How to Clean Lace Up Sneakers: Expert Tips for the Best Results

You need to ensure that you have the proper knowledge of how to clean lace-up sneakers, which includes, but is not limited to, the ways, items needed, and the frequency of cleaning the lace-up sneakers.

And so, let’s find out how to clean lace-up sneakers effectively in order to keep your footwear fresh and stylish all the time!

I. How Often Should You Clean Your Lace-Up Sneakers?

First thing first, you need to know the ideal frequency of cleaning your sneakers. Your cleaning schedule really depends on how often you wear the sneakers. Ideally, it is advised that you clean them every two weeks or whenever they start to look like they need immediate cleaning.

However, regular maintenance is crucial as cleaning your sneakers too often can affect their original shape and colors. In the end, regular maintenance can also help to reduce the cleaning time.

II. Items Needed to Keep Your Lace-Up Sneakers Clean

how to clean lace up sneakers

Cleaning Tools

To keep your lace-up sneakers clean, you can use household items that you already have at home. Although in some cases, specialized tools are also needed. But in most cases, you can use the items you have at home, such as the following:

Cleaning Tool ImageCleaning ToolFunction
ToothbrushBrush off sticky particles in delicate parts of the sneakers.
how to clean sneakersTowelClean light dirts that can easily cleaned with a soft wipe.
Magic EraserClean dirt on rubber soles and stains on surfaces.
BrushDeliver final blow and kill off bacteria or dirt particles.

In regards to the specialized tools like the shoe brush or suede brush, do bear in mind that those tools can’t be used for other things except cleaning your sneakers.

Cleaning Materials and “Formula”

Now that you know the basic tools, it’s now time to find out the cleaners and formulas needed to get rid of the dirt. Depending on the “dirtiness level” of your lace-up sneakers, I recommend that you use some extra formulas, that you can find at home, below:

Cleaner How It Works
Dish Soap– Mix a few drops of dish soap into a cup of warm water
– Dip a cloth or soft brush into the soapy water and scrub the dirt
– Rinse with water
Baking Soda– Mix 1 table spoon of baking soda with 1/2 table spoon of warm water
– Scrub the dirt with the formula using a toothbrush
– Let it dry for 30 minutes and rinse with clean water
Toothpaste – Use cleaning pad to scrub the dirt with a toothpaste
– Let it dry into the sneakers and use soap and water to clean it
White Vinegar– Mix 1 table spoon of vinegar, baking soda and warm water
– Scrub and cover the shoes with the formula using a toothbrush
– Place them outside in bright sunlight for 3-4 hours
– Clap the shoes together to knock the dried paste free
– Use dry scrub to remove any remaining paste

I’d like to note that all of the ingredients above aren’t required to be used simultaneously. For example, you can use a mixture of baking soda and vinegar if you don’t have the others!

III. Cleaning Your Lace-Up Sneakers; Machine Wash or Hand Wash?

There are two methods to consider when it’s time to clean your lace-up sneakers; some of you prefer machine wash because it’s faster, while some prefer hand-wash to keep the sneakers in shape.

In my opinion, each method has their own pros and cons. Also, it depends on what type of sneakers you have, including the fabrics, too. Now, let’s take a look at the details of the two methods that I have managed to gathered below:

1. Machine Wash Lace-Up Sneakers

Sometimes I use the laundry machine to wash my favorite items, including my sneakers. It can even make them look as good as it once was when you first purchased them, provided that you follow these steps:

  • Make sure to separate the laces from your shoes as the threads can easily be messy enough inside the washing machine. What you want to do is store them inside a pouch or bag that is zip-tight. 
  • Do some pre-cleaning the day before! Yes, machine washing your shoes doesn’t mean that you won’t have to handle them manually.
  • You need to clean some parts with brushes and deodorize the sneakers with baking soda the night before. Then, clean off the baking soda before proceeding to the next step.
  • Insert the lace-up sneakers inside a safe and secure pouch or bag. This step will help protect the shoes from damaging other outfits or apparel inside the machine. Don’t forget to use liquid detergent!
  • Dry the shoes afterward. If I want to dry quickly, I sometimes use an electric dryer to speed up the process. Once done, store them in a safe and clean place. 

See, it’s not so hard to clean lace-up sneakers with a laundry machine! But there’s just one thing: not all sneakers are up to the task! If you look up at the label (or do some online research), you’ll notice that incompatible sneakers will warn you that they are safe for “hand-washing only”.

Nevertheless, I would not dare wash my expensive rare sneaker using a washing machine. So, next, I am going to tell you about ways of cleaning lace-up sneakers manually! There is no shortcut when it comes to maintaining your precious collection.

2. Hand Wash Lace-Up Sneakers

Based on my past experiences, not all sneakers are made to withstand the might of machine washing.

So, I shall help you master the art of hand-washing your lace-up sneakers. It might be challenging for first-timers. In fact, it took me several tries to become better at cleaning. But it sure is fun as heck. 

