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Home » Stories, True and Otherwise

Nailed It: Shoe Vs. Poo

Submitted by on January 23, 2012 – 12:07 PM26 Comments

Okay, friends: I need your help. I just stepped dead in a post-snow, melty pile of dog crap. Fortunately, for once, I had on shoes with smooth soles — but 1) I usually don’t (see: the right-foot Doc Marten I nailed the same goddamn pile¬†with three days ago), and 2) why not turn my footwear misfortune into an editorial opportunity?

Give me your best, most reliable fixes for dog poop caught in shoe treads. I’ll write up the best ones — and quote you, so if you want a link back somewhere, please include that in your comment — for Shine Pets. Consider it a community service. DO IT FOR DIDDY.




  • Tylia says:

    The only thing I know of is a pair of plastic gloves, a toothbrush you are NEVER EVER gonna use again, some dishsoap and elbow grease.

  • ct says:

    Leave your boot outside in the freezing cold for a few hours. The next morning, whack it against the side of a brick building/something solid. Not the most elegant solution, but it will keep you from having to touch anything icky.

  • Erin in SLC says:

    I have had some (SOME) success with a wet disinfecting wipe and a toothpick (or similar tiny sharp thing). NB: this was the fix I used on my running shoes, which have needlessly intricate soles, but those soles are only rubber; I don’t know what harm the disinfecting goo might do to more sophisticated materials.

    So, my MacGuyver:

    1. Get two or three wet wipes. Do a cursory surface poo removal with the first wipe.

    2. Next, scrub the bottom of the shoe with subsequent wipes, as though the sole were a washboard and the wipe were your dirty old-timey unmentionables. Get it super wet with that nasty disinfecting solution; let the solution seep into the grooves. Get as much of the poo off in this way as you can.

    3. Now, dig out the trace poo inlay with the toothpick. Wipe extracted poo inlay with another wet wipe; repeat until poo inlay is gone.

    Not pretty, not efficient, not practical in a no-wet-wipe environment, but it’s the best I’ve found when the shoe manufacturer insists on putting micro-labyrinths in their tread.

  • ferretrick says:

    Similar to ct,

    1) Put shoe in freezer for two hours, in plastic bag if you prefer no poo around your food.

    2) Watch Clue during this two hours for the running dog poop gag.

    3) Remove shoe from freezer, knock against the nearest brick wall.

  • Nanc in Ashland says:

    What Tylia said! My mom has the cutest dog but she is a wandering pooper so even when you think the back yard is clean there’s the occasional wee poop the scooper missed. Check the Dollar store for big packages of toothbrushes and keep them under the sink!

  • Leigh says:

    Walking around for a long time in snow, sand, or bristly grass, scuffing liberally, will usually handle it unless your shoe treads are REALLY evil. Failing the availability of those surfaces, I’m with @Tylia on the old toothbrush and gloves approach. Proceed with caution unless you also have an apron, though (toothbrushes tend to create spray when used too aggressively!), and don’t forget to heavily disinfect the sink afterward.

    I always keep all my old toothbrushes under the sink for cleaning purposes. You never know when it will be exactly what you need–and you don’t have to feel bad about throwing it out afterward, since it’s already had two good lives.

    Oh, and one tip: DO NOT allow it to dry, thinking it will be easier to clean off as a solid. It’s not. It turns to hardened poo glue, and then you have to throw out your shoes.

  • Jessi In GA says:

    Unfortunately I have no advice, but I have to say that “shut up unauthorized sidewalk feces” may be the best tag ever. I’m still cracking up.

  • Kate says:

    I’ve had decent luck pulling it out with duct tape/play-doh/silly putty. Let it freeze, then cover with your choice of sticking agent (duct tape works the best, but might damage some shoes). Pull off the tape, -doh, or putty, and most of the poo will tag along with it.

  • Stephie says:

    The hottest water you can stand, with the most pressure you can find (or create with your thumb in the stream). This gets most of it; a quick scrub with an old toothbrush should loosen the rest. You’ll have a wet shoe for the rest of the night, but whatever.

    Sidenote: I always keep the cheap free toothbrushes from the dentist for scrubbing emergencies like this.

  • Kizz says:

    First I try to take care of it outside on the walk home. Scuff shoes on grass, the edge of a curb for big treads, sticks, or ideally on some mulch. Then rinse by shuffling through a shallow puddle or scuffing in some leftover cleanish snow.

    If you’re home already or it’s dry out or whatever and you have to take the fight inside I have 2 words for you: Toilet. Brush. Rinse in the tub, scrub with the brush, repeat. You do have the danger of splash back that Leigh mentions above. It’s not a perfect solution but you can partially save yourself by hiding behind the shower curtain. Keep the shoes close to the bottom of the tub and keep your brush strokes short.

  • poo says:

    1) Toss some cat litter in a pile on the ground.
    2) Do a shuffle dance on said pile.
    3) Repeat as necessary.

