Unlike traditional leather or suede shoes, mesh sneakers are more delicate because they use a material that requires a gentle touch. Cleaning them improperly can damage the mesh, causing discoloration, fading, and even tears.
In this article, I’ll share with you the essential steps to properly clean your mesh sneakers and keep them looking their best. From the tools you’ll need to the techniques you’ll use, I’ll walk you through the process so you can confidently clean your mesh sneakers without any worry about damaging them. So let’s get started and learn how to clean sneaker mesh!
How to Clean Mesh Sneakers According to Experts
There is no definite way how to clean sneaker mesh. I might have my own say, but so do other people. Before getting to the main topic, let’s discuss what some experts have to say about cleaning mesh sneakers. I’ve tried this method too, and I know that it’s an effective way to clean your mesh sneakers as well.
- Prepare the necessary kits which include wet tissues, a microfiber cloth, a foam cleaner, and a shoe brush.
- As usual, remove the shoelaces from your shoes.
- Use a soft brush to clean the upper part of your mesh sneakers. If you have a foam cleaner for shoes, make sure to apply it to your brush.
- Rinse the shoes with warm water to get rid of the foam and dirt altogether.
- If dirt is still present, make sure to wipe the dirty spot with a wet tissue.
- Dry the shoes by using a microfiber cloth and leaving them in a room temperature area.
How to Deep Clean Sneaker Mesh
In the previous section, I shared tips from top sneaker experts on how to clean mesh sneakers effectively. But if you want to take it a step further and give your mesh sneakers a deep clean, then you should check the following tips out!
Based on my own expertise, I’ve put together a guide on how to deep clean sneaker mesh, so you can keep your kicks looking as good as new.
A. Cleaning Kits to Wash Mesh Sneakers
You will need to gather the following tools and ingredients in order to deep clean sneakers that incorporate mesh designs!
- Shoe cleaner or other mild cleaning solution: As a cleaning agent to lift dirt and stains from your shoes.
- Apron: Keeping your shirt clean while working with your dirty shoes.
- Premium brush: Used to clean the upper part of your shoes that is made of mesh.
- Medium brush: Used to clean your mesh sneaker’s midsole section.
- Standard brush: Used to clean your mesh sneaker’s outsole section.
- Small brush or toothbrush: Come in handy when cleaning the inner part of your mesh sneakers that is usually hard to reach.
- Microfiber cloth: Wipe mesh sneakers clean of dirt and stains.
- Shoe trees: Maintain the mesh sneaker’s shape.
- Container or pan: To store water that will be mixed with Shoe Perfume
- Shoe perfume: Add a refreshing scent to your shoes.
B. Sneaker Mesh Cleaning Process
In this section, I’ve outlined a comprehensive and effective step-by-step guide to cleaning your sneaker mesh. By following these instructions, you’ll be able to remove dirt, grime, and stains from your sneakers with ease.
1. Prepare the mesh sneakers that you want to clean
Prepare a pair of dirty mesh sneakers that you want to freshen up. Examine it and pay extra attention to the major stains. Also, inspect it for damages so you can fix it later on.
2. Prepare the material needed to clean your mesh sneakers
Prepare the ShoeCleaner, apron, Premium Brush, Medium Brush, Standard Brush, Small Brush, Microfiber Cloth, two pieces of Shoe Tree, and a container to store water and Shoe Perfume.
3. Remove the laces from your mesh sneakers
It’s recommendable to remove the lace from your shoe. You can clean the laces separately later on.
4. Insert the shoe tree in your mesh sneakers
This is an essential step, as a shoe tree will be important to maintain the shape of your mesh sneaker when it’s being washed. If you don’t have one, make sure to buy one, especially if you often wash your shoes with a washing machine (which can deform them if you don’t stick shoe trees afterward).
I can say with confidence that my shoes are still in great condition due to the help of shoe trees. However, make sure to remove the insole before inserting a shoe tree.
5. Dry-clean the Sneakers
Before washing the mesh sneakers with water, you need to brush the upper part and midsole with a premium brush to wipe off debris and dirt that is often found on the mesh sneakers.
6. Wash the Outsole and Midsole
During this cleaning stage, you can use a Standard Brush. I’d love to use all my strength when cleaning the outsole, as it’s naturally the dirtiest part of mesh sneakers. Outsoles are also strong enough to withstand strong brushes, so go all out!
As soon as you have finished cleaning the outsole, you can proceed by cleaning the midsole with a Medium Brush. This time, patience and diligence are needed, as there will be a lot of dirty spots that are hard to clean.
