Cleaning sneakers: tips & tricks for clean sneakers

Person in Sneaker, die auf einem Holzweg in Natur spazieren geht

Do you love your sneakers more than anything and stick with them through thick and thin? Of course, this will show after a while. Because street dust, stressful everyday situations and external influences have a negative impact on their appearance.

But don't worry. In the following guide, you'll learn how to get your favorite shoes sparkling clean again. Whether they're trainers or stylish sneakers, we'll show you the most effective methods to clean your shoes and keep them in their best condition.

Why is cleaning fabric shoes important?

Before we get into the details of cleaning, let's briefly look at why it is so important to keep fabric shoes, as well as shoes made from a mix of fabric and leather or suede, clean. Aside from the aesthetic factor, caring for your shoes also plays a crucial role in their longevity and comfort. Dirt and stains can not only affect the look of shoes , but also reduce the breathability of the material and be responsible for unpleasant odors .

With the help of the following tips for basic cleaning, we would like to show you what you need to consider when cleaning.

Basic cleaning steps for sneaker cleaning

The following steps will guide you through the cleaning process and give you an idea of ​​what to look out for when cleaning:

  • Removing coarse dirt: Before you start cleaning, you should remove surface dirt and dust from your fabric shoes. To do this, gently tap them together or use a soft brush to carefully remove surface dirt.
  • Test material compatibility: Before you start cleaning, we recommend that you test the product in question on an inconspicuous area. This way you can be sure that the preferred household remedy does not cause discoloration or damage.
  • Regular cleaning: Clean your fabric shoes at regular intervals. This measure can prevent dirt from accumulating, especially if you wear them frequently, which means they look perfect and are more comfortable to wear. Another positive effect: you ensure that your favorite shoes last longer.
  • Removing shoelaces and insoles: Before cleaning, you should remove the laces and insoles from your shoes. Make sure to always clean them separately.
  • The right cleaning solution: Always use a mild cleaning agent such as the sneaker cleaner from Emma Grün or a gentle alternative in the form of a suitable household remedy. Often a natural product that removes dirt using washing soda and green surfactants or a tablespoon of detergent mixed with warm water is enough. Unlike most household remedies, sustainable products are ideal for cleaning textile shoes and those made from materials such as leather and suede.
  • Gentle cleaning: If you have decided to hand wash, you should make sure to use little pressure when cleaning with a soft brush or sponge. When machine washing, a gentle program and a laundry net are used to protect the shoes.
  • Rinse thoroughly: Make sure you remove all soap residue by rinsing the shoes thoroughly with clean water.
  • Drying: Always air dry your fabric shoes. However, avoid direct sunlight and heat sources as this can damage the material. To maintain the shape, we recommend that you also stuff your sneakers with newspaper.
  • Airy storage: To prevent mold growth, clean shoes should always be stored in an airy place.

We've explained most of what you should pay attention to when cleaning. But which household remedies are suitable for getting sneakers clean again?

Cleaning sneakers: These household remedies achieve a clean result

Cleaning with household remedies is an effective and particularly gentle method of keeping your shoes clean and fresh. The following natural remedies, which you definitely already have at home, have already proven to be very effective in practice:

1. Baking soda & vinegar

Baking soda has a fine grain and helps to gently remove dirt and stains from the surfaces of the sneakers. Mixed with a little vinegar, the natural paste has a disinfectant effect and also has degreasing properties. Stubborn stains and odors are perfectly removed with these two household remedies .

Application: Mix baking soda with a little vinegar and stir everything into a paste. Apply this to the affected areas with a brush, let it work for a while and then wipe the treated area with a damp cloth.

2. Toothpaste

Toothpaste is also a practical and effective solution for light cleaning tasks on sneakers. This is especially true for removing stains and freshening up white surfaces . Toothpaste has slightly abrasive properties that help remove dirt and stains from the surfaces of your white leather sneakers or canvas sneakers.

However, colored or gel toothpastes are not suitable . They can leave stains and should therefore not be used to clean sneakers. Only white toothpastes with a creamy consistency achieve an effect that makes your white sneakers look like new again.