  • Prepare all the necessary ingredients, supplies, and tools needed as mentioned earlier (you can bookmark my website in case you forgot!).
  • Start creating a special mixture for the supplies with warm water.
  • Remove and wash the laces separately.
  • Start off by slowly brushing your shoes using a shoe brush. You can scrub dirt from the soles all the way to the upper part of the lace-up sneaker. 
  • Apply your special formula to clean the sneakers using a brush or a soft cloth.
  • Don’t forget to brush off the sneaker holes used to contain the laces together. You can wash the inner part of the shoes with warm water and mild laundry detergent. 
  • Absorb the water and formula with a clean sponge. Make sure that you suck them up well. Then, you can just leave them out to dry naturally by airing them out.
  • I personally prefer this method because the heat from the blow dry or direct sun can be damaging. Then, store them in your preferred place!

I know that cleaning lace-up sneakers thoroughly may cost you time and money. But if you truly love your items, then I think it is worth it. It won’t feel difficult at all!

Despite going through all the steps above, different circumstances still require different approaches. Very dirty sneakers really need to have special care and attention. But for a mint shoe that catches some dust, rubbing it with a soft cloth with hot water might be enough!

IV. Conclusion

I believe that learning how to clean lace-up sneakers is an integral part of becoming a collector. It allows us to keep our shoes in mint condition. I also recommend that you do the clean-up regularly, even if you do not wear your sneakers, because the lace can accumulate dust quickly.

Based on my experience, you do not always need expensive tools and cleaning agents; even household items like toothbrushes can be used to clean them!


1. What Household Items Can You Use to Clean Lace-Up Sneakers?

There are lots of household items that can be used to clean up the season. Common items like a toothbrush, liquid detergent, and white vinegar are useful for cleaning your lace-up sneakers.

Despite recommendations to use professional items like a shoe brush, you can still return your sneakers to their glory days with household items. Although, if you plan to get expensive collectible sneakers, then I think investing in specialized tools is still the best course of action.

2. What is the Best Homemade Shoe Cleaner for Lace Up Sneakers?

The best homemade cleaner for lace-up sneakers will be a simple formula that you can come up with, such as a mixture of baking soda and white vinegar. After making this cool formula, dip the toothbrush inside the mixture and start scrubbing. 

3. Is Baking Soda Good To Clean Lace-Up Sneakers?

Yes, I recommend baking soda as an alternative shoe cleaner. It is as effective as store-bought shoe cleaner and will help you remove stains from your lace-up sneakers effectively. Though, do not use baking soda on its own.

I usually mix it with white vinegar to create a nice formula that can wipe off dirt and dust. After several tests that I’ve performed over the years, I find that the mixture is quite effective. You should try it too!

4. How to clean lace-up sneakers with baking soda?

There are six easy steps on how to clean your lace-up sneakers with baking soda.

  • Start by removing the shoelaces and brushing off any loose dirt and debris.
  • Then, mix a tablespoon of baking soda with a small amount of water to form a paste.
  • Use a soft-bristled brush to apply the paste to the sneakers, focusing on any particularly dirty or stained areas.
  • Let the paste sit for about 10 minutes before wiping it off with a damp cloth.
  • Finally, rinse the sneakers with clean water and allow them to air dry before putting the lace back.
  • Baking soda is a natural deodorizer and cleaner, making it a great option for cleaning and refreshing your favorite pair of sneakers.

5. How to Clean White Lace-Up Sneakers with Toothpaste?

You can use non-gel toothpaste to clean your lace-up sneakers. I know that removing a persistent stain on your white lace-up sneakers can be annoying. It is not easy to get them off. However, recently, I have found that toothpaste can do the job quite effectively. I believe you can use any brand, but choose the non-gel version for a better result.

6. Is It Better to Wash Lace-Up Sneakers by Hand?

In some cases, I think it is better to wash lace-up sneakers by hand. After all, some shoes can’t stand the strong current of the laundry machines. But if they’re compatible with machine wash and are not dirty enough, then it’s better and easier to wash lace-up sneakers with a machine. Regardless, I won’t use automatic machines on rare sneakers.

7. How to Clean Lace-up Sneakers Without Washing?

Cleaning your lace-up sneakers without washing is very possible. You do not need to wash your sneakers if you do not plan to wear them regularly! I think it is unnecessary, and in fact, washing perfectly mint collector shoes might be a bad idea. Yet, it is still possible to clean them even without washing them.

You can lightly rub the shoes’ surface with just warm water. For some people, lemon juice and baking soda could work, too, though I think it is a bit overkill, especially if the shoes are not too dirty. I also approve of using a vacuum cleaner to suck the dust out of your shoe collection. But be careful with the laces and the inner pad. It is safer to take them off first.

8. What Precautions Should be Take when Cleaning Leather Lace-Up Sneakers?

One thing to remember, your favorite leather lace-up sneakers should never go in the washer, because water can damage them. Only hand-wash your leather lace-up sneakers.

You can use gentle scrub or toothbrush to dry brush any dirt or debris off the shoe surface. You can use warm water and special formula for certain cases, but remember to wipe of the formula and dry the shoe surface immediately once the dirt is off. Then, apply conditioner to protect the shoes from stains and to add shine, and finish the process by letting them dry in the open air, but don’t put them in the sun.