According to the Spring 2016 Shoe Trends, sneakers are, once again, reigning! No wonder A-lists and fashion insiders are constantly seen sporting athletic shoes with their outfits (and we are not talking only about their gym outfits but their chicest ones, too!) this year!
But, what happens when you need to clean your trendy shoes? Can they just be tossed in the washer with a load of laundry and get them over with? Do they need special care? Below are some insider’s tips to clean your favorite pairs of shoes and keep them in pristine condition at all times!
Clean the Shoe Laces
The shoe laces are most likely the most easily (and heavily) soiled part of the shoe. So, remove them, as well as any other removable part (see inserts and insoles) and either wash them with the rest of your fabrics (place in a mesh laundry bag to avoid accidents) or simply replace them. If you feel it’s not worth your effort to try and clean them, getting a new pair of shoe laces won’t break the bank, so go for it!
The other removable parts of the shoe should be handled separately. While you are cleaning the insoles, allow them to air. If you notice nasty odors, sprinkling with some baking soda will help absorb the foul smells and excess moisture. Do this often, whether you are cleaning the entire shoe or not.
Clean the Shoes
First of all, remove any loose soil and dirt by rinsing the outside of the shoes with water. That said, most sneakers manufacturers provide cleaning instructions. Check their website for details, although, chances are, most of them will mention it’s perfectly safe to throw them in the washer. Don’t be surprised if you read that you can also wash them in the dishwasher! It’s true for some shower and athletic shoes! However, for the majority of canvas shoes and sneakers, the dishwasher detergents are too harsh and can damage leather or cause discolorations in cotton and synthetic shoes. Plus, the drying cycle uses high heat which could shrink your shoes and in some cases even melt them. So, it’s best to use the dishwasher to only clean dishes.
Once you are certain about the proper cleaning method yo should use, use a heavy duty detergent, such as Tide or Persil, and warm water to wash them. Make sure you choose a load with similarly-colored fabrics.
Tip: When you toss shoes in the washer, it may become unbalanced, causing various issues. To avoid that, select a lower final speed (if you can select speeds in your washer).
Of course, you can also hand-wash your sneakers with a soft brush and a mild detergent diluted in water, especially if pricey. To do that, scrub both the outside and inside of the shoes. For scuff marks, wiping them away with a product such as Mr. Clean Magic Eraser will do miracles on leather (and faux leather) shoes. Remove any residue with a damp cloth.
If you are wearing your sneakers for many hours a day, you run the risk of developing skin infections (i.e. athlete’s foot fungus) that cause burning, itching, scaling and, of course, pain. It could quickly turn into a nasty situation if you don’t do something about it. For that reason, it’s important to disinfect your shoes from time to time. To do so, choose pine oil disinfectants (i.e. Lysol Pine or Pine Sol), add it at the start of the wash cycle, and let them do their job. Admittedly, they are particularly effective in warm and hot water. The only thing you should focus on is to buy a product with at least 80% pine oil. Do the same with the socks and gym bags to prevent the spread of any fungus and bacteria that could have found a loving home inside your shoes!
Alternatively, you could use white distilled vinegar for a more natural solution. Besides, vinegar has both odor-removing and disinfecting properties, among others.
Dry them Properly
Don’t use the dryer. The high heat will ruin your shoes as they won’t only lose their shape but also their support. If, for some reason, you must put them in the dryer (say, you don’t have enough time to wait for them to air dry), better use the air-only cycle.
Once you are done cleaning and washing them, stuff them with white paper or towels (cotton) – to avoid color transfer and help maintain their shape – and place in a well-ventilated area. Some people stuff their shoes with newspapers of colored fabrics. However, this will only guarantee you’ll have a bigger mess when you put on the shoes. The ink from the newspaper and color from the towels will show on your socks! Also, try to dry leather shoes someplace away from direct sunlight. As for the use of a circulating fan, it is more than welcome as it can speed the drying process.
Time for the final touches. After your shoes are completely dry, use some shoe polish to cover any scuffs. Or you could use a permanent marker, too. If your shoes are made from real leather, it’s always advised to condition them after cleaning them to protect them from cracking and keep the leather stubble. Canvas shoes, on the other hand, can benefit from a protective spray designed for fabrics, which will create a protective shield on the outside of the shoes to repel stains and dirt until next time you want to clean them.
- If you have been caught in a real bad storm in the countryside and your leather tennis shoes are all muddy and filled with bacteria, make sure you remove as much mud from them as possible (place them under running water). At this point, don’t try to scrape away the mud with a sharp object, or you’ll damage the leather.
- Always use soft damp cloths to remove dirt from leather shoes. The stitching areas are sensitive and need gentle handling.
- If you are tempted to use shoe trees, you might want to reconsider. Although they are great for any other type of shoe, shoe trees might overstretch your leather gems!