How to Clean Your Vans and Discover Your Inner Skater

Tuesday Bote - Sept 23, 2020

Oliver Cabell Premium Sneaker Cleaning Kit

With the recent buzz about celebrities doing a table read about the ‘80s cult classic, "Fast Times at Ridgemont High" - people are still talking about Spicoli's iconic checkered Vans. The decades-old shoe brand used to be exclusive skater staples but is now worn by everyone, from teens to adults alike. Everyone can't resist the out-there prints and comfort these skate shoes offer. And now that we’re in quarantine, maybe it's time to show your Vans some love.



Old Skool Cleaning for the OG Skater Shoe 

If there's one thing you can say about Vans, they are what you call “beaters” and proud of it. They are specifically designed for serious skaters who test any shoe’s durability. In the old days, skaters went through several pairs of sneakers with their rough and tumble lifestyle. These shoes stand for taking risks and living free. 


Eventually, skater staples’ cool factor extended beyond skateparks. Outsiders wanted to wear skater shoes because they were durable and looked edgy. Non-skaters appreciated the “ I don't care” aesthetic with Van’s wild prints and styles that evoke the colorful SoCal skate scene.


Even if you live a more conventional kind of day, your Vans have probably seen as much action - a lot of mud, dirt and scuffing with everyday use.


Learning how to clean your Vans without taking away their authentic look is easier than you think.



Things To Remember Before Cleaning Your Vans:

Knowing how to clean Vans the right way means being gentle with them. Depending on the material and shoe model you have, there are dos and don'ts for cleaning Vans shoes:
DOs : 
(Vans official stand is that they recommend hand washing and discourage doing any machine wash so that you don’t ruin your shoes.) 
- Set up your cleaning station by placing a towel on a clear, flat surface.
- Use a gentle cycle if you plan on putting your Vans in the washing machine. Do a cold rinse.  
- Remove the laces and use a mild cleaning agent. 
- Pre-treat your shoes with the right cleaning solutions before putting them in the wash. This gives better results than just straight up throwing them in.
- Insert shoe trees before cleaning so that you that your shoes can hold up better when you apply pressure while brushing.


- Don't expose them to direct sunlight so that they don't fade. 
- If you want to keep colors bright, avoid washing them too often.
- Stay away from using solvent cleaners to brighten your Vans as they might loosen the shoe glue in the sole.



When and How to Clean Vans Old Skool, Checkerboards, Hi-Top Skate 8s and Slip Ons:

How often you clean your skate shoes (or any shoe for that matter) depends on how much you wear them. Machine washing can damage both your shoes and your washer. Experts say doing a machine wash every 6 months or so, is best.
There are two types of cleaning for every shoe: 

Oliver Cabell Premium Sneaker Cleaning Kit

A. Quick Clean
How often: If you wear your shoes almost every day, you’ll need a weekly quick clean. This deals with weekly dirt buildup.
Spot cleaning is also recommended as needed so you can avoid needing a deep clean as often.
  1. Dust off surface dirt by doing gentle brushing all over; don’t forget the bottom of your shoes.
  1. Remove the laces.
  1. Dab a cleaning solution on the sole and the uppers, then… 
  1. Scrub all over with a soft brush.
  1. Wipe down with a microfiber towel. 
  1. Wash the laces by dipping them in the same cleaning solution.
  1. Air dry your Vans and laces in a shady place for 12 hours.
  1. Lace up your shoes, then spray a deodorizer on the inside.

B. Deep Clean

How often: Deep cleaning can be done every few months that so you don’t have any lingering odors in your Vans. This time you’ll also clean and deodorize the insoles and scrub the insides of your shoes.

  1. Do quick clean steps 1-6, but remove your shoe inserts beforehand.
    This time, also include thoroughly cleaning the bottom of your shoes.
  1. Dab a cleaning solution on the inserts, or gently scrub in the cleaning agent.
  1. Wipe down inserts, then air dry.
  1. Place inserts back in your clean Vans.
  1. Deodorize, then, spray your shoes with a weatherproofing sealant. This can last a few months.


Specific Care Instructions for Each Kind of Sneaker Material

Oliver Cabell Shoe Care Essentials

Aside from doing the general quick and deep clean steps above, here are a few professional cleaning tips to keep your Vans looking box fresh.


How to Clean Canvass Vans Sneakers

Cleaning canvass Vans is easy with the right sneaker cleaning products and shoe care tools. Shoe cleaning guru Jason Markk says wet canvass absorbs dirt and color so dry brushing surface dirt is a must, before any doing any quick or deep clean.


How to Clean Suede Vans

Suede is a little more delicate than canvass – you can spray the shoe cleaning solution instead of brushing it all over. Wipe down as usual.


Make sure that you test first for color bleeding, as in the case of dyed suede. Always avoid getting your suede shoes soaking wet while cleaning. Store them a dry place when you're done.


After air-drying your shoes, you’ll need to follow up with gentle brushing with a suede-friendly shoe brush. Then, use a suede eraser to take out any stubborn stains. Re-brush in one direction.


How to Clean White Vans Shoes

Keeping your white vans bright without turning them yellow can be a challenge, so avoid bleaching them with harsh chemicals. The best way to clean white Vans is to use natural dye-free cleaners that won’t stain your shoes.


How to Clean Black Vans

If you want to revive faded black Van sneakers, you can apply black shoe polish after they air dry. You can also use this to freshen up black soles.


Leather Vans Care

Leather sneakers are even easier to clean as stains rub easily off of them. Don’t forget to use a quality leather sneaker conditioner after every deep clean to keep your leather shoes supple.

Cleaning your Vans with the respect that they deserve is part of appreciating the spirit of skater culture – a belief that each person can find their flow, as they make their way each day, in a world full of possibilities.