5 Tips on Getting a Sneaker Refresh
Tuesday Bote - February 1, 2021
Let’s say you’re fully immersed in the sneaker freaker lifestyle, and you’re wearing your kicks with everything in your closet, day in and day out, at night when you hit the town, and then repeat all the next day. Regular wear will dirty and deteriorate your sneakers, and soon enough, you’ll need a sneaker refresh.
Keeping your sneakers clean and refreshed doesn’t mean you can randomly throw them into the washing machine every week. While it’s very tempting to do what seems to be the easiest way, it’s not very good for either your sneakers or your washer. This is a good way to deform the foam in your shoes quickly, and, as you might notice, a run in the machine doesn’t always guarantee a complete clean.
That said, DON’T use a washing machine. Here instead, are 5 sneaker cleaning tips to keep your kicks squeaky clean and on your feet for years to come.
5 Sneaker Cleaning Tips You Should Know
Sneaker cleaning solutions are a thing.
Not all sneakers are created equal; what best cleans canvas may not work for leather, suede, or any other kind of sneaker. Canvas sneakers are more likely to survive a washing machine cycle than leather, but leather is easier to clean and maintain than canvas. And then there’s suede, which shouldn’t get wet at all. Can any one sneaker cleaner restore all these?
Several sneaker companies make their own sneaker care products, such as sneaker cleaning solutions, deodorizers, and protective sprays. These sneaker cleaner brands are often designed for that brand’s shoe, and therefore addresses specific needs.
What is a good sneaker cleaner? Oliver Cabell has developed a sneaker cleaner that can be used on all the different materials that their shoes are made of, mainly leather, canvas, suede, cotton, nubuck, among others. As some of their sneakers are made of a combination of materials - for example, their GATs are made of Italian calfskin leather on the upper with a suede design on the sides and toes - it is only practical to be able to use one cleaning solution for both.
So what’s in a sneaker cleaner? It is a mild, organic solution that you can brush on to clean dirt, smudges, scuffs on the shoe and let dry without rinsing off, wiping your sneakers down with a towel instead. A 6.75 oz. bottle of Oliver Cabell’s premium sneaker cleaner at $17 per bottle can refresh 175 pairs of sneakers.
The sneaker cleaner is also available in bundles with other shoe care products, such as the Essential Kit, which also contains Oliver Cabell’s handcrafted cleaning brush made of hog hair and beechwood; the Refresh Kit, which adds shoe whitener and a new pair of laces to the Essential Kit; the Leather Kit, which adds only a tub of leather conditioner; and the Ultimate Cleaning Kit, which has two bottles of cleaner, a brush, leather conditioner and 3 sets of wooden shoe trees, which make storing and handling your sneakers while cleaning so much easier.
Sneaker brushes are also a thing.
Brushes are more effective at getting dirt off your sneakers. Sneaker brushes often have soft bristles made of horsehair, boar hair, or hog hair, as found in Oliver Cabell’s handcrafted sneaker brush. The organic bristles should be soft enough not to harm the surface of the shoes while effectively getting stains and scuff marks out. Run your dry brush over the shoe to loosen visible dirt before applying sneaker cleaner solution, again with the brush. Using the brush also helps lift off the soapy residue from the cleaner. This makes it easier to wipe the sneakers down before allowing them to air dry.
Suede sneakers, which shouldn’t get wet, usually need only a dry brush to get refreshed. How to use sneaker cleaner brushes on suede? Brush towards the grain using light strokes; only use heavier strokes when trying to get rid of light stains and marks that don’t easily come off. For even more stubborn smudges on the suede, try using a suede rubber or a rubber eraser, the kind that kids use in grade school. Only use a sneaker cleaner if the stains persistently remain.
If you accidentally step your suede sneakers into a puddle or manage to get the suede wet, wait for them to dry out naturally first. Never use a hairdryer or anything that can apply heat, including direct sunlight. When the sneaks are completely dry, use your cleaning brush to get the fibers back on a nap.
Use DIY cleaning agents you can find in your pantry.
If you’re not keen on purchasing sneaker cleaners, you can make sneaker cleaner DIY solutions that you can quickly get from your grocery if it’s not already in your kitchen.
How to make a DIY sneaker cleaner?
For white canvas sneakers, apart from letting it run a couple of cycles in the washing machine, you can try brushing on a paste made out of baking soda and warm water. Again, don’t rinse out your shoes. You can wait for the baking soda paste to dry, then use a damp cloth to wipe off the residue.
Do note to only use baking soda sneaker cleaner white shoes, as it’s been known to cause discoloration in shoes of different hues.
Instead of a sneaker brush, you can use a toothbrush or a vegetable brush. These brushes also work well with outer soles, but if you have unyielding dirt under there, you can try to use a sturdier laundry brush.
If you’re dealing with exceptionally stubborn stains on your suede sneakers, you can use a solution that is equal parts vinegar and water, applied with a washcloth. Don’t be alarmed if the color changes on the spot where you applied vinegar; it will disappear as soon as the vinegar solution evaporates. Repeat using the vinegar and leaving it to dry until the stain disappears.
The vinegar solution also works on other sneaker materials, especially on leather, and are most effective when the stains are new.
Don’t be ashamed of stinking up your sneakers - it happens to everyone. Some are just better at keeping their sneaker maintenance schedule and adamant about pushing only clean feet and socks into their trainers. Keeping your insoles clean also helps to remove any unwanted smells. You can take out your insoles and clean them how you cleaned the rest of the shoe, drying them out properly before reinserting them.
Baking soda is a fantastic cleaning agent as much as it helps make your cakes fluffy. Leave a teaspoonful of it in your sneakers overnight and dump it out the next morning to take care of any bad smells.
Protect your shoes from the big outdoors
The suede protector was developed because suede is such a delicate material that shouldn’t get wet. You spray it on your clean suede shoes to protect them from water and possible stain-causing elements. Similar protective sprays have also been developed for canvas shoes, which are usually effective for four weeks.
Oliver Cabell’s leather conditioner similarly acts as a water repellant for leather sneakers as it waterproofs the sneak while keeping the leather soft and supple. It is fully organic and biodegradable, made of a concoction of beeswax, almond, olive, and coconut oils.
There you have it - the many ways to love your dependable sneaker.
What other sneaker refresh tips do you have? Share with us in the comments section below!