When we wear a shoe, we move it upward and downward to make sure that there is no insect in this. We do it to remove the dust particles and small pebbles that can be inside it. For this movement what should we say?

To shake out the shoes

To dust off the shoes

  • Definitely not "to dust off", that implies removing dust from the outside of the shoe (with eg. a cloth or duster). "Shake out" seems fine, but I'm not sure how idiomatic it is. – Maciej Stachowski Aug 7 '20 at 11:55
  • shake out seems fine. Perhaps empty out is possible if the shoe was very full and is certainly best for a shoe filled with water. – mdewey Aug 7 '20 at 12:28
  • We turn the shoe upside down so any "foreign matter" falls out. – Lambie Aug 7 '20 at 14:55

"Shake out" idiomatically means to empty out by shaking. So, if you "shake out your shoes" it means you are shaking them to get unwanted things out of them, for example, if you got small stones or bits of gravel inside your shoe. It would not be idiomatic to say this about the process of getting dirt of the outer part of a shoe.

"Dust off" idiomatically means to brush the dust off something, typically the exterior. So dusting off shoes might involve brushing the outer part of the shoe.

These are therefore two different processes. You could say "dust off and shake out my shoes" if you want to indicate both, or just say "clean my shoes inside and out".


"Dust off" is not apt. It means to wipe a surface with a relatively dry object.

"Shake out" is fine to describe a vigorous action to remove things that are hard to remove like insects or wet sand.

"Pour out" is fine to describe an action that lets gravity remove things that gravity by itself will remove like water or dry sand.

"Empty out" is a general way to describe total removal by one or more means.

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