There’s nothing quite like wearing a new pair of crisp white trainers. But, if your commute, shopping trips and dog walks mean they’re looking worse for wear, don’t worry. Whether your trainers are canvas, suede or leather, our handy guide will help you clean them like a pro.
The best and safest methods to clean and whiten trainers
Toothpaste. The washing machine. We’ve all heard those viral hacks that promise the best methods for cleaning trainers. But, before we take you through the steps, let’s tackle the most common questions.
Is putting trainers in the washing machine a good idea?
Washing machines can damage your trainers, so it’s generally not recommended – even if it is convenient. Hot water and the chemicals in your laundry detergent can both weaken and even melt the glues used to manufacture trainers. The tumble dryer may also wreak havoc on them.
How do I clean grass and stubborn stains from my trainers?
Depending on how dirty your shoes are, a microfibre cloth, old toothbrush, water and vinegar will do. Simply create a solution of one-part white vinegar and two-parts warm water. Then dip the toothbrush in and start scrubbing.
Warm water and washing up liquid can also be used to tackle stains on your trainer’s canvas upper parts. Dip a soft microfibre cloth into the solution, wring out excess water and gently dab your shoes clean.
Read more tips on how to remove grass stains from sportswear.
Steps for cleaning your trainers
We always recommend consulting a shoe care specialist if you’re worried about damaging your trainers – especially if they’re limited editions or valuable.
But if you’re happy to give it a go yourself, grab your dirty trainers, an old towel and toothbrush and let’s get started.
Step 1: Figure out what material your trainer is made of
From suede to canvas, trainers come in all sorts of different materials, and each will have their own needs. Here are a few tips for common trainer materials:
- Canvas: make a warm water and washing up liquid solution, then scrub with an old toothbrush.
- Suede: Avoid using water as it can damage and stain. For best trainer cleaning results, use a dedicated suede cleaner.
- Leather: Specialised cleaners will help you get the best results when whitening and cleaning leather trainers.
Step 2: Take out your laces and insoles
Even laces and insoles get mucky too. So, it’s best to remove these to give them a refresh and gain better access those awkward nooks and crannies.
Step 3: Remove excess dirt and grime
Using the appropriate cleaning solution for your trainers, use an old toothbrush to remove surface dirt like mud. Microfibre cloths are also excellent tools for safely removing surface stains.
Step 4: Shine, polish or add those finishing touches
Certain types of trainers will need extra attention. Consider using suede conditioners, specialised brushes and polishes to keep your trainers looking fresh. You may even need to re-apply waterproofing if they’re designed for running or uneven terrain.
Step 5: Let them air dry
Leave your shoes hanging in an airy space, away from direct sunlight until they’re fully dry. Again, excess heat can damage your shoes, so don’t be tempted to put them into the tumble dryer or next to the radiator to save time.