How to Clean Dance Shoes

7 Jul 2020 12:40 PMLauren Nairne
How to Clean Dance Shoes

I’m shocked at the amount of people that come to me for new shoes with no realisation that with a little TLC you can give your shoes a second chance at life and maybe save yourself some considerable $$ on a new pair.                                                  

Disclaimer: Before any ballet teachers come at me with an axe I always recommend having fresh, clean and perfectly prepared shoes for exams, concerts and competitions where necessary. No amount of TLC can bring dead shoes back to life. It’s important to know when the time is right to let your old shoes go... RIP     


How To Clean Dance Shoes


Ballet Shoes

Canvas - My favourite shoes to clean... pop them in a delicate bag, spray them with some spot remover if they are particularly dirty and give them a full cycle in the washing machine. Place them flat in the sun to dry and VOILA.

Leather - You can purchase a leather cleaner from your local mister minute or dance retailer (this is the one I recommend) OR you can try first to give your leather flats a once over with some baby wipes to remove any surface dirt. Then if they still need it you’ve got 2 good options.

Toothpaste - Believe it or not works well to remove stubborn dirt or floor marks. Apply with a small toothbrush.

Shoe Paint or renovating polish - Available from your local shoe repairer or dance retailer, the polish is best used for smaller marks where the paint will do a great job at bringing them back to square one. Remember that you will need to paint both shoes and give them perhaps 2 coats to keep them even and consistent. Stuff them with a paper towel first and allow them to fully dry in the sun before wearing them again.


Jazz Shoes

I’m not sure what I used to do with my shoes as a teenager or whether it was our studio floor but I always used to TRASH my jazz shoes. I vividly remember going onstage with black gaff tape over the toes to stop my stockings from appearing :). My Mum would often take them to the local shoe repairer who could reinforce the toe with leather the same colour to help me stop blowing through them.

Paint - Just like ballet shoes painting your jazz shoes is a great way to bring them back to life. It’s also an option if you need to colour change your shoes and can’t buy another pair. Just make sure you’re using proper shoe paint available from your local dance store or shoe repairer.

Baby wipes - I know I’ve said it before but they honestly do work wonders without being too wet or abrasive.


Tap Shoes

Generally a tougher leather is used for tap shoes which means you can be a little rougher on your tap shoes. Besides you spend most of your time beating the toes into the ground, they are tough.

Magic Eraser - You know that little white piece of foam that magically gets tough and stubborn marks off the walls and floors. Give it a go on your tap shoes.

Paint - Sounding like a broken record you can use tan or black shoe paint to paint your tap shoes. The colour sometimes isn’t an exact match to tan so you will need to give them the once over fully but black you should be able to touch up where needed.

This method can also be used for hard chorus shoes.


Pointe Shoes

The hardest (and most expensive) shoes are almost impossible to clean. The only way to get your pointe shoes looking respectable after it looks like you’ve danced on an ash surface is to Calamine them.

Take a bottle of Calamine lotion (available from any pharmacy) and using a cotton bud gently dab the shoes until the lotion covers the pointe shoe. Ensuring they don’t get too wet in the process as pointe shoes and water don’t mix....

You might need a few coats to make sure they are consistent.


Latin and Ballroom Satin Shoes

Made from the same material as Pointe shoes make these equally as difficult to clean. Use a suede brush to keep the bottoms dirt free and not too slippery and a gently clean with a baby wipe should hopefully keep surface stains away. Keeping these shoes in a shoe bag will prolong the life of the shoe.


Have you got another shoe cleaning hack?

I’d love to hear your tips in the comments below!



If you’re still unsure, a visit to your local dance store will help you recognise whether your shoes can be cleaned back to life or whether a new pair is the better option.                                                           

Good Luck and Happy Dancing!