How to Clean Sneakers (Best Tips & Tricks)

It goes without saying that something that you need to carefully look after your precious possession. The same thing also applies to your sneakers. You need to make sure that it stays clean and fresh. If you’re going to use sneakers, you don’t want them to look dirty, right? The same thing also applies to collectors who displayed their shoes! So, make sure you read my tips on how to clean sneakers properly and how to take care of them!

THE HISTORY OF SNEAKERS

Before I get to the main point, let’s enrich your brain with some history lessons about how sneakers came to be. The nickname “sneakers” was given to these shoes around the late 19th century when the U.S. Rubber Company invented rubber sneakers that are so quiet called Keds. 

Fast forward to the mid-80s, when Michael Jordan single-handedly (an exaggeration) made sneakers famous due to the Air Jordan models. Big companies like Adidas and Nike would then compete to create unique and limited edition sneakers that people love until this very day. 

CLEANING YOUR LOVELY SNEAKERS

Now let’s get to the fun part: the detailed step-by-step walkthrough of cleaning your sneakers. We’re going to talk about the ingredients and material needed, which part of the sneaker’s anatomy you should be mindful of, as well as the dos and don’ts when cleaning sneakers. Let’s get going!

A. CLEANING KITS NEEDED AND THEIR FUNCTION

How to clean sneakers
  • ShoeCleaner: A special shoe detergent needed to clean your favorite and precious sneakers. I believe it’s stronger and more effective than regular ones.
  • Apron: Not an obligatory item, but it will come in handy when we’re talking about keeping your shirt clean while washing your sneakers. 
  • Premium Brush: Used to clean the upper part of your shoes. They are usually made up of canvas, suede, leather, synthetic leather, mesh, knit, or other unique materials.
  • Medium Brush: Used to clean your sneaker’s midsole section. 
  • Standard Brush: Used to clean your sneaker’s outsole section.
  • Small Brush or Toothbrush: This type of brush will come in handy when it comes to cleaning the inner part of your sneakers that is usually hard to reach. 
  • Microfiber Cloth: Used to wipe sneakers clean and remove dirt or stains. 
  • Shoe Tree: Essential item to keep your sneaker’s basic structure intact.
  • Container/Pan: used to store water that will be mixed with Shoe Perfume in order to generate a certain odor for your shoes. 

B. SNEAKERS ANATOMY AND REASONS TO USE CLEANING KIT FOR PARTS OF THE SNEAKERS

How to clean sneakers
  • The Upper Part of the Sneakers: As the name states, it’s the upper part of your shoe model. You need to use two different brushes to clean this part. Premium Brush will be suitable as it prevents damage to the upper part of your sneakers. Meanwhile, a small brush will come in handy when you’re trying to wipe additional stains that are small.
How to clean sneakers
  • Midsole: The side section of a sneaker’s sole. To clean the midsole, I suggest that you use Medium Brush, as midsoles can often get damaged and dirty due to usage.
How to clean sneakers
  • The outsole, or the lower part of a sneaker: To clean a sneaker’s outsole, you can use a standard brush that is strong and sturdy. This way, dirt and stains from your outsole might be cleaned easily. 
How to clean sneakers
  • Insole: The inner part of your shoes that also acts as a cushion to make your foot more comfortable. It’s better to remove the insoles from your sneakers before cleaning them. However, don’t force it if it’s not possible. To clean the insole, you can use a premium brush as well as a toothbrush, as they can reach parts that are harder to clean. 

C. HOW TO CLEAN SNEAKERS

HOW TO CLEAN SNEAKERS

Step 1: Prepare the sneakers that you want to clean:

A pair of dirty sneakers that you want to freshen up. Inspect it thoroughly before you get scrubbing to check for damages. If you do find one, you should be gentler when you scrub.

Step 2: Prepare the necessary material to clean your sneakers:

As I’ve mentioned above, you will need a ShoeCleaner, apron, Premium Brush, Medium Brush, and Standard Brush. Do not forget the Small Brush, Microfiber Cloth, 2 pieces of Shoe Tree, and a container to store water and ShoePerfume. 

Step 3: Remove the laces from your Sneakers:

I highly recommend that you remove the lace from your shoe first. After you manage to separate them, you can soak the laces in a cleaning solution that features Shoe Cleaner. After waiting for some time, clean it and squeeze it a bit to remove the water. Finally, you can dry it off with a microfiber cloth. 

Step 4: Insert the Shoetree in your Sneakers:

This is an essential step, as a Shoetree will be important to maintain the shape of your sneaker when you wash it. However, make sure to remove the insole before inserting a Shoetree. 

