Cleaning your sneakers seems simple until you actually have to do it. There are actually a lot of factors to consider, such as what material your sneakers are made of, what type of cleaning products you need to use, and how you should use them. To help you figure out how to clean your sneakers properly, we’ve put together a quick and painless guide and video that will have your sneakers looking box-fresh in no time at all.

While certain fabrics such as suede or mesh often require special treatment, this is our general guide to cleaning more versatile materials like leather or canvas. Check out the steps below and watch the full video on how to clean your sneakers at the bottom of the page.

What you need to clean your sneakers

A towel
A brush of some sort
Cleaning solution
A toothbrush for hard-to-reach places
Weather-proofing spray
Whitening toothpaste
An extra set of laces
Magic sponges
A microfiber towel
Quick wipes
A small bucket or container and some hot water
Your dirty sneakers
An apron or old clothes you don’t mind getting dirty

Scroll on for our step by step guide on 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.” Be sure to 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 into hot water and then pouring some cleaning solution on to 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.
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Now, watch the full video on how to clean your sneakers below:

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Footwear Staff Writer

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