Regularly cleaning your shoes will help keep them looking, and smelling, their best. We know regular maintenance can be a little tough, but removing stains off your shoes without actually washing them is definitely something you can do.
Take white sneakers, for example. They'll spruce up any outfit but the minute those new sneakers come out of the box they're bound to pick up scuff marks and stains. It would be so much easier if we could just toss shoes in the washing machine!
Thankfully, brands like Vessi offer waterproof shoes that can indeed just be tossed in the machine. But, if you don't own Vessis just yet, this article is for you.
With access to some great cleaning instructions on how to clean tennis shoes, you can make sure they stay looking fresh for as long as possible. Even if they're not machine washable.
Should You Wash or Spot Treat Tennis Shoes?
Keeping tennis shoes clean requires proper care and maintenance. This means using the right cleaning methods depending on the kind of tennis shoes you have. Knit shoes, leather shoes, and canvas shoes will each have different requirements.
You might not always have to completely clean your shoes, depending on what kind of tennis shoes and sneakers you have. At times, you might be able to get away with just spot treating them instead. For tennis shoes, using vinegar and a cotton ball to clean any stains is a very useful tip.
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The general rule is that small stains and loose dirt is great for spot treatments, but multiple or large stains need a proper wash. But multiple small or deep stains on your athletic shoes would be much easier to fix by washing them.
For example, a spill on your leather tennis shoes will just need a stain treatment. This works best since you won't spread the stain by throwing the shoes in your washer.
Here are the proper cleaning instructions on how to clean your shoes without ruining them:
1. How Clean Tennis Shoes By Hand Washing
Supplies you'll need:
Dish soap or laundry detergent.
Magic Eraser (for scuff marks on a rubber sole).
Leather conditioner (for leather shoes).
White vinegar (for insoles).
Soft clean towel or clean cloth.
Suede brush (for suede shoes).
A. Use A Dry Scrub Brush (Soft-Bristled)
Remove any loose dirt from the uppers, midsole, and outsole by using a dry, soft-bristled shoe brush. This will help ensure you don't spoil your shoes - especially if they are fabric shoes.
If you don't have a shoe brush, that's no problem. An old toothbrush will work just fine. This especially applies if you want to clean muddy shoes.
B. Make the Cleaning Solution
Using warm water, mix in a small amount of dish soap or mild laundry detergent. You can make a more effective cleaning paste by mixing baking soda and water in equal parts if you're cleaning light-coloured or white shoes.
C. Hand Wash Laces
Remove the laces and apply a small amount of the cleaning solution you just made. Massage it into the laces and then gently rub them together with your hands.
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Repeat until they're clean. Rinse and then dab them dry with a soft cloth. After this, hang them to air dry completely.
D. Clean Outsoles, Insoles, and Midsoles
Apply the cleaning solution to the sole as well. For this, use a soft-bristled brush, toothbrush, or a washcloth dipped in the solution. Then thoroughly clean the outsole and midsole areas.
You can also use a Magic Eraser for this - it works really well. Take your time to clean each part and once you're done rinse using clean water.
For the insoles, first, check if they're removable. If they are the best option is to clean them separately. Apply the same solution, scrub with a brush, and rinse. Then give them enough time to completely dry before you put them back into the shoes.
E. Clean the Uppers
Again using the cleaning solution you made and a soft-bristled brush or damp cloth, thoroughly but gently scrub the uppers in a circular motion. Repeat if necessary.
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When done, use a wet soft cloth or microfiber towel to lift and rinse out as much soapy and dirty water as possible. Repeat until it's fully rinsed.
Avoid rubbing the shoes since this wears down the shoe fabric and might spread any remaining wet dirt.
F. Air Dry
The drying process is another important part of the cleaning sneakers process. After cleaning, air dry your clean sneakers. Most shoes don't do well when exposed to high heat, like in a drying machine.
Allow them to completely dry before you wear them next. Keep in mind that most fabric shoes will take at least 8 hours to dry completely.
2. How to Machine Wash Your Tennis Shoes?
If the idea of hand washing seems daunting to you, we have good news. Some shoes and sneakers, like these from Vessi, can go right into the washing machine.
This makes cleaning them a breeze! However, before you toss them in, gently but thoroughly scrub the soles - especially if they're white shoes.
For this, you'll need:
Grab your shoes, remove the laces and insoles and put them aside. You're only going to need to scrub the soles unless there are any more areas that will need some pre-treating.
a) Mix equal parts of baking soda and water to create a paste.
b) Dip the brush into the paste.
c) Thoroughly scrub the soles to remove stains.
d) Give the cloth stains on the uppers a little scrub as well if needed.
f) Put the shoes, laces and inner soles in a mesh bag or pillowcase. The mesh laundry bag helps protect them from getting tangled.
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g) Use a mild detergent in the washing machine with the shoes. If you prefer not to hear all the banging noise while the machine is running, you can throw in a load of clothes or towels in the same colours as the shoes. This gives the machine a little bit more padding.
h) Run the cycle using warm water.
i) After the wash cycle, pull out the mesh laundry bag. Now the shoes are ready for drying. The best way to do this is to leave them out to air dry - no dryer!
Special Considerations: How to Wash Tennis Shoes Made from Leather
Leather tennis shoes and sneakers are the easiest to clean. If you have loose dirt, you can use a quick solution product like these Crep Protect wipes. Get a wipe and use the soft side to gently wipe and buff out any of the loose dirt and scuff marks.
If the dirt is a little stubborn, you can use the other textured side of your wipes. If you prefer not to use wipes, you can also use a Magic Eraser. It also works pretty well. Just be sure to be a little more gentle since the eraser is more abrasive, so it might damage your uppers if you're too intense.
To easily access those hard-to-reach nooks and crannies in your shoes, remove the laces and insoles. However, keep in mind that keeping the laces on helps maintain the shape of your shoes.
After cleaning the uppers, clean the soles and laces, then put them out to air dry. Make sure that the sneakers are completely dry before you wear them again.
Frequently Asked Questions on How to Clean Tennis Shoes Properly
1. Should you soak your tennis shoes in OxiClean?
You can if that's the product you have handy, absolutely. A mix of OxiClean and mild dish soap or laundry detergent is the best way to go.
Dip the sneakers in a small bucket with warm water. Add equal parts of the dish soap and OxiClean, then let the shoes soak overnight. The next day, scrub off any stubborn stains and then rinse them using cold water.
2. Can apple cider vinegar be used to clean shoes?
Using Apple cider vinegar is another great way to clean and disinfect shoes. It also helps curve foot odours.
On a clean cloth, pour a good amount of apple cider vinegar and rub across the shoe to remove any loose dirt or scuffs. Alternatively, you can soak your shoes and insoles in a water and apple cider vinegar solution.