How to Clean Canvas Sneakers: A Step-by-Step Guide
Written by Jeff Jacobson
There are certain things that most guys simply don’t like to do: going to the doctor, visiting the in-laws, asking for directions, etc. Maintaining a wardrobe also falls into this category. Guys just don’t like to iron dress shirts or shine their shoes. This trait can actually hinder a man’s sense of style by keeping him from buying clothes and shoes that require maintenance. Don’t let that happen to you. Read on for instructions on how to clean canvas sneakers.
The first thing you should know is that simply throwing your canvas shoes in the washing machine is a mistake. While some (read: almost none) sneakers may withstand this treatment for more than a few washes, most canvas shoes have an adhesive that fuses the sole to the canvas part of the shoe. This adhesive will break down when submerged for a period of time, especially when subjected to the chemicals used in fabric cleaners. Note that the above word of caution applies to the sneaker itself, not the insole. If the insole is removable, it’s usually safe to wash it in the washing machine with your delicates; however, cleaning the insoles requires the same process as cleaning the sneakers, so you’re probably better off avoiding the washing machine altogether. Please also note that the instructions below are for the canvas parts of shoes only. For other materials or for shoes made from more than one material, follow the care instructions provided by the manufacturer.
Now that you’ve decided to clean them by hand, the first thing you’ll want to do it whack the soles together a few times to remove any mud and dirt. Doing this on the pavement before coming inside is a good idea, though knocking them together over a trash can works equally as well.
Next, using warm water and some mild detergent, scrub the shoes gently using a toothbrush. There’s no real method to this — canvas is pretty durable, so go to town. Just make sure that if your canvas sneakers are a darker color, there’s no bleach or other chemicals in your detergent that will harm the color. Scrub all over the sneakers, including the outer soles and the insides.
For especially stubborn scuffs and stains on lighter colored canvas, use a mixture of water and baking soda — or even water and color-safe bleach — and scrub them with a nylon scouring pad. Tread lightly with the scouring pad to avoid damaging the canvas.
Once clean, stuff your shoes with paper towels, brown paper bags, or white paper. Don’t use colored paper or newspaper, which may bleed through and discolor your shoes. Allow your shoes to air dry, preferably in the shade. Placing them under or near a heater is another tempting idea you should avoid because, as before, exposure to extreme heat can break down the adhesives.
It’s that simple. With proper preparation, even the toughest spots should be no problem. Don’t let five minutes of maintenance prevent you from getting a great pair of shoes. Now that you know how to clean canvas sneakers, there’s no reason not to own a great pair of canvas shoes, such as the Florsheim Bru Wing.
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Posted January 2, 2013
Tags: how to clean canvas sneakers