Posted on by Honza NosekCategoriesTips

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.

How to clean your sneakers + BONUS VIDEO GUIDE

Before we get into cleaning specific materials, here’s a universal approach:

  1. Use a brush
    To remove the most visible dirt.
  1. Take out the laces and insoles
    These need to be cleaned separately.
  1. Get a smaller cloth,
    Soak it in water and remove the less visible dirt particles, including the ones in the lace holes.
  1. Use a fine cloth
    To dry the sneakers and give them a bit of shine.
  1. That’s it
    Leave the shoes to dry at room temperature. For better results, repeat step 3.

VIDEOGUIDE

In the next section, you’ll find verified and sneakerhead-preferred ways to clean specific types of sneakers.

How do you clean white shoes?

Ingredients: baking soda, white vinegar, water, a brush

  1. Mix the baking soda and white vinegar together
  2. Using your brush, apply the mixture to your sneakers in circular motions and remove the dirt
  3. Rinse your sneakers in water
  4. Leave the sneakers to dry out

How do you clean canvas shoes?

In this case, a mixture of water and washing powder is an efficient cleaning agent.

Ingredients: washing powder, water, a brush

  1. Combine the washing powder and water until it creates a thin mixture
  2. Using your brush, apply the mixture to your sneakers in circular motions and remove the dirt
  3. Rinse your sneakers in water
  4. Leave the sneakers to dry out

How do you clean leather shoes?

You probably already know that cleaning leather isn’t that simple, especially when it comes to sneakers. Because we want the leather to be like new, we should really take this step by step.

Ingredients: a brush, a small cloth, water, a shoe cleaning material, a waterproofing agent

  1.  Use the brush to remove the largest dirt particles from your shoe. Don’t apply too much pressure, you don’t want to damage them.
  2. Use a damp (and clean) cloth to remove the smaller dirt particles.
  3. Let the sneakers dry
  4. Apply a shoe cleaning material to your cloth and, using circular motions, clean the rest of the dirt from the shoe.
  5. Finally, waterproof your shoes to give them a degree of protection.

How do you clean suede shoes?

Suede can add some nice details to your sneakers, but if it gets dirty, it may appear unattractive. So how do you clean dirt off suede?

Ingredients: a soft/suede brush, a small cloth, water

  1. Use a soft brush, or a brush designed specifically for cleaning suede. Clean the whole surface and remove the dirt as possible.
  2. Use a damp cloth and clean the surface again.
  3. If you’re unable to remove the dirt, let your shoes dry and return to step 2. However, it might be a good idea to use a special cleaning material instead of water.
  4. Let the shoes dry again.
  5. For best results, waterproof your sneakers.

Can I put my sneakers in the washing machine?

  1. For sport sneakers and shoes made from artificial materials or nubuck, you can safely use a washing machine set to the shortest program and lowest temperature. 
  2. We advise you not to wash your shoes along with a towel, pillow or anything that might prevent them from jumping around the washing machine like a hamster after ingesting five milligrams of taurine.
  3. Add a recommended amount of washing powder (make sure it’s not the whitening one). After drying, your shoes should be in a good condition.

Despite the previous paragraph, we don’t exactly recommend using a washing machine to clean your sneakers, as it lowers the durability of the sneaker’s materials.

How do you clean your insoles?

Ingredients: water, soap, something with alcohol in it

Cleaning your insoles is a simple matter of using water and soap. However, the odour caused by bacteria can still remain. Which is why you shouldn’t be afraid to use an effective cleaning agent or, for example, vodka.

How do you clean your laces?

The easiest thing to do is take the laces out and throw them in the washing machine. However, if the laces are made of cotton, you’re risking them shrinking… In this case, you should wash them by hand in warm water. If necessary, using soap is also OK.

How to deal with unpleasant odours?

This tip will require a bit of dexterity. Clean sneakers are one thing, but that isn’t always enough. For this, you’ll require some alcohol.

  1. First off, put the wine away. You need clear alcohol, vodka, or something similar.
  2. Pour some alcohol into a spray bottle.
  3. Spray the inside of your sneakers and let them dry for a couple of minutes.
  4. The alcohol’s antibacterial properties have just eliminated everything stinky in your sneakers, so you can freely take them off with other people around.

What should I do if my shoes are still dirty after all this?

If you have sneakers you’ve worn for a year, it’ll be hard to restore them to a “as new” condition. But by repeating the steps above, you might get a bit closer to it. Just be careful not to wash away the coloring of the sneakers or to damage the materials. You can prevent this by simply being gentle with your sneakers.

What do I need for cleaning sneakers and shoes?

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.

Five rules for correctly cleaning sneakers:

  1. Be gentle. If you apply too much force, you might irreparably damage your sneakers.
  2. Let your sneakers dry out inside. No direct sunlight.
  3. Keep the washing machine as a last resort. If possible, keep cleaning your sneakers manually. 
  4. Don’t rush it. Don’t be afraid to repeat the steps and give the sneakers time to dry out in between. A perfect result won’t just appear out of nowhere.

Clean your shoes regularly. It’s not worth it to clean your shoes once a year – by cleaning them regularly, you prevent your sneakers from getting clogged with dirt.