How to Clean Vans Without Damaging Their Sensitive Material

Talking about sneakers, these big brands will pop into your mind: Nike, Adidas, and Converse. But for me, it is Vans. This brand has been stealing the sneaker game for a while now. I personally like them for their unique style, comfort, and versatility. Plus, have you seen how much vintage and unique Vans are worth these days? These sneakers have become collectible items! You need to show your Vans shoes extra attention and love to keep them pristine. So, buckle up, and let’s take a closer look at how to clean your Vans properly!

Official Advice on How to Clean Vans Shoes

Before I go ahead with my custom way of cleaning Vans shoes, let’s listen to the ones who made them first! According to their website, you can clean your shoes in different ways, depending on the material of the shoes. But generally, you’re going to need different kinds of brushes to aid your cause. The presence of a Magic Eraser is also welcomed. 

Cleaning Suede Shoes

First things first, you can start by brushing off dirt and stains with a suede brush. Make sure to brush gently in order to prevent any damage. Then, you can proceed to wipe the surface of the shoes using a cotton or cloth that has been soaked with a mixture of water and white vinegar before proceeding to clean the rubber strip with a Magic Eraser. 

Cleaning Leather Shoes

When you’re dealing with leather shoes, you won’t have to use a suede brush. Instead, you can opt to use a shoe Brush, or Premium Brush. Then, you can work on cleaning the surface grime and enhancing the waterproof function by using Nikwax. 

Cleaning Canvas Shoes

Just like the other two types of shoes, you can start by brushing off some loose dirt and stains with a shoe brush. After that, you may continue to remove any stains with a mixture of warm, soapy water on a toothbrush. Then, you can wipe all the remaining soap suds with a clean, damp cloth. 

No matter what shoes you have, you need to make sure that they’re dried properly after the cleaning process. Never let them get into direct contact with the sunlight!

How I Clean My Vans Shoes

Now that you’ve learned the official methods and the alternative ways to clean Vans, it’s time for you to try my way! First, you need to prepare your tools kit!

Vans Cleaning Kit and Their Function

These are the cleaning kit that I usually use! You don’t have to own all of them and use alternatives instead. But make sure that the tools that you use are suitable.

  • ShoeCleaner: A special shoe detergent needed to clean your favorite and precious Vans shoes. 
  • Apron: Not an obligatory item, but it will come in handy when we’re talking about keeping your shirt clean while washing your Vans. 
  • Premium Brush: To clean the upper part of your shoes that is usually made up of canvas, suede, leather, synthetic leather, mesh, knit, or nubuck.
  • Medium Brush: Used to clean your sneaker’s midsole section. 
  • Standard Brush: Used to clean your Vans 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 of dirt and 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 specific odor for your Vans. 
  • Shoe Perfume: used to generate fragrant to your Vans

Vans Shoe Anatomy and How to Use the Cleaning Kit

  • The Upper Part of the Vans: As the name states, it’s the upper part of your Vans. The Premium Brush will be useful for this part as it won’t leave scratches on the upper part of your sneakers because of its soft bristles.
  • Midsole: The side sole section of a sneaker. To clean the midsole, I suggest that you use Medium Brush as it is effective to scrub various scuff marks and dirt due to usage.
  • 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 will fall off easily. 
  • 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 tight spaces that are harder to clean. 

Vans Shoes Cleaning Process

Follow the steps below carefully and gently, so you get the best result! Take your time and pay attention to detail.

Step 1: Prepare a pair of Vans that you want to clean

Inspect your pair of dirty Vans before you start wetting and scrubbing them. This way, you can see which parts require extra attention. You may also be able to spot damaged parts that may need shoe glue later on.

Step 2: Prepare the necessary tools and cleaning kits

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 ShoePerfume. 

Step 3: Remove the laces from your Vans shoes

It’s recommendable to remove the lace from your shoe. After you manage to separate them, you can soak the laces in a bowl of water that has been mixed with a Shoe Cleaner.

Step 4: Insert the Shoe Tree inside each Vans shoe

You don’t want to miss this step when cleaning your Vans. A shoe tree will play a part in maintaining the shape of your shoes when they’re washed or cleaned. Therefore, you really need to insert it inside your shoe. Whenever possible, make sure to remove the insole first. If you do not own a shoe tree, you may stuff your Vans with tissue or paper as an alternative.

Step 5: Dry-clean your Vans:

Before washing the 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 shoes. 

Step 6: Wash both the outsole and midsole of your Vans:

Two different brushes will be needed for this task: the Standard Brush to clean your outsole and the medium brush to clean the midsole section. 