  • Jen S 1.0 says:

    Scrubba scrubba scrubba with that toothbrush, but in the bathtub, not the sink. You don’t have to worry so much about splashing and you can clean the tub afterwards, which, be honest, you’ve been putting off, haven’t you? I thought so.

  • Maria says:

    I have a befouled athletic shoe in the garage for this deeply embedded reason. I can give you my answer in two words:

    Shoe shopping.

  • Katharine says:

    Garden hose. In the garden. Bleah.

  • Elizabeth says:

    Unless they absolutely can’t be washed (but most shoes come out just fine) I just throw them in the washing machine.

  • audrey says:

    I think people above are providing genuine solutions. However, the first step is to stake out this spot with whatever means possible, round the clock shift. Friends will readily volunteer to pick up a shift for such a great cause. Use camera, whatever you can. Find this “dog owner” who is responsible for said repeat offender mess. Then public humiliation and use their shoe to scrape your shoe off. That’s the best way to rid shoe of a doggie dump. Or….like I do, tell your own 5 year old or if one is not readily available, tell all the neighborhood 5 year olds that dogs should never poop outside without a poop bag. 5 year olds love to be the ones to uphold rules for others to follow -notice I said for others to follow. They will ride the dog owner all the way down the street giving them the repetition of the rules that only 5 year olds can deliver so well.

  • Shannon says:

    Two labs, 75 and 65 pounds make lots of poo, and sometimes it ends up on the shoes! Best fix has been the garden hose with a high-pressure attachment, but be sure to stand well back or you’ll get hit by the rebound spray. The shoe tends to get soaked too, but will definitely be clean!

  • Kristin says:

    Note to self – do not ask to do laundry at Elizabeth’s house. :-)

    Who are we kidding? It’s Diddy! He’ll just buy a shoe factory…

  • katie says:

    We live in CT and have a bumper crop of winter dog poop every spring. We use sand and grass, first, while still outside. Also we have a doorstop brushy thingy. Sometimes the hose will come into play. Once everything is off that we can get off outside, it comes into the kitchen sink because that’s the one with the sprayer. From there, we might deploy one of the various disposable brushes (tooth or nail, typically), but I’ve been known to take Fantastik to the bottom of a rubber sole.

    I also keep at least one box of nitrile/latex gloves in the house at all times (useful and important for many tasks), so if it’s a terrible one, I put those on and get to it with toothpicks or other small implements.

    The worst was the poop on the rug that the child didn’t notice until he was standing in it, at which point he dropped his remote control into it and fled. The remote control to his favorite expensive robot arm. Dog poop in all kinds of plastic and electronic crevasses. That was no fun at all.

    The short version is: gloves. Brush. Heavy-duty cleaning spray right into the treads, and smaller implements when necessary.

  • Bev says:

    The tread on my athletic shoes isn’t particularly small. I’ve used the high pressure water hose method, the old toothbrush method, the toothpick method, and throwing it in the washer. Not totally happy with the results of any of these. I’m eager ( well, almost) to try the plastic bag and freezer method.

    If the soles of the shoes are real rubber, repeated freezing is going to degrade the rubber, but I doubt it will be all that noticeable.

  • meltina says:

    I’m with Jen: bathtub much better than sink. Also helps if you have good water pressure and a removable shower head to boot. Then you can just use the shower head to do a lot of pressure work that would take forever with just a toothbrush.

  • Natalie says:

    Yup, I keep all my old toothbrushes and cheap dentist give-aways for just this purpose, because my parent’s backyard is a poop-shoe stealth trap.

    (This despite my dad having trained my 2 year old niece to spot dog-bombs and point them out so he can shovel them. It’s their primary form of bonding.)

    I usually use gloves, a dish of soapy water, and a toothbrush wielded gently to get poo out of all the fiddly bits on my sneakers. Then I do a little scrubby dance on a clean patch of glass or an old bristly mat.

  • Cyntada says:

    Ugh. If the shoes can handle a water blast, take them to one of those self-serve car wash things and have at ’em with the high pressure line.

    Learned that tip from my boss when I cleaned fish tanks for a living and needed to get aquarium goo off the decorative coral pieces. That’s admittedly slightly less smelly, but natural coral offers infinite numbers of nooks and crannies and algae happily grows in each and every one of them. Works like a charm!

  • Kristin says:

    Neighbor’s gravel driveway. In the dark of night so they don’t catch me.

  • Sue says:

    Scrape off the worst of the gunk on a curb or with a stick. Then, I generally tromp around in a puddle while things are still… moist. The flexing the shoe’s sole gets while tromping in the puddle seems to help. That usually does it, and has the added benefit that all of this is done outside.

  • Rick carr says:

    Read the short great children’s book. What do you do when you get poo on your shoe? It’s perfect for this situation!! You’ll laugh!!

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