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

how to clean lace up sneakers

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

As a person with an extended experience in the shoe industry, who also loves to wear sneakers, I have managed to master all about shoe cleaning and sneakers cleaning matters. I have also tried several ways on how to clean sneakers properly and what to clean shoes with. After so many trials and errors, I finally found the best way to clean shoes, including the best methods on how to make my lace up sneakers clean and look new again.

I believe many of you are struggling to find the best way to clean sneakers as well. Cleaning shoes can be tricky, and therefore, I am happy to share my knowledge with you about how to have clean shoes. 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 sneakers. Your cleaning schedule really depends on how often you wear the sneakers. I strongly suggest 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 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 need to know how to clean shoes at home, and I will share my experience with you from A to Z. You can use many household items, since most items can be the best shoe cleaning solutions. Although in some cases, specialized tools are also needed. But in general, 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 for me to assist you in finding out about what to use to clean shoes. Depending on the “dirtiness level” of your lace-up sneakers, I recommend that you use some extra formulas, which you can easily find at home, as 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. Lace-Up Sneakers Guide; Cleaning Methods for Each Material

Sneakers come in various models, types and materials, and I can’t decide which one is better that others because each one designed for different purposes. But in terms of the best methods on how to clean lace-up sneakers, you can trust me as the expert on this, and based on my experience in the sneakers and shoes industry, I know for sure that each material requires different cleaning methods.

I have done an extensive research on the best methods on how to clean sneakers made of different materials. So, you can rely on me on this. For your suede, rubber, leather, nubuck, gore-tex, or knit sneakers, check out below my step-step-step guide on how to clean them for best results.

1. How to Clean Suede Lace-Up Sneakers

Suede lace-up sneakers have become one of the most favorite type of sneakers. Not only because the designs are mostly up-to-date, but also because they are so comfortable to wear as well. Here is my most reliable method on how to keep suede lace-up sneakers clean.

  • Remove the laces and use a suede brush to remove any excess dirt and grit from the surface of the shoe. Make sure you brush with the same direction as the suede naturally sits.
  • Next, grab a rubber cleaner or magic eraser to remove some remaining marks on the shoe. When it comes to rubber or eraser, don’t force on your suede sneakers, because if you go too hard, it can damage the shoe.
  • If some stubborn stains still remain, then you can try to use white vinegar or rubbing alcohol to be the solution. Grab a flannel or microfiber cloth and dip the corner of the cloth into a bowl of vinegar or rubbing alcohol, and dab it against the stains.
  • Once all dirt and stains are completely removed from your suede sneakers, you can finish the cleaning process using a suede protector.

I would say that the last step is the most important step because a suede protector will work as a protector for your sneakers. It can prevent the shoes from getting too much dirt, thus make them look at their best a lot longer that expected.

2. How to Clean Rubber Lace-Up Sneakers

Rubber is a tough material that is easy to clean. As for rubber lace-up sneakers, you can clean them as long as you know the right methods on how to do it. Here are my secret tips on on how to clean rubber shoes.

  • Mix baking soda with a table spoon or two of laundry detergent to create a thick cleaning paste.
  • Use a gentle brush or toothbrush in the mixture and scrub the stained area on your rubber sneakers until all the stains are gone.
  • Use a clean micro fiber cloth to wipe away the remaining dirt. If some stains still remain, repeat the process until there is no stains left.
  • Rinse with water to clean all the remaining mixture and dirt from the shoes.

And basically you’re done! However, remember to always allow the shoes to air dry completely before wearing them again.

3. How to Clean Patent Leather Lace-Up Sneakers

Leather is a delicate material, therefore make sure you clean your dear leather sneakers using gentle agents. My reliable source shared that the use of mild soap is highly recommended to clean leather sneakers, and if needed, you can also use baking soda, but only to remove stubborn stains on the shoes. Here are the cleaning steps for your reference:

  • Remove the laces and use a damp micro fiber cloth to wipe down the entire shoes, and wait for about 15 minutes before you continue with the next step.
  • Mix a mild soap with into a bowl of water and dip a clean cloth into the soapy solution, and wipe the sneakers in a gentle, circular motion.
  • Wipe away any soapy residue with a clean cloth dipped in plain water.
  • Allow the shoes to air-dry away from direct sunlight.

However, my personal expert advice for you is to immediately clean your leather lace-up sneakers after wearing. It is a simple step to keep your leather sneakers stay in their prime condition.

4. How to Clean Nubuck Lace-Up Sneakers

Just like suede sneakers, nubuck sneakers have also become one of the most preferred type of sneakers for many sneaker heads. They are perfect for any occasion, and you can keep your nubuck sneakers for years as long as you know how to clean them correctly.

  • Use a nubuck or suede sponge and lightly brush over the surface of your sneakers. Remember to use the sponge in dry condition because wet sponges can risk of damaging the shoes.
  • Next, prepare a special foaming cleaner for nubuck shoes to remove stains. For this step, you can also use a rubber cleaner or magic eraser.
  • You can also use rubber brushes on your nubuck sneakers. However, be careful when using it on oiled nubuck, because the spines on the brush can leave marks on the shoe’s surface.
  • After removing the stains on your sneakers, you can try to use a nubuck liquid renovator to refresh and rejuvenate the shoes.