Step 5: Dry-clean the Sneakers

Before washing the sneakers with water, brush the upper part and midsole with a premium brush to wipe off debris and dirt. In my experience, dry brushing will ensure that your shoes are thoroughly clean.

Step 6: Wash the Outsole and Midsole

During this cleaning stage, you can use a Standard Brush. Make sure to use all your strength when cleaning the outsole, as it’s naturally the dirtiest part of a shoe.

As soon as you have finished cleaning the outsole, you can proceed by cleaning the midsole with a Medium Brush. I recommend that you exert some patience and diligence, as there will be a lot of dirty spots that are hard to clean.  

Step 7: Wash Your Sneaker’s Insole

If possible, make sure to remove the insole from your sneaker. Then, proceed to brush the insole with a Premium brush and wait until it dries off before inserting it back inside the sneaker. 

Note: Don’t force to remove the insole, as some sneakers have their insoles glued to the shoes. When you force it out, it will definitely damage your precious item. 

Step 8: Wash the Upper Part of Your Sneaker 

Use the Premium Brush to wash the upper part of your sneaker. I highly recommend that you get one so you can prevent scratching your shoe. When cleaning the upper part of your sneaker, make sure to do it carefully! Shortly afterward, you may wipe it with a microfiber cloth by gently tapping it on the shoes. This way the water gets absorbed properly

Step 9: Wash the Inner Part of Your Sneaker

Use a small brush to clean the inner part of your shoes, as it is definitely hard to reach. Then, wipe it with a microfiber cloth or a premium brush. Bear in mind that due to its challenges, I won’t force you to try so hard when wiping narrow spaces. 

Step 10: Detailing

Use a wet microfiber cloth to clean the details on your sneakers that are dirty. In my case, I usually pay more attention to my midsole or outsole as they stain easily.

Step 11: 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.

Step 12: Finishing 

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 shoe is back in action and looks fresh again!

HOW TO KEEP YOUR SNEAKS CLEAN?

It’s better to prevent than to cure, right? If you can prevent your precious sneakers from collecting dirt, then you might want to my tips below.

The first and most important tip is to wear sneakers smartly. You need to know the conditions around you before wearing your precious sneakers. It won’t be ideal for wearing it when it’s cloudy with a chance of rain.

Before going out, you might want to spray your sneakers with a stain and water repellant as well. It won’t protect the sneakers from mud or really dirty stuff, but it can prevent light stains and water from penetrating the skin of your sneakers. I’ve tried this trick myself and I’ve never had to deal with persistent stains ever since.

Here’s the last thing that you need to be mindful of: make sure to clean your sneakers regularly. Wiping small dust is easier compared to removing a lot of dirt and stains that are sticky on your shoes. As soon as you’ve noticed some dirty marks on your sneakers, you need to clean them immediately. A stain remover pen will do the job just fine here, so make sure to have one at your disposal. 

HOW TO KEEP YOUR SNEAKER LACES WHITE?

White items (it doesn’t have to be sneakers and their laces) are always trickier when it comes to cleaning them. After all, the problem isn’t only keeping it clean from dirt. It’s to prevent them from looking old and yellow.

Here are some tricks that you can do to keep your sneaker laces white!

  • Try to hide the laces! Well, it might not be possible to hide the whole laces from normal eyesight, but you can do your best to hide some parts of it. This way, the chances of having a really dirty lace will be a lot slimmer. 
  • For laces that are not too dirty, you can manually wash them with your hands. All you need is a specialized soap that can help remove the stains, as well as a premium cloth to wipe the laces clean. 
  • If you find it difficult to manually clean your laces, then you can try and wash them in the laundry machine. However, make sure to store them inside a laundry bag in order to prevent them from getting tangled or stuck with other things that are being washed. 
  • You can always replace the laces with new ones. However, it will be more expensive compared to other solutions. Plus, there’s this thing called keeping all the original parts within the sneakers. So, make sure to keep this one as a last-ditch attempt!

HOW TO GET THE ODOR OUT OF AN INSOLE?

How to clean sneakers

Here’s a tricky part that will require lots of attention, especially when you often use the sneakers that you love and adore. Insoles are generally perceived as the main part that is prone to bad odors, and rightly so! So, how to get the odor out of an insole?

There are a few maintenances that you need to know in order to keep your insoles fresh. Generally, bad odors on an insole are caused by bacteria that grow from moisture. Therefore, a smart way to prevent bacteria growth will be to wear a pair of moisture-wicking socks that will draw moisture away. You can also limit the usage of the same sneakers in order to keep them fresh!

