how to wash sneakers

How to Clean Sneakers by Hand

What's the best way to wash sneakers? With these expert tools, techniques, and the best stain remover for shoes, you'll have fresh kicks year-round.

Written by Tenley Haraldson.


You don’t need to be a sneakerhead to appreciate a pair of clean shoes. You also don’t need complicated instructions to deal with spilled drinks, muddy streets, or scuffed heels.

It doesn't matter if you prefer leather, vinyl, or canvas. For a straight-out-of-the-box look, discover how to wash sneakers. 

Leather & Vinyl: How to Wash Sneakers by Hand

how to clean sneakers by hand

Our experts have determined that the following steps are the best ways to wash sneakers: 

1. Stuff Them with Newspaper 

It’s much easier to clean sneakers that have been filled with balled-up newspaper, paper towels, or some old dish towels. 

2. Remove Excess Dirt

Take your shoes outside and loosen dirt by knocking the soles together. Remove larger debris with an auto detailing brush or old toothbrush. 

3. Wash the Laces & Insoles

washing sneakers in washing machine

If your insoles are removable and washable, a trip through the washing machine can really help remove “foot stink.” Remove insoles and laces, place them in a mesh laundry bag, then run them in the washing machine (with like colors) on a cold, delicate wash cycle.

Pro Tip: Our enzyme-based laundry detergent is formulated to lift stains and target odors.

4. Use This Surprising Shoe Stain Remover

shoe stain remover

Our Natural Surface Cleaner was designed to lift dirt and grime from all non-porous surfaces – and that means shoes, too! Spritz your shoe surfaces with this solution, then gently wipe away any marks or stains using one of our microfiber towels

5. Focus on the Outsoles

With a solution of warm water and a few drops of mild dish soap, scrub the outsoles with a brush to remove any scuffs or marks. For tougher marks, hit surfaces again with your Surface Cleaner, let it set for a couple minutes, then wipe away. Repeat as many times as necessary then buff shoes dry with a clean microfiber cloth. 

6. Apply a Conditioner (If Desired)

For leather sneakers, consider using a leather shoe conditioner to reintroduce moisture, provide protection, and increase flexibility.

7. Let Your Shoes Dry

how to wash shoes by hand

No one likes squishy, soggy sneakers. Be sure to let them dry at room temperature (or a sunny spot) before putting them on.

How to Wash Fabric Shoes

how do you wash sneakers

Fabric (like canvas) tends to soak up grime and stains, but washing shoes by hand doesn't take a ton of effort.

Start with directions #1-3 listed above. Next, thoroughly spritz the surface with Puracy Stain Remover. The longer you wait (we recommend at least 8 hours), the more time these plant enzymes have to work. 

Gently Scrub

best way to wash sneakers

Fabric can usually withstand a bit more scrubbing than leather, so gently agitate with your brush.

Remove the Stain Remover

Fill a bowl with warm water and saturate a microfiber cloth. Wring out any excess liquid and gently rock the damp cloth along the shoe’s surface to pull out stain residue. This should replace the stain remover (and stain particles) with water. 

Repeat the Process

If this process doesn’t completely remove stains, don't panic. Repeat the process but leave the stain remover on longer the next time. Let your sneakers dry at room temperature and you should be good to go! 

Can You Wash Sneakers in the Washing Machine?

how to wash sneakers in washing machine

You can try this method with fabric sneakers  – but not a pair of leather shoes! Follow steps #1-3. Once your stain remover has had enough time to work, place your shoes in the washer. Add a few towels to balance the machine, pump in some Natural Laundry Detergent, and run a cold/delicate cycle.

Never put shoes in the dryer, not even on a low-heat or no-heat cycle. The hot air can warp shoes and damage the glue that holds them together. 

Introducing the Best Stain Remover for Shoes

shoe stain remover

There's no such thing as impossible stains, only stains that haven’t met our Natural Stain Remover.

Formulated for all washable fabrics, this 98.95% natural formula eradicates every smudge and spot. If you don’t absolutely love it, contact our customer experience team about our hassle-free, money-back guarantee.