Do note that the liquid renovator does not clean the shoes, therefore it is used as the final touch after cleaning. It works by refreshing the color of the shows, while rejuvenating the appearance of the shoes.

5. How to Clean Knit Gore-Tex Lace-Up Sneakers

Being the most preferred sneakers for adventurers, you might think that cleaning them requires extra efforts. Well, if you ask me, as an expert in heavy duty shoes, I can tell you that taking good care of your Gore-tex sneakers is actually very easy, and below I will show you my tips on how to do it properly.

  • Remove the laces and shake out dirt like sands or gravel from inside the shoes. If possible I suggest that you remove and shake out the foot bed or insole, too.
  • Brush off loose dirt using a dry sponge or brush, and then mix a small amount of liquid detergent with a bowl of lukewarm water.
  • Dip a medium brush into the mixture and brush the entire area of the shoes to remove dirt and stains from the shoes.
  • Once the stains are all gone, allow the shoes to dry naturally at moderate temperature, and avoid direct sunlight.
  • After the sneakers completely dry, put the clean laces and insole back, and apply a durable water repellent as a protector of the shoes.

Based on my knowledge about caring for Gore-tex shoes, it is best to use water-based restorative, which is available as a pump-spray. Avoid using waterproofing waxes or greases, because such agents can affect your sneakers’ breathability.

6. How to Clean Knit Lace-Up Sneakers

Compared to all sneakers types and materials, knit lace-up sneakers are one of the easiest one to clean. Moreover, you can leave the cleaning job to your washing machine, too! Here’s how to do it.

  • Prepare the cleaning kit that includes a bristled brush, laundry detergent and water.
  • Mix a tablespoon of powder detergent to create a cleaning mixture.
  • Remove the laces and insole, and then brush the surface of the shoe using a bristled brush that has been dipped into the cleaning mixture. This step needs to be done to hand wash the stubborn stains and dirt from the shoes, or to clean specific areas that are hard to reach by the washing machine.
  • Place the sneakers into a mesh wash bag, and it’s time to machine wash them!
  • Once they are done, check is the shoes look good, and then allow them to air-dry completely.

Once the sneakers are dry, put the laces and insoles back, and I can guarantee you will have them clean fresh, ready for wearing again.

III. 7 Materials and Methods for Cleaning Lace-Up Sneakers

There are several 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. However, based on my expertise and experience, I discovered that both methods can be used for different kinds of sneakers. Plus, there are also several most recommended materials to clean them.

Each method has their own pros and cons. Also, it depends on what type of sneakers you have, including the fabrics, too. Trust me, I have done a lot of research about this subject, and I am confident enough to share what I know with you. Now, let’s take a look at the details of the methods that I have managed to gathered below:

1. Machine Wash Lace-Up Sneakers

Sometimes I use the laundry machine to wash my knit or mesh sneakers. It can 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, how do you clean shoes, especially sneakers, that cannot be machine washed?

So, I shall help you master the art of hand-washing your lace-up sneakers. Also, if you want to know how to deep clean shoes, hand wash is definitely the answer. 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!

3. Clean Lace-Up Sneakers using Dishwashing Liquid

Dishwashing liquid or dish soap is also another wonderful household item that cleans everything, including sneakers. I was able to prove that a mixture of water and a few drops of dish soap will create a soapy liquid to make a great shoe cleaning solution.

You can dip a toothbrush or a soft brush into the mixture and brush your dirty sneakers to remove the stains and dirt. With so many experience in shoe cleaning stuff, dishwashing liquid is still one of my favorite DIY solution that I use to clean my sneakers, and other stuff, too!

4. Clean Lace-Up Sneakers using Laundry Detergent

Similar to my favorite DIY shoe cleaner solution, which is a dish soap, I found that laundry detergent is also a great shoe cleaner agent. You can simply create a mixture of a small amount of laundry detergent with water, and use a soft brush to remove stains and dirts from your shoes.

Also, if you can use a laundry detergent when you wash your knit lace-up sneakers in a washing machine, too.

5. Clean Lace-Up Sneakers using Magic Eraser

Magic eraser is a cleaner that works for many stuff, including shoes as well. I believe that it is the reason why it is called ‘magic’ after all. To clean your sneakers using this wonderful tool, first you need to get it wet and simply rub it on any stains or scuffs on your shoes.

I highly recommend you to use a magic eraser to quickly remove stains on your white sneakers. It’s quick, effective, and very easy to do.

6. Clean Lace-Up Sneakers using Hydrogen Peroxide

Hydrogen peroxide is also a great cleaner not only to remove stains and brightens whites, but it is also great to disinfects your lace-up sneakers from harmful bacteria, fungi, all sorts of viruses.

You can create a paste by mixing one part of hydrogen peroxide and two parts of baking soda. The, grab a toothbrush to apply the mixture to the soles and uppers of your sneakers. Pretty simple and easy, right?

7. Clean Lace-Up Sneakers using Alcohol

Alcohol is a great solution to clean your suede, nubuck or sheepskin sneakers from stubborn stains and scuffs. You can a clean cloth with a rubbing alcohol, and wipe the stained area on your sneakers to make them stain-free. Moreover, alcohol is also a great agent to clean your shoes from bacterias, this keep your shoes fresh and odor-free, too.

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.