Love your sneakers? In that case, you probably already know this to be true – shoes need some TLC. 

This is, of course, especially important if you have splurged on expensive pairs of sneakers. Think of them as investments that you can collect, resell or even pass on to your kids. 

Cleaning sneakers can be a bit of a challenge, we know. This is why many of us put it off and often, end up never doing it. Though there are several shoe-cleaning services out there, DIY projects are a lot more satisfying. 

So, read up below, gather your fave kicks and get ready to give them some of that much-needed TLC!

General Cleaning Tips

The ideal way to clean sneakers will depend on the kind of material they are made of. 

But before we get into those specifics, there are some general cleaning tips that you can apply to any pair of sneakers. Getting into a good habit of following these simple cleaning tips will help prevent dirt build-up and make your shoes easier to clean and always looking fresh.

Remove dirt

This one seems pretty obvious, but you’d be surprised how many people forget to do it. If you see dirt on your shoes, wipe them off with a napkin, toothbrush or wet tissue as soon as you can. Acting immediately can help prevent bad stains that will be much harder to get rid of.

Wash the soles

Unless you keep your sneakers stored in a glass case and never use them, you will most likely get your soles dirty. To get rid of the dirt and bacteria trapped in the ridges of your outsoles, rinse off your soles before you step inside your home.

Spot clean

See a stain? Don’t throw your sneakers into the washing machine! Spot clean with a mixture of soap and water or use a spot clean stick that works effectively in taking stains out.

Canvas Sneakers

Photo by Nqobile Vundla on Unsplash

Let’s start with the easy ones first! Canvas sneakers are the easiest to clean that you can even throw them in the wash and let the machine do all the work. Just make sure to put them inside a mesh laundry bag or a pillowcase and keep the settings on delicate. Let them air dry when you’re done. Do not tumble dry!

If you want to be more careful, it is always best to do it by hand. 

  • Mix detergent with water and use this to gently scrub the surface area of the canvas. 
  • You can use a toothbrush or a towel to lift stains and discoloured spots. 
  • Baking soda is also useful in lifting tough stains. 
  • Dry shoes completely before storing them again.

Knit Sneakers

Photo by @plqml // felipe pelaquim on Unsplash

Knit sneakers are so popular because they are light and airy, making them perfect for running and other athletic activities. 

Cleaning knit sneakers can be a bit tricky because of the porous nature and tiny holes in the mesh netting. The mesh uppers can easily trap mud, dirt and sweat and can be pretty hard to clean. 

  • To clean, start by dry brushing the uppers. 
  • Brush out the surface to get rid of any dry dirt or sand that may have settled into the fabric. 
  • Next, create a mix of warm water with a mild detergent or shoe cleaner. 
  • Use this solution to wipe off stains and clean discoloured areas on the surface of the uppers. Don’t forget to wipe the insides too.
  • Let it air-dry after cleaning.

Leather Sneakers

Leather sneakers are stylish enough to be worn with dressier outfits. Still, they are also versatile and can be paired with most casual clothes. 

While we love leather kicks, they are sensitive to abrasion. It is essential to take extra precaution when cleaning them so you don’t cause damage to the leather’s natural patina. 

  • To take out leather stains, use a soft towel or cloth that has been dipped in water. 
  • Wring out the cloth and gently wipe the stained and dirty areas. 
  • For white leather sneakers, you can use a wet toothbrush to remove stains and scuff marks on white leather. 
  • Air-dry completely before putting them back in storage. 
  • It is ideal to use a balm to protect the leather. Apply your leather conditioner all over the shoe surface and buff it out to spread it evenly. 
  • This serves as an extra layer of protection from potentially damaging elements such as moisture, heat and dirt.

Suede Sneakers

Don’t we all just love the look of lush, suede sneakers? This is definitely one of the coolest materials that you can wear. The problem is – it can be such a pain to clean them! 

Suede doesn’t have that protective layer that leather has, it is a lot more vulnerable to getting dirty. Don’t fret; all you need are the right tools.

  • To take out stains, use a suede eraser and gently spot clean areas that have discolourations.
  • Wipe off remaining residue with a clean cloth.
  • For tougher stains, dip a clean cloth in white vinegar after using the suede eraser and slowly rub on the stain. Wipe with a damp towel after and let it dry.
  • Another thing to invest in is a suede brush. Regular brushing maintains the quality of the suede material and also removes dirt.

As long as you know the proper cleaning approach for the specific material of your sneakers, you can definitely do it yourself. Your sneakers will thank you for it. DIY sneaker cleaning can also save you from having to pay for expensive shoe cleaning services. 

Just use the money you saved for a new pair of sneakers instead!