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How To

Gwen's shoe cleaning tips!

Jul 9, 2010

Canvas Sneakers

Why I had one really dirty sneaker from my trip to India…The story is I was trying to buy a new pair to replace my favorite sneakers – Tretorn T56 – earlier in the month but they stopped making this exact model. (J.Crew has a special edition of them, but the color description is ivory…can anyone tell me if their model is white?) I would have never cleaned them (shame on me) except I had received a few “Ask the Laundress” questions about cleaning sneakers…so I had just the pair to test.

Our summer intern extraordinaire, Jackie, and I experimented, cleaned and conquered! Jackie has documented the process below:

  • First, we removed the liners.
  • Second, we cleaned with The Laundress Stain Solution and All-Purpose Bleach Alternative and (mixed them) and scrubbed with a dish brush for heavy-duty cleaning. We prefer using our Kitchen Dish Brush because it has shorter, stronger bristles to work on heavy fabrics and heavy stains versus our gentler Stain Brush.

  • Third, we soaked them in hot water. (I had to change the water a couple of times so it wasn’t soaking in dinginess)
  • Then, we stuffed them with Scott Rags “Home Improvement Towels” to dry over night.
  • They were not as clean and white as we had hoped. The theory is they were not soaked in clean water long enough.
  • So, we went back this time with the Whites Detergent. We applied it with the stain brush and then soaked them in hot water again for a half hour.

The Results

Finally, the canvas sneakers were crisp white and clean again!

Further Whitening Tips:

  • We wish we had a place in the sun for them to dry for sun whitening.
  • Maybe just the Whites Detergent and soaking was the way to go!

Mesh Running Sneakers (Wash & Stain Bar vs. Stain Solution):

After our canvas test, we decided to try two different methods for the mesh sneakers.

Wash & Stain Bar Method

  • First, we removed the liners.
  • Second, we mixed the Wash and Stain Bar with hot water and rubbed the bar on the mesh of one shoe.
  • We then scrubbed mesh with a dish brush and added more water.
  • Used heavy-duty Scott Rags to soak up suds and excess water.

Stain Solution Method

  • Next, we started on the second shoe.
  • Squeezed Stain Solution on the mesh itself and added water with the brush.
  • Then, we worked the solution into the fabric creating suds.
  • Added water to clear away the suds and soaked it up with the heavy-duty Scott Rags.
  • We also added some Whites Detergent, considering our success with the Canvas Sneakers, to this shoe. This is a great recipe: Stain Solution + Whites Detergent.

Now, we wait for them to dry, but you can already see a difference, especially with the shoe on the left where we used the Laundress Wash and Stain Bar.
After: (Wash and Stain Bar on left and Stain Solution on right).

Results: We think that the Wash & Stain Bar and the Stain solution (with added Whites Detergent) worked similarly on the mesh of the sneakers. But, the Wash & Stain Bar took less effort!

So that is what we recommend. Happy laundering!

Smelly Shoes – Removing Odor from Sneakers

First, we removed the liners.

Next, we used the Scented Vinegar from our Home Cleaning Collection.

Squirt some Scented Vinegar on a Scott’s heavy-duty paper towel (a rag will work, too).

Then, we stuffed these paper towels into the shoes to get rid of odor.

On the liners, we used our Wash and Stain Bar to wash out residue that causes odor over time.

We recommend frequent spraying of our Sport Spray for upkeep in between Scented Vinegar and Wash and Stain Bar sessions. This will help keep sneakers smelling fresh.

Washing Flip Flops

  • First, we wet the Wash and Stain Bar in hot water.
  • Second, Gwen went to work scrubbing the flip flops with the bar.

She used it on the thong part of the flip flop made out of cloth and canvas as well as the sole made out of rubber.

This method is ideal to remove dirt and stains from the canvas and fabric portion of a flip flop (if yours should have any!) as well as eliminating the “foot prints” left on the sole where your foot leaves its imprint in dirt.



Take a look on the inside of the thong fabric. The below, treated with the Wash and Stain Bar, is much cleaner!

Here is another comparison between the washed and unwashed flip flops. The one on the left has not been washed and the one on the right has.

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Wash & Stain Bar

Spot Treat or Handwash Anywhere

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