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Cleaning, drying and caring for sneakers - dos & don'ts

The lifespan of sneakers is limited. And that is not always due to the workmanship or quality of the material, but often also to poor maintenance. Hand on heart: When was the last time you treated your favorite treadmill to an extensive care and cleansing regimen? Even more important than “how often” is “how” - with well-intentioned, but incorrect care, you can ruin a brand-new pair of sneakers pretty quickly. We clear up myths and half-truths about sneakers, cleaning, drying and caring for them. And with our practical dos and don'ts, sneaker care becomes child's play!

Just in the washing machine?

It is tempting to just put the dirty sneakers in the washing machine for dirty washing. Big sneaker manufacturers like Nike and Adidas generally advise against it. No wonder, because cleaning by hand is much gentler and ensures that your favorites last longer. But if you have to go fast, you should at least follow these guidelines so that your shoes survive the wash cycle unscathed:

  • Before washing, remove coarse dirt and stones, but also loose parts such as insoles and shoelaces. You can put the latter in a laundry bag or old pillowcase together with your sneakers. This will prevent the laundry drum from being damaged by metal parts (such as eyelets, etc.).
  • Wash your sneakers together with a few towels or sheets - this padded the washing drum well and your shoes are optimally protected.
  • Use a gentle delicate 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! You should also clean sneakers with jewelry applications by hand.
  • Under no circumstances use fabric softener - it can attack the materials and dissolve the glue on the sole.
  • Temperatures over 30 degrees are taboo! At higher temperatures, some textiles can shrink, causing the shoes to deform.
  • You shouldn't spin the sneakers - the fast revolutions can damage the cushioning of your shoes, among other things.

Clean & care for sneakers - the material makes the difference!

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

How often should you clean and care for sneakers? That depends a lot on how often and in what weather you wear your shoes. Regardless of the material, dry cleaning is sufficient for superficial dirt such as road dust. Simply walk over the surface with a soft brush and your sneakers are street-ready again. On the other hand, only thorough wet cleaning can help against stubborn dirt!

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, dampened cloth.
  2. Remove the laces and remove the coarse dirt from the sneaker with a soft brush.
  3. Put some cleaning foam or leather soap on the shoe brush (never directly on the shoes!) And briefly wet the brush. If you use detergent, shampoo or soap (only for textile and mesh sneakers), then dissolve a small amount in lukewarm water and briefly dip the brush.
  4. Clean the sneaker with circular movements so that a thin layer of foam forms on the upper. You can use an old toothbrush for hard-to-reach places.
  5. Remove the dirty foam with the dampened rag and gently pat the shoes dry. You can also rinse off fabric and mesh sneakers with water.

Drying 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 absorbs the moisture quickly and prevents your darlings from deforming while drying. Don't forget to change the paper regularly when it's soaked! Alternatively, you can also use a shoe tree.
  • Put your shoes in a well-ventilated place to dry.
  • Spray your sneakers with waterproofing spray before wearing them again. That protects them from wind and weather - and you don'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 shouldn't put your shoes directly on the heater or in the blazing sun - this is especially true for leather models.
  • Hairdryers, ovens and microwaves are also taboo if you want to enjoy your sneakers for a long time.

Extra care for leather sneakers

Smooth leather and suede sneakers require a lot of care and should be treated with a suitable leather care product, e.g. from Collonil or Meindl, after cleaning, drying and impregnating. The high-fat care makes the leather soft, supple and extends the lifespan of the natural material. If you use shoe polish, the color should match - it is best to use colorless cream for sneakers in extravagant colors. The same applies here: 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 unsightly, greasy spots from forming over time.

Useful helpers for clean sneakers

You don't want to invest a fortune in care and cleaning agents, but 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 Shop under Shoe Care.