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How To Clean Skateboard Shoes: A Comprehensive Guide

how to clean sneakers

Preparation & Basic Cleaning Methods

Keeping your skate shoes clean takes a little bit of effort, but is worth it if you want them to last longer and look better.

  1. Preparing Your Shoes for Cleaning

    Start by emptying all the loose sand and dirt out of your shoes and inserting shoe trees or stuffing them with paper towels, rags or even socks. This helps maintain shoe shape and lets you scrub the surface more effectively.

  2. Removing Laces

    The first thing you want to do is remove your laces. They can be cleaned in a washing machine, but should not be dried in the dryer. If you’re a skater, there is a good chance that your laces are frayed and/or torn in spots. So, cleaning your shoes might be the easiest time to put in new laces. It’s always good to keep a few extra sets on hand.

  3. Removing Surface Dirt and Debris

    If your shoes are mildly dirty, you might be able to clean them with a dry scrub brush. Lightly scrubbing the dirty areas can release dirt build up and restore the original color.

  4. Washing Your Shoes Using a Mild Cleaning Solution

    If dry scrubbing doesn’t get the job done, introduce some water and mild soap or laundry detergent (that doesn’t contain fabric softener). You don’t want to completely soak your shoes in water, so use a bowl with warm soapy water and a washcloth. Rub the dirty areas with the wet washcloth to remove light dirt buildup. Do a test patch with the solution to see how it reacts with your shoe before cleaning it.

    This step is not suitable for suede – for specific instructions, see section “How To Clean Suede Sneakers” below.

  5. Cleaning Insoles

    If your insoles are removable, they are most likely machine washable. As with your laces, don’t dry your insoles in the dryer. Let them air dry to maintain their shape and size. If your insoles are glued or sewn to the shoes, you can leave them in and clean them with a scrub brush. Just remember, most insoles are quite absorbent, so if you clean them with soap and/or liquid they will take an extra day or two to dry out.


Special Care for Different Materials

Canvas Skate Shoes

cleaning canvas

What You’ll Need:

  • Shoe tree, paper towels, socks or a small rag
  • Cleaning solution (mild soap, detergent or fabric spot remover)
  • Scrub brush
  • Small bucket with warm water

How To Clean Canvas Sneakers

Canvas shoes are usually the easiest to clean because the fabric is not as thick or absorbent as leather or suede. Since canvas is a weaved fabric, it responds well to detergents and spot removers.

  1. Follow steps 1-3 given in ‘Preparation & Basic Cleaning Methods’
  2. Washing Canvas

    To clean canvas shoes you can simply scrub them with a little warm water and whatever cleaning solution you’ve chosen. For the best results, scrub the entire shoe, not just the spots that look dirty. If you only spot clean, the shoe could look uneven when they dry.

  3. Rinsing Canvas

    After you’ve scrubbed your shoes, rinse out all of the cleaning solution. You can do this with the pressurized setting of a kitchen sink, a showerhead or even an outdoor hose.

  4. Drying Canvas

    The best way to dry skate shoes is to lift the tongue out and set them outside, out of direct sunlight. The sun may speed up the drying time but it can cause fading. Make sure that airflow is getting to the shoes, especially if they are wet on the inside. The top of the shoe will dry quickly (probably within a day), but the interior of the shoe might take an extra day or two.

Q: Can You Put Canvas Shoes in the Washing Machine?

You can put canvas shoes in a washing machine, however, it could affect the shape and integrity of the footbed and rubber and also damage your machine. We recommend washing your shoes by hand and air drying them.

Q: What To Avoid When Washing Canvas Shoes?

When washing canvas shoes: avoid the washing machine and dryer, and make sure the shoes are dry inside before reinserting the insoles.

Suede Skate Shoes

cleaning suede

What You’ll Need:

  • Shoe tree, paper towels, socks or a small rag
  • Scrub brush
  • Suede rubber and cleaning sponge
  • Suede cleaner or rubbing alcohol
  • Suede protector

How To Clean Suede Sneakers

Cleaning suede can be tricky because it's very absorbent and using liquid can cause stains to set deeper within the suede. You’ll want to avoid getting the shoes wet and make sure they are completely dry before cleaning. If they’re muddy, let the mud dry to dirt before you start.

Cleaning suede shoes typically requires suede-specific products. A suede rubber, sometimes called a suede eraser, is the best tool, but you might need a suede cleaner if you have more stubborn stains. Here’s how to clean suede skate shoes without damaging them.

  1. Follow steps 1-3 given in ‘Preparation & Basic Cleaning Methods’
  2. Lightly Scrubbing Suede

    Scrub off excess dirt and debris with a soft bristle brush, like an old toothbrush. If you use a hard-bristle brush, it could scuff up the suede (much like griptape does). With any brush, start lightly and see how it reacts with the suede.

  3. Using A Suede Rubber Eraser

    A brush will likely remove light dirt build up and surface stains from your suede, but it might not be strong enough for deeper cleaning. A suede rubber is essentially like an eraser that loosens dirt and frees it from the suede fibers. Make sure that whatever rubber you use is clean before using it on your shoes.

  4. Using Suede Cleaning Liquids

    If your suede rubber doesn’t do the job, you can spot clean using suede cleaning liquids. If you don’t have suede cleaner, try a little rubbing alcohol or white vinegar. Whatever liquid you use, apply it only to the dirty areas by soaking a small corner of a washcloth and gently rubbing them.

  5. Drying Suede

    The best way to dry suede shoes is to lift the tongue out and set them outside, out of direct sunlight that can cause the colors to fade. Make sure that airflow is getting to the shoes to speed up drying time.

  6. Applying a Suede Protectant

    There are various types of protectant sprays that repel water and stains from suede fabric. Apply an even coat on the entire shoe for an upgrade that doesn’t affect the appearance of the shoe or alter its color. Let it dry for at least an hour and check if the suede is dry before wearing them.