7. Wash the Inner and Outer Sections of the Upper Part of Your Mesh Sneakers
For the outer part, you can use a Premium Brush in order to prevent any damage or scratches on your shoes. Gently rub the brush across the shoes before wiping it with a microfiber cloth to absorb the water.
After dealing with the outer part, you can proceed to the inner part of the shoes. This time, you can use a small brush, as it’s handy enough to reach small and narrow spaces inside the shoes.
Use a wet microfiber cloth to clean the details of your mesh shoes that are still dirty, which is usually found on the midsole or outsole section of your mesh sneakers. Then, clean your shoelaces by soaking it inside a bucket of water that has been mixed with the Shoe Cleaner. After cleaning it with your bare hands, you can dry the laces with a microfiber cloth.
8. Drying Process
Dry off your shoes by using a fan. As an alternative, you can also dry it by waving your hands or placing the shoes in a cold area with minimal moisture. Try not to dry the sneakers by placing them under direct sunlight, as it can damage the glue or paint of said shoes.
Once all necessary parts are dry, then you can place the insole back inside the shoe. The same thing also goes for the laces. Now, your mesh sneakers are back in action and look fresh again!
7 Best Hacks to Clean Mesh Sneakers Yourself
1. Steam Cleaning
Step #1: Gather your supplies
First, I like to make sure I have all my cleaning supplies ready. For steam-cleaning mesh sneakers, you’ll need some items including:
- A steam cleaner with an upholstery attachment
- A soft bristle brush
- Mild detergent
- A microfiber cloth
- Clean, dry towels
- A mesh laundry bag
Step #2: Prepare your sneakers
Before I start steam cleaning, I always remove the shoelaces from my sneakers. This makes it easier to clean every nook and cranny of the shoe’s surface. If your shoelaces are dirty, you can wash them separately in a mesh laundry bag.
Step #3: Pre-treatment
Now, I like to give my mesh sneakers a pre-treatment. I mix a small amount of mild detergent or sneaker cleaner with warm water in a bowl. Then, using a soft-bristle brush, I gently scrub any visible stains or dirt on the mesh fabric. This helps to loosen up the grime and make the steam cleaning more effective.
Step #4: Set up the steam cleaner
Next, I’ll set up my steam cleaner with the upholstery attachment. Make sure the steam cleaner is filled with water and is ready to produce steam. It’s essential to follow the manufacturer’s instructions for your specific machine.
Step #5: Start steam cleaning
In this step, I’ll generally hold the steam cleaner about an inch away from the mesh surface and use a slow, sweeping motion to steam clean the entire shoe. Be careful not to get too close, as the high temperature can damage the mesh. The steam will help to loosen and lift dirt and stains from the fabric.
Step #6: Wipe clean
As I steam clean, I have a microfiber cloth on hand to immediately wipe away any dirt or moisture that’s lifted from the mesh. This prevents the dirt from settling back onto the fabric. Continue steaming and wiping until the sneakers look clean.
Step #7: Dry thoroughly
After steam cleaning, it’s crucial to let your sneakers dry thoroughly. I like to stuff them with clean, dry towels to help absorb excess moisture. Then, I leave them in a well-ventilated area or outdoors to air dry naturally. Avoid direct sunlight or heat sources, as they can damage the mesh material.
2. Shampoo and Water Solution
Step #1: Set up your essentials
Before cleaning, I’ll ensure that I have all the essentials needed for this cleaning job. I’ll need a few of the following things:
- Mesh sneakers that need cleaning
- A bowl of warm water
- A mild, gentle shampoo (I prefer baby shampoo)
- A soft bristle brush or an old toothbrush
- A clean, dry cloth or paper towels
Step #2: Remove the laces
I start by removing the laces from my sneakers. This will make it easier to clean the mesh and ensure that no dirt or soap gets trapped in the lace eyelets.
Step #3: Prepare the cleaning solution
Next, I create the cleaning solution. I add a small amount of mild shampoo to the warm water in the bowl. I don’t need a lot of shampoo; a teaspoon or so should be enough. Then, I gently mix the solution until it forms a soapy mixture.
Step #4: Scrub the mesh
With the cleaning solution ready, I dip the soft-bristle brush or toothbrush into the soapy water. I start by scrubbing the mesh gently in a circular motion. I pay extra attention to any stained or dirty areas. It’s essential to be gentle to avoid damaging the mesh material.
