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How to Clean Sneakers


You put a lot of effort into keeping your clothes clean; some items go to the dry cleaners, others get hand-washed, some things require a delicate cycle, others have to hang on the line to dry. It can be a lot. When you’re doing so much work to keep your clothes clean, there’s something else that may get neglected in the meantime – your shoes, specifically, your sneakers. You may be taking the time to polish or remove scuffs from dress shoes, but are you cleaning your sneakers regularly? Take a look at some helpful tips that will keep your sneakers looking clean and help them last longer. 

Remove the Surface

If you’ve been walking through fields or gotten caught in the rain and have dried mud on your sneakers, you’re going to want to start by removing any excess dirt from the surface of your shoes before you can work on removing any deep stains. Knock the soles together gently to remove clumps of dirt, and try using a soft brush to remove clingier dirt (an old toothbrush will do the job nicely and allow you to remove dirt from any creases in the shoe material.)

Wipe With a Washcloth

For the next step, you’ll need some clean lukewarm water, a mild laundry detergent, and a washcloth. Make sure to avoid harsh detergents, as they can leave yellow stains on your shoes. Dip the washcloth in soapy water and gently wipe the stains away. Then rinse the washcloth, dip it into clean water, and use it to wipe away the soap suds and any remaining dirt. If you need to, you can return to the soft toothbrush to scrub away stains on the outsoles of the shoes. 

Dry and Treat

Set the sneakers on a clean towel and allow them to air-dry at room temperature. Once they’re dry, you can remove the laces and treat the shoe leather with a leather conditioning treatment. Follow the directions on the product to make sure that the shoe material is both clean and protected. 

Laces and Insoles

Your laces and the insoles of your shoes need some attention too. Your shoes will look better if the laces are clean to match the rest of the shoe, and clean insoles will not only feel better on your feet, they’ll smell better, too. Place the insoles and laces inside of a pillowcase. Set the washing machine to cold/delicate. Run the wash using a gentle detergent. Let the insoles air-dry before returning them to the shoes. 

Avoid washing your sneakers in the washing machine. Even in a gentle cycle, the agitation can affect the shape and structural integrity of the shoe, and in many cases submerging the shoe in water can negatively impact the foam.