Q: Can You Put Suede Shoes in the Washing Machine?

No. Don’t wash suede shoes in a washing machine. The excess moisture can make the suede stiff and brittle.

Q: What To Avoid When Washing Canvas Shoes?

When it comes to cleaning suede shoes: avoid getting them unnecessarily wet and keep them as dry as possible.

Leather Skate Shoes

cleaning leather

What You’ll Need:

  • Cleaning solution (mild soap, detergent or fabric spot remover)
  • Scrub brush or sponge
  • Small bucket with warm water
  • Shoe tree, paper towels, socks or a small rag
  • Leather conditioner

How To Clean Leather Sneakers

    1. Follow steps 1-3 given in ‘Preparation & Basic Cleaning Methods’
    2. Cleaning Leather

      To clean leather shoes you can simply scrub them with a little warm water and a cleaning solution. For the best results, scrub the entire shoe and use a brush that allows you to reach all the nooks and crannies, because those are likely to be the dirtiest spots.

    3. Wiping Leather

      After you scrub your leather, wipe away the soap and dirt with a dry rag or microfiber towel.

    4. Drying Leather

      The best way to dry leather shoes is to pop out the tongue and set them outside. The sun can help speed up the process, but it can also cause the leather color to fade. Point a fan at the inside of the shoes to speed up drying time. The actual leather will dry quickly (probably within a day), but the interior of the shoe might take an extra day or two, depending on the amount of airflow.

    5. Conditioning Leather

      To make leather shoes last longer, you can use a leather conditioner. A basic conditioner can keep the colors bright and prevent the leather from absorbing stains. Apply a dime-sized amount of leather conditioner on a cloth and apply it in a circular motion to the outside of the shoe.

Q: Can You Wash Leather Shoes in the Washing Machine?

No. Don’t wash leather shoes in a washing machine. The excess moisture can draw out the oils in the leather and make it dry and less supple.

Q: What To Avoid When Washing Leather Shoes?

When washing leather shoes: avoid the washing machine and dryer, and make sure the insides are completely dry before reinserting the insoles.

how to clean white skate shoes

How To Clean White Skate Shoes

White shoes get dirty fast, especially when skating. Use the following methods to clean your white shoes effectively.

How To Get Yellow Stains Out of White Shoes

Yellow stains on white shoes can be caused by a number of things, like wax, sweat or dirt. If you’ve already tried scrubbing with a mild soap, laundry detergent or fabric cleaner and had no luck, try hot water and salt or baking soda. Follow the instructions below.

      1. Mix a tablespoon of salt or baking soda with a tablespoon of hot water to create a paste.
      2. Apply the paste onto any yellow stains and allow it to sit for 30 minutes.
      3. Rinse the shoes and use a cloth or brush to gently scrub the areas where the paste was applied, then rinse the shoes once more.
      4. Repeat the process if the stain is still visible.
      5. Allow your shoes to air dry in a well ventilated area.

How To Clean White Soles of Shoes

The majority of skate shoes have white rubber outsoles that get stains and scuff marks, and there are a few ways to clean them.

      • Soapy Water: For mild stains, rub your white soles down with a washcloth or use a scrub brush and a little bit of soap.
      • Nail Polish Remover: Soak cotton swabs in nail polish remover and rub them into the rubber to remove stains and discoloration, paying close attention to avoid contact with the shoe’s upper.
      • Laundry Detergent or Baking Soda: Mix water and mild detergent or baking soda into a paste and apply it to the soles. The key is to let the solution soak into the rubber and then gently rub it out with a brush.

how to clean insoles

How To Clean Shoe Insoles & Eliminate Odor

How To Clean Shoe Insoles

Follow these steps to properly clean your shoe insoles:

      1. Remove the insoles from your shoes.
      2. Remove any dirt or debris by brushing the insoles with a soft bristle brush.
      3. Mix soap or mild laundry detergent with warm water and let the insoles soak in the solution for 10 minutes.
      4. Gently scrub your insoles again with the soft bristle brush, giving extra attention to dirty or stained areas.
      5. Rinse the insoles with clean water and pat them down with a dry towel or rag to soak up excess moisture. Don’t ring them out or use a heat source for drying as it can damage the insoles.
      6. Let them air dry completely before reinserting them into your shoes.

How To Get Rid of Shoe Odor

There are many ways to take care of shoe odor. Here are a few things to try:

      1. Wash the entire inside of your shoes using a scrub brush and mild soap.
      2. Wash just the insoles. This is likely to be the part of your shoe that has odor.
      3. Wash just the underside of your shoe's tongue. If the top of your foot sweats a lot, this can be your best solution.
      4. Get aftermarket odor eliminating insoles.

When Is It Time to Buy New Skate Shoes?

Signs It’s Time To Replace Your Skate Shoes

There are two telltale signs that it is time to replace your skate shoes – wearing through the tops of them or wearing through the soles.

      1. Holes On the Top of the Shoes

        For most skaters, holes will start to form in the toe area where the griptape comes in contact with the shoe when doing ollies and flip tricks. If the tops of your shoes have holes in them, it’s best to get a new pair to ensure you’re skating safely and comfortably.

      2. Worn Out Rubber With Weak Tread Pattern

        Some skaters wear out the soles of their shoes before the tops of them. Once the tread pattern starts to wear down, your shoes will be less grippy. If this is the case, not only will it be harder to perform tricks, but you will feel more impact on your feet.

You’ll get the most out of your shoes if they are designed specifically for skateboarding, and when they inevitably wear through the tops or soles, it’s time for a new pair.

No matter how often you skate and or which shoes you have, these basic cleaning methods can help your skate shoes look better and last longer.


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