Taking a brand-new pair of sneakers out of their box and putting them on for the first time is a great feeling. Suddenly, saying that the world is at your feet suddenly starts to make sense. Which makes it all the more painful when you see that your once-flawless sneakers slowly start getting dirtier and dirtier. And this is when you start thinking to yourself, how do I clean them up?
To fix this, there are several ways you can clean your dirty sneakers. We’ve put together 12 fool-proof ways that you can make them almost brand new again. The following tips will tell you how to restore suede, leather, canvas, white and any other kinds of sneakers. Let’s get started.
Before we get into cleaning specific materials, here’s a universal approach:
Leave the shoes to dry at room temperature. For better results, repeat step 3.
One of the ways you can prevent getting your shoes dirty is protection from the brand CREP Protect. Their sprays create an invisible membrane on your sneaker, which prevents them getting dirty for an amount of time.
The same goes for products from Jason Markk, which are considered to be among the best in the world at keeping shoes clean. Their wet wipes and synthetic sneaker-cleaning brushes work better than garlic soup on a hangover.
If your sneakers still were to get dirty, don’t worry, we have a complete sneaker-cleaning set available. For enthusiastic sneakerheads, cleaning your sneakers could even be fun.
Take the laces out before cleaning. Stick them in a bowl of warm to hot water with a couple of capsules of solutions while you clean the shoe, which should take 20 to 30 minutes. Take them out, give them a scrub with your hands, then run them through a microfiber cloth. If there are more stubborn laces, put solution on the microfiber cloth and then use the edge of your nail.
With suede, there are a few things you need to take into account. First off, I would see what color’s the suede. If it’s a deep color, like navy or burgundy, you have the risk of a color bleed. Choose your product, warm water, a soft brush. The best technique is to do as dry of a clean as possible. Before using water on the shoe, scrub the shoe with a dry brush. There are also rubber erasers you can use as well. If you do need to do a wet wash, do it as dry as possible.
Once you have your solution and water on the brush, place it against your microfiber cloth and take as much of that moisture out as possible. Then go into the suede and take the stains or dirt out. Be very careful if there’s a navy panel next to a lighter panel, as the colors will bleed. The drying process with suede is more important than the actual washing. After you’ve finished your clean, get as much moisture out of the suede with a microfiber. Pat the suede and twist the cloth on it, so it puffs up the nap on the suede. It might take three hours for the shoe to dry, but I’ll go back every half hour and do that technique on the shoe. If you just leave it and don’t babysit it, that’s when you can get problems. If the suede gets hard, you can work it with a series of brushes.
This is a temporary measure. We can take it out with shoe trees, but, naturally, as you bend your foot again, it’s going to come back unless you use one of those plastic toe crease devices. I’ve never used them. You should expect creases; shoes can’t stay brand new forever.
Pick what you can out yourself with tweezers first]. [Use] hot, hot water, almost to the point where it’s boiling, [and rub it in with] microfiber cloth. [The gum] softens over time. Rubber erasers [can] grab the glue or sticky residue until it’s a ball and you can pick it off. It takes quite a long time.
There are two types. If you’re after a quick fix, an aerosol protector will do the job. It will be done in 10-20 minutes. For an all-leather shoe, you can use a wax. The best performing is a super hydrophobic nano protector. It creates a layer of breathable glass around the shoe. Coat the entire shoe. You work it in with a brush. Let it sit for 10 minutes, then you do a second layer on the shoe. Then it takes 24 hours for it to cure. There’s more work, but in terms of performance, it’s night and day.
It’s possible to get it off a shoe. You’re going to be exposed to pretty harsh chemicals—it’s a peroxide bleach. You’ll need good gloves and access to a ventilated space. You’ll need either a huge lamp or access to a very sunny climate, because that’s where the activation of the peroxide happens. You’ll also need to wrap the shoe up in a see-through plastic.
Five rules for correctly cleaning sneakers: