Prevent and Remove Shoe Scuffs

Prevent and Remove Shoe Scuffs

When you want to look your best, but your nice shoes have just gotten scuffed up, what should you do? Shoes get scuffed up when they bump and scrape against surfaces. The marks left over can distract from the aesthetic appeal of your shoes.

To prevent scuffing, shoes need to be conditioned, free from obstacles that scrape and things that create scuffs. When walking, shoe owners need awareness of their surroundings. Various products can help prevent and remove scuffs.

I tend to get distracted when walking, and my feet will bump into various items, sometimes creating a scuff on my shoe. By taking care when I walk, I keep my shoes looking great for longer periods. I use shoe polish and conditioner to help restore my shoes and prevent marks from occurring.

Why We Get Scuffs?

As we walk, we bump and scrape into things with our shoes, and sometimes things bump and scrape into our shoes. A scuff can be a discoloration of your shoe caused by a fraction against the rubber, vinyl, leather, and plastic parts of your shoes. These materials tend to scuff more often than others. 

Scuff marks can also be left when the object that our shoe came in contact with rubs off on the shoe, like when a shoe leaves a bit of rubber on the floor. These bits of material left on the shoe can usually be cleaned off, just like discoloration scuff marks can.

We can also get scuff marks that are like a scratch when a scarper object digs into the shoe surface. These marks may leave a lasting mark on the shoe, but repairs can be made and others can be fixed.

When I’ve gotten scuff marks on my shoes it tends to happen in a crowded situation, where I find it difficult to maneuver without bumping into something. Other times, I’m just not paying attention or just not worried about scuff occurring if my shoes are older.

If we make a conscious effort to keep our shoes scuff-free, we will usually keep them much nicer looking into the future.  

How to Prevent Scuffs?

Some shoes require weekly care to ensure they stay scuff-free. For leather and vinyl shoes, using a conditioner will make ensure the shoes stay moisturized, so when a scuff does happen, it will leave less of a mark or none at all.

Shoes that are pliable and have some protection can better guard against friction, and combat the effects of objects leaving a mark or rubbing material off on the shoe. Like wearing a glove, your shoes are more protected so marks left by various kinds of scuffs are easier to remove.

Another method of preventing scuff marks is by wearing shoes that you care about. You’ll be more conscious of how and where you walk with your shoes. That added bit of awareness can help you avoid obstacles and take your steps more carefully.

One advantage of using this method is you may feel more confident as you make your way from point A to point B. As you place your feet carefully, you may start to feel calm confidence in your stride. 

 Planning which shoes you wear can also help you avoid scuffs. When I was a teacher, I expected my shoes to get scuffed and would wear shoes that were easier to clean a remove scuff. For me, it was my leather shoes.

These shoes responded well to conditioning and scuffs and marks would come off fairly well regardless of scuffing and marks left.  

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What Should I do When I Get a Scuff?

These shoes responded well to conditioning, and scuffs and marks would come off fairly well regardless of scuffing and marks left. Having a couple of products available to help when scuffs happen can help you out when you are in a bind.

Products and Methods to Try

Sometimes, a scuff will just be wiped off with a little water and a rag or paper towel. I would try that one scuff where another material rubbed off on the shoe. 

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Using something like a magic eraser can work on more stubborn marks. It acts like fine sandpaper to remove marks without damage to your shoe. This also works with plastic and rubber shoe parts most of the time. 

The next thing I would try, especially if my shoes were looking dry, is conditioner. It works great on leather and helps your shoes look brand new. 

You might want to try petroleum jelly or mineral oil on patent leather. Water and a rag might work as well.

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If it’s synthetic leather, then using a rag with soap and a bit of water can be effective. Try baby oil to help condition and possibly remove some scuff. 

For suede and nubuck, you can use a brush and a white eraser (AD) to remove most scuff marks.

When you have canvas and fabric shoes, the scuff marks are usually located on the rubber sidewalls and toe tips of the shoe.

A magic eraser is a good tool or an old toothbrush with soap and water can help scrub away some marks. You can also try rubbing alcohol if the mark seems to be a stain.

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If these fail, see if baking soda and water with your toothbrush or cleaning scrubber works. If all else fails try buying a shoe cleaning product.

Another method to deal with scuffs is to cover them up. At most, scuffs will likely be light scratches that can be covered easily with a shoe polish or scuff cover.

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These methods are quick and easy; just remember to place your shoes on a rag towel or a couple of pieces of newspaper to prevent staining anything underneath.​

I have done this with my dress shoes for years with great results. If you don’t use your shoes every day, this may be all you need for a long time.

If you’re unsure about what else to do to clean your shoe try looking at this shoe care article (article) to help you remove stains from your shoes. Shoes can get marked by many types of materials and having the right tool can help remove those stubborn scuff.

Preventing Future Scuffs

While removing scuffs can help your shoes look nice again, scuffs will likely happen again. The best protection from scuffs in the future is conditioning and caring for your shoes.

Take time to place your shoe in a special area (article) where they can be free from getting dropped or bumped. A shoe container or rack is helpful for both organizing and helping shoes look their best. 

Taking your shoes off can create scuffs as well. Try using your hands, a shoehorn, or a boot puller to pull your shoes off so they don’t scratch. Using your other shoe to take off your shoe can cause issues over time.

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Shoe care at regular intervals will help you place a bit more mindfulness of your shoe’s condition. Scheduling a weekly to month time for taking care of your shoes will go a long way in helping them look their best, last longer, and give you more awareness of what’s happening as you walk around each day.

Repairing Severe Scuffs

Once in a while, a rip can occur in your shoe material. Whether it is leather or artificial leather, there may be a way to repair the damage so it looks much better. 

Try using a vinyl and leather repair kit to help repair any damage after getting a scuff. Some effort will be needed to repair the damage so it looks nice, but it is possible.

Here’s another option. This video demonstrates how to repair leather dress shoes with some sandpaper and paint. 

If your shoes are expensive, then it’s worth a look at the different options of how you can fix them yourself. Hopefully, you’ll find a good solution for your shoes.


As you take care of your shoe and use products and or methods to deal with scuffs that occur, you’ll be glad to see your shoes looking nice again so soon. As you schedule a time to care for your shoes, you will be more likely to focus on keeping them looking their best.

When you find a solution that works for you, your shoes will stay looking great for a long time. Best of luck with your shoes and finding the right method for scuff removal. 

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I enjoy many types of outdoor activities including running, hiking, and walking. I was a former elementary school teacher for 17 years and now enjoy writing and sharing my love of the outdoors.

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