How to Clean Your Sneakers Properly

Not all sneakers are created equal.

If you’re wondering how to clean your sneakers, be aware that each shoe is likely going to be made from slightly different materials that might require different handling and cleaning than other shoes. In general though, when it comes to sneakers specifically, you can follow some basic guidelines that stay fairly true across the board.

What You’ll Need to Clean Your Sneakers

Be sure to wear an apron or old clothes that you won’t mind getting a bit dirty as you go through the cleaning process. We recommend having the following tools and various elements on-hand in preparation for actually cleaning your sneakers:

  • A towel or rag to wipe with
  • A brush
  • A toothbrush for hard-to-get-at areas
  • Weather-proofing spray
  • New laces
  • Sponges
  • Wet wipes
  • Small container or bucket
  • Hot water

    How to Clean Your Sneakers: The Steps

    Go through the following steps for fresher, cleaner sneakers that will look almost as good as the day you bought them.

    1. Dry Brush/Clear Away Loose Dirt

    Try hitting the soles of your shoes together to clear away dirt. Use the brush or dampen the cloth to rub off the remaining dirt that didn’t come off with the sole slapping. For canvas shoes, use the toothbrush to scrub away any dirt that’s sticking more firmly in cracks and crevices.

    2. Apply Mild Cleaning Solution to Stains and Spot Clean

    Mix a cleaning solution by combining a bit of laundry detergent with warm water. Use this solution by dipping the end of the cloth to gently spot clean stains on your shoes. Wet wipes can also spruce up your shoes and make them look almost perfectly clean with a quick wipe over.

    3. Remove Excess Soap and Suds

    After using the wipes and homemade cleaning solution, use your towel or rag to wipe off any excess soap or suds. If left to soak into your shoes, these could actually cause stains of their own.

    4. Clean Leather Shoes with Leather Shoe Conditioner or Treatment

    Wet wipes and our homemade cleaning solution can work just fine on leather shoes as well. However, as leather shoes are made from a higher-end material, we would advise cleaning them with products made specifically for leather. You can find a leather shoe conditioner or treatment online just about anywhere.

    5. Deep Clean

    If the spot treatment didn’t work to get all the stains or dirt out, the next step would be a deep clean. Do this by dipping your brush or toothbrush in hot water and pouring a cleaning solution on it. Use the brush to scrub your sneakers and work up a lather. The more you lather up, the more likely the bubbles you build are to have a good cleaning effect on your shoes.

    6. Wash Laces and Insoles in Washing Machine

    Remove your laces and insoles (if you can) for their own deep clean. We suggest putting them in a pillowcase for protection while they go through the washing machine. A washing machine can give them a deeper, more thorough clean than you’re capable of accomplishing by hand. Of course, shoelaces aren’t forever. If you’d rather replace them altogether, this is a good time to do it.

    7. Wash Soles

    Sneaker soles are some of the toughest areas of a shoe to clean off. Don’t be afraid to scrub a little harder when it comes to this part of the shoe. Use the wet wipes, your toothbrush, and/or the cleaning solution.

    8. Air Dry

    All shoes should be air-dried. Let them dry overnight. If you have an air vent to place them on, that can help your sneakers dry faster.

    9. Spray Shoes

    Once your sneakers are dry and you’ve replaced the laces, put a good coat or two of weather-proofing spray on your freshly cleaned kicks. This can help prevent weather damage or staining when you wear your shoes out and about. Pay close attention to the instructions on the bottle as they vary spray to spray.

    Find the Right Clothes to Go with Your Fresh Sneakers from illCurrency

    You’ve cleaned up your sneakers, now it's time to pick up some new threads. Check out illCurrency's collections and treat yourself!

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