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Cleaning your sneakers is an easy summer DIY project to procrastinate and yet one of the most worthwhile to take to task if you want to show off an impressive shoe collection. Prime essentials to have on hand in order to get the job done include a scrub brush with bristles, a Magic Eraser, the proper cleaning solution for the right fabric and finish, and a smaller brush for spot-cleaning areas. While you may have heard myths that toothpaste, vinegar, and bleach are useful products, they’re actually acidic enough to affect the durability of your sneakers, according to the experts we spoke with at shoe brands like Kenneth Cole, Soludos, Gola, Superga, Puma, and Margaux.
Some people might say they’ve had luck tossing their sneakers in the washing machine, but water can potentially damage the integrity of the cushion in your shoes, so this method should be limited to minimal styles with thin, flexible uppers made from mesh — and even then, you should opt for a delicate, cold cycle. If you really want to clean your sneakers the right way, find a spot outdoors where you have access to a hose or set up your tools near the sink or on the floor over a spread of newspapers, and get to work.
Ahead, we’re breaking down the basics for cleaning all types of sneakers — white sneakers, suede sneakers, canvas sneakers, and more — and providing useful tips for preventing them from getting dirty in the first place, along with links to all the items you’ll need stocked at home.