In Style + Design

A Complete Guide To Taking Care Of Your Sneakers

There’s little in life as pleasing to the eyeballs as a pair of box-fresh sneakers. As white as a toothy celebrity smile, fresh kicks are the ultimate signal that you have your shit together.

But whether you’re treading the city streets, your office hallways or hiking, sneakers are prone to scuffing and discolouration. Follow these cardinal rules of sneaker care to keep your shoes looking as good as when you first bought them.

Treat them

Fresh out of the box Photo: Nike/Facebook

It’s a real act of willpower to treat your sneakers before taking them for a spin. But if you commit to preventing stains from the very start, it’ll be well worth it.

Treat canvas pairs with a Scotchguard spray to help repel water and stains, and use a protectant spray for leather or suede sneakers. Allow the spray to dry entirely (it usually takes 24 hours) before taking your sneakers to the streets. This step is the real secret to keeping your shoes in as-new condition, so as tempted as you might be to skip it, just don’t.

Wear socks

Adidas Original Photo: Facebook

It might seem obvious but socks are entirely non-negotiable when it comes to keeping your kicks smelling fresh. Opt for a boldly patterned sock if you want to make a style statement, or choose no-show socks if you want to flash your ankles (look for socks with rubber heel grips to avoid slippage).

Spot clean

Use a microfibre cloth to keep these clean Photo: Harrolds Australia/Facebook

Don’t be that guy who erects a shrine to their unworn sneakers and never takes them out of the box. But do dedicate a minute or two to spot-cleaning stains or dirt off your sneakers when you return home and you’ll prolong the life of your favourite pair. Warm water on a microfibre cloth should be enough to tackle superficial dirt or stains, while baby wipes will usually be up to the task of cleaning up anything tougher.

Don’t forget the laces

Lace it up Photo: Harrolds Australia/Facebook

Replacing the laces in your sneakers will give them an instant facelift. Either buy a new pair or clean the existing ones by soaking them in hot water with your laundry powder of choice. Once the laces are clean and dry, iron them before relacing the shoes for an extra-polished touch.

To bleach or not to bleach?

White on white Photo: Common Projects/Facebook

Opinions are divided as to whether you should use bleach on your sneakers, so go forth at your own risk. If you have a pair of worse-for-wear sneakers that you want to return to their blinding white glory, you can try scrubbing them gently with a diluted solution of one part bleach to five parts water, followed by a rinse in warm water. Use any more bleach than that and you could end up with a pair of sneakers with a depressing yellow tinge.

If the idea of using bleach on your prized sneakers is enough to give you a coronary, try mixing baking soda with water for an effective yet more gentle cleaning solution. 

Use some elbow grease

Kith NYC Photo: Facebook

If your sneakers have had an unfortunate encounter with a murky puddle or the like, it’s time to do a deep clean. No matter how tempted you are, don’t throw your sneakers in the washing machine. The spinning motion will damage the fibres and you’ll end up shortening the lifespan of your shoes.

Instead, for leather or canvas sneakers, reach for a new toothbrush and a cleaning product — you can buy a specialist sneaker cleaner from your local streetwear store, or use a gentle soap or shampoo you already have at home. Use the brush to dislodge any dirt and to work the cleaning product into a light foam. Rinse with warm water and let your sneakers air dry (stuffing them with paper towel will speed up the process).

Suede sneakers are a bit trickier to clean. While you can use a brush to dislodge dirt, deep cleaning these is best left to the experts — take them to your local cobbler and let them work their magic. 


Hype DC Photo: Facebook

When you’re not using them, keep your sneakers away from direct sunlight, which can cause discolouration. Store them in the original box or dust bags to keep them in great condition. And pop a couple of dryer sheets into the shoes when they’re not in use to absorb moisture and keep them smelling fresh.

Published 19 August, 2018