Person with white Adidas sneakers lying in a hammock in the garden

Image source: Pixabay

Application: For a perfect result, use an old toothbrush to apply the toothpaste to the dirty areas of your sneakers and work them in circular movements. To remove all toothpaste residue, the area should then be carefully wiped with a damp cloth and suede or smooth leather areas should be treated with a care product .

3. Detergent & warm water

Laundry detergent contains surfactants that remove dirt from fabrics. Make sure you use detergents that contain green surfactants . Soaps like these are biodegradable and safe for the environment .

Application: After you have removed any superficial dirt from your sneaker, you can begin. For this alternative, fill a bucket or bowl with warm water and add a small amount of mild detergent or dishwashing liquid. Now you have to mix both components together by hand so that you have a soapy solution in front of you.

Then dip a soft brush or toothbrush into the soapy solution and start scrubbing the sneaker gently. Pay particular attention to dirty areas and stains. However, you should avoid applying too much pressure when scrubbing to avoid damaging the fabric.

Finally, to remove all soap residue, rinse your shoes thoroughly with clean water. Make sure that no water gets into the insole.

4. Dishwashing detergent and baking soda

The combination of dishwasher and baking soda is suitable for cleaning sports and casual shoes due to the following factors:

  • Degreaser properties: Dishwashing detergent often contains degreaser properties that can effectively dissolve dirt and grease from surfaces. This helps remove stubborn stains and dirt from sneakers.
  • Baking soda as a cleaning agent: Baking soda is a versatile household remedy that can help neutralize odors and remove stains. It is gentle enough not to damage most fabrics and is also suitable for deep cleaning white sneakers.
  • Combination for cleaning and refreshing: The mixture of dishwashing liquid and baking soda combines the cleaning power of the dishwashing liquid with the odor-inhibiting properties of the baking soda, which not only makes your sneakers clean, but also smell fresh.

When using home remedies, you should remember that not all sneakers are made of the same materials. The methods mentioned are best for fabric or canvas sneakers . With sensitive materials such as suede or leather, you should be careful and prefer to treat them with a sustainable cleaner such as the sneaker cleaner from Emma-Grün.

Cleaning fabric sneakers: hand wash or machine wash?

The question of whether it is better to wash your sneakers in the washing machine or by hand is something that we have probably all asked ourselves. The answer to this question is reflected in the manufacturer's label. As a rule, most fabric shoes can be machine washed. However, some models require hand washing to avoid damage.

Worn black and white Converse sneakers on floor

Image source: Pixabay

At the end of the day, your decision should depend on the following factors. Both methods have their advantages and disadvantages, and the better method depends on the type of sneakers, how dirty they are, and your personal preferences. Make up your own mind.

Washing sneakers by hand: advantages and disadvantages

  • Gentler: Hand washing is generally gentler for fabric sneakers because you can control the level of cleaning better. This means you can use softer brushes and protect the material with less intensive scrubbing.
  • Less risk of damage: Hand washing minimizes the risk of damage, such as deformation or detachment of the soles.
  • Specific stain treatment: For stubborn stains, you have the option of concentrating specifically on these areas and adjusting the cleaning accordingly.

Cleaning sneakers in the washing machine: advantages and disadvantages

  • More convenient: Machine washing is usually easier and saves time. What's more, you can wash several pairs of sneakers at the same time. Provided they are made of the same material and are the same color!
  • Even cleaning: Machine washing can help achieve an even cleaning result across the entire surface of the sneaker.

Which tactic is better depends on your individual needs. If your fabric sneakers are particularly dirty and the label allows you to machine wash them, you can use the method that is more convenient for you to clean your shoes. However, if you own delicate or expensive fabric sneakers and don't want to take any risks, we always recommend hand washing.

Cleaning sneakers: Tips for removing all kinds of stains

It's not just everyday dirt like street dust and dirt that can affect the visual appearance of our shoes. Special stains also ruin the look and are much more difficult to remove. But don't worry. You can also get rid of grass and oil stains with the following tips.

