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How To Get Rid Of Stains On Your Sneakers

Sneakers are quintessential footwear for millennials. A fashion staple for hypebeasts. The complimentary piece for stylish urbanites. To call them prized possessions would be a disservice to them. Just look around you right now. The fact that they’re de riguer in the workplace and viewed as red carpet essentials for most celebs speaks for their cultural prominence. It’s the most vital fashion accessory you can adorn. So imagine the frustration felt when some fool spills beer on your laces or Mother Nature decides to stain-up those all-white Chuck Taylors. 


We’re living in a world completely dominated by vanity, which makes it prevalent to seek out every possible measure to ensure our kicks maintain their fresh-out-the-box appearance before re-upping on a second pair. You might earn fast results when employing simple sneaker-cleaning hacks, but make no mistake about it, not all stains are removable with some toothpaste and a toothbrush. Most require a heavy duty cleaner to scrub off smudges.


So in keeping you sneaker rotation fresh, while sparing you the pain of breaking the bank on another set of Yeezy Boost 350 V2 “Core Blacks,” we assembled this how-to guide on making your sneakers look brand-new all year round. Lace up and take notes!


Know Your Sneaker Materials

As sneaker-cleaning guru Jason Marrk once expressed, “paying attention to every detail is what will make your shoes pop.” Look in your closet and notice how every sneaker is manufactured from unique components – some more clean-friendly than others. You might want to know the materials from which your footwear is produced, along with their stainable vulnerabilities. Just a thought. Meet some of the sneaker market’s popular fabrics.

Canvas: Extremely durable cloth that picks up all stains, yet utilizes most cleaning solutions.

Leather: Comfortable and stylish, but tend to require maintenance after each use.

Mesh: Common fabric that freely stains, though easily cleanable unless surrounded by other materials.

Rubber: Its durable texture makes it the simplest material to restore, also the toughest depending on the stain (ex. Paint). 

Suede: The more delicate of fabrics that requires meticulous care and surface protection.

Getting familiar with each material type will determine the best sneaker cleaner for you. Those struggling to identify them can usually find answers on the box label, Goggling the sneaker model or searching it on the manufacturer’s site.


Key No. 1: Unlace Your Shoes
Laces are an obstacle during the cleaning stage. Removing them opens up the cleaning surface and provides better access for hard-to-reach spots. You’ll see what we’re talking about when working on the tongue and eyelets.


Key No. 2: Remove Lingering Debris
Keep in mind your sneakers collect mad dust and dirt over time. You’ll want to start by knocking the soles of each shoe together to force out any dirt trapped in between crevices. Then grab a soft brush and gently dry-brush each sneaker. This prevents any crud from sinking deeper into the material, which would make the chore tougher to accomplish.


Key No. 3: Apply A Cleaning Agent
Most sneaker-cleaning solutions come in foam, liquid, or pad form. You’ll obviously want to follow the instructions on the label. It’s straightforward. Leather sneakers will require a hard brush, whereas suede, mesh, and canvas accommodate a soft-bristle brush. Work the solution into the fabric in circular motions and repeat when dealing with deeper stains.


Key No. 4: The Drying Process
Most suckers make the mistake of tossing their kicks in the washer and dryer. Worst. Move. Ever. For one, washing them in hot or warm water destroys their quality from the midsole to the upper part of the sneaker. Placing them in the dryer is even worse as they’ll bend or curl up. More suitable options are to let them air dry or use a microfiber towel (preferably this one from Jason Markk) to wipe down the sneaker, and in some cases scrub off lingering scuffs.


Key No. 5: Keep Them Stored Properly
Throwing your Adidas Shell Toes on the window sill only exposes them to sunlight damage. If your bachelor pad allows for the storage space, keep them placed in the box they came in (covered in the same paper sheet) and in a dry, dark setting.



Key No. 6: Wear Some Damn Socks
Much as you find the sockless look trendy for the summer, you forget one thing: sweat creates stains. Have you not looked at your white gym tees? All that foot perspiration can discolor the inside of your shoes, plus wear down the material. If less is more to you, pick up some low ankle socks.


Key No. 7: Starch’em Down
It’s been said that spraying your kicks with laundry starch after they’ve been cleaned is an amazing way to protect them from future stains. The thin layer it creates will preserve the quality of the fabric. It definitely works magic on canvas shoes. We recommend spending good money on The Laundress Stiffen Up Laundry Starch.

Nothing too difficult. Right? Well, thanks to advances in modern sneaker science, you can keep every sneaker you own looking just as crispy as when they came out the Foot Locker stockroom. And a good sneaker cleaning kit will do just that. Look over these specialty cleaners to see which option(s) meets your stainless needs.