“Shoes keep it clean. Sneakers get dirty.” The slogan for Chuck Taylors Converse All Star. Oh, how it sucks to finally own shoes that live up to the sales pitch. Every foot fitted in a Converse soon comes to realize the sneaker gets dirty.
With some elbow grease, and a few tips from sourced professionals, it won’t be the end of the world.
Converse are quality sneakers. If you give them quality care, they will probably look better than when you got them.
Before we begin. Let us just clear the air on some misconceptions.
The sun will damage your wet shoes. The basic answer is yes. But, when you give a little more attention to the method of sun drying, you will enjoy eco-friendly cleaned sneakers.
Bleach gets rid of stains. This is true in most cases. Not in the case with shoes. Uncontrolled amounts of bleach can cause your sneakers to yellow.
Washing machines save time. Okay, now this is just lazy. This is the worst way to clean you shoes, but probably the best way to get yourself back in the store looking for a new pair.
While on the topic of home appliances, it is best also to stay away from using a tumble dryer. The heat from dryers can warp the sneaker and mess up the glue holding everything in place.
With that done we can move on to expertly advised ways to clean shoes.
Making the preparations
You must make sure everything is done right; one wrong move and you might have to start again.
You have to remove shoelaces for two reasons:
- It helps to expose more of the shoe’s surface area.
- They sponge a lot of dirt that can be detrimental to the rest of the shoe when washing.
Wash the shoelaces separately by soaking them in warm water and soap. Just like other pieces of clothing, shoelaces unfortunately don’t hold their bright white color. You might think of replacing them entirely.
If possible, remove the inner soles of the sneakers. Just like the laces, they too hold a lot of dirt. The dirt the hold is a bit more gross. They soak in all the horrible sweat from your feet.
You might not want your entire shoe embracing that dirt. But you might be into that kind of thing, no judgment.
The sneaker itself
After removing the laces (and possibly the soles) remove the loose dirt of the sneaker. It is preferred to use a soft-bristle brush. This helps to prevent you from damaging any part of the canvas or leather, since you will probably take your frustration, of buying white sneaker, out on the sneakers.
After you cleaned out all the nooks and crannies, including the underneath part, you can rinse the shoe under cold running water. The reason for cold water is simply so as not to let any colors from logos stain the shoes.
Methods to Clean Sneakers
With all the prep done we can explore the many methods of getting your sneakers to pull attention from your face to your feet, in a good way.
The Converse Way
The Converse guys care just as much about your shoes as you do. So, they offer on their website the steps they suggest you use to clean their shoes.
Canvas and Leather: With a damp cloth, lukewarm water and mild soap wipe your sneakers down.
Suede: Brush dirt off with a suede brush, when dry.
Drying: Dry at room temperature. Stuff the sneakers with paper towels to keep its shape and change it often throughout the drying.
- As they put it, “DO NOT MACHINE WASH OR DRY.”
- Keep away from direct heat.
The Baking Soda/Vinegar Mix
Okay so now you are going to need the two ingredients mentioned in the heading of this section.
Step 1: The quantities don’t really matter. You need enough to make a paste that can cover the shoe. Use about half a cup of baking soda and three-quarter cups of vinegar just to be safe.
The amounts also depend on how big your shoe is.
- It is important that you refrain from using any metal tools, like metal bowls or metal cutlery. These items can have an effect that is dangerous on the sneaker.
- Use white vinegar. Red vinegar can stain, the reason is in the name.
Step 2: Get a soft brush to scrub the paste on the surface of the sneaker. Pay more attention to the dirtiest areas. Let the paste rest, for three to four minutes, to soften and pull out any tough dirt.
- Do not use the same brush as before, it’s probably dirty now. If you do, at least give it a clean of its own.
Step 3: Rinse the shoe under running water again. Keep rinsing until as much of the baking soda and vinegar is removed from the sneaker.
- Do it one more time, because it probably wasn’t done right the first time.
Step 4: Fill a basin or bucket with cold water and a little detergent. Place the sneakers in the water solution. Rub the sneakers with a cloth to insure they get a thorough washing.
- Make sure the detergent used is not chlorinated detergent or bleach.
Step 5: Rinse the sneakers free of any soap, under running water.
Yes, toothpaste works well on your teeth if you use it often. It also does a good job on white sneakers.
