How to Clean Checkered Vans and Keep Them Durable

Checkered Vans are one of the most popular unisex footwear these days. Not only that they look good, but Checkered Vans are also easy to combine with any outfit in your wardrobe. I believe you can find them in slip-on and lace-ups configurations, making them quite versatile. Now, if you are also a Checkered Vans owner like me, you might be interested in what I have to say about how to clean them properly!

I own several pairs of checkered Vans: the Classic Slip-on, Checker Flame, US Open Old Skool, and the Comfycush Era LX (which is my favorite). So, you can trust me when I say that I know what I am talking about!

And here, I shall share some indigenous methods on how to deep clean your Checkered Vans. I’ve tried these methods myself, and I can guarantee their effectiveness. However, before I get right to it, you might want to learn some interesting tidbits about Checkered Vans.

Things to Consider Before You Clean Your Checkered Vans

Like other shoes, checkered Vans also need good care to stay durable for longer. You don’t want your favorite chessboard-like shoes getting damaged due to maintenance neglect, do you? Hence, you might need to clean your shoes when they get dirty.

But remember, different shoes have different ways to clean and maintain their look, including checkered Vans.

When it comes to cleaning checkered Vans, I believe identifying the shoe material is the essential first step. After all, different types of materials require different cleaning methods. For example, I usually use a mild soap and water solution to clean the canvas on my Classic Checkerboard Slip-on Vans, while suede checkered Vans require a suede brush and eraser to remove dirt and stains.

It’s also important to note that the color of the checkered pattern can affect the cleaning process. White checkered Vans may require more frequent cleaning and a gentle touch to avoid discoloration or damage to the pattern.

By understanding the unique cleaning needs of checkered Vans and staying on top of regular maintenance, you can extend the lifespan of your beloved sneakers and keep them looking their best for years to come.

For a comprehensive guide on how to clean checkered Vans, check out my tips and trick below!

Vans Cleaning kit items and their functions

Before you start cleaning, you have to prepare the shoe-cleaning kit items. In addition, each item has different functions and purposes. I shall explain which tools and supplies you would need to properly clean your Checkered Vans!

1. ShoeCleaner

ShoeCleaner is a special soap for cleaning shoes. It’s made from particular ingredients that keep the shoes clean without damaging the color or pattern. I recommend that you can this type of specialized liquid cleaner if you can, especially if you own multiple rare shoes. However, I do believe that some mild soap solution can work too.

2. Apron

An apron functions as protective clothing, so your clothes won’t get dirty while cleaning shoes. Trust me; you will need this one! There will be a lot of splashes and squirts when you clean a pair of shoes.

3. Premium brush

how to clean checkered vans

Premium brushes are ideal for cleaning the upper part of your checkered Vans. They are compatible with various materials, especially suede. Soft animal hair is the primary material for the bristle, while the handle is from wood. In my case, I own multiple premium brushes because I collect a lot of shoes with diverse materials.

4. Medium brush

You’ll need a medium brush to scrub the dirt and dust off from the midsole. The shape of this brush is almost similar to the premium ones.

5. Standard brush

To clean the outsole, you have to use a standard brush. Synthetic materials for the bristles are ideal for scrubbing off the stubborn dirt from the outsole. Though, some experts recommend a horsehair brush because it won’t scratch your Vans, especially if it’s made out of leather.

6. Small brush or toothbrush

how to clean checkered vans

This brush is perfect for cleaning the inside part of the shoes. As we know, the inside part of the shoe is harder to reach because it’s narrow. You can replace the small brush with a toothbrush if you don’t have one. In my experience, it works just as well!

7. Microfiber cloth

how to clean checkered vans

This cloth is different from any ordinary cloth. This textile incorporates the fine split of super-fine synthetic yarns consisting of nylon and polyester, which has excellent absorbance. I highly recommend this item because drying your Checkered Vans properly is a crucial step.

8. Shoe tree

how to clean checkered vans

A shoe tree is a device shaped like a human’s foot. You can place it inside a shoe to maintain its shape and sturdiness, preventing your shoe from wrinkling and keeping the shoe durable. While I don’t think this tool is essential, it’d still be nice to have one. It’ll maximize your cleaning efficiency!

9. Basin or container

how to clean checkered vans

You’ll need a basin or container for the water mixed with the shoe cleaner. I highly recommend that you own a dedicated container for cleaning your checkered shoes. After all, there might be some residual chemical compounds from the cleaning solution.

10. Shoe perfume

Shoe perfume

Shoe perfume is the additional kit if you want to spray some refreshing fragrance on your footwear. It’s not necessary to use, but I think you should definitely get one. Shoes tend to get smelly quite quickly, so perfume can mitigate this problem.

Which cleaning kit to use on each part of the shoe?

You can’t just use one kit to clean a whole shoe because each different part of the shoe needs special kits and treatment. So, I shall explain briefly the parts of the shoe and cleaning kits required.

#1 Upper shoe

how to clean checkered vans

True to its name, this part of the shoe is on the upper side. Usually, it incorporates various different materials, from lightweight fabric to elegant leather. To clean the upper part of the shoe, I highly suggest that you use a premium brush or soft brush to prevent damage and maintain the material’s durability.

