?

WD-40 is not specifically formulated to preserve the stitching on leather shoes. Over time, the stitching on leather shoes, particularly if it’s made of cotton or another natural fiber, can become brittle and break.

There are specific products like stitching or seam sealers designed to protect and prolong the life of stitching on shoes. Using a specialized product for this purpose will provide better results and longevity for your shoes.

Can WD-40 prevent leather shoes from drying up?

While WD-40 can help to some extent by providing a layer of protection against moisture loss, it’s not a designated product to prevent leather shoes from drying up. It does not contain the necessary ingredients that leather needs to stay supple and hydrated.

Leather shoes require conditioning with products that are designed to replenish the natural oils in the leather and prevent drying. So, while you can use WD-40 to clean your leather shoes, you should follow up with a proper leather conditioner to prevent them from drying out.

Can WD-40 be used to remove sticker residue from shoes?

Absolutely, WD-40 is extremely effective in removing sticker residue from shoes. It works by dissolving the adhesive properties of the sticker residue, making it easy to wipe away.

Just spray it directly onto the residue, let it sit for a few minutes, and then gently scrape off the residue with a plastic scraper or wipe it with a clean cloth. Be sure to wipe the area clean with a damp cloth afterward to remove any remaining residue and WD-40.


While not a traditional shoe cleaning product, WD-40 does provide several ways to keep your shoes looking their best. It’s important to remember, however, that while WD-40 can clean your shoes, it doesn’t replace the need for conditioners in the case of leather shoes or specific care products designed for different materials.

Always be cautious and do a spot test when trying any new cleaning methods on your shoes.