How to wash canvas sneakers?

Advices the 17 July 2013 by Joe the "tire-remover"

A pair of canvas sneakers is always nice when it is new, but quickly get dirty as you wear it. Fortunately, this type of shoes can be washed in most of the cases, to get them back like new. Proof here: two examples I have illustrated below. For that, I’ve experienced the manual method and the machine one, indicating for each of them all required equipment, budget, time and efficiency.

Manual wash

For this first example I have taken my pair of seersucker Bobbie Burns from last summer. There was few stains from the front of the shoe, but the hardest part of the work is from the heel, as you can notice on this first picture.

Preparation
Begin by gathering together all required equipment:

  1. A lukewarm water basin
  2. Household soap
  3. A sponge
  4. A brush

dirty sneakers

tennis-plus-kit

First step: dampening
Start by removing the laces so you will easily access all parts of the shoes (they can be machine washed separately). Take your sponge, dampen it and wash the shoes a first time with clear water. Bit by bit, add soap to remove the most superficial stains.

brushing

Second step: brushing
Thake your brush, soak it with water then soap. Let’s start brushing in circles all around the sneakers. Do not forget about washing the sole side. Continue until the deepest stains disappear.

soap sponge

Third step: rinsing
Change the water in your basin, rinse your sponge and use it to remove soap marks which could dye the canvas when drying.

rinsing

Fourth step: drying
Be careful not to expose your shoes to the sun when drying them, inside like outside. They’ll be clean and dry the day after.

clean sneakers

Manual wash summary:

  1. Equipment : a household soap, a sponge and a brush
  2. Budget : under €10
  3. Time spent : 15 minutes
  4. Efficiency : 4/5 (few hardly visible stains remain)

Machine wash

A certain advantage with this second method: it is much quicker! The operation can be summarized into 2 steps: put the sneakers into the machine, then let air dry! Let’s get into more details.

First step: machine wash
If the soles are dirty, use a sponge before any wash. If the sneakers are white, put the sneakers in a white wash program (with your sheets for example). You can slip them into pillowcases to avoid too much rubbing with the drum. Launch the machine!

clean supremebeing

Second step: drying
Recommendations remains the same than our manual method: air dry and avoid the sun. However, as the sneakers have become soaked with water, fill them with paper to absorb it and to keep them in their original shape (as they were shaken a bit).

clean supremebeing heel

Machine wash summary

  1. Equipment: a washing machine
  2. Budget: under €1
  3. Tipe spent: 2 minutes
  4. Efficiency: 5/5 (however, many machine washes could damage the shoes structure, especially regarding the glues)

Finally
Prefer the manual method if you want the limit risks of damaging your shoes. You would even enjoy having done the work by yourself! If this is urgent and your shoes are really dirty, go for the machine wash. The most important is to care for the drying step by avoiding sun exposure which could make your favourite sneakers fade.

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Check the whole section about Canvas sneakers