2# Midsole

how to clean checkered vans

The midsole is the lower part, specifically the side sole of the shoe. I recommend that you use a medium brush to clean this part. The midsole often gets dirty and scratched if the shoe, especially if you use the shoes for heavy activities. The medium brush will be capable of cleaning this midsole effectively.

#3 Outsole


This part is located at the very bottom of the shoe, thus often in contact with the ground, and becomes dirtier compared to other shoe parts. To clean the outsole, it’s better to use the sturdy, hard standard brush to remove the dirt that is often stuck inside the sole’s crevices.

#4 Insole


The insole is the inside part of the shoe and functions as cushioning that provides comfort to the foot. It might be easier to remove the insole before cleaning them because it’s rather hard to clean. Don’t remove the insole if it’s permanently glued because putting it back on would be tricky. It might even destroy the shoe’s inside. Brush the insole part gently with a premium brush and toothbrush.

How to Clean Checkered Vans: Step-by-step Process

This is how I usually clean my checkered Vans! Follow the steps carefully and put some effort into the details!

1. Prepare dirty shoes.

The first thing to do is get a pair of dirty checkered vans shoes to clean.

2. Prepare the shoe-cleaning kits

Next, prepare the shoe cleaning kits consisting of shoe cleaners, an apron, various types of brushes (premium, medium, standard, and small), microfiber cloth, two pieces of shoe trees for each, a basin filled with water, and shoe perfume.

3. Take shoe laces off

Now some Checkered Vans come in laced configurations. If so, before cleaning, take the laces off and soak them in the water and shoe cleaner solution. I believe this process will significantly help to make shoe cleaning easier, and the end result will be better.

4. Put a shoe tree on each shoe

Take the insole off and put a shoe tree inside to maintain the shoe’s structure and shape in the cleaning process. This is why I mention the shoe tree. Even though it might not be essential, it’ll help to make things smoother!

5. Dry clean the shoe

The next part is the dry cleaning process. Before cleaning the shoe with water, brush the upper shoe with a premium brush to remove the dirt and dust.

Rub the upper shoe gently to avoid material damage that can cause your shoe to look bad. In my experience, doing a dry brushing before the wet cleaning process will significantly improve the end result!

6. Clean the outsole and midsole

Use a standard brush to rub off the dirt from the outsole. To clean the midsole, you can use a medium brush. Scrub each part neatly, especially at the midsole, because that’s the part where dust and dirt accumulate.

I believe this part can be a bit hard to clean. Therefore, it takes patience and precision to clean the midsole. Use a microfiber cloth to wipe the dirt after the cleaning is done.

7. Clean the upper shoe

The upper shoe needs different treatments for cleaning. I can not stress enough the importance of a premium brush to clean this part. The special brush will not scratch and damage your checkered shoes!

After that, wipe the upper shoe with a microfiber cloth. Again, don’t use a standard brush to clean the upper shoe because the brush bristles are coarser and might scratch the material.

8. Clean the inside of the shoe

Use a small brush to clean the hard-to-reach inside parts of the shoe, then wipe the dirt with a microfiber cloth. You can also use a premium brush to clean the inside of the shoe, but don’t force it if the brush doesn’t fit into the narrow parts.

9. Detailing

Use a wet microfiber cloth to clean shoe details, such as on the eyelets or other small parts. Alternatively, you can use wet tissues to wipe off dirt and dust as well, although microfiber cloth is still the best option because it excellently absorbs water and dirt.

10. Drying process

After the shoes are clean, dry them by aerating them with a fan for around 1 to 2 hours. I don’t recommend drying the shoes under direct sunlight. Direct exposure to UV from the sun will damage the checkered pattern and the color!

11. Finishing  

When the shoes are dry, take the shoetree off and put the shoelaces back. Your shoes are now clean and ready to wear. Spray in some shoe perfume to give a nice and fresh fragrance.

Do’s and Don’ts 


  • Clean your shoes carefully, and don’t miss any dirt or particles.
  • Brush and rub gently if your shoes are made from sensitive materials.


  • Don’t rub and clean the upper shoes too hard because some shoes are made from sensitive materials that might be damaged if you clean them the wrong way.
  • Don’t dry your shoes under direct sunlight because it might damage and fade the shoes’ color.

Checkered Vans Shoecare to Keep Them Pristine

5. Shoe care tips to keep them durable

Don’t store your shoes in a damp or humid environment

A humid environment is an ideal condition for bacteria and fungus to grow, making your shoes smell bad and can cause damage. It’ll be bad for your feet hygiene, so keep your shoes in a dry environment.

Don’t store your wet shoes directly

Wet shoes are more susceptible to damage, such as smelly shoes, outsole falling off, or moldy upper shoes. It’s important to dry the shoes first before storing them in the shoe rack.

