Some sneakerheads insist on having a reliable shoe cleaner handy, but with so many options on the market, it's hard to figure out which ones do the job and which don’t. To help you sort through all the different brands and types of shoe cleaner, we’ve put together a comprehensive shopping guide.
Included here is everything from household names such as Jason Markk and Crep Protect to lesser-known brands and hidden gems.
And as well as highlighting the 11 best shoe cleaners out there, we’ve also included our short and simple guide on how to clean your sneakers. Scroll on to find out the best shoe cleaners and to learn how to keep your kicks fresh for longer.
The 11 best shoe cleaners available now
Key Products: Premium Shoe Cleaner and Quick Wipes Buy: Jason Markk, sneaker retailers such as Sneakersnstuff and Solebox, and Amazon
Editor’s Notes: Jason Markk was founded in 2007 and has since opened what it calls the “first drop-off sneaker care service” in Los Angeles, with a London equivalent following shortly after. The brand offers a vast array of products, ranging from kits and basic shoe cleaners to extra shoe laces and insoles.
Jason Markk founder Jason Angsuvarn says, “Jason Markk continues to push the envelope with innovative product, service, and experience for today's sneakerhead. Our forward approach to products and commitment to sustainable practices has allowed us to remain the world's most trusted shoe care brand on the market for over a decade.”
Key Products: Different types of brushes, Advanced Shoe Cleaner and Conditioner, and Sneaker Wipes Buy: Reshoevn8r
Editor’s Notes: Reshoevn8r was founded in 2010 and offers a solid lineup of sneaker cleaning supplies and utensils. In addition to cleaning products, Reshoevn8r also carries adjustable shoe trees for un-creasing your shoes, and Sole Shields, a clear protective film that helps keep your soles clean after wear.
Key Products: Sneaker Protector, Sneaker Deodorizer, Sneaker Cleaner, and Saddle Soap Buy: KIWI and Amazon
Editor’s Notes: KIWI is based in New Zealand and offers a number of sneaker cleaning products. Its MVP, though, is KIWI Saddle Soap, one of the best leather cleaners on the market, simultaneously cleaning, softening, and preserving smooth leather goods and not limited to shoes.
Key Products: Footwear & Fashion Eco-Cleaner, Premium Protector, and Premium Freshener Buy: Liquiproof LABS, END., Offspring, ASOS, Zalando, Nordstrom
Editor’s Notes: Liquiproof LABS uses natural ingredients to create cleaning solutions that are suitable for use on all fabrics, including suede, nubuck, leather, sheepskin, and canvas. The major selling point here is that Liquiproof LABS products aren't harmful to the environment.
Key Products: CARBON Sneaker Care, CARBON Cleaning Foam, CARBON Midsole Cleaner, and CARBON Protecting Spray Buy: Collonil, Overkill, and Wood Wood
Editor’s Notes: German brand Collonil dates back to 1909 and takes a no-nonsense approach to sneaker cleaning, with a wide array of products ranging from waterproofing and cleaning to deodorizing.
Speaking about the brand's signature CARBON shoe care line, a Collonil spokesperson tells Highsnobiety, “Over 100 years' shoe care experience combined with Hikmet Sugoer's over 30 years of sneaker knowledge resulted in the Collonil CARBON line, comprising highly effective products from a sneakerhead for sneakerheads.”
Key Products: Easy Cleaner, Foam Tex, and Water & Stain Repellent Buy: Angelus Direct
Editor’s Notes: Angelus is best known as the go-to sneaker paint brand for customizers, but the Santa Fe Springs-based company also has a strong selection of sneaker cleaners. Angelus was founded in 1907 as Angelus Shoe Polish, but after moving into sneaker cleaners, the brand now makes leather paints, leather dyes, and conditioners.
Key Products: Premium Sneaker Cleaning Solution and Premium Crepe Rubber Suede Brush Buy: SneakersER
Editor’s Notes: SneakersER was founded in Glasgow, Scotland in 2015 and is planning to follow up its hometown flagship with a branch in Selfridges on London's Oxford Street. It is also stocked at Galeries Lafayette in Paris. Speaking to Highsnobiety, SneakersER director Robert Stewart calls his brand "the premium choice for sneaker cleaning aficionados.”
