Home & Garden Cleaning & Laundry

The Easiest Way to Clean Your Sneakers



Athletic shoes are certainly not just for athletes - they're for everyone. But, whether you need specialty shoes for specific sports and activities or canvas basics, they all need to be cleaned now and then.

Come Unlaced


Your shoe laces are often the dirtiest part of the shoe. Begin your cleaning project by removing the laces and the insoles or inserts. The laces can be washed by putting them in with a load of laundry or replaced quite inexpensively.

The insoles should be handled separately. Remove them and allow them to air. If they are particularly smelly, sprinkle with baking soda to absorb odor and moisture. This should be done frequently even if you are not cleaning the rest of the shoe.

Now, rinse the shoes with cool water to remove any loose dirt or soil.

Soap and Water Time


Most sneakers will travel through the clothes washer with no problems. Simply use cool or warm water and regular detergent and wash them with a load of towels.

If you Google for instructions on washing sneakers, you may find a story about how to wash them in the dishwasher. Yes, you can put your athletic shoes and shower shoes in the dishwasher. Should you? NO!

While the hot water and spray mechanical action of the water will remove soil, dishwasher detergents are extremely harsh and can ruin leather and cause fading in some synthetics. Plus the high heat of the drying cycle can cause shrinkage and even melting. Save the dishwasher for your dishes.

If the shoes are really pricey and new, hand washing is a bit more gentle.

Use a soft brush and solution of mild liquid detergent in water. Scrub the inside and outside of each shoe. For scuff marks, a Mr. Clean Magic Eraser works wonders.

If you are concerned about bacteria and athlete's foot fungus, the shoes will need to be disinfected. Pine oil disinfectants, which are effective in hot and warm water, are safe to use with athletic shoes without damaging the fabric. Some brands include Pine Sol, Real Pine, Spic-n-Span Pine and Lysol Pine Action. They should be added at the beginning of the wash cycle. To be effective, the product must contain 80 percent pine oil.

Phenolic disinfectants are also effective in hot and warm water. Lysol brand disinfectant is available in most areas. Phenolic disinfectants may be added to the wash or rinse water, if the rinse water is warm.

When you finish with your sneakers, be sure to carefully wash socks and gym bags to prevent the spread of any bacteria and fungus that can cause problems to occur again.

Drying Time


Never put your shoes in the dryer. High heat can cause them to lose their shape and that will affect their support. Instead, put them in a well ventilated space. Stuff them loosely with white cotton towels or white paper to help them retain their shape. Don't use newspaper because you'll find ink on your socks the next day!

Final Touches


When your shoes are completely dry, you can use white or black or appropriately colored shoe polish to touch up any scuffs. In a pinch, a permanent marker works wonders to hide problems!


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