Summer is over which means your sneakers are probably in bad shape, especially the white sneakers. All of these hikes, ice cream coulis and BBQ sauce spots can build up pretty quickly during those hot, hectic months. Sure, it can be cool to wear a pair of canvas sneakers, but sometimes you want to keep your sneakers fresh for as long as possible.
There was a time when cleaning your sneakers meant throwing them in the laundry or washing them with a random household cleaning product (and praying that your shoes wouldn't be damaged along the way). Nowadays, just as there are maintenance products for your city shoes, there are also specialized products for sneakers. Here is our guide to the most basic things you might want in a sneaker maintenance kit, as well as tips on how to keep your shoes in the best possible condition!
CLEANING / MAINTENANCE
A few years ago, "Jason Markk" made a name for himself with a specialized cleaning kit for sneakers. Since then, the company has grown into a full line of shoe care items, with a service store in Los Angeles, but their kit remains their best selling product. This kit costs around 15 € and is quite easy to use
- Just a bottle of liquid soap, gentle enough for any sneaker material, and a stiff bristle brush. And it was so effective at cleaning sneakers that it not only appealed to millions of people, but also attracted competitors to the market. Today, you can get similar kits from companies such as "Crep Protect", "Reshoevn8r" and ShoeMGK ".
There are a ton of YouTube videos comparing these different companies. We only tried Jason Markk and "Crep Protect" - and frankly, we found that they were mostly the same. Complex's "Don't Believe the Hype" group, however, performed a series of blind tests, where they found Crep to be a bit better.
The Crep Protect kit is delivered in a rigid zipped case, which can be very practical for storage. And it has a sponge cloth and a disposable wipe. Jason Markk's kit costs $ 2 less and comes with about 20% more liquid soap. On average, the two are roughly equal, in our eyes.
That said, all of these companies have dedicated followers for a reason. Their kits are reasonably affordable and simple to use. They are safe and effective. And they work on a whole range of materials, which is not something you can guarantee with your household chemicals. We have used them on everything from suede to leather to canvas. They're even pretty soft on the knitted mesh uppers of Nike Flyknits.
Here is a little "tutorial" to quickly wash your shoes (with the kit preferably):
To clean your sneakers, wet the brush in clean water and apply a few drops of the cleaner directly to the brush. Then rub your shoes until you lather. Repeat as necessary until you feel your shoes are clean. Then wipe your shoes with paper towels. If you feel that there is still cleaning solution left on your shoes, you can rinse the brush and scrub your shoes once or twice more. Once you're done, let them dry outside, preferably in the sun (I usually stuff my shoes with newspaper to help them keep their shape). As with leather shoes, you will want to give your sneakers a day of rest before wearing them again. Otherwise, if there is moisture in your shoes and you bend them back and forth, you can prematurely decompose the material (think about what happens with the wet cardboard).
In the photos above, you can see what Derek's Vans x Engineered Garments look like before and after cleaning, so you can get this result with the kit or without, it will be just a little complicated but don't worry on will give you some tips!
REMOVE IMPORTANT TASKS FROM SNEAKERS
If you find that you have particularly stubborn stains on canvas, the spongiest material in everyday sneakers, try some DIY at home.
For these heavier spots, mix equal parts of white vinegar, baking soda and water until a good paste is obtained. Then rub your shoes with what's everywhere. You can even put your laces in the mix if they are as dirty as the basketball. After a few hours of drying, they will form a flaky layer. Shake them and you will have cooler sneakers than before. The solution is not always perfect, but that's what I do when I have my shoes in bad condition after skating for example.
If you want to stifle the problem before it even matures, there are also preventive measures. The same places that sell sports shoe cleaners often have some kind of spray that covers your sneakers. That way anything that stains your sneakers will slide on the floor. These sprays cost a few euros and it is quite effective.
From what we can say, these sprays are not too different from the waterproofers that we often recommend for suede sneakers. Which means if you have something like this it should do it and you won't need to buy any of these sprays in store. If you have canvas sneakers, you can even use stain repellent from your local hardware store.
Note that you do not want to use these sprays on calf leather shoes. Unlike sneakers and suede sneakers, calfskin shoes need to be conditioned from time to time. If you spray the surface, it will be difficult for the leather to absorb the conditioning agents it needs - which means it will be more likely to dry.
There are other products here and there. To relieve the odor of a pair of overripe sneakers, use Odor Insoles or sprays, you can find this in almost all shoe stores. If you need to refresh the sides of your white soles, rub them with Mr. Clean's magic erasers (though, keep these things as a last resort, as they are a mild abrasive that can remove color). You can clean the shoe laces in the washing machine by first throwing them in a mesh bag.
One thing to keep in mind is that all sneakers end up dying. Unlike leather goods, there is only one thing you can do to resuscitate. Keep them clean if you want, but recognize that most of them are not immortal and that one day you will have to let them end their lives.
THE COMPLETE GUIDE TO CLEANING YOUR SNEAKERS FOR FREE:
1. Wipe gently with a damp cloth.
Apply a damp cloth to your sneakers to dissolve the dirt or mud that sticks to it, then carefully rub the remaining marks. Use the cleaning movement that works best for you to get rid of dirt. For canvas surfaces, try a pressing and twisting motion to lift the dirt.
2. Clean stubborn stains
For hard to remove stains, apply mild shampoo for sneakers and brush lightly with a soft toothbrush. Wipe with your damp towel. Rinse and repeat until the stain disappears. (You can also use the toothbrush to scrape debris from the outsole.)
3. Let your sneakers dry completely
After cleaning your shoes, put them in a warm place to dry them in the open air. It can take up to several days depending on their humidity level. A hack for faster drying if you run out of time: insert crumpled paper towels. This will absorb some of the excess moisture.
5. Stuff your sneakers after each use.
Everyone knows - and hates - the toe crease that forms in sneakers after a day of walking. The best way to eliminate this? Stuff your shoes before putting them away. If you've long lost the original stuffing, coarse-grained newspapers are a great substitute.
6. Alternate your sneakers
Try your best not to wear the same pair of sneakers two days in a row. This allows them to rest and dry completely between each use, thus extending their lifespan.
7. Never, never use a washing machine
The same goes for using a dryer. This can seriously damage the leather or canvas and cause the seams to loosen.
Now that you know everything about keeping your sneakers as clean as they were when you bought them, you can consult our collection of unique streetwear style sneakers with a complete mix of cultures and styles!