Today we bring you the first of an ongoing series of articles addressing some of the most pressing conundrums in menswear. More than creating an encyclopedia of theoretical knowledge, we want to deliver a hands-on approach of DIY tips and advices, be them from our personal experience or from industry experts. To kick-off the first entry in style, we bring you some tips on how to ensure your white sneakers remain just that...white.
If you're anywhere near Sneakerhead status, you know just how tricky it is to keep your brand new kicks pristine. For many, white is not even an option when considering new sneaker additions, precisely due to the difficulty in keeping them in mint condition. Of course not everyone loses their sleep over a pair of dirty sneakers, but then again, this article is likely not for them nor do they value the philosophy behind sneaker culture. When your collection is comprised by a number of high-end staples or even limited edition runs, chances are you want to keep them immaculate and free from scuff marks, sole streaks, discoloring and dirty laces.
That being said, what preemptive measures should you take to keep your valued footwear safe from harm? Before moving on to actual cleaning techniques, let's start with the basics:
Source: The Container Store.
Storage - having all your kicks on display looks great and makes it easier to choose when putting your outfits together, but it does nothing good for their looks. The floating dust particles deposit on the uppers, giving it a worn-out look which can be prevented by keeping them on dust bags or original boxes. Another great option is to find transparent containers that will protect them while allowing you to clearly see each and every pair: The Container Store or Ikea both provide great alternatives.
Source: Jason Markk.
Invest in a Cleaning Kit - there are several options available on the market from the likes of Crep Protect, Sneakers ER or Jason Markk. Make sure to choose one that offers brushes and microfiber cloths besides the cleaning agents. Also, don't forget that old toothbrush...it will work wonders. There isn't really a clear winner when it comes to sneaker care companies. Try out your favorite and if you're not satisfied then go on to the next;
Establish a Routine - forget the negative connotation of the word and instead think of it as a therapy of sorts: a time off for you and your beloved sneakers with no phone, mails or social media. Decide on a day when you can spend roughly 1 hour cleaning.
Gather those old Newspapers - remember when you still read the news on paper? Well, now's the time to get them as they provide the perfect cover for your floor, carpet or rug during your cleaning sessions.
Source: Jason Markk.
Now that we've covered the basics it's time to address the elephant in the room. Here's everything you'll need to get started:
- Bowl with warm water
- Clean Towel
- Microfiber cloth
- Old newspaper sheets
- An apron
- Old Toothbrush
- Whitening Toothpaste
- Cleaning Solution
- Spray sneaker protector
- Sneaker Wipes
The first thing to know is that not all sneakers are created equal: take a closer look at your collection and you'll likely find a range of materials including leather, canvas, suede or mesh. The bad part is that each has its quirks and techniques...the good part is that we're listing them below:
Protect them from day one - apply a sneaker protector before taking them out for a spin. This spray will create an invisible (often waterproof) barrier that will keep dirt and moist at a distance;
Go easy on those brushes - brushing the uppers too hard especially on suede and canvas, will wear them out quicker than expected and ruin that mint look. Use a soft brush and make circular movements, allowing the cleaning agents to do their work;
White Mesh Sneakers - mesh is quite delicate and requires a proper sneaker cleaner or a mild dish soap and warm water. Avoid any abrasive solution which can damage it severely. Apply the cleaner with a brush all over the sneaker and let it sit between 5 to 10 minutes. Rinse in cold water and check for any persistent stains: if there are any, try applying a dash of white vinegar. Remove any excess with a clean towel and put them out on the sun to dry;
White Runners - get all the accumulated dirt out using an old toothbrush and warm water. Brush the cleaning solution on the dirty parts and leave it for a while. Rinse with cold water and check for stains: repeat if needed. Remove any excess with a clean towel and leave them to dry.
White Canvas Sneakers - quite prone to becoming dirty but also easy to clean, make sure to brush them with a mix of warm water and cleaning solution. Create a lather to ensure the solution really gets in there. Leave them out to dry in the sun. If there are persistent stains, repeat the process or alternate with a mix of equal parts of water and hydrogen peroxide.
White Leather Sneakers - the cleaning solution + warm water will serve you well, but here's something else that is guaranteed to deliver great results. Get the old toothbrush out and apply some whitening toothpaste on your kicks. Brush everything with smooth motions and rinse with cold water.
And last but not least...
White Rubber Soles - remove dirt and mud with the toothbrush and use sneaker wipes to remove anything remaining. For persistent scuffs you can always try a bit of white nail polish. Just make sure to match the colors so there isn't a visible difference.
White Laces - never forget these as they can quickly ruin an otherwise pristine sneaker. Take them out and wash them by hand in lukewarm water and dish soap. If there are difficult stains try using a toothbrush and cleaning solution to remove them. Also, always keep an extra pair at hand to replace while you wash the first.
We know it looks like a lot to sink in, but it's actually a very smooth process when you get used to it. Make sure to set up a deep cleaning routine every two weeks or so and apply a sneaker protector spray every week to ensure your kicks are kept in good condition. There are a number of video tutorials on Youtube to help get you started: we recommend the below series from Highsnobiety: