The washing and care of shoes is an often overlooked topic, even though they are an important part of your everyday outfit. Most people know how to do laundry for their clothes but shoes often require more care and attention in keeping them clean. They are formed into a very specific shape which can be damaged by improper care, shortening the life of the shoe. Here I will describe my process for cleaning sneakers.
Step 1: Remove the Insoles From the Shoes
First, the insoles of the shoes should be removed first and cleaned separately. The insoles are what is stepped on the whole time so they are usually the dirtiest part of the shoe and the main source of undesirable smells that are emitted from the shoes, so it is important to thoroughly clean them.
Mix water and soap or liquid detergent in a bowl in preparation for cleaning the insoles. Use a sponge or scrubber to wash the insoles thoroughly, removing and dirt or debris. Once the cleaning process is finished, sit them out in a ventilated area and let the air dry completely.
If the insoles still smell, you can try laying them in a bag covered with baking soda, which will help eliminate any foul odors. In addition, you could enclose the insoles in a plastic bag and store them in the freezer for one to two days, which can also help eliminate some of the bacteria.
Step 2: Wipe Down the Outside of the Shoe
If there is any large stains or pieces of dirt or rocks on the outside of the shoe, you should try and clean these off first. Wipe down dirt on the outside of the shoe and use a mixture of soap or detergent and water to be able to scrub off any large dirt spots. You can use a sponge, scrubber, or even a toothbrush to help get large stains on the shoe.
For the bottom of the shoes, there may be rocks or dirt in the crevasses of the rubber soles. You can use a paper clip to help scrape off any stuck rocks or mud along the soles. A toothbrush is also good for getting in between the lines to get all of the dirt out of there.
Step 3: Remove the Shoelaces
Next, the shoelaces should be removed from the shoe. The laces will be washed in a washing machine, so loosely wrap the shoelaces so that they do not go everywhere and get tangled up, but that they can still be thoroughly cleaned without any tight knots. Place the shoelaces in a pillowcase to keep them in place.
Step 4: Place the Shoes and Laces in a Washing Machine
The shoes and pillowcase with the shoelaces should be placed in a washing machine. Because the washing machine will spin around rapidly, you may want to place some towels with the load to help prevent the shoes from banging against the walls of the washing machine and balance out the load.
Make sure to use cold water and as delicate of a cycle as you can to prevent damage to the shoes. It is better to use liquid detergent rather than powdered detergent because the powder could possibly get stuck in the small crevasses of the shoes during the washing process.
Step 5: Dry Out the Shoes
Ideally, the sneakers should be left out in the open to dry. Try to find a well ventilated area indoors to leave them to dry for a day or two. They can also be dried outside, but prolonged direct sunlight may damage or shrink your shoes, so try to find some shading or cover to place them under. You can also stuff the shoes with newspaper or something to fill them up to help retain their shape.
If you need to dry them more quickly, you can try drying them in the dryer. This method is not as safe because high heat can warp the shape of the shoes. But if you do use the dryer, use the most delicate, low heat cycle to preserve the state of the shoes. In addition, you can wrap the sneakers in a towel before you put them in a dryer. The dryer will spin the shoes around and smack them around the walls of the dryer, so wrapping the shoes in a towel will mitigate this.
Step 6: Put the Shoes Back Together
Once every part of the shoes are cleaned and thoroughly dried, you can start putting back the shoes together. Put the insoles back in the shoes and wrap the laces in the shoe holes, and you're done!
In terms of how often shoes should be washed, I like to wash the insoles of the shoes I wear pretty regularly every two weeks or so, depending on how often I wear each pair of shoe. Even if they do not smell, there is still bacteria that grows in the area so it is a good idea to regularly wash them. For the shoes and laces themselves, I do not wash them as often but when they are looking dirty or pick up large stains on them. This also depends on the general weather outside, if I walk through mud and grass, and other conditions that could make them dirtier than other times.
I hope you enjoyed reading my process of cleaning my sneakers and hopefully it helps some of you with ideas on how to keep your shoes clean!