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How to Clean Sneakers + Keep Your Kicks Looking Brand New

August 22, 2019

How to Clean Sneakers + Keep Your Kicks Looking Brand New

You may only need a scrubber and some water, or a natural stain remover might come in handy. Either way, learn how to keep your sneakers looking fresh and clean all the time.

Is there a better feeling than opening up a shoebox and putting on your new pair of sneakers? There's a certain new shoe scent that gets you all jazzed up for the day and activities ahead of you. Putting on a brand new pair of shoes is like opening a door of endless opportunities, but stepping out into a world of spilled drinks, muddy sidewalks, scuff-able surfaces, and grimy grounds is enough to induce anxiety.

To keep your kicks clean and looking like new, even amid messy surroundings, check out our guide for how to clean sneakers.

How to clean leather or vinyl sneakers

There are several methods for cleaning sneakers by hand, but to get a long-lasting fresh look, follow these five simple steps: 

1. Remove excess dirt.

Hit the soles of your sneakers together or use a gentle scrub brush (like a paint brush, make-up brush, or auto detailing brush) to get any dirt or debris off the sneakers. It's best to do this outside for less of a mess.

2. Take out the laces and insoles.

To clean the insoles and laces, remove them, place them in a pillowcase, and run them in the washing machine with like colors on a cold, delicate wash cycle with an enzyme-based detergent to ensure stains and odors are removed. Washing the insoles will also help remove any pungent odors from sneakers.

3. Get a clean cloth and all-surface-safe cleaner.

We recommend using a plant-based surface cleaner that lists being safe for all water-safe surfaces. Take this detergent-water solution, and wipe away any marks or stains using a clean cloth. Using a mild detergent will prevent yellow discoloration that might otherwise occur due to toxins in traditional detergents.

4. Use a gentle brush on the outsoles.

With a solution of warm water and mild dish soap, agitate the outsoles with a paint brush, make-up brush, or auto detailing brush to remove any scuffs or marks from that area of the shoes. For tougher marks, spray the cleaner, let it soaks for a couple minutes, scrub, and wipe away. Repeat if necessary.

5. Let your shoes dry in an open area.

Dry the sneakers at room temperature. For sneakers with leather, you may want to apply a leather shoe conditioner to reintroduce necessary moisturizers to the surface. This will provide protection and increase the flexibility of the leather hide.

How to clean white fabric sneakers

White sneakers are all the rage right now, but cleaning them always seems like an uphill battle. To clean your white sneakers, follow the directions above. Some stains and scuffs might be more stubborn or noticeable on white shoes, so if this is the case, try using a natural stain remover to eliminate obvious markings.

Spray your stain remover on the affected area, agitate with a gentle brush, and wait at least 15 minutes. Fill a bowl with warm water, and then saturate a clean cloth with the water before wringing out any excess liquid. Gently rub the damp cloth where you sprayed the stain remover to pull out any stains and replace the stain remover with water. If this doesn't totally remove the stains, try leaving the stain remover on for longer, up to an hour or more. After you've cleaned them, allow your white sneakers to dry completely at room temperature.

Puracy Natural Stain Remover is impeccable because it uses all six plant-based enzymes to tackle hundreds of types of stains—all without bleaching or discoloring your shoes. It is non-toxic and naturally derived, yet extremely powerful, and is safe to use on most fabrics. See the photos below of just how well our stain remover works on white sneakers using the above instructions.

Clean dirty sneakers with Puracy Natural Stain Remover Clean dirty sneakers with Puracy Natural Stain Remover Clean sneakers after using Puracy Natural Stain Remover

How to clean sneakers at home in the washing machine

Some types of sneakers can even withstand being cleaned in the washing machine.  You'll want to try this with your more casual workout or running sneakers, not necessarily your luxury or leather sneaks. Follow these six easy steps to get your kicks squeaky clean:

1. Remove excess dirt.

Hit the soles of your sneakers together or use a gentle scrub brush (like a paint brush, make-up brush, or auto detailing brush) to get any dirt or debris off the sneakers. It's best to do this outside for less of a mess.

2. Spray any deep stains with a natural stain remover.

Using a natural stain remover, let the formula sit on your shoes for at least 15 minutes after agitating with a gentle brush.

3. Take out the laces and insoles.

To clean the insoles and laces, remove them, place them in a pillowcase, and run them in the washing machine with like colors on a cold, delicate wash cycle with an enzyme-based detergent to ensure stains and odors are removed. Washing the insoles will also help remove any pungent odors from sneakers.

4. Place your shoes in the washing machine.

5. Add a few towels to balance the machine.

6. Use a gentle, enzyme-based liquid laundry detergent.

Run the washer on the cold and delicate cycle.

7. Allow the shoes to air dry.

Never, ever put shoes in the dryer, even on low or no heat. The air can damage the glue that holds them together or warp the shape of your shoes.


Now that you know the steps for how to clean sneakers and get them looking new again, you should be ready to hit the town with fresh-looking shoes, no matter how old they might be! By using our Natural Laundry Detergent and Natural Stain Remover, you can feel good about cleaning your sneakers with chemical-free formulas that are effective and safe to use around the entire family.