If MacGyver were played by a teenager having to attend a party and the danger was the humiliation of dirty shoes, this would be the method used to make it out alive.
For a quick fix, just to hide the stain, smear toothpaste of the dirty parts and feather the edges out to make it look normal. Also, you might need to use white toothpaste.
These are the steps to use for the person who has more time and attention for their Taylors.
Step 1: You need to use non-gel toothpaste, preferably white toothpaste. Rub it on the affected areas and let it rest for about 10 to 15 minutes.
Step 2: With a damp cloth or a clean sponge, wipe the paste off the shoe.
Step 3: You are probably going to repeat steps 1 and 2 multiple times, until the stain is gone.
Sneaker Lab Method
Sneaker Lab is dedicated to keeping kicks fresh. Their jobs revolve around the issue you are facing when reading this article, talk about a gap in the market.
This method does rely on Sneaker Lab’s cleaning kit. This method is costly. But there are other companies selling similar sneaker cleaner kits.
To find out how to use Sneakers Lab’s cleaning kit visit their website. Or you can read the instructions below.
Step 1: Lightly brush off any loose dirt from the sneakers.
Step 2: Use the wipes to get rid of dirt that had not come off with the brush
Step 3: Spray the entire shoe with the Sneaker Cleaner spray, don’t be shy with the sprays.
Step 4: Wet the bristles of the brush that is part of the kit. Make sure you let any extra water drip off the brush, you don’t want to get your shoes soaked. Then scrub the Sneaker in circular motion. Wax on wax off kind of thing, you might actually become a karate champ with your “kicks”.
Rinse the brush and repeat this step, focusing more on the spots that are difficult to get to. After that wipe down the sneakers with a microfiber towel and let them dry.
- Scrub the entire top part of the shoe before the bottom. You don’t want to get all that extra dirt from under your sneaker all over the part that’s for display.
Step 4: Laces are also important. Get some Sneaker Cleaner smothered on to the laces. Scrub them against each other with your hands and then dip them in water.
Repeat until laces are well soaked, ring them dry and then leave the laces to dry overnight.
Step 5: Back to the Sneakers. Spray the inside with the Odor Protector to get rid of any sweat stench.
Step 6: Use the Sneaker Protector spray, if you don’t fancy cleaning your sneaker soon do not skip this step. This spray is magic and pretty much keeps your shoes safe from dangerous dirt.
DRYING THE SHOES
This section is dedicated to give fully detailed and easy to understand instructions on how to dry the sneakers.
As a reminder do not tumble dry.
Air dry: Place your shoes in a dry, room temperature area. This is a lengthy process, but it saves your soles (excuse the pun).
Using tissue paper: If you decided to use any method of washing your shoes that ended up with them coming out damp this can help you.
Wrap the sneakers with tissue paper. This does not further the cleaning process, rather it absorbs any moisture from the shoe. It also acts as sunscreen blocking harmful rays from the sun, which can yellow your kicks.
Removing Scuff Marks
Scuff marks are a headache and leave everything looking ugly. They are also really hard to get rid of. But your Converse can be free of them. There are multiple ways to get rid of them.
Soap and water
- Use a mild soap, like hand soap, with no added fragrances or colorants.
- Scrub the sneakers firmly with a soapy sponge in circular motions.
This might seem peculiar, but WD-40 is used to pull out moisture and dirt off of many surfaces. This should only be used on the rubber parts of the sneakers and not the canvas.
- Lightly spray WD-40 on the scuff marks.
- Use a rag to wipe off the loosened dirt.
For a less abrasive method using a lemon can work. Lemons are a natural cleaning supply.
- Cut a lemon in half, wipe the rubber surface with the cut side of the lemon.
- Let rest for up to 20 minutes.
- Rinse with cold, clean water.
You want your All Stars bright white. You want to be seen with well kept kicks. So, after intense and heartfelt washing that you never want to do anytime soon, how do you keep them cleaner for longer.
Invest in a water and stain repellent spray. Kiwi Sneaker Protector is a really famous one that can be used to protect canvas and leather. Keep stain remover wipes with you to quickly remedy any mess that might pose as a serious threat in the future.
Now you can let your Taylors live up to the Converse sales pitch, knowing full well how to keep them bright white.