Step #5: Rinse with clean water
After scrubbing, I rinse the sneakers thoroughly with clean, lukewarm water. I make sure to remove all the soapy residue, as any leftover soap can leave stains or make the shoes stiff.
Step #6: Dry the sneakers
For drying, I pat the sneakers with a clean, dry cloth or paper towels to remove excess water. Then, I reshape the sneakers to their original form, ensuring that the mesh fabric is properly stretched out. I usually stuff the shoes with newspaper or a towel to help them maintain their shape as they dry. You can also consider shoe trees.
Step #7: Let them air dry
I place the sneakers in a well-ventilated area, away from direct sunlight or direct heat sources. I allow them to air dry naturally. It may take a few hours, depending on the weather conditions, but it’s important not to rush this step to avoid damaging the mesh.
3. Lemon Juice and Salt
Step #1: Prepare materials
You must prepare some cleaning kit items, such as:
- Dirty mesh sneakers
- Fresh lemons or bottled lemon juice
- Table salt
- A bowl or container
- A soft bristle brush or an old toothbrush
- Warm water
- A clean cloth or towel
Step #2: Mix the cleaning solution
Now, it’s time to create the cleaning solution. In the container, squeeze the juice from the fresh lemons or pour in the bottled lemon juice. I usually use the juice from one or two lemons, depending on the size of the sneakers and the level of dirt.
Add about a tablespoon of table salt to the lemon juice and mix it well. The lemon juice will act as a natural cleaner, while the salt provides a gentle abrasive quality for scrubbing away stains.
Step #3: Remove laces and insoles
Before you start cleaning, it’s a good idea to remove the shoelaces and insoles from your mesh sneakers. This will make the cleaning process more effective and ensure you reach all the nooks and crannies.
Step #4: Pre-treat stains
If your mesh sneakers have stubborn stains, you can apply a bit of the lemon juice and salt mixture directly to the affected areas. Let it sit for a few minutes to help break down the stains.
Step #5: Scrub the mesh
After that, I’ll dip your soft-bristle brush or toothbrush into the lemon juice and salt mixture. With gentle but firm strokes, scrub the entire surface of your mesh sneakers. Pay close attention to areas with visible dirt or stains. The lemon juice will help lift away grime, while the salt acts as a mild abrasive to dislodge stubborn spots.
Step #6: Rinse with warm water
After thoroughly scrubbing your sneakers, it’s time to rinse them off. You can follow my tips by holding your sneakers under running warm water or using a clean, damp cloth to wipe away the lemon juice and salt residue. Make sure to rinse until the water runs clear and there is no more residue left on the mesh.
Step #7: Air dry in sunlight
If possible, place your clean mesh sneakers in direct sunlight to air dry. Sunlight not only helps in drying but also has natural antibacterial properties that can freshen up your shoes. Allow them to dry completely before reinserting the insoles and laces.
4. Baby Wipes
Step #1: Grab your cleaning kit items
I always start by gathering the necessary materials. For this method of cleaning mesh sneakers with baby wipes, you’ll need the following:
- A pack of baby wipes (unscented and alcohol-free)
- Dirty mesh sneakers
- A soft bristle brush or an old toothbrush
- A towel or paper towels
- A small bowl of warm, soapy water made of mild detergent
Step #2: Remove loose dirt
First, I like to remove any loose dirt and debris from the surface of the sneakers. I do this by giving them a good shake and then using the soft bristle brush or toothbrush to gently brush away any dirt from the mesh.
Step #3: Test a small area
If you’re using baby wipes for the first time on your sneakers, it’s a good idea to test a small, inconspicuous area to ensure the wipes won’t cause any color fading or damage to the material. If the test goes well, you can proceed.
Step #4: Start wiping
Now, I take a baby wipe and start gently wiping down the mesh of the sneakers. I like to use a circular motion, which helps to lift away dirt and stains. If your sneakers are exceptionally dirty, you may need to use more than one wipe.
Step #5: Focus on stains
For stubborn stains or areas with built-up grime, I apply a bit more pressure and scrub gently with the baby wipe. Sometimes, I dip the toothbrush in the warm, soapy water (if using) and use it to help break down tough stains.
Step #6: Dry and inspect
After cleaning the mesh, I use a towel or paper towels to pat the sneakers dry. I ensure that they are thoroughly dried before wearing them again. It’s also a good time to inspect the sneakers to make sure all stains are gone.
Step #7: Repeat if necessary
If there are still some stubborn stains, I repeat the cleaning process until I’m satisfied with the results. Be patient and gentle to avoid damaging the mesh.
