How to professionally clean your shoes
Tired of Throwing Away Dirty Sneakers?
We've all seen those Youtube videos. Some guy finds a $1000 pair of Jordans buried in a heap of mud at his local swamp. Then he effortlessly cleans the shoe to nearly new condition. How did this happen? Is this Youtuber actually... God?
No, he's just a guy who knows how to clean sneakers (and exploit corny media trends). With our help, you can become just like this hero. This modern-day miracle maker. So, strap in and join us on our journey of enlightenment, here's Hype Stew's guide to professionally clean your sneakers.
Get the Sneaker Cleaning Essentials
Many of these sneaker cleaning tools are sitting in your house right now. You've just gotta find them. For starters we will give you a list of absolute essentials, coupled with their purpose.
Soft Bristle Brush (for leather, cloth and suede)
Hard Bristle Brush (for soles and rubber)
Brass Wire Brush (to get dirt out of suede without using soap)
All Purpose Sneaker Cleaner (using normal soap can dry out leather and rubber)
Nail Polish Remover (paint scuff removal)
Bleach (for laces)
Stain Remover (for cloth uppers, tongue, etc)
Towel (to dry your shoes, duh)
Drill with Brush Attachment for Cleaning Sneakers
How to Be Extra with Your Sneaker Cleaning
These tools will help big time, especially if you really want to clean your shoes like a professional. They can be costly but if you want the job done right, it will be worth it. You'll notice I use a lot of Angelus products, which are linked on the list. This isn't a necessity; I just personally prefer Angelus products. Feel free to try different brands and let us know what worked for you (Instagram @Hypestew, Facebook: Hype Stew Sneakers Detroit).
Drill with brush attachment (This really helps with dirty soles)
Suede Cleaner (If you have to get the suede wet)
Mink Oil (for conditioning and protecting leather and suede)
Sweater Comb (for removing sock lint)
Stain Removal Pen (for stitching and fabric)
First Steps to Properly Clean Your Sneakers
For starters you want to strip the laces out of your shoes and completely scrub everything down. Use the more coarse brush for your soles, and the rubber. If you have the Angelus Foam Cleaner, the cap is a fantastic tool for soles, outersoles and the rubber near the toe (on pairs like the Jordan 3 Black Cement above). The more abrasive brushes can also be used to clean Adidas Boost material. Be careful with these hard brushes, they aren't meant to be used on any fabric or painted surfaces. Take note of any stained fabric or scuffed leather.
Suede Shoes: Cleaning a suede sneaker is tough. First off, try not to get it wet. Suede tends to run when wet, causing fading and water spots on the shoes upper. For suede shoes, use the brass wire brush on dirty spots to try and buff the scuffs and dirt out. If necessary, use the suede cleaner to lightly dampen these spots, scrub lightly with a soft bristle brush (a toothbrush works) and lightly blot dry.
Remove Scuffs and Stains From Leather Shoes and Fabric
This is where we start to get into more advanced practices. After your general cleaning, you'll want to clean up any trouble areas with the shoe.
For scuffs on your leather, take a little nail polish remover and dampen a rag with it. Then buff the scuff out with the solution. Make sure you test this on a small spot on the sneaker before trying, certain surfaces (like Foamposites) will be damaged by nail polish remover. Normal leather sneakers will be fine though, just don't scrub too hard or you will fade the paint on the leather. If the scuff is too deep, the only fix will be a paint touch up.
For stains on fabric, use the stain remover. Spray the problem area with the solution and let it sit for 5-10 minutes (don't let it dry). Once the stain remover has settled, dip a soft brush in a little bit of sneaker cleaner (or detergent) and scrub in a circular motion for 1-2 minutes. Allow the solution to sit for a few minutes and then scrub again. then rinse the area and pat dry.
For dirt in stitching you can use a stain removal pen to clean the area. Just be careful not to use a bleach pen on a colored surface, you don't want that kind of drama in your life!
Lastly, laces make a huge difference with shoes. Lucky for us, cleaning them is really easy. Take your dirty laces and throw them in an empty bottle. Squirt a little detergent in there, submerge them in water, shake like crazy and then let them sit a day. If the laces are white feel free to throw a little bleach in there as well (always use gloves when handling bleach). After completion, rinse the laces and let them air dry. It's an easy task that will really help tie the project together (cringe)
Remove Stains and Scuffs from Suede Sneakers
Removing stains and scuffs from suede can be tough. You've brush and lightly scrubbed your scuffs, but they're still there, so what now? Using an eraser can be a helpful tool when removing deep scuffs from suede sneakers. My personal preference is a white vinyl eraser, just like the ones you used to use at school. Simply rub the eraser over the scuff and brush away the residue. The eraser technique also works to remove scuffs from plastic and rubber soles.
If the scuff persists your best bet is to take the suede shoes to a dry cleaner. Scrubbing them heavily will result in fading of the material and it can ruin your sneaker. There are plenty of home remedies and wives tales about removed stains from suede, but truth is dry cleaning is the fool proof method. Suede is a fickle mistress. You have to tip toe in those Toros, friend.
Clean Your Sneakers in the Washing Machine
If all else fails, feel free to wash your shoes in the washing machine. This process can be used on any leather shoe (just make sure it doesn't have suede). It's really simple, just toss your shoes in separate pillowcases (to keep them from smacking into one another), tie the cases in a knot and set the washer for a gentle cycle with COLD water. This is the important part, you have to use cold water, warm or hot water can cause the glue in the sneaker to breakdown which can cause sole separation. You can see all the steps in our How to Clean Jordans in the Washing Machine vlog.
While this process shouldn't do any damage, I would still suggest trying to clean them by hand first. Shoes aren't made to be submerged in water and getting them wet can cause them to fit and feel different. The exception being cloth knit shoes (Yeezys, vapormaxes), these shoes are perfectly safe to throw in the washer. Just make sure you use the cold water and let the shoes air dry! After that they should be butter.
If this doesn't work, maybe it's time for you to buy a new pair of shoes. Luckily for you, we know a great online store full of the dopest sneakers at the cheapest prices on the web. Click below to see our inventory and good luck with the cleaning!
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