How To Clean Sneakers: 5 Expert Tips

Wondering how to clean sneakers? Should you wash them in the washing machine? Hand wash with mild detergent? The reality is that while there are a lot of tips for cleaning sneakers out there, rarely do they come from sneaker industry veterans.

tips on how to clean sneakers

That's why our Head of Sneakers with her years of insider know-how is sharing her expert-approved products and tips for cleaning sneakers, plus how to buy and sell sneakers for the most competitive prices.

How To Clean Sneakers?

  1. Invest in a Sneaker Cleaner and Soft Brush
  2. Erase Scuffs with a Gum Eraser
  3. Protect Your Shoes with a Water Proofer
  4. Store Shoes with Shoe Trees
  5. Always Carry a Tide To-Go Stick
Sneaker Cleaning Tips

1. Invest in a Cleaner and Soft Brush

The two mainstays of keeping your sneakers clean and cared for are a sneaker cleaner and a soft bristle brush. There are lots of sneaker cleaner options on the market, but our Head of Sneakers recommends asking for a sample from a store. Sneaker stores often have their own brand of cleaner and it's a good sign when they believe enough in their product to let you test it out first.

Something to avoid in your chosen cleaner is alcohol. It could alter the color and affect the materials your sneakers are made out of. Regardless of the cleaner's content, it's best to dilute it even if it's not on the instructions to do so. Using your soft bristle brush, dip the brush in the solution and do a test spot in a non-conspicuous part of the shoe to make sure it isn't going to ruin your sneakers.

From there you'll be able to regularly clean your pair of shoes as needed. A cleaner and soft brush will make all the difference in keeping your sneakers looking new.

2. Erase Scuffs with a Gum Eraser

From normal everyday wear, the midsoles of sneakers are prone to scuffing. Luckily, there is one really easy way to combat this problem: an eraser.

There are multiple different types of erasers that come in different materials, but the best material is the gum eraser. Some people may know it better as a crepe rubber eraser. This helps literally erase any dark spots and remove dirt build-up that you may have on your midsole.

How to clean suede sneakers:

Looking to clean suede sneakers? Good news, this eraser also works on suede shoes. Brushes will mess up suede but surprisingly, the gum eraser does a better job of keeping the suede intact.

Cleaning Sneaker Tips

3. Protect Your Shoes with a Water Proofer

Rain is the enemy when it comes to sneakers, especially protecting designer or suede ones. That's why our Head of Sneakers recommends using a water repellent to protect your shoes come rain or shine.

For the most part, all water repellers do the same thing so go for your brand of choice. In fact, whenever you buy a new sneaker, make a habit of waterproofing them prior to wearing them.

Follow the designated instructions and allow the sneakers to dry for 24 hours untouched. The longer you allow them to sit the better. If your sneakers are made of suede or leather rather than canvas, give them a double spray to ensure every spot is covered.

When you clean your sneakers sometimes you may brush off the repellent. Respray the areas that have been cleaned to ensure that the shoe is protected no matter the weather.

4. Store Shoes with Shoe Trees

Most sneakers come with a cardboard or plastic shoe tree but most of the time it's recycled or thrown out. However, it is recommended to keep them as shoe trees are a great way to maintain the shape of your sneakers. Bonus: they also make it easier to clean them.

Shoe trees also come in handy if you have a leather sneakers or suede sneakers that are a bit too small. The shoe trees can sometimes stretch the sneaker out.

There are all different types of shoe trees and there is no one kind that's superior, so choose one based on your budget and preference. Overall shoe trees are helpful when it comes to caring for your sneakers when you're not wearing them.

5. Always Carry a Tide To-Go Stick

A Tide To-Go Stick is the best portable tool, not only for your sneakers, but for your clothes as well when you're out and about or traveling. This magic eraser is a gentle way to spot clean while minimizing stains in a pinch.

While it does not completely replace cleaning your sneaker, it does aid in making the stain come out easier when you get home and are able to thoroughly clean your shoes.

Easy to tuck into a pocket or bag, it's a portable way to ensure your sneakers won't get permanently stained and can be easily found at local stores if you need to buy one while on the go.

Buy and Sell Your Sneakers for the best prices

Shop Affordable Designer Sneakers

From designer brands like Balenciaga and Golden Goose to favorites like Nike, Adidas, and New Balance, find well cared for sneakers on the pre-owned market. At myGemma, you can find name brand, limited edition, and rare sneakers at up to 80% off.

How To Sell Sneakers For The Best Prices

Have sneakers you've cleaned and cared for but are ready to sell for something new? Then sell your sneakers to the reputable luxury experts at myGemma.

With thousands of online reviews and an A+ BBB rating, sell sneakers in as little as 24 hours to the experts. Our service is free, transparent, and efficient, with no fees or commissions deducted from your final price.

How it works:

  • Get your price quote today by clicking the button below.
  • To get your final price, we provide in person appointments as well as free and fully insured shipping.