Cleaning Sneakers: A Guide

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Having a pair of sneakers is one of the essential wardrobe must-haves. It’s not hard to imagine how so many people of all ages in the world have one. They are versatile and perfect for almost every occasion, comfortable to wear, and relatively cheap. Along with the trend, though, is the stress of cleaning. The crazy weather, combined with overuse, almost always translates to unfashionably dirty sneakers.

To help ease your stress, we compiled this cleaning guide for sneakers of (almost) all types. By the time you finish reading this guide, we hope that you will finally give your favorite shoes the TLC they need.

Know the Material

Sneakers come in many materials. Some are smooth and leathery, others a bit rough. There are even those that have a velvety texture. It pays to read the tags inside the shoes to determine what they are made. Each of them needs their specialized cleaning process to keep it on tiptop shape. Doing a universal method might damage them one way or another, thus making a specialized cleaning necessary.

It also is important to note that machine washing is NOT an option when cleaning sneakers. If anything, it will just damage your shoes. If there is any part of the shoes you can use your washer for, then the shoelaces are your best option.

Cleaning Leather Sneakers

Arguably, this one is the most common sneaker type. While most are made of relatively inexpensive faux leather, it also pays to care for them as shoes are an investment. To start, shake off all the excess dirt attached to the sneakers. Remove the soles inside to prevent it from getting wet. Then, mix gentle soap with water until it forms a lather. Using a white microfiber cloth, gently rub the mixture all over the surface, making sure to pay extra attention to spots with stubborn stains. Once you are satisfied with how clean it is, remove the soap with another towel soaked in water before air drying in a well-ventilated area.

Air drying prevents the leather from cracking and the entire shoe from smelling bad, thus making it a crucial part of the cleaning process. As for the insoles, though, never let them touch the water, or else you run the risk of shoes smelling like a dumpster. It can help to sundry them since natural heat is believed to be able to kill some of the bacteria and release all those musty shoe smells. When your leather sneakers are good to go, you can also opt to rub some leather conditioner too. (Read: How to Clean Your Leather Jackets)

Cleaning Canvas Sneakers

This type of sneakers is common among those who engage in activities such as skateboarding and stunt biking. However, although it is relatively light, it is also easier to mess up. Luckily, canvas sneakers are durable. To clean, start with the shaking and insole removing process. Using an old toothbrush, apply the detergent and water formula in the leather sneakers segment all over the canvas and outside soles. Don’t forget to scrub those parts with tough stains too!

Since canvas is absorbent, anticipate that some of the cleaning liquid will seep into the inside. Because of this, you have to rinse the entire shoe in the water. To get rid of the excess water, pat it with a dry towel before stuffing the insides with newspaper for good measure. Like leather sneakers, airdrying is the only option.

Cleaning Suede Sneakers

Now, some sneakers are made of suede and, thus, very delicate. They must not get wet, especially when cleaning. For this, there is only one option: using a suede cleaning kit. Do not, and we repeat DO NOT dare try home cleaning methods. Unless you are a pro like a professional shoe repair person or shoemaker, then do not risk doing home methods. These kits are placed on a decent price point and are a worthy investment. For Singapore residents, the Jason Markk Suede Cleaning Kit is available on Shopee, Lazada, as well as Robinsons. Arms Originals also have theirs and are at the same price points as the other brand. As always, follow package instructions to prevent further damage to your sneakers.

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