Cleaning Shoes With Sticky Bottoms

Ridding shoes of an unknown, sticky substance stuck to the bottom requires a bit of an adventurer's can-do spirit – and a determination to try multiple remedies until the pesky substance is removed. Fortunately, most of these methods can be accomplished with ordinary household products. So whether it's glue, gum or varnish, say good riddance to that sticky substance in no time.

Woman standing in high heels
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It could be gum and it could be glue, but sticky shoe bottoms are pesky.

Dirty Trick

Step 1

Sprinkle some dirt or sand onto the sticky substance.

Step 2

Rub the dirt or sand onto the bottom of the shoe with a craft stick, gently pushing the sand or dirt into any grooves on the shoe bottom.

Step 3

Add more dirt or sand and continue rubbing with the stick until the sticky substance eventually wears away. Depending on the substance, it may come off in pieces, so continue to add the dirt or sand and scrape until the substance is gone.

Oily Wonder

Step 4

Apply a generous amount of WD-40, peanut butter, baby oil or Goo Gone to the sticky substance with a rag.

Step 5

Let the oily substance absorb the sticky substance for 10 minutes.

Woman looking in freezer
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The freezer solidifies substances (including candle wax) and makes them easier to dislodge.

Step 6

Scrape off the sticky substance with the rag. You may have to repeat the process again to completely remove the sticky substance.

Shoe Bag

Step 7

Place the sticky shoe in a plastic bag.

Step 8

Wrap the shoe loosely, being sure to press the sticky bottom against the plastic.

Step 9

Put the bag in the freezer for two hours.

Step 10

Unwrap the shoe. In doing so, the sticky substance should stick to the plastic bag but peel away from the shoe.


Step 11

Soften the sticky substance by rubbing it with rag soaked with warm water and dish soap.

Step 12

Apply some naphtha (lighter fluid) to another rag and rub it into the sticky bottom of the shoe to loosen and remove the substance.

Woman with high heels
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You'll be back in action after removing the sticky substance from your shoe bottom.

Step 13

Wipe the bottom of the shoe again with the soapy rag to remove traces of the lighter fluid.