Put silica gel pouches while storing your shoes to absorb the humidity

Silica gel pouches are very useful for absorbing moisture and keeping things dry. Put one or two silica gel pouches on each shoe to minimize the amount of moisture inside the footwear. Believe me! By adding silica gel, your shoes will last longer and be more durable.

Don’t stack your shoes on top of each other

Putting your shoes on top of each other isn’t a good idea because of some reason. One, it might damage the upper part of the shoes. Two, the dirt from the sole might crumble down into the other shoes you put under and make them dirty. Arrange your shoes in a row to maintain their structure and avoid any dirt.

Use shoe boxes to store your shoes neatly

If your shoe rack is small and not wide enough to put all shoes lining up, try storing them inside the shoe boxes. This will maintain your shoes’ condition and save up many spaces.

Before putting the shoes inside the box, ensure that they’re dry and clean. And as I’ve said before, you should also put some silica gel pockets to absorb the moisture that might remind inside the box.

Wash your shoes once every month to remove the dirt easily

The longer you keep your shoes unwashed, the more dirt might accumulate and stick harder to the shoes, making them harder to remove. To avoid this, wash your shoes regularly, ideally once every month, so your shoes won’t be damaged because of the overwashing.

How to Restore Sun-Faded Canvas on Checkered Vans

Now if your Vans is aging, you will notice that the color will start to fade. No amount of cleaning can restore it, so here I shall share some tips on how to restore it!

1. Clean the shoes

Before you begin the restoration process, clean the shoes thoroughly to remove any dirt, grime, or stains. Follow the tutorial that I’ve explained above! Make sure that the pair is dry before you proceed to the next step.

2. Apply fabric paint

Once the shoes are completely dry, apply fabric paint to the faded areas. Choose a paint color that matches the original color of the shoes. I recommend that you use a paintbrush so you can be more precise.

3. Allow the paint to dry

Let the paint dry completely before applying a second coat. Follow the instructions on the paint container to determine how long the paint needs to dry.

4. Apply a second coat

If necessary, apply a second coat of paint to the faded areas to ensure that the color is even and consistent. Whenever I do this step, the end results always look better.

5. Allow the shoes to dry

After applying the paint, let the shoes dry completely for at least 24 hours. Do not wear the shoes or expose them to water or moisture during this time.

6. Protect the shoes

Once the shoes are dry, apply a water-resistant spray to protect them from future damage. This will help to prevent the color from fading again and keep the shoes looking new for longer.

And that’s all that you have to do to restore your old checkered Vans. It is easy to discard faded shoes, but continuously using them and restoring them is more sustainable. If you grow attached to your old checkered Vans, this trick will prolong its life span.

By the way, some people also recommend sharpie to restore the faded checkered pattern (it works if your Vans is the classic black-and-white checkerboard).


In conclusion, I hope this guide on how to clean checkered Vans has been helpful to you. Don’t let dirty shoes bring you down – with a little bit of effort and some simple cleaning supplies; you can keep your Vans looking fresh and new. Remember to always test any cleaning solution on a small, inconspicuous area first and to be gentle when scrubbing to avoid damaging the shoe’s material.

With these tips, you can keep your checkered Vans looking clean and stylish for all your future adventures. So go ahead, get out there, and rock your clean kicks with confidence!

Latest post:

Frequently Asked Question!

How to clean checkerboard Vans in the washing machine?

There are many steps to clean checkerboard Vans in the washing machine. First, clean the shoes of any dirt and mud.

Don’t forget to clean the outsole part as well. After that, rinse the shoes before putting them in laundry bags for shoes to protect them from any damage. Put them into the washing machine and use a gentle detergent that won’t damage the shoes’ pattern.

However, please note that I personally prefer manual deep cleaning over washing machines. Based on my observation, the turbine, and the washer can damage the shoes. It is also not as clean because the machine does not reach the insole and small crevices.

Is it safe to bleach the Vans checkerboard?

No, it’s not safe to bleach checkerboard Vans! I do not recommend using bleach on your Vans shoes because the liquid is too strong and will damage the pattern. Moreover, if the checkerboard pattern is a light cream, and the bleach might turn it white, which is bad!

Can you put vans in the washer?

Yes, you can put vans in the washer with shoe cleaner or gentle detergent so your shoes won’t be damaged much. You might want to put them in shoe laundry bags before putting them in the washer to protect the shoes from damage and avoid the washer’s malfunctions.

But again, I always try to do manual cleaning on my shoes whenever possible, and so should you!

How do you make old Vans look new?

To make your old Vans look new, wash them until clean and dry with a fan. You can also repaint the fading part of your shoe to look brand new. Follow my restoration tips to make your faded checkered Vans look perfect again.

What alternative cleaning solutions are suitable for checkered Vans shoes?

As I’ve mentioned earlier in this article, you need to identify the materials on your Vans shoes first. For your canvas shoes, you can try baking soda paste.

But, if your Vans use suede, don’t use baking soda to clean it because this ingredient is abrasive! You shouldn’t use toothpaste either because it’s also abrasive and may contain bleaching agent.

I personally always stick to mild soap or detergent as it is safe and gentle. It won’t damage the checkered pattern and the color of your Vans shoes.