Sneaker Maintenance Guide
There is nothing worse than looking down to see you have a new scuff on your favourite pair of sneakers. To that end we have spent a long time researching the best methods for making your trainers last longer and how to clean them up nicely when they begin to look a little off color.
Preventative Medicine is the best medicine
First we will focus on the best things to do to prevent damage and prepare your new sneakers for the big bad world when they are new and still fresh.
Protective Sprays & Liquids
One of the best things you can do with an expensive pair of shoes you want to make last more than a few weeks is to protect them with one of the many shoe protection products on the market such as Creps. The results are pretty remarkable, once the spray dries any liquids are literally repelled from the shoe. You have to keep it topped up by respraying after you clean them from time to time but this is one of the best solutions out there. Creps is a popular brand which does the job however there are some cheaper alternatives which are pretty much as good.
If you are planning on using your kicks for skating and other aggressive activities then it can also be worth using super glue to carefully go over the lines that might fray or get worn. Shoe Goo which comes in transparent, white or black is a thick coloured glue which is very robust and ideal for trainers which are going to be worn heavily or already show some signs of wear and tear.
Firstly there is a lot of debate about whether to keep the original box or not. Our view is you should and this is the most ideal place to store them when not in use, rather than out in the open exposed to the elements. Especially if they are expensive as even mild daylight is enough to quickly fade a vibrant valour finish. This doesn't suit all collectors as many have collections too large to store in original boxes, for those without the space small material shoe bags to store in pairs are a fine alternative as long as they don't get crushed. We would advise in that case to store in sets of 10 in larger plastic storage boxes, this still saves a considerable amount of space vs storing each pair in their original boxes.
If you are a sneaker collector and reseller then keeping the box has its own added perks such as increased resale value and collector satisfaction.
Another favourite if you want easy access and need to save space is to use a shoe tidy / hanger you hook over the door capable of storing 6 or so pairs of shoes on the back of each door each in their own compartment keeps them protected and saves space.
It should go without saying that it is important not to store shoes when they are wet from being outside as mold can quickly develop, footwear should ideally also be cleaned before being put into storage.
Over time if you store shoes or keep them out without wearing them they will begin to flop, this increases the changes of creases and means you have to stretch the shoe a bit before wearing it again. Use the inserts that come with your footwear or stuff them to help them maintain their form. If you are feeling extra fancy why not invest in some wooden cedar shoe trees.
You want to store your sneakers in a dark, cool and dry room, this reduces the potential for bacteria forming from any moisture that is present, or color fading from any prolonged sunlight and prevents the materials particularly leather from being too warm permanently.
Inner Soles can definitely help your shoes last longer as they protect the bottom inner of your shoes from wear and tear as well as bacterial or fungal build up. This means you can cycle your inner soles and throw them away and the inside of your sneaker should be in better condition and not hold onto any unwanted odours. If you find your shoe size is between two then you might find going for the larger of the two and using inner soles is a great solution to both problems.
If your shoes are tight to get on, use a shoehorn and the heels will last infinately longer and not crumble into a slip on sandle.
To reduce cracks it is good to use a special moisturiser to maintain the health and flexibility of the leather.
Never Wear the Same Pair on Consecutive Days
A tip I got from Fat Joe on an episode of Cribs some 10 or so years ago was to rotate your footwear. This is possibly more relevant for leather shoes and footwear but in some ways also for other types of sneakers. The idea is that you wear shoes and the leather is warm and comes to life, it is good to give them a day to rest. With trainers and sweaty feet there is a certain bacteria build up. If you wear the same pair every single day you end up with smellier shoes because that bacteria isn't given time to die. You put them on again and the process continues. Spread the love and wear your full collection rotating from day to day. Basically you want to let any pair of shoes dry out for 24 hours between usage.
One tip for shopping, buy quality brands from reputable retailers to avoid disapointment and fake Nike's that fall apart after two days.
Cleaning Your Sneakers
Inevitably your kicks will eventually get a little mucky, discoloured or faded due to some nights out stomping and days of exploring. When this time comes you need to have your cleaning game on point to get refreshed.
There are a few things to consider, there is the professional sneaker head approach and there is the DIY approach.
Sneaker Cleaning for Kick Connoisseurs
If you care about your sneaker collection more than your family members then this is the approach you need to take! Jokes aside if you want to ensure you're trainers last and you don't dent your pocket replacing them you should also follow this approach! Everyone I know!
There are a range of professional products on the market which make your life so much easier when it comes to cleaning your crepes and keeping them fresh.
We recommend two easily available products however there are others that might be available in some countries and not others.
Jason Markk - a Premium Shoe Care brand from Los Angeles, California and offers a fantastic range of products aimed at the shoe collector and fan. The range includes several essential kits with multiple products such as their signature soft synthetic brush and cleaning liquid in addition to other specialist products like a suede cleaning tool, travel bag and their own repel spray to protect your kicks from moisture.
Crepes - A popular brand in the sneaker industry Crepes are most known for their repelling spray which you use on your trainers to prevent moisture and liquids from staining and marking your fresh 'crepes'. They also have a full range of different sneaker care products including a kit with brush, cloth, cure cleaning solution to hat spray.
As you can't just wing it and have all the gear and no idea you also need to learn the best practices when it comes to using these cleaning products on your shoes depending on the type of material. Long gone are the days of wooden or leather shoes only! Now we have primeknit! The most delicate yet beautiful material known to man amongst 100's of other materials like neoprene to name another to consider when we clean our trainers. You can't just get a brush, wack on some good old boot polish and scrub away military style. Instead you have to use a few different tools depending on the texture and material of each part of the shoe.
Sneaker Cleaning DIY Version
- Soft Bristled Toothbrush (which is less abrasiveness)
- Toothpaste (White only, not colored gels or pastes containing coloured abrasive microbeads)
- Soapy Water (washing up liquid, soap or some other household cleaning soap, avoid anything too intense.
- Bicarbonate of Soda
- Small Cloth (yellow car cleaning cloths work well as they are soft, though microfibre cloths are best and are affordable from any DIY or household good store.)
- Super Glue
Before you clean your trainers ensure you have everything you need ready and begin with a slightly damp cloth and wipe down the exterior of each foot to ensure any loose dirt or marks can be easily removed first. If you have a clump of dirt on a spot of the sole and don't gently brush these things off you risk rubbing it in with a brush and creating a worse mark than you began with. This is pretty much the same with cleaning any type of shoe.
The steps below depend on the type of show or material you are working on. Whether it be the upper, mid sole or sole you may need to use different tools and techniques to get the best results.
- Toothpaste - Use toothpaste on white areas of the sneaker. If only the soles are white around the sides then use it on here and brush it in using the toothbrush. Brush it in and then wipe it away with a wet cloth or wipe.
- Toothbrush - Other uses for the toothbrush are to dip it in soapy water and use it to brush away gently at stubborn marks on other areas of the shoe provided they are smooth and hardy materials like rubber, neoprene, leather and PVC. Toothbrushes don't work well on modern mesh like materials used on the primeknit style sneakers.
- Magic Eraser - These erasers are made of a grippy material which isn't abrasive but work great against stubborn marks not easily cleared with a brush or wet cloth.
- Cloth / Microfibre - use this cloth to wipe away gently at delicate materials used on your shoes. Mesh type material which you want to be extra careful with can be wiped gently with cloths or a soft bristle brush.
- Pat delicate materials dry rather than scrubbing too hard.
- When cleaning sneakers that aren't firm pack them so they can maintain their shape and are easier to grip while you are cleaning them. Slip ons and sock style sneakers are much easier to work with and keep in good condition when they are stuffed with material.
- Avoid the washing machine, this pretty much destroys all forms of footwear.
- Remove laces and wash or bleach separately.
- Small tools such as those for iPhone repairs or cleaning a laptop keyboard are an ideal side toolset for getting into those hard to reach areas and gaps where different materials meet delicately.
- Use a suede eraser and brush when working with this delicate material. This allows you to gently rub out marks and stains without using water, since you aren't meant to get suede wet at all!
- If drying out shoes ideally gently towel and air dry however you can also use a hair dryer as long as you do so on cold.
- A Mr Clean eraser can be a great way to hide stubborn minor marks on the midsoles.
- Consider 'Sneaker Shields' to avoid the signs of creasing on the upper of the shoe appearing from excessive wear.
- Peanut butter can be a great DIY cleaning product for leather or plastic parts of the shoe and can bring out a nice shine due to the oils.
- Use odor eating balls or sprays to kill germs and bacteria living beneath your feet! Organic alternatives include various essential oils you can drip into your shoe or inner sole. You can even buy ultraviolet shoe sanitizers now!
- Sweat resistant socks can massively reduce the moisture and bacteria production in your shoes.
- SoleProtector offer a service where you can add a layer beneath your sneakers sole to allow it to not wear, then you replace this from time to time and keep your soles pristine. They have pre molded options for popular Air Jordans and a custom mold option for other styles and they actually look pretty cool still.