Sneakers don’t always get the respect they deserve when it comes to care and maintenance. There are typically two types of people:
- Those who throw their sneakers in the washing machine once a month.
- Those who wear their shoes until they’re caked in dirt and then throw them away.
If we’re talking about a cheap $20 pair of sneakers, there’s nothing wrong with the above. But what if you’ve just dropped $1,000 on a brand-new pair of limited-edition Jordans? If you want them to stay clean and intact—maintaining both their value and style—you need to practice proper sneaker care.
Read on to discover how to take care of sneakers.
Cleaning and Maintenance Tips
How you clean your sneakers will largely depend on the material, so make sure you know what they’re made of before continuing. The easiest solution is to invest in sneaker care products made for your shoe type. But there are other solutions:
How to care for fabric sneakers
Wipe the sneakers with a dry cloth to remove loose dirt and then create a cleaning solution from warm water and a drop of dish soap. Grab an old toothbrush, dip it in the solution, and gently brush the shoes in small circles.
Moisten a cloth with clean water and run it over the shoes to remove the soap.
Dab the shoes with a dry paper towel, stuff newspapers inside, and then leave the shoes to dry.
How to care for leather sneakers
If your leather or faux leather shoes are dirty, clean them with a solution made from one-part white vinegar and one-part cold water. Clean gently with a cloth and don’t saturate the shoes.
Scuffs can be buffed out with shoe polish.
How to care for suede sneakers
Keep suede shoes dry and use a soft-bristled brush to remove dirt. A good sneaker care kit will help you to shift ingrained stains, scuffs, and marks.
Should you wash sneakers in the washing machine?
Keep those sneakers away from the washing machine! It’s a heavy-duty clean that could loosen the glues and damage the fabrics.
How often should you wash sneakers?
It’s a matter of preference and will largely depend on how clean you want them, how often they are used, and how dirty they are. However, we recommend cleaning them after they have been exposed to bad weather, dirt, or sand.
What about the laces?
You can wash the laces by soaking them in a bowl of water with a drop of dish soap. You’ll have to remove them first, of course!
After removing your shoes, stuff them with newspaper or tissue paper. It’ll help to remove excess water from the rain and your sweat. Just as importantly, it’ll reduce creases and prevent bad odors.
Here are some other essential sneaker shoe care and storage tips:
- Place dryer sheets in the shoes to improve the smell and keep them fresh.
- Keep your sneakers away from heat and light.
- Rotate your shoes to avoid wearing the same pair over and over again.
- Don’t store sneakers when they are still wet. Dry them out first.
- Use silica gel packets if you sweat a lot or live in a very humid area.
- Use shoe trees as needed to change the shape but refrain from using them for long periods.
- If you have a lot of sneakers, keep them in their original boxes and place them on racks/shelves.
You can also invest in sneaker storage options, including sneaker display boxes.
A few scuffs and the odd stain can be fixed using the cleaning methods outlined above. But what happens if your sneakers are all but destroyed? What happens if your Air Jordans have lost their pump, and your Dunks are on their last legs?
How to restore worn-out sneakers
Restoration will depend on the material and state of the sneakers, but there are some things to keep in mind:
- Bathe: Start with a good wash. Add some drops of dish soap to a bucket of water, dip a soft-bristled brush inside, and scrub. Don’t submerge the shoes and don’t apply detergent directly to the shoes.
- Remove Creases: This is a risky step, so take it easy and look for alternatives if you can’t afford the risk. When the shoes have been cleaned, wet the toes, cover with a cotton cloth, and then iron. Be sure to thoroughly dry the shoes afterwards.
- Paint and Finish: If the colors have faded, look for some shoe paint and touch them up. For suede that has lost its buttery softness, pick up a brass brush; for leather that looks old, use a brush and polish.
- Re-Glue: If the sole is coming away from the shoe, grab some shoe glue, stuff paper inside the shoe, and then apply the glue to the problem area. Clamp the shoes together using something heavy and then wait for them to dry.
- Replace the Laces: Laces aren’t as easy to repair as the shoes themselves, but they are much easier and cheaper to replace. The best solution, therefore, is to simply find a suitable pair and then switch them.
DIY vs. professional restoration services!
Restoration is long and messy work, and if you don’t know what you’re doing, you could waste several hours and make a mess of your sneakers. If you’re confident that you can do the work yourself, by all means, do it. If not, leave it to the professionals. It can be expensive, but it’ll ensure the best results.
Sneakers are meant to be worn, not hoarded away in a closet, so don’t be afraid to take those limited-edition Jordans out on occasion.
Just remember to:
- Use sneaker care products or methods specific to the type of material
- Store away from heat, light, and moisture
- Use protective sprays and shields
- Clean after heavy use; dry if they are wet
As long as you use the right sneaker care products and methods, those prized shoes will remain clean and stylish for years to come.