To clean the midsole section, you really need to be extra careful and patient. Most dirt and stains on the midsole section might prove to be hard to be brushed off, so don’t lose your temper if it might take a while! After you’ve brushed off the whole section, you can wipe your shoes with a microfiber cloth. If the result is unsatisfactory, please repeat the steps again.

To clean the outsole section of your Vans, make sure to use all your strength when cleaning the outsole, as it’s naturally the dirtiest part of a shoe.

Step 7: Wash the upper part of your Vans

Use the Premium Brush to wash the upper part of your Vans in order to prevent any damage to your shoe. It’s essential to use the Premium Brush, as it won’t damage Vans that use suede material. If you do not know, I shall tell you that suede Vans is sensitive and prone to scratching. Avoid using the services of a standard brush as it may damage your Vans. 

Step 8: Wash the inner part of your Vans

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. You can also use a Premium Brush but bear in mind that it might be a little bit difficult to clean the narrow space inside. 

Step 9: Detailing

Use a wet microfiber cloth to clean details on your Vans that are dirty, which are normally found on your midsole or outsole. As an alternative, you can also use wet tissue. However, you’ll notice that using a microfiber cloth will result in a more satisfying result. 

Step 10: Drying Process

Leave your Vans in front of a fan for around 1-2 hours. As I have repeatedly mentioned, never dry your Vans, especially if they are colored and checkered by direct sunlight, because it will ruin the colors.

Step 11: Finishing  

As soon as the Vans are dry, you can proceed to remove the shoe tree and put the laces (and also the insole, for some cases) back on. Now, you can wear them again!

Alternative Ways to Clean Vans Shoes

14 DIY Shoe Cleaner Ideas That Will Leave Shoes Spotless

If you have been paying close attention, you’ll notice that I have mentioned some household ingredients that can help in your quest to make your Vans stay fresh. But in case you’ve missed it, I shall make a recap of the household ingredients that you can use (plus some more!). But, prepare this simple Vans cleaning kit first that contains the following tools:

  • Toothbrush and a small brush
  • Cotton
  • Cloth or rag
  • Bowl

You can find all of those tools in your household easily. Make sure that the tools are clean.

And here are the homemade ingredients that you can use to clean your precious Vans:

Mild dish detergent

how to clean vans
  1. When you’re using a mild dish detergent to clean your Vans, make sure to prepare a bowl of warm water as well.
  2. Put a small amount of dish detergent inside the bowl.
  3. Use a rag or cloth and dip it inside the mixture. 
  4. Wipe your Vans using the cloth in a circular motion.
  5. You can also use the cloth to clean the bottom part of your Vans. 

Please take note that a mild dish detergent might damage suede or leather. You better use other alternatives if your Vans incorporate those two materials. 


  1. Prepare a small amount of bleach and drop them inside a bowl of water.
  2. Use your brush or toothbrush and dip it inside the mixture. 
  3. Scrub the mixture across the Vans and especially the stains. Make sure that you avoid any non-white part of the Vans. Then, wait for some time.
  4. After waiting for around a minute or two, rinse the Vans with water. 
  5. If the result is still unsatisfactory, you might want to repeat the process once more. 

Bleach is effective when it comes to cleaning your white shoes that are really dirty. However, it is not advisable to use it when you’re cleaning non-white Vans. It’s recommendable to use dye-free bleach, as it will prevent any yellowing from happening on your Vans. 

Baking Soda and Vinegar

How to Clean White Vans - Easy Ways to Clean White Vans Sneakers
  1. Prepare baking soda and vinegar
  2. Mix them together
  3. Use the mixture and rub them across your Vans. 
  4. Wait for some time in order to let the mixture eliminate dirt and stain. 
  5. You’ll notice that it will make your Vans white again.

However, you shouldn’t use this method to clean non-white Vans. You may ruin your checkered Vans, for example, because the cleaning solution may react badly with the dye on your shoes.

Expert Tips on How to Clean Vans

It turns out that expert shoe cleaners agree with Vans’ own instructions to clean their products, albeit with a little bit of modification.

First, you need to start by wiping clean mud and dirt that sticks on your Vans. After you have removed the loose dirt and stains, you can start cleaning your shoes thoroughly (and carefully) by using a mixture of warm water and mild dish detergent. Use toothpaste or a soft brush to clean it. Make sure that you are thorough and scrub every surface. Finally, rinse them with water and let your Vans dry in the air!

Vans Cleaning Do’s and Don’ts


Search your feelings (like a Jedi does) when cleaning the sensitive parts of your Vans. You don’t want the upper part of the Vans to have scratches, right?