Step #8: Protect and maintain
To keep my mesh sneakers looking fresh, I like to apply a fabric protector spray specifically designed for sneakers. This helps prevent future stains and makes cleaning easier next time.
5. Magic Eraser
Step #1: Set up cleaning kit items
I’ve found that cleaning mesh sneakers with a Magic Eraser is an effective method. To get started, gather the materials you’ll need:
- Magic eraser sponge
- A bowl of clean water
- Mild dish soap
- Old toothbrush
- Towel or paper towels
Step #2: Remove shoelaces
Before getting into the cleaning process, it’s a good idea to remove the shoelaces from your sneakers. This will make it easier to clean the mesh fabric and ensure that no dirt or stains are missed.
Step #3: Wet the magic eraser
Take your Magic Eraser and wet it in a bowl of clean water. Squeeze out any excess water so it’s damp but not dripping.
Step #4: Apply a small amount of dish soap
I’ve found that adding a small amount of mild dish soap to the damp Magic Eraser can enhance its cleaning power without damaging the mesh fabric. Gently rub the Magic Eraser over the soap a few times to create a light lather.
Step #5: Test in an inconspicuous area
Before diving into cleaning the entire sneaker, it’s a good practice to test the Magic Eraser on a small, inconspicuous area of the shoe to ensure that it doesn’t cause any damage or discoloration.
Step #6: Clean the mesh
Now, it’s time to clean the mesh fabric of your sneakers. Using the damp Magic Eraser, gently rub it over the dirty or stained areas. I’ll always apply light pressure and use circular motions to lift the stains.
Step #7: Rinse and repeat
Periodically, rinse the Magic Eraser in a bowl of clean water to remove the accumulated dirt and soap residue. If stubborn stains persist, I recommend using an old toothbrush to gently scrub the affected areas.
Step #8: Dry the shoes
After you’ve cleaned the mesh to your satisfaction, use a clean towel or paper towels to pat the sneakers dry. Make sure to remove any excess water.
6. Cornstarch and Water
Step #1: Have your cleaning materials
I always start by gathering everything I need. For this cleaning method, you’ll need:
- A soft bristle brush or an old toothbrush
- A small bowl
- Clean, dry cloth or paper towels
- Water in a spray bottle
Step #2: Remove loose debris and dirt
Before I get into the cornstarch and water mixture, I like to give my mesh sneakers a good shake or tap to remove loose dirt and debris. This makes the cleaning process more effective.
Step #3: Create a cornstarch paste
In a small bowl, I make a mixture using cornstarch and water. I usually go for a ratio of 1:2, meaning one part cornstarch and two parts water. Stir it until it forms a smooth, thick paste.
Step #4: Apply the cornstarch paste
Now, I take my soft-bristle brush or old toothbrush and dip it into the cornstarch paste. I apply it evenly to the mesh surface of the sneakers. Make sure to focus on any stained or dirty areas.
Step #5: Scrub gently
Using a circular motion, I gently scrub the cornstarch paste onto the mesh fabric. Be patient and thorough, especially on stains. The cornstarch will help absorb and lift dirt and grime.
Step #6: Let it sit
After scrubbing, I allow the cornstarch paste to sit on the sneakers for about 10-15 minutes. This gives it time to work its magic and break down stubborn stains.
Step #7: Brush off the cornstarch
Once the waiting period is over, I use my brush again to gently remove the dried cornstarch. Brush away from the sneakers to prevent any residue from falling back onto them. If there are still stubborn stains, I may repeat the process on those specific areas.
Step #8: Rinse with water
Then, I take my spray bottle filled with water and lightly mist the sneakers. I don’t soak them; I just want to rinse away any remaining cornstarch residue.
Step #9: Dry thoroughly
I finish up by patting the shoes dry with a clean, dry cloth or paper towels. Make sure they are completely dry before wearing them again.
7. Wet Wipes and Micellar Water
Step #1: Prepare cleaning kits
I always start by gathering everything I need for the cleaning process. For this method, you’ll need:
- Wet wipes (unscented, alcohol-free)
- Micellar water (alcohol-free)
- A soft cloth or microfiber towel
- A small container for the micellar water
- A soft bristle brush
- Newspaper or paper towels to protect your work surface
Step #2: Take out laces and insoles
I find it easier to clean sneakers thoroughly when the laces and insoles are removed. Take off the laces and insoles and set them aside for separate cleaning.
Step #3: Wipe away surface dirt
Before getting started, I like to wipe away any loose dirt or dust from the surface of the sneakers. I do this using a wet wipe. Be gentle, so you don’t damage the mesh material.
Step #4: Mix micellar water solution
Using a small container, I prepare a solution of micellar water. I dilute it slightly with water to make it less concentrated, which is gentler on the mesh material. The ratio I use is about 1 part micellar water to 2 parts water. This helps to avoid any potential discoloration or damage.
Step #5: Spot clean stains
I use a clean wet wipe dipped in the micellar water solution to spot clean any stubborn stains or scuffs on the sneakers. Gently rub the stained area in a circular motion, being careful not to oversaturate the mesh.
Step #6: Clean the entire surface
Now it’s time to clean the entire surface of the sneakers. I dampen a clean cloth or microfiber towel with the diluted micellar water solution and gently wipe down the mesh material. Make sure not to soak the sneakers; you want them to be damp, not wet.
Step #7: Scrub soles and outsoles
If the soles and outsoles of your sneakers are dirty, you can use a soft-bristle brush dipped in the micellar water solution to scrub away dirt and grime. Be gentle to avoid damaging the rubber or plastic parts.
Step #8: Dry and reassemble
After cleaning, I let the sneakers air dry naturally. Avoid direct sunlight and heat sources, as they can damage the mesh material. Once they are completely dry, reinsert the insoles, lace up your sneakers, and they’re ready to wear again.
Do’s & Don’ts
|Brush gently with your feelings! Never treat the mesh sneakers poorly if you don’t want to damage them.||Don’t try to brush the upper part of your shoes with all your might because the mesh is a sensitive material that can get easily damaged.|
|Use a Premium Brush or a soft and gentle brush to clean the upper part of your mesh sneakers. Never use standard brushes to do this job.||Use your mesh sneakers for extreme outdoor activities.|
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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
1. Do baking soda and vinegar clean shoes?
Baking soda and vinegar can be used to clean mesh sneakers. However, I still recommend using a shoe cleaner or mild detergent to clean mesh sneakers.
2. How do you whiten yellow mesh shoes?
Yellowing can happen when you do something wrong in the cleaning process. Therefore, you should repeat the process with the right method in order to get rid of the yellow pigments.
Yellow stains might also appear due to your neglect in cleaning your mesh sneakers. Therefore, you should try and clean them regularly. Try this method if your shoes are already starting to get yellow:
- Remove the shoelaces from your sneakers
- Prepare a small amount of bleach and mix it with a bucket of water
- Use a brush and soak it inside the mixture
- Brush it across the shoes slowly. Make sure not to hurt your hands when cleaning your shoes (wear gloves!)
- Rinse your mesh sneakers with water
- Let them dry for a while. Do not leave them outside and under direct contact with the sunlight
3. How do you clean mesh shoes without ruining them?
With the right method and tools, you can clean your mesh sneakers without ruining them. Use a Premium Brush to clean the upper part of your shoes and a standard brush to clean the outsole.
Cleaning mesh sneakers with the right tool is essential, but doing it the right way is as important as well. That’s the reason why you should be extra careful when cleaning a pair of mesh sneakers. Take your time and clean them gently and slowly. If you brush them too hard, there’s a good chance that they might get damaged!
After cleaning the mesh shoes with the right method, you also need to learn how to take good care of them. A great way to do that is to store them in a nice box. Plus, keep them away from direct contact with the sunlight!
4. How do you get sweat stains out of mesh shoes?
If your mesh sneakers still have stains, then you better use a toothbrush or small brush to clean those parts, as they can effectively erase stains in a narrow space. Thankfully, you can also use other homemade items to help clean sweat stains, such as toothpaste or mild laundry detergent.
- Prepare a toothbrush or small brush and toothpaste or mild laundry detergent
- Apply the toothpaste or mild laundry detergent to your toothbrush
- Rub the brush carefully on the dirty section of your mesh shoes
- When you’re done and are satisfied with the result, rinse the shoes with water
- Leave them in front of a fan to let them dry for a while
In summary, cleaning your sneakers with mesh uppers is a simple and effective process that can help you maintain their appearance and extend their lifespan. By following the step-by-step guide I’ve outlined and incorporating the tips I’ve suggested, you can keep your sneakers looking and feeling new for longer.
As a passionate sneaker enthusiast myself, I can attest to the effectiveness of these cleaning techniques. With proper care and maintenance, your sneakers can continue to provide you with the comfort, support, and style you love. So don’t wait; start taking care of your sneakers with mesh uppers today, and enjoy the benefits of clean, fresh, and long-lasting footwear.