How to wash sneakers


The materials your shoes are made of will help you decide if you should hand wash or machine wash them when they need to be cleaned.

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What is the best way to wash your sneakers?

There’s nothing like the feeling of new shoes: clean, comfortable, and fresh. As you wear them, they may start to look less than their best and you may need to do a bit of upkeep to maintain them. Washing your sneakers correctly will make your shoes last longer, look better, and save you from needing to replace them when they get a little dirty.

Washing your sneakers the wrong way, especially if they’re made from certain types of material, can leave them damaged. Make sure you know how to best care for your kicks with these tips.

Why it is important to wash your sneakers

Cities, rural areas, and even indoor environments can be unkind to your sneakers. Dirt, dust, and water can infiltrate the fabric and leave them looking worn and ugly. 

What’s even worse for sneakers is athletic activities. Even if you only wear your sneakers in the gym, the rub of the equipment can leave oil and dirt stains on the sides of shoes. Even more annoyingly, sweat can cause your sneakers to smell bad and make them feel awful to wear. 

This is where washing comes in. Not only does it keep sneakers looking new and fresh, but it also keeps them hygienic and fun to wear. 

How to clean your sneakers

There are two ways to clean your sneakers: with a washing machine, or by hand.

How to machine wash your sneakers

Step 1: Choose the right machine setting and detergent.

To get the most out of your wash, use the cold wash setting. Washing sneakers in cold water is environmentally friendly and is the best way to not melt any rubber on your sneakers. To kick-off, remove the insoles and laces and place your sneakers in the machine. 

Once your sneakers are in the machine, add laundry detergent to make sure that any dirt or scuffs are thoroughly cleaned off. The detergent will also kill any unwelcome bacteria that can cause the shoe to smell. For especially stinky shoes, add distilled white vinegar too.

You don’t need to use stain removing treatments, which can lift the color from the shoe.

Step 2: Prevent the shoes from damaging your machine.

The most common concern people have when washing their sneakers in the machine is banging around. As your sneakers tumble around, they can cause a lot of noise. This can cause some people to fear that the shoes may break the washing machine

While damage is unlikely, the noise most certainly is annoying. To help prevent any banging around, add a bath towel in with your shoes before turning the machine on.

Step 3: Wash the laces and insoles.

Wash your insoles and laces separately in a hot wash to make sure that any bacteria or staining is entirely removed, and your shoes will look as good as new. 

Once your wash is finished, take the shoes out and air-dry them. Let the laces and insoles dry separately. It may take 24 to 48 hours for everything to dry completely. 

How to hand wash your sneakers 

Step 1: Gather your equipment

Leather and canvas sneakers look great after a handwash. Before you start, you’re going to need to gather a hand towel, hand brush, cleaning solution, a toothbrush, toothpaste, new laces, quick wipes, and a small bowl of hot water.

Step 2: Remove large and excess dirt.

The first step is to remove the laces and insoles from the shoe. Next, shake the shoes out to ensure that any dirt or dust on or inside the shoe is entirely removed. Finally, brush the shoe to clear any dirt or dust that may be hiding in the fabric.

Next, it’s time to spot clean the shoe. Look over the shoe and identify any scuff marks or patches that may look water or weather damaged. Use a wipe to go over these areas, making sure that you get in as deep as possible to remove any surface scuff or deep-seated dirt. You can also dab and twist at this stage with the wipe to dislodge dirt.

Step 3: Deep clean the shoes.

At this stage, your sneakers should be looking fresh. Now it’s time to deep clean. Dip your brush into hot water and give your sneakers a rigorous scrub. Next, add some cleaning solution to the brush and again provide the sneakers with a thorough scrub down, both inside and out.

Next, it’s time to dry the sneaker. Using a towel, rotate it in a dab and twist motion to remove the moisture from the sneaker’s top. Work in a clockwise way around each shoe twice to absorb excess water. 

Step 4: Polish the shoe

Now get some toothpaste (if your shoe is white) and polish over any obvious or hard-to-shift scuffs or abrasions. Add new laces and use fabric freshener spray on the shoes and they’ll be looking like they’re just off the shelf.

What you need to buy for washing your sneakers

LG Ultra Large Capacity

LG Ultra Large Capacity

This machine is perfect for washing your sneakers. Not only does it have a cold wash setting that will get your sneakers looking squeaky clean, but it also has other great features that can be used for much more than cleaning your sneakers. 

Sold by Best Buy and Home Depot 

Sneaker Suds Premium Shoe Cleaning Kit

Sneaker Suds Premium Shoe Cleaning Kit

This handy little kit is great for people who need clean shoes on a budget. This kit will give you great results and can be mixed with other household items to complete the ultimate sneaker hand wash. 

Sold by Amazon


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Lauren Farrell writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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