How to Wash Sneakers: The Comprehensive Guide


Washing sneakers is an essential but often overlooked aspect of shoe care. Keeping your sneakers clean not only enhances their appearance but also prolongs their lifespan. This article provides a comprehensive guide on how to wash sneakers using various methods suitable for different materials. Whether you are a sneakerhead or just an average person who wants to keep their shoes clean, this article is for you.

The Basic Way: Step-by-Step Guide

The simplest and most cost-effective way to wash sneakers is using soap and water. Here’s a step-by-step guide:

  1. Remove the laces and insoles from the sneakers. This will prevent them from losing shape or getting tangled during the wash.
  2. Brush off any loose dirt or debris using a soft-bristled brush. This will make the cleaning process easier.
  3. Fill a bucket with warm water and add a mild detergent. You can use dish soap or laundry detergent.
  4. Dip a soft-bristled brush into the soapy water and gently scrub the sneakers, focusing on the areas with stains or dirt. Avoid scrubbing too hard so as not to damage the material.
  5. Rinse the sneakers with clean water to remove any soap residue. You can use a hose or a wet cloth for this.
  6. Stuff the sneakers with paper towels and let them air-dry for at least 24 hours away from direct sunlight or heat sources.

Remember to avoid using bleach or harsh chemicals that can damage your sneakers, particularly the ones with delicate materials like suede or leather.

In the Washing Machine

The washing machine is a convenient option for cleaning sneakers, but it’s not suitable for all types of shoes. Here’s what you need to know:

  1. Check if the sneakers are machine-washable. Some sneakers with leather or suede materials are not suitable for the machine.
  2. Remove the laces and insoles and put them in a separate mesh bag or pillowcase to prevent them from being damaged.
  3. Add a small amount of detergent to the machine and set it to the delicate cycle or a cycle meant for sports shoes.
  4. Start the cycle and wait for the sneakers to finish washing. Do not use bleach or fabric softener.
  5. Take out the sneakers and let them air-dry. Do not put them in the dryer as it can cause shrinkage or damage to the soles.

Using the washing machine is a great option for getting deep-seated dirt out of your sneakers.

With Magic Eraser

Magic erasers are a versatile cleaning tool that can work wonders in cleaning white rubbery soles on sneakers. Here’s what you should do:

  1. Wet the magic eraser with water and wring out any excess liquid.
  2. Gently scrub the rubber sole of the sneakers in a circular motion. The magic eraser will remove scuff marks and dirt without damaging the sole.
  3. Rinse the sole with clean water and let it air-dry.

The magic eraser method is quick and easy and produces great results. Additionally, since it does not require any detergent or excessive water use, it’s eco-friendly and helps conserve water.

Dry-Cleaning Option

Dry-cleaning is a viable option for cleaning sneakers made from delicate materials such as suede or leather. Here’s what you need to know:

  1. Find a reputable dry cleaner that specializes in cleaning sneakers. Ask for recommendations from friends or read reviews online.
  2. Drop off your sneakers at the dry cleaner and explain the type of sneaker and the specific stains or dirt you want to be removed.
  3. Wait for the sneakers to be cleaned and picked them up. Air-dry them for at least 24 hours before wearing them

Dry-cleaning is a reliable option for getting rid of tough stains on delicate sneakers materials without causing damage or discoloration. However, it can be costly, depending on where you live.

Hand-Washing Delicate Materials

Hand-washing delicate materials like suede or leather is the safest and most effective method of cleaning them. Here’s what you need to do:

  1. Make a solution of warm water and a mild detergent suitable for the specific material.
  2. Dip a soft-bristled brush into the solution and gently scrub the areas with stains or dirt, avoiding excessive rubbing that can damage the material.
  3. Rinse the material with clean water and dry it with a towel. Avoid wringing or twisting the material, as it can cause damage to the material.
  4. Stuff the sneakers with paper towels and air-dry them for at least 24 hours away from direct sunlight or using any heat sources.

Avoid using water on materials like velvet or satin, as it can damage or discolor them.

Cleaning the Laces

Cleaning laces is an essential aspect of sneaker cleaning to maintain their appearance and prevent them from getting dirty. Here’s what you should do:

  1. Remove the laces from the sneakers and soak them in a solution of warm water and detergent.
  2. If the lace material is delicate, you can add some white vinegar to the solution to help preserve the color.
  3. Brush the laces using a soft-bristled brush to remove any dirt or stains.
  4. Rinse the laces thoroughly and let them air-dry.

Remember to clean the laces at least once a month to keep them looking fresh and vibrant.

Alternative Methods

There are different sneaker-cleaning products that you can use aside from mild detergent and water. Here are a few:

  • Vinegar: Mix equal parts of white vinegar and water and use it to clean white sneaker soles.
    The acid in the vinegar helps remove dirt and scuff marks, leaving your sneakers looking bright.
  • Baking soda: Mix baking soda with water to make a paste and gently scrub it on the sneakers’ surface using a soft-bristled brush to remove stains.
  • Toothpaste: Apply toothpaste on the areas with stains or dirt, let it sit for a few minutes, then scrub with a brush and rinse.

These alternative cleaning products provide convenient and affordable options for removing stains from your sneakers.


Washing sneakers is not as complicated as it seems. With this comprehensive guide, you can pick a cleaning method suitable for your sneaker’s material and get them looking great in no time. Remember to always take precautions and avoid using strong chemicals or scrubbing too hard, as these can cause damage to your sneakers. Clean your laces and insoles regularly as well. Try out these methods, and share your feedback with us.

Webben Editor

Hello! I'm Webben, your guide to intriguing insights about our diverse world. I strive to share knowledge, ignite curiosity, and promote understanding across various fields. Join me on this enlightening journey as we explore and grow together.

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