How to Wash Sneakers at Home
There's nothing more comfortable than a trusted pair of sneakers. When your time-tested kicks are broken-in, they're so comfortably molded to the shape of your foot that you hardly even realize you're wearing them. After a while, your favorite pair of kicks can start to show dirt and the wear of the miles you've put on them. Luckily, it's a snap to clean your shoes. Most sneakers are easy to clean at home with products you probably already have. Follow the steps below and before you know it your shoes will look like new.
Deodorize the Insoles
First, remove the insoles. You'll want to wash them separately.
Prepare a small mixture of lukewarm water and liquid detergent. Using a soft brush or damp cloth, gently scrub the insole to remove dirt and stains. When you're done, use a wet sponge to remove any excess detergent.
If the insoles still smell, try enclosing them in a bag along with some baking soda. Shake the bag to spread out the baking soda and leave it overnight. This should neutralize most odors.
If that doesn't do it (this is typically an issue with shoes you workout in), try soaking them for a few hours in a mixture of vinegar and water in a 2:1 ratio. Then soak them in warm water with baking soda and an essential oil such as tea tree or pine oil. That should be enough to eliminate even the strongest odors.
Use the Washer
Most sneakers can be safely cleaned in the washer. To begin, remove the laces to make sure your shoes don't get tangled up inside the wash bin. Put the laces inside a pillowcase or wash bag and throw that in the washer. Next, lightly scrub off as much mud and debris as possible with a soft brush.
Add your shoes to the washer along with a load of towels. The towels will balance the load and prevent your shoes from banging around inside. Make sure they're old towels, because new towels have lint and dye that may come off on your sneakers.
Use liquid detergent, not powdered, since powdered detergent can get stuck inside your shoes. Add some vinegar to the wash bin to help remove odors, and add some pine oil (the product should be at least 80% pine oil) to disinfect. Run the washer on a cold-water delicate cycle to prevent warping your sneakers.
Wash Them by Hand
If you have expensive new sneakers, you may want to hand-wash them to avoid any potential damage. Using a mixture of warm water and liquid detergent, gently scrub the outsole, midsole and sole with a soft shoe brush or cloth. When you're trying to spot clean shoes, you can use a soft toothbrush to work out a small stain or scuff mark. Soak up the detergent afterward with a wet sponge.
After you've removed the detergent with the sponge, take a dry towel and wipe them down to remove any excess water. Especially if you're washing a pair of leather or suede sneakers. You'll want to remove as much water as possible after cleaning.
Use the Dryer with Care
Be careful if you decide to machine dry your shoes. Extreme heat can cause soles to warp, materials to degrade and ruin a solid pair of sneakers in an instant.
It would be a good idea to wrap your shoes inside a towel and run the dryer on a low-heat delicate cycle. Keep your laces inside the pillowcase, or air-dry them, to make sure they don't get stuck or tangled inside the dryer. You should periodically check your shoes throughout the dry cycle to make sure the soles aren't warping.
A safer, but slower, method is to air-dry your sneakers. Dry them outside or indoors, but remember to keep them out of direct sunlight. Just like the heat in the dryer, direct sunlight can bleach colors and damage certain fabrics.
Put them underneath a table, chair or stairway. You might also want to place a dry cotton towel inside each shoe to help them retain their shape. You can even use old newspaper or paper towels to stuff the shoe. They do a great job at pulling out excess water.
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