  • Grass stains: Grass stains are stubborn, so removing them is not always easy. Use a toothbrush and a mixture of vinegar and water to gently remove them .
  • Oil stains: For oil stains, you can use baby powder or corn flour . It's best to let the household remedy work overnight and then brush it off carefully . Afterwards, we recommend that you follow up with a sustainable sneaker cleaner. This will remove the rest of the stubborn dirt and your sneaker will look like new again.
  • Chewing gum: If you have gum on your shoes, freeze it to harden it, then carefully scrape it off with a spatula .

After cleaning, your casual shoes need some attention in the form of proper care. But what does that look like?

Sneaker care: How to keep your favorite shoes beautiful for longer

Proper sneaker care determines the visual impression your sneakers make and how long you keep them by your side. Here are some essential aspects to pay attention to:

1. Regular cleaning

Dirt and stains should be removed regularly. A soft brush or microfiber cloth is ideal for this. A mild soap solution or a special cleaner such as the sneaker cleaner from Emma Grün is suitable for the surface.

2. Material-specific sneaker care

Sneakers can be made of different materials. Here's what you should pay attention to when caring for the different materials:

  • Leather: Leather care cream keeps the material supple. Avoid using water when cleaning leather and use a waterproofing spray after care.
  • Mesh & Fabrics: Clean gently with a soft brush and soapy water. Avoid over-soaking these materials, as this could cause them to deform.
  • Synthetics: A damp cloth and a mild cleaner are often sufficient to care for synthetic materials.

3. Dry your sneakers properly

Sneakers should always be dried in the air and not directly on or near a heat source. This prevents material damage and fading.

4. Waterproofing sneakers

Impregnation protects against moisture and dirt. Particularly sensitive materials such as suede benefit from additional protection. But sneakers made of other materials should also be protected from moisture and humidity.

5. Sole care

Clean soles contribute to the overall impression of your sneakers. Stubborn stains can often be removed with a toothbrush and some cleaning product.

6. Insoles and laces

The insoles and laces of your sneakers also need to be cleaned or replaced at regular intervals. Removable insoles should also be aired regularly and cleaned if necessary. You should always wash laces separately.

7. Storage of casual shoes

A dry, airy storage location protects the shoes from moisture damage and fading.

Emma Grün Tip: By following the points mentioned above, you can ensure that your sneakers not only stay clean, but also remain in the best condition over a long period of time and that you can enjoy them for a long time.


Cleaning sneakers is much easier and more effective if you follow a few basic tips. First, it is important to clean the shoes regularly to remove dirt and stains. This will not only keep them clean but will also extend their lifespan. Depending on the material, appropriate cleaning products and methods should be used and implemented.

Proper drying is also crucial. To avoid material damage, sneakers should always be dried in the air and not in the immediate vicinity of heat sources. In addition, regular waterproofing helps protect the shoes from dirt and water.

The soles, insoles and laces should not be neglected either and should be cleaned or replaced on a regular basis. Finally, proper storage in a dry, airy place is important to prevent moisture damage and fading. With these simple steps, your sneakers will not only stay clean, but also in top condition.

FAQ: Questions & Answers

How often should you clean sneakers?

Clean your sneakers regularly. Depending on how often the shoes are used, the need may vary. If you use them daily, a weekly thorough cleaning is recommended.

Which cleaning product should be used to clean sneakers?

A mild soap solution or special sneaker cleaners based on natural ingredients such as washing soda or green surfactants are suitable for cleaning sneakers. Aggressive chemicals and bleach should be avoided as they can damage the material.

How do I clean leather sneakers?

To clean leather, we recommend using a soft cloth and a special leather cleaner. After cleaning, you should apply a leather conditioner to keep the material supple.

How do I clean suede sneakers?

Sneakers with suede details should be cleaned with a suede brush and a special suede cleaner. Water and aggressive cleaning agents should be avoided.

Can I dry sneakers on the heater?

It is not recommended to dry shoes on the heater. To prevent material damage, it is recommended to let sneakers air dry.


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