Key Products: Spray, Cure, Wipes, Eraser (for suede and nubuck), Cleaning Solution Buy: Crep Protect
Editor’s Notes: Crep Protect was started in 2012 and has since become one of the most popular sneaker cleaning brands out there. Alongside its wide range of products, Crep Protect also has what it calls “CP Thrones” — essentially old-school cleaning stations. These give potential customers a free sample of the brand's products by offering on-site cleaning services at events such as sneaker conventions.
Key Products: Shoe Cleaner Buy: Pink Miracle
Editor’s Notes: The great thing about Pink Miracle Shoe Cleaner is that it’s good for use on a variety of materials. The brand claims it works on any washable material, including leather, nubuck, and suede — all of which are among the trickiest to clean. Pink Miracle has been around for more than 30 years and that experience is reflected in the quality of its products.
Key Products: Sneaker Cleaner and Sneaker Wipes Buy: Sneaker LAB
Editor’s Notes: Sneaker LAB was founded in South Africa in 2012 and says its products are environmentally friendly, water-based, readily biodegradable, and come in recyclable packaging. The brand is available in 50 countries worldwide, including the USA, as well as in Europe, Africa, and Asia.
Key Products: Magic Eraser Buy: Mr. Clean
Editor’s Notes: Proctor & Gamble brand Mr. Clean is most often associated with wiping down kitchen surfaces, but the brand’s Magic Eraser is one of the best sneaker cleaners out there. All you need is the sponge-like Magic Eraser, water, and soap if it's a deep clean. Scrub your sneaker softly and watch the magic happen. Works great on leather and midsoles.
How to clean your sneakers
Step 1: Set up
To begin, set up your station so everything you need is within reach. Chefs call this “mise en place.” Remove the laces from your sneakers.
Step 2: Remove dirt
Remove any excess dirt from your sneakers by knocking the soles of your shoes together and using a soft brush or damp towel to rub off any remaining dirt. This will already improve most surface-level scuffs.
Step 3: Spot clean
To spot clean your sneakers, use a quick wipe. Depending on the material, quick wipes should get most sneakers looking fresh in a matter of minutes. Our pro tip is to use a dab and twist motion, which will help lift whatever stain you’re tackling.
Step 4: Deep clean
If your shoes need extra attention, deep clean them. Do this by dipping your brush in hot water and then pouring some cleaning solution onto it. Apply the brush to the upper of your sneaker and gently scrub back and forth. Work up a lather so the bubbles get to work.
Step 5: Rinse and repeat
Use a microfiber towel to remove excess soap and suds, and then inspect your work. If you feel your sneaker needs more attention, repeat step four. You can also use a toothbrush for hard-to-reach places. Another pro tip is to use a whitening toothpaste on white canvas, leaving the material porcelain white.
Step 6: Midsoles
Clean your midsoles like you cleaned the upper, using your brush and cleaning solution. But before you use those, another pro tip: take a magic sponge, dab a bit of water on it, apply some cleaning solution, and start gently scrubbing at the midsole. The magic sponge should make light work of dirt and stains, but if you feel you need a deeper clean, lather up your brush and scrub away. Use the microfiber towel to partially dry the midsoles.
Step 7: Laces
You can clean your laces in the washing machine or by scrubbing them with a toothbrush and cleaning solution. Our tip, though, is to use a fresh pair of laces, which can be purchased online or at a variety of sneaker retailers. It’s cheap and a much easier way to get your shoes looking fresh again.
Step 8: Dry overnight
Once you’re done cleaning your sneakers, leave them to dry overnight.
Step 9: Weatherproof
Once your sneakers are dry and you’ve re-laced them, take some weatherproofing spray and give your sneakers a good coating. Be sure to follow the instructions on the bottle, as they can differ from brand to brand.
Watch the full video on how to clean your sneakers below:
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