Pair of stylish sneakers hanging on color wall

Clean sneakers are the envy of many. There's just nothing like the look of brand-new, clean sneakers. Of course, the minute you wear them, someone's bound to step on your foot, you'll spill something on them, or find the one mud puddle in an entire area. So much for your clean sneaks.

There's every chance that you spent some pretty decent hard-earned cash on those sneakers. They’re an investment – and investments need proper care. Don't make your best pair of sneakers something that you can only wear to the gym because they’re soiled and no longer presentable. Whether you wear them with a pair of leggings or with jeans, you want them to look their best. Yet, you don't want to affect their functionality or damage the material when you clean them. This presents a challenge.

Fear not – we're going to give you some tips on cleaning your sneakers.

Before You Wash

Stop! Don't grab those sneakers and just throw them in the wash machine yet. You could negatively impact the ability of your shoes to provide a responsive feel and consistent cushioning. Why? Because washing machines can affect the integrity of the foam and the shoes’ structure. This is particularly applicable in the case of running shoes.

To high temperatures and water, some foams are highly sensitive. As rule, hand wash any shoe made with the elastic material referred to as EVA. It's used to create flexible, soft foam. A more durable, springy plastic, TPU, is used in foams which hold up better when machine washed.

Washing Tips

  • When it comes to clean sneakers, remember this: Spot cleaning always offers less of a risk and helps extend your sneakers’ life span.
  • Regardless, should you actually throw your sneakers into the washing machine, use a gentle cycle and avoid agitators. Before you put your sneaks in, wipe off as much debris as possible.
  • Wash the laces separately. Think about putting them in a mesh laundry bag or a pillowcase so they don't get tangled.

Spot Cleaning Methods By Material

  • Canvas – This gets dirty easily but it's highly durable. A cleaning paste and toothbrush will serve you well here. Use warm water and baking soda in equal parts. In the mixture, dip the toothbrush and then scrub till clean. With the mixture still on them, allow your shoes to dry. Any hardened baking soda pieces can then be wiped away with a damp cloth.
  • Knit – With knit shoes, you must be as gentle as possible. Compared to other fabrics, they are extremely fragile. It's too rough to brush them, so use a soft cloth. On this delicate fabric, harsh chemicals and most laundry detergents should not be used. Rather, use cold water and a mild bar soap. With a wet towel, wipe off remaining soap and then let air dry.
  • Synthetic leather – You should wipe down dirty areas with a damp cloth soaked in mild laundry detergent and warm water. For a minute or two, you can use a brush to gently scrub problem areas. Remove remaining laundry detergents with a soft dry cloth. Air dry. Note: Mr. Clean Magic Eraser works great on white shoes.
  • Mesh – As great as this breathable fabric is for runners, dust and dirt catch easily in the netting. To remove excess dirt, use a dry brush. Mix together one part vinegar and one part baking soda to treat problem areas. For about 15 minutes, let the solution set. For a minute or two after that, gently scrub the areas. With a soft wet rag, wipe them clean and let air dry.

Are You in the Market for Some Clean, Fresh Sneakers?

Before you shop anywhere else… STOP! Check out our impressive inventory at Against All Odds. You will be glad you did.
May 06, 2021 — Matt Kwon