Wash and clean your Vans for at least once a month, especially if you’re using them regularly. Leaving them will just make the dirt stack and make it harder to clean. 


Don’t brush your shoes intensely. Vans are made from suede, which is very sensitive to scratches.

I’ll say it again, never leave your shoes under direct contact with the sunlight, as it can destroy them and make the color fade away. 

Vans Shoes Care Post-cleaning Tips

  • Never store them in a moist area
  • Don’t store them if they’re wet and not dried up yet
  • Don’t stack them with other shoes
  • Never store your Vans inside a shoe wrapping box or in a dirty state
  • Use a shoe box if you’re going to stack them in order to make them look presentable and neat 

How Often Should You Wash Your Vans?

How to Clean Vans - Learn How to Clean your Vans Shoes | Cleanipedia UK

I can’t really set a precise period of time in which you should wash your Vans. The most important thing is to take a look at the condition of your shoes. Never let them get too dirty, as they will surely collect hardened dirt and stains that will prove to be challenging to wipe away. 

If you’re using them regularly, I recommend that you clean them around once every two weeks. Avoid washing them every day as well, as it can accelerate the shoes’ wear and tear, as well as weaken the glue. And even if you rarely use them, you can still try to clean them at least once a month.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do you clean your Vans without them fading?

If you want to clean your Vans without making the color fade, then make sure to use a good shoe cleaner. If you don’t have one, use a mild detergent that’s soft enough to avoid any damage to the shoe. Use the appropriate brush as well! We have listed the necessary kits before, so make sure to read it one more time. 

Does washing your vans ruin them?

There’s a chance that washing your Vans won’t ruin it. However, some shoe fanatics prefer to let the Vans look dirty, as it will look good on the shoes. Again, this is a matter of preference, so do as you will!

How to Clean vans with baking soda?

The method of cleaning Vans with baking soda is only viable for shoes with a white surface, like the midsole (or if the upper section is white as well). Using a baking soda for non-white material will increase the chance of damaging the color of your shoes

To clean it, you just need to mix the baking soda with vinegar. Then, wipe them across the shoes to eliminate dirt and stains. 

How do I clean checkered Vans?

Cleaning checkered Vans require a gentler process and a softer cleaning agent, like weak soap. However, the process remains the same as the one that I’ve explained. Basically, here is how it goes:

First, remove any excess dirt or debris from the surface of the shoe using a soft-bristled brush. Next, mix a solution of mild soap and warm water, and dip a clean cloth into the solution. Gently rub the cloth over the surface, paying particular attention to any stained or dirty areas. Rinse the cloth and use it to remove any remaining soap residue. Finally, air-dry it in a well-ventilated area.

How to clean suede Vans without suede cleaner?

Use a clean, damp cloth to blot any stained areas gently. Be careful not to rub too hard and cause further damage to the suede. For tougher stains, mix a small amount of white vinegar with water and apply the solution to the affected area using a clean cloth. Vans also recommend using a magic eraser. Once the shoes are clean, use a dry cloth or towel to buff the suede and restore its texture gently. Allow the shoes to air dry away from direct sunlight

How to clean white Vans without hydrogen peroxide?

Hydrogen peroxide is a strong ingredient that will make any stained white shoes looks brand new again. But it’s a strong solution and may cause damage to the shoe material. For your white Vans, you can make it pure again by using the white vinegar or baking soda method that I’ve explained above!

Can you put Vans in the dryer?

You should not put your Vans shoes in the dryer. The heat will absolutely destroy your precious pair because the glue will weaken, and the shape will warp. I recommend that you let them dry over time in a well-ventilated room away from direct sunlight.

How to wash Vans in the dishwasher?

While the dishwasher can effectively clean the shoes, the high heat and water pressure can damage the materials and structure of your favorite Vans. It’s best to follow the manual method that I have explained above. Vans, especially the ones with suede, are extremely delicate. Only use mild soap for regular cleaning.

How to wash Vans in Washing Machine?

First, remove any excess dirt or debris from the Vans shoes using a soft-bristled brush or a clean cloth. Next, place the shoes in a mesh laundry bag or pillowcase to protect them from getting damaged in the machine. Use a mild detergent and set the washing machine to a gentle cycle with cold water. Once the cycle is complete, remove the shoes from the mesh bag or pillowcase and allow them to air dry naturally. Do not use the dryer. I myself prefer to clean Vans manually and only use the washing machine in a pinch.


Vans are highly collectible and sought-after shoes. However, they are made with sensitive materials. Therefore, you should learn to take care of and clean them carefully. After all, you wouldn’t want your valuable items to get damaged, right? All you need is patience and attention to detail, along with the knowledge that we’ve passed on before!