Trashed trainers got you down? Try these hacks to freshen up your footwear

Trainers, shoes and all forms of footwear are an essential piece of our daily get up. Whether you choose to rep’ hi-tops, chunky kicks, boots or even slides, having clean footwear is an absolute goal.

Nobody wants grubby trainers, right?

Street wear and fashion is all about staying on top of your game and in order to do that, you need clean creps. Whether you’re wearing Vans, Timberland, New Balance, SikSilk, Loyalti, or other trainers from Urban Celebrity, we want to arm you with the skills needed to keep your footwear fresh.

So, this presents us with a very important question – exactly how should we clean our trainers?

DISCLAIMER ALERT, we can’t be held responsible in case things go wrong. Take care and clean at your own risk.

Your first instinct might be to turn to the washing machine, we all do it don’t we? It’s so easy to stuff your trainers into a pillowcase, wrapped up with a couple of towels and bang them on a quick wash, but the reality of this is that it can ruin your creps!


Clean trainers are much like a crisp outfit, they take time! Stop cheating and stop putting them through the washer, your trainers will lose shape and structure and the colours could fade and run. Would you really want to do that to your favourite pair of Vans?

Mesh Trainers

11 Degrees Halo Trainers

Cleaning mesh trainers without a washing machine doesn’t have to be hard work – all you need is a brush. Be that a purpose made shoe brush or even your house mates’ toothbrush, it doesn’t matter – just make sure if you have a soft mesh trainer, you go for a softer brush. Use the brush to remove surface grime and for more stubborn stains use a basic laundry detergent and some water to spot clean the marks. To do this, leave the detergent solution on the stain to soak for ten minutes then wipe clean – problem solved.

Suede Trainers

Loyalti Deity Trainers

These are always tricky to clean – it’s pretty hard to get suede looking fresh without ruining the surface of the fabric. Thankfully though, this is where the handy ‘suede brush’ comes in. Make sure the trainers are dry before you attempt to clean suede – this is REALLY important!

You should only use a suede brush on suede trainers because the brush is made with a super soft grain that won’t damage the surface of your trainers. For more stubborn marks and scuffs, you could try carefully using a rubber eraser (like the ones you used in school) to remove the mark. Make sure you wipe away and excess rubber lint left behind if you do this and make sure you’re careful – don’t rub too hard or you’ll damage the material of the trainer.

You could also dip your suede brush in warm water to help lift grime from your suede trainers, just don’t use too much water otherwise you’ll just stain your trainers further. The trick to suede is patience and precision, be careful and take your time. You could always use a suede protector spray afterwards to make sure your suede trainers stay fresher for longer meaning you won’t have to do this each and every time you mess them up.

Pleather Trainers

SikSilk Element Anaconda Trainers

Pleather refers to synthetic leather, one of the easier to clean trainer materials. Use a basic laundry detergent, warm water and a clean cloth. You may need to use a soft brush to remove surface dirt first, however, pleather and synthetic fabric trainers are usually pretty easy to wipe clean.

For white pleather trainers, try upgrading your cloth to a ‘magic eraser’ based product. You can buy these at most supermarkets, just follow the instructions on the packaging and wipe your shoes clean. Easy, and no washing machine required.

Canvas Trainers

Vans Old Skool Trainers (Black)

Canvas trainers like Vans are always some of our best sellers because they offer style, comfort and are hard wearing. However, you might find that some canvas trainers are dirt magnets, one grubby puddle is enough to turn your dream pair of Vans into a filthy nightmare.

So to clean them, you need the same tools as required for mesh trainers: a brush, a cloth, some laundry detergent and some warm water. Use the brush to remove excess dirt, then the detergent solution to soak the more stubborn stains. Wipe clean after a few minutes of soaking. For more stubborn stains, you could also try creating your own cleaning ‘paste’ using equal parts baking soda and water. Brush the paste into the canvas, let it dry onto the material then wipe clean with a warm damp cloth afterwards.

But what about those signature white side walls?

Vans Old Skool Trainers (White)

These can be especially tricky to freshen up, but let’s face it, what’s the point in having a clean canvas body on your trainers if your sidewalls are filthy? A laundry detergent/water solution may be enough to remove the majority of grime but use of a magic eraser may come in handy if marks/scuffs are proving hard to shift. You could also CAREFULLY apply nail varnish remover to the sidewall using a cotton pad wiping away the stains in the process. However, if you decide to do this, you can’t afford to get any of the nail varnish remover on the fabric of the trainer – this WILL CAUSE THE COLOUR TO RUN and will fade the fabric. Be very careful if you decide to do this, we aren’t recommending that you should either, but you’re a grown up, so you can make your own mind up.

Other Bits

Don’t forget that the laces and insides of your trainers will need some attention too. Laces are very easy to clean, just use a laundry detergent solution and a warm cloth to soak and scrub the laces clean. For the insides of your trainers, remove any removable insoles then clean them separately using a laundry detergent solution and a warm cloth. The same goes for the inside – simply wipe the insides clean and be sure to remove any residue left from the detergent solution.

For more stubborn stains inside your trainers, try out the baking soda technique from earlier, again, being sure to wipe away any residue that’s left behind.


Last but not least, the drying process.

Stuff your trainers with newspaper and place them in a cool dry area that has regular air flow. Simply let the trainers air dry themselves. Any laces or insoles should be left to dry on their own before being placed back into the trainer or shoe.

You may need to replace the newspaper now and then as it soaks up the moisture, but you shouldn’t need to do this more than a couple of times. Your trainers will take time to dry – the wetter they end up the longer the drying process will take, so bear this in mind if you intend to wear your trainers soon. You’re best putting them out of service for a few days if you intend to give them a good clean.

There you have it – clean trainers, a crisp look and no need for a washing machine.

DISCLAIMER ALERT, we can’t be held responsible in case things go wrong. Take care and clean at your own risk.

Next time you purchase a fresh pair of Vans, SikSilk, Loyalti, Timberland or New Balance shoes from Urban Celebrity, you know what to do to keep them looking fresh and feeling new!

Follow this guide, and you’ll be feeling like Paolo Nutini every day.

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