If bad odor only comes from your insole, then you might want to try and remove them from the sneakers for a while. Then, you can either place it under direct contact with the sunlight or freeze it inside a freezer. Both ways will be effective in killing bacterial growth. 

Use odor removers that can help eliminate the odor and bacteria. There are a lot of odor remover products that you can use out there in the market. However, a more natural approach in the form of lemon or fresh orange peel can also be tried. You can even put baking soda on your insoles. 

If all the tricks above prove to be useless, then there’s no other way than to replace the insoles. It hurts to say it, but it’s the last-ditch attempt to make your sneakers stay fresh.

HOW TO GET YELLOWING OFF A SNEAKER?

Nothing lasts forever, even fresh sneakers. No matter how careful you are to take good care of your sneakers, chances are still present that they won’t stand the test of time and turn yellow. That being said, you can still help make them turn white again. This time, you’re going to be needing some help in the form of detergents, shampoos, or other ingredients.

  • Baking Soda: Baking soda is really effective when you’re trying to clean your soles. You can try and create a mix of baking soda and hydrogen peroxide for an increased chance to successfully clean your sneakers. 
  • Here’s an ingredient that all sane people in the world have: a pairing of toothpaste and a toothbrush. However, make sure to use white toothpaste when cleaning a white sneakers!
  • Bleach might be a great solution that you can use as well. However, bleach is highly corrosive. Therefore, make sure to limit the usage of this item when cleaning your sneaker. We don’t want to create new problems when trying to solve old ones!

Do’s and don’ts 

Do’s

Don’ts

  • Keeping your shoes wet and moist after being cleaned. 
  • Drying off your shoes under direct sunlight. It can damage the glue inside as well as make the paint or coloring fade. 
  • Wiping the material too hard and sturdy. 

Shoecare

Shoecare

Cleaning your sneakers is a fun and exciting experience, albeit a tiring one. Therefore, you might want to take some preventive steps to avoid cleaning them too often. Here are some tips that you can use!

  • Don’t store your sneakers in a moist area
  • Never store your sneakers when they are wet. Make sure to dry them off before storing them
  • Put a silica gel inside the shoe
  • Make sure to clean the sneakers regularly. As soon as you spot a stain or dirt, you need to wipe them off immediately.
  • Take notice of the material of each sneaker. 

Conclusion

I believe that it is important to put some effort into keeping your sneakers fresh. Not only for hygiene but also for style. Clean sneakers will last long and would leave a better impression. You do not want to go on an important outing or a date with dirty shoes, don’t you?

Nevertheless, cleaning sneakers properly can be tricky. My tips above will help you to deep clean your sneakers effectively, making them brand new again! Try them yourself at home to see how effective they are!


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Question and Answers

What is the best homemade shoe cleaner?

The best homemade shoe cleaner will be a detergent. However, you really need to check the detergent that you have in store. However, I’d like to warn you that some detergents are incompatible with sneakers.

Can you soak sneakers in water?

Yes, you can soak sneakers in water. However, you might want to avoid this trick, as this is an “old-school” style that won’t be too effective compared to other methods in our article. 

What is the fastest way to clean dirty shoes?

The fastest way to clean dirty shoes is by wiping your sneakers with wet tissues. However, it might not be effective, especially if the dirt is too much to handle. 

What is the easiest way to clean sneakers?

The easiest way to clean sneakers is by washing them with dripping water, although it might make your shoes too wet and make them too long to dry.

How to Clean Sneakers with OxiClean?

To clean sneakers with OxiClean, you need to Prepare a bucket of warm water and mix it with dish soap and OxiClean. Then, place your sneakers inside and wait for a few moments before drying them. 

How to Clean Sneakers with Bleach?

To clean sneakers with bleach, you need to Use a small amount of bleach and put it on a toothbrush. Make sure to avoid using too much bleach, as it may damage your sneakers.

Is it possible to clean sneakers with baking soda?

Yes, as I’ve mentioned above, baking soda can become an alternative ingredient if you run out of specialized shoe cleaners. If your shoes start to smell bad, putting in some baking soda is a good way to deodorize them! Check out my tips and tricks above to find out more about it!

Is it possible to clean sneakers with toothpaste?

Yes, absolutely! I’ve mentioned that toothpaste is a good way to remove presistent stain. It works best on white sneakers. Please note that the whitening ingredient in the paste may reach badly if you use it on graphic sneakers. You just need to apply the paste directly on the stain and scrub it with a microfiber cloth or a toothbrush until the shoes are white again!