Whether you’re trying to flip a pair of lightly used kicks or just trying to keep your grails looking fresh, cleaning your kicks properly can make the difference between beaters and heaters. We are going to run through some of the best kept secrets of cleaning your kicks that can make the difference between impressing and depressing a potential buyer.
If your kicks are looking beat, you’ll get lowballed on the resale market, and dirty or creased sneaks impress no one on a night out. Most shoes have a few basic areas of cleaning and each has several methods to get them whipped back into shape.
Cleaning the Upper – What we already know and what we have been missing out on.
There are tons of cleaning kits that address cleaning the upper of your kicks. There’s a few problems here, not every sneaker uses the same material. Some are leather, most are pleather. There’s also suede, canvas, flyknit and primeknit, nylon and mesh.
Step 1: Pick a Detergent
A basic all purpose cleaner such as Jason Markk, Crep Project and Jameson Ward is universally needed as a mild detergent to break up and remove dirt and grime.
We’ve tried a ton of these and rock with Jameson Ward simply because we prefer their mixture. It cleans well but doesn’t leave residue which is nice. It comes down to personal preference, but using the right detergent isn’t all that matters. You’ll need the right tools to scrub in and remove the sneaker cleaner of choice.
Step 2: Get a brush
Not all brushes are equal. Different materials need different brushes and the bristles can be anywhere from wire to horsehair.
Avoid cheap nylon brushes. Sure they’re OK in a pinch, or de-griming your soles, but they’re not overly effective on the upper and can damage your kicks with their hard nylon bristles. These are better used cleaning your filthy fingernails than your crusty kicks.
Horse Hair Brushes, sounds nasty, works great. These softer bristle brushes are much better for leather. Great for polishing hard leather dress shoes as well, and the price can be quite reasonable.
Suede/Nubuck Brush, get one you dingus. Liquids can damage suede and nubuck, so cleaning requires special tools. These brushes have several heads to clean different parts of your kicks. Specialized bristles will keep your suede spiffy without damaging the delicate material.
Step 3: Get a Cloth
You’ll need one for removing excess liquid and drying freshly cleaned kicks, but some materials don’t need a brush, or will be easily damaged by one. That’s where a handy dandy microfiber cloth comes in extra handy.
Now not all microfiber cloths are equal, some are used specifically for cleaning delicate glass and will be useless on your kicks. What you’ll need is a larger, more absorbent one and we recommend grabbing a few of these. We use them for everything from cleaning our computers to our cars. They’re delicate enough not to damage anything but still clean deep and absorb excess liquid.
You can use these cleaning cloths over and over again. Once dirty, easily clean these little miracle workers by just tossing them in the washing machine.
Cleaning Your Soles – It’s easier than you ever thought
Soles and midsoles can be difficult to clean, especially adidas boost. With this really quick life hack, you’ll be a pro at getting those soiled soles sparkling again!
Get a Steam Cleaner
I know what you’re thinking “Who uses a steam cleaner on shoes!?”. Well I do and I absolutely love it. Much like microfiber cloths, every house should have a steam cleaner in it. Great for cleaning windows, faucets and fixtures, tiles and grout and… wait for it… sneakers!
These powerful, yet gentle cleaners are amazing for getting dirt and mud out of all those little nooks and crannys in your sole. They also are fantastic at removing stains and soil from boost misdoles! Getting adidas boost clean is a tiring task, but can be done in seconds with the right tools. Spritz down the boost with your sneaker cleanser of choice and brush it in with an old toothbrush. Then use the steam cleaner to blast away the grit. Finish it off by wiping them down with a microfiber cloth and BOOM! Blazing white boost is back!
Another benefit of the steam cleaner is it removes creases from Phylon midsoles. You’ve seen midsoles crease before, turns out a little heat can get those creases out. If you regularly use a steam cleaner to clean them, it will retard the formation of creases and reverse already visible creases.
You can also use a steam cleaner on synthetic uppers, excellent for nylon and mesh. Do not use a steam cleaner on suede and nubuck… or humans. Steam is hot, duh.
Cleaning Inside – De-stank your insoles.
An often missed, and dreaded step in cleaning is getting the inside of your kicks clean and fresh. Stinky feet means stinky shoes, and what’s worse it’s all bacteria. There’s an amazing technology that keeps kicks fresh and sanitary with no work at all!
Step 1: Get a UV Sanitizer
These babies are priceless, whether you’re fixing up a pair to sell or doing maintenance on your own kicks. Getting the smell out and making sure athletes foot isn’t lurking in damp bowels of your kicks should be a priority. That’s where UV Shoe Sanitizers come in. They kill bacteria, fungus and other disasters that lurk in dark damp kicks with light!
With a flip of a switch you can get your insoles fresh without any chemicals, powders or scrubbing! Now there are a lot of UV Shoe Sanitizers with different claims and finding the right one is tough. With prices ranging from $10 to $200, you need to find the best bang for the buck. Sometimes trying to save $10 will only fill your trashcan.
We recommend this starter kit for $46. It comes with a 1 year warranty and lights can be replaced easily and inexpensively. If you go hunting for a UV Sanitizer on your own, double and triple check reviews before spending your cash.
Step 2: Get Some Silica Gel Packets
When storing or shipping your kicks, tossing one of these babies inside them keeps humidity at bay. Moisture and humidity create the breeding ground for smells and slowly eat away at the glue holding your kicks together.
For only a few bucks you can keep all your kicks fresh and strong for years to come.
Bleaching Nylon/Primeknit Upper and Tongue – The Natural Fix
Stains and yellowing are a normal part of aging kicks. Getting them white again can be difficult, especially when bleach isn’t an option. Here is an awesome way to get your kicks white again without damaging the materials. Retro 11’s, specifically concords and columbias are notorious for yellowing. This method will spiff them right up quick, easy and safe.
PRECAUTION: Perfect on beaters if possible. Until you’re comfortable with the process and ratios, it’s always better to try this out on some beater kicks. While the process is generally very safe for your kicks, it’s better to be safe than royally screw up a pair of grails.
Step 1 – Get a cheap-o toothbrush
A clean basic soft bristled toothbrush will be needed for the process of “safe bleaching” your kicks. Don’t bother with fancy curvy, bells and whistles toothbrushes, regular-ass 1970’s toothbrushes do just fine.
Step 2 – Apply Baking Soda
Pour some baking soda into a shallow saucer. Dip your toothbrush in water, then roll gently on the baking soda. Brush in the baking soda into the nylon or primeknit. Repeat until you’re certain you’ve covered the area, then wipe off baking soda with a damp washcloth.
Step 3 – Rinse with Mixture
After wiping down the surface removing the baking soda, you need to rinse out the remainder. Mix water and white vinegar (some use lemon juice) in a 4:1 ratio into a syringe or needle bottle. Rinse out the material without soaking, then wipe down with a microfiber cloth to soak up excess liquid.
Step 4 – Sun-Dry
Drying in the sun will get the white material even whiter, removing stains and yellowing. With these steps you should be able to get your kicks white again without damaging the synthetic fibers.
And if you don’t know, now you know.
And there you have it, some of the best kept secrets for cleaning kicks. Any questions or criticisms? Comment below or hit us up on twitter, we’re happy to hear it. Everyone has their own family secrets for keeping your grails glistening and if there’s anything you’d like to share, feel free to leave a comment for the greater good.