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Clean, dry and care for sneakers - Do's & Don'ts

The lifetime of sneakers is limited. And this is not always due to the workmanship or quality of the material, but often due to poor care.


The lifetime of sneakers is limited. And that's not always due to the workmanship or quality of the material, but often also due to poor care. Hand on heart: When was the last time you gave your favorite sneakers a thorough care and cleaning treatment? Even more important than the "how often" is the "how" - because with well-intentioned but incorrect care, you can ruin a brand-new pair of sneakers pretty quickly. We dispel myths and half-truths about cleaning, drying and caring for sneakers. And with our practical do's and don'ts, sneaker care becomes a breeze!

Just throw them in the washing machine?

A tempting thought to simply pack the dirty sneakers to the dirty laundry in the washing machine. However, major sneaker manufacturers such as Nike and adidas generally advise against this. No wonder, because cleaning by hand is much gentler and ensures that your favorites last longer. However, if you have to do it quickly, you should at least follow these tips so that your shoes survive the wash cycle undamaged:

  • Before washing, remove coarse dirt and stones, but also loose parts like insoles and laces. The latter you can put together with your sneakers in a laundry bag or old pillowcase. This way you prevent the laundry drum from being damaged by metal parts (like eyelets etc.).
  • Wash your sneakers together with some towels or bed sheets - this way the washing drum is well padded and your shoes are optimally protected.
  • Use a gentle delicate wash cycle or, if available, a special wash cycle for shoes.


  • In contrast to sneakers made of textile and mesh, leather sneakers are generally not allowed in the washing machine! Also sneakers with jewelry applications should be cleaned by hand.
  • Never use fabric softener - it can corrode the materials and dissolve the glue in the sole.
  • Temperatures above 30 degrees are taboo! At higher temperatures, some textiles may shrink, causing the shoes to deform.
  • You should not spin the sneakers - the fast rotations can damage the damping of your shoes.

Cleaning & caring for sneakers - the material makes the difference!


When choosing a cleaning and care product, you should make sure that it matches the upper material of your shoes. If in doubt, you will find a small sticker on the insole with the material information.

For cleaning, you should ideally have a special cleaning foam (sneaker cleaner) that is suitable for all common materials (e.g. from Jason Markk). If necessary, you can also clean sneakers made of fabric and mesh with detergent, shampoo or soap. Leather sneakers can be cleaned with leather soap. For sneakers made of synthetic or imitation leather, you should only use oil and grease-free products. Grease-rich care products, such as those used for leather sneakers, cannot be absorbed into the artificial material and form a greasy film on the surface. But what if the sneaker is made of many, different materials? Again, a universal sneaker cleaner is the best choice, or you clean each part individually with the appropriate agent.

How often should you actually clean and care for sneakers? That depends largely on how often and in what weather you wear your shoes. No matter what material - for superficial dirt like street dust, dry cleaning is enough. Just go over the surface with a soft brush and your sneakers are street-ready again. Against stubborn dirt, however, only a thorough wet cleaning helps!

Clean sneakers in 5 steps

  1. You need: a shoe brush, a bowl with lukewarm water, a suitable cleaning agent (e.g. cleaning foam/sneaker cleaner, leather soap) and a lint-free, damp cloth.
  2. Remove the laces and free the sneaker from the coarsest dirt with a soft brush.
  3. Put some cleaning foam or leather soap on the shoe brush (never directly on the shoes!) and wet the brush briefly. If you use detergent, shampoo or soap (only for textile and mesh sneakers), dissolve a small amount of it in lukewarm water and dip the brush briefly.
  4. Clean the sneaker with circular movements so that a thin layer of foam forms on the upper. For hard-to-reach areas, you can use an old toothbrush.
  5. Remove the dirty foam with the damp cloth and gently pat the shoes dry. Fabric and mesh sneakers can also be rinsed with water.

Dry sneakers properly

Done! The sneakers are finally clean again. But how do you get them dry again as quickly and gently as possible?

  • Remove the insole before drying - it stores a lot of moisture and should dry separately.
  • Stuff your sneakers with newspaper or kitchen paper. This will quickly soak up moisture and prevent your favorites from deforming as they dry. Don't forget to change the paper regularly when it gets soaked! Alternatively, you can use a shoe tree.
  • Put your shoes in a well-ventilated place to dry.
  • Spray your sneakers with waterproofing spray before wearing them again. This will protect them from wind and weather - and you won't have to clean as often!


  • Drying in the tumble dryer is an absolute no-go! The intense heat can deform and damage the material.
  • You should also not put your shoes directly on the heater or in the blazing sun - this applies especially to models made of leather.
  • Hair dryer, oven and microwave are also taboo if you want to enjoy your sneakers for a long time.

Extra care for leather sneakers

Sneakers made of smooth leather and suede require extra care and should be treated with a suitable leather care product, e.g. from Collonil or Meindl, after cleaning, drying and impregnating. The greasy care makes the leather soft, supple and extends the life of the natural material. If you use shoe polish, the color should match - for sneakers in extravagant colors, it's best to use colorless cream. Again, less is more! Excess shoe polish that remains on the upper can form unsightly crusts. You should also regularly roughen shoes and sneakers made of suede with a crepe brush. This will prevent the formation of unsightly, bubbly spots over time.

Useful helpers for clean sneakers

You don't want to invest a fortune in care and cleaning products, but you still want to be well equipped? Then we recommend a practical sneaker care set, e.g. from Jason Markk or adidas. You can find more great cleaning and care products, shoe brushes and accessories in the Schuhdealer store under shoe care.


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