My sneakers are gross guys. I was organizing the shoe explosion in my garage the other day and was legit, disgusted by the filth that had accumulated on my tennis shoes since last season. And, don’t even get me started on my daughter’s pile. Ew. We needed clean sneakers.
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Since I was already doing the dirty work (pun totally intended) I thought I’d share the easy steps I took to turn nasty, dusty, brown kicks into beautiful, white, clean sneakers. As a bonus, I tried the same method on my daughter’s rubber, perforated slip ons to see if the clean sneaker method would work on stained rubber. To my surprise, it worked SO GOOD!
Here’s a quick before and after before I get into the steps (note, the sneakers below are white with a tan floral embossment, so where you see those tan spots in the clean versions, you’re actually seeing the pattern, not staining).
DUST OFF THE DIRT
The first step to clean sneakers is brushing off any dust and dirt (leaves?) that have attached themselves to the fabric, laces or soles of your sneakers. I used a simple brush (I think it’s actually for cleaning your fingernails) and brushed off the gunk before moving on to the next step.
MAKE A PASTE
There are a bunch of “recipes” out there to make DIY pastes for clean sneakers. I kinda winged it and came up with this concoction and it seemed to work really well!
- 1 TBSP Baking Soda
- 1/2 TBSP of Hydrogine Peroxide
- 1/2 TBSP Water
This won’t make a huge bowl of paste, so if you’ve got a lot of shoes to clean, make a bigger batch or make it as you go. I found this recipe perfect for one adult pair of shoes. I used about 3/4 of a second batch to clean a pair of my daughters.
Hot tip: Use rubber gloves! The peroxide my dry out your skin. I like these ones (also great for removing nail polish so the nail polish remover doesn’t dry you out)!
APPLY THE PASTE WITH A TOOTHBRUSH
Apply the paste to dry sneakers – I was confused on whether or not I should wash them first and apply it to wet sneakers, but again – I was livin’ on a prayer and just decided to apply it to the dry sneakers. I’m happy it worked because it saves a step in having to wash them too!
Use a toothbrush and gently scrub the paste into the fabric of the sneakers. The laces of my chucks were tied in a knot so I just brushed on the laces and underneath on the tongue as best as I could. Make sure you get all of the nooks and crannies and edges (close to the soles and rubber edges).
The paste will be thick, just leave it as you go on to the next step!
PUT THEM OUTSIDE + GO ABOUT YOUR BUSINESS
The key to this step is the sunshine. You’ll want to make sure you have a couple of hours of direct sunlight to get that crisp, white look back.
I don’t know how critical the sun is to cleaning shoes or sneakers that are not white – but I can tell you, at least for my daughter’s rubber shoes, the process did not bleach them. In fact, it definitely helped get rid of some of the deep stains in the rubber. Here’s a before and after of hers:
BRUSH OFF THE PASTE
Once they’ve sat outside for at least 2 hours, grab your brush again and brush off the paste (it’s dry now and turned to dust). You’ll want to do this outside as the dust will go everywhere.
Make sure you get all the nooks and crannies of your sneakers – you can always use a toothbrush or smaller brush for these parts. Brush, brush, brush until there is no longer a dust cloud 🙂 Seriously, that’s when you’re done brushing.
USE A MAGIC ERASER TO FINISH THE JOB
The paste did help whiten the edges and other white rubber portions of the sneakers, but I found a magic eraser to be the best method of getting out any lingering stains that didn’t come clean from the previous steps.
Once you’ve done this, you have super-duper, clean sneakers (or shoes), fresh for Summer (I mean…there’s nothing like a white pair of sneakers and a tan, amIright?).
SUPPLIES LIST + STEP BY STEP RECAP
Here’s a quick list to all of the supplies you need.
- Toothbrush and hard bristle brush
- Peroxide (grab it at Target for like, 98 cents!)
- Baking soda (grab it at Target!)
- Magic eraser (you can cut one sponge into quarters. You only need a small piece to clean up a couple pair of shoes)
- Rubber gloves (optional)
And a recap of the steps:
- Brush off the dirt, leaves + dust
- Make a paste
- Apply the paste to all the parts using a toothbrush
- Set sneakers in direct sunlight for at least two hours
- Brush off the paste (which will now be dust) until you no longer see dust
- Use a magic eraser to make those soles and white rubber sections sparkle!
They don’t sell this particular style of converse anymore, but they have tons of other slip-ons that I love, love, loveity love (I have them in black too). I believe my daughter’s shoes were from Old Navy, but I couldn’t find them this year. We actually ended up with a few new pairs from Target (they are almost identical and great for water play!).
Happy sneaker cleaning!
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