How to Get Grass Stains Out of Shoes

old pair of grass stained sneakers

Washing grass stains from clothes is a fairly straightforward process, but when it's your shoes that are smeared with grass, it can get a little tricky. Fortunately, grass stains on shoes can be overcome by using one or all of these methods.

The Toothbrush-Vinegar Solution

This is an easy solution that uses things you probably already have like vinegar and an old toothbrush.

  1. Set up a bucket on a floor that can handle a little water, perhaps outside or in the garage.
  2. For every cup of vinegar you add to the bucket, add two cups of warm water.
  3. Alternate between scrubbing the stain with an old toothbrush (or a new one bought for this purpose) and wiping it off with a washcloth, applying the vinegar mixture as needed.

Laundry Detergent

If you don't want to use vinegar, laundry detergent with color-safe bleach is an excellent choice, as the shoe experts over at Shoeaholics Anonymous confirm.

  1. First, read the instructions on your shoe to make sure it doesn't have any specific warnings about using detergent. (If it does, this isn't a good option for you.)
  2. Look for a detergent that contains both bleach and enzymes. This is ideal for fighting grass stains.
  3. Place a little detergent directly on the stain, then rub it in with gentle pressure. If you're using powdered detergent, mix it with a little water to form a paste.
  4. Let it dry on the stain for 10 to 15 minutes.
  5. Rinse off with water.
  6. Repeat as needed.

You can also use liquid dishwashing detergent in a dishwashing wand following the same steps as above.

Baking Soda

You can use baking soda similarly to how you use the laundry detergent powder:

  1. Mix the baking soda with a small amount of water before applying it.
  2. Place some of the mixture directly on the stain, then rub it in with gentle pressure.
  3. Let it dry on the stain for 10 to 15 minutes.
  4. Rinse off with water.
  5. Repeat as needed.

A Combination of All of the Above

If the stain is stubborn, you can run through all of the approaches above. Having a variety of soap products and approaches might eventually defeat the stain.

Other Shoe Materials

If you've been unlucky enough to get grass stains on shoes with other materials such as leather or suede, all is not lost. There are ways of cleaning these shoe materials.


Suede needs tender loving care. Before you resort to any wet solutions, attempt a few gentle dry solutions first:

  1. Loosen the stains using a pencil eraser or art gum eraser. You can also use the stiff, prickly substance of stale bread crust.
  2. Get a suede brush and scrub with swift motions, always brushing in the direction of the fibers, not against them. This will get rid of even more of the stain.
  3. Next, use wet cleaning solutions to finish the stain removal. You can use one of the solutions described above but with a smaller portion (just a dab) of cleaning solution as you gently apply it. Instead of vinegar, you can also try rubbing alcohol with a cotton swab.
  4. Repeat all steps as needed, then air-dry.

Note: When you are working with liquids, never pour liquid directly onto the stain. Take a few small drops, and apply it carefully. You can do this using a dropper to drip one drop at a time, or you can use a cotton swab.


Start the same gentle, dry methods of loosening and brushing. Then use a non-gel, white toothpaste. Rub a small amount gently onto the stain with a toothbrush or cloth, then wipe off with a slightly dampened sponge.

If that doesn't work, you can move on to the same wet solutions described above.


There is a unique approach to leather that can be effective: get some molasses and spread it across the stain, then gently brush it in. Leave your shoes overnight to absorb the molasses. The next day, gently wash it off with water. Do not use dishwashing liquid soap or other soaps with alkaline. The alkaline interacts with the tannins of the leather and causes them to set.

Be Resourceful (and Patient)

A final tip for your shoe-cleaning quest: be resourceful. The methods above are suggestions and guidelines. Use what's around you. Don't have a toothbrush or a bucket? Well, maybe you have a large bowl from your kitchen and a cleaning brush from the miscellaneous supplies under your sink. Be patient and gentle. Rushing the job or being too careless won't be as effective, and it could damage your shoes.

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