How to Clean Converse Sneakers

Converse sneakers are iconic footwear loved by many for their style and comfort. However, keeping them looking fresh and clean can be a challenge. Over time, Converse can get dirty from everyday wear, making them look dingy and worn out. Fortunately, cleaning Converse is easy to do at home with some basic techniques and products. With a little time and effort, you can keep your Converse looking like new. This comprehensive guide will walk you through the steps for cleaning both canvas and leather Converse sneakers. Follow these tips and tricks for restoring your Converse to their original glory.

Removing Surface Dirt from Canvas Converse

Canvas Converse sneakers are prone to dirt, dust, and stains from daily wear. A quick cleaning helps remove surface debris to freshen up the look of your shoes. Here are some simple ways to clean off mild dirt from canvas Converse:

Give Them a Good Shake

  • Take your Converse outside or over a garbage can and shake them upside down. This will help dislodge any loose dirt or crumbs trapped in the shoes.
  • Turn them right side up and pat the sides, toe, and heel with your hands to release more trapped debris.
  • Using your hands helps remove surface dust and dirt without having to use water or cleaning solutions.

Wipe Down With a Dry Cloth

  • Use a clean, dry microfiber cloth or soft brush to gently wipe down your canvas Converse.
  • Focus on the toe, sides, heel, and tread areas where grime tends to accumulate.
  • Wipe in small circular motions to lift off embedded dirt and dust. A toothbrush also works well for scrubbing crevices and the textured rubber toe cap.

Freshen Up the Insoles

  • Take out the insoles and shoe inserts then wipe them down to remove lint, dirt, and odor-causing bacteria.
  • Let the insoles air out for 30 minutes before replacing back in your Converse. This helps shoes maintain a cleaner, fresher feel.

These quick cleaning methods keep canvas Converse looking clean between deeper cleanings. Always use gentle motions and avoid excessive scrubbing to prevent premature wear on the canvas material.

Washing Canvas Converse in the Machine

When your Converse need more than just a surface wipe down, machine washing is an easy solution. Follow these steps for safely washing canvas Converse sneakers in the washing machine:

Check the Canvas Material

  • Inspect the material tag inside your Converse prior to washing. Canvas Converse marked as “natural” or “optical white” are typically machine washable.
  • Avoid washing suede, leather, or specialty printed Converse canvases to prevent damage. Stick to spot cleaning for delicate materials.

Remove Shoelaces and Insoles

  • Always remove the cotton shoelaces and any removable insoles or inserts before washing. This prevents tangling and allows the shoes to get thoroughly clean.

Wash on a Gentle Cycle

  • Wash Converse by themselves on the delicate or gentle cycle using cold water. Hot water can damage the glues and threads.
  • Use a mild detergent without bleach. Converse don’t need much cleaning power to come out fresh and clean.

Air Dry Completely

  • After washing, set Converse out to air dry completely. Place shoe inserts back in once fully dry to help preserve the shape.
  • Avoid putting wet Converse in the dryer, as excessive heat can damage the glues or cause the canvas to shrink.

Freshen with Baking Soda

  • For an extra clean, deodorizing boost, sprinkle 2 tablespoons baking soda into each shoe before washing. The baking soda will help absorb odors and whiten the canvas.

Properly washing canvas Converse sneakers ensures they come out clean and bright while avoiding damage. Stick to these guidelines for keeping your Chucks looking fresh with machine washing.

Deep Cleaning Dirty Canvas Converse

Over time, Converse can become very dirty with ground in stains, scuffs, and built up grime. For a deep clean, use this multi-step process to thoroughly renew dirty canvas Converse:

Remove Laces and Wash Removable Parts

  • Take out the laces and removable inserts and wash them separately with mild detergent to remove odors and dirt. This prevents cross contamination while cleaning.

Create a Vinegar and Baking Soda Solution

  • Mix together in a bowl:
    • 1 cup warm water
    • 1 tablespoon baking soda
    • 1⁄4 cup white vinegar
  • The combination of vinegar and baking soda creates a bubbly cleaning solution perfect for lifting stains.

Scrub With a Soft Brush

  • Dip a soft bristled cleaning brush into the solution and scrub every part of the Converse canvas.
  • Focus on stained, grimy areas and scrub until the foam penetrates the material. The brush also cleans into crevices.
  • Avoid using stiff brushes as they can damage the canvas.

Rinse Thoroughly

  • Once scrubbed all over, rinse the Converse under cool running water. Check for any remaining suds and scrub as needed to remove all the cleaning solution.
  • Turn shoes upside down and let drip dry for 15 minutes to prevent watermarks.

Allow to Air Dry

  • After rinsing, stuff shoes with paper towels to absorb excess moisture. Set in a well-ventilated area and allow to fully air dry overnight before wearing again.

With a thorough scrub and rinse, this intensive cleaning treatment removes set-in gunk while whitening and deodorizing canvas Converse.

Cleaning Dirty Rubber Soles

The rubber soles of Converse sneakers can easily pick up exterior dirt and grime that causes them to appear dull and dingy. Use these techniques to refresh the white rubber edges and natural crepe soles:

Remove Debris With Stiff Brush

  • Use a stiff bristled scrub brush to remove caked on debris stuck to rubber areas. Apply moderate pressure while scrubbing to break up and sweep away dried mud or dirt.

Create Baking Soda Slurry

  • Make a paste with 2 tablespoons baking soda and just enough water to form a thick slurry. The texture should be spreadable but not runny.
  • Using an old toothbrush, spread the paste onto stained or discolored rubber portions. Let sit 5-10 minutes.

Scrub and Rinse

  • Once dried, use the scrub brush to work the baking soda treatment into the rubber. The light abrasion helps lift discoloration.
  • After scrubbing, rinse soles under running water while brushing to remove all paste residue.

Brighten With White Vinegar

  • For extra whitening power, wipe rubber soles with undiluted white vinegar using a clean cloth. The acetic acid helps brighten the whites.
  • Let vinegar soak 1 minute before rinsing with water and air drying.

With a good scrubbing, Converse soles look fresh and clean again. Avoid using harsh chemicals which can degrade the rubber over time.

Removing Stains from Canvas Converse

Spills and stains are inevitable when wearing your favorite Converse casual sneakers. Certain staining agents require a bit more effort to remove from the canvas material. Here are the best methods for lifting specific troublesome stains:

Mud Stains

  • Once dried, use a stiff bristle brush to remove as much dried mud as possible before washing. Avoid water until brushing to prevent spreading the stain.
  • Make a stain-fighting solution of 1 tablespoon dish soap with 1 tablespoon baking soda mixed into 1 cup warm water. Use a soft cloth dipped in the solution to spot clean remaining mud residue.
  • For set in mud, let shoes soak 15 minutes in an enzyme laundry detergent and warm water bath prior to washing.

Oil-Based Stains Like Grease or Makeup

  • Start by blotting as much of the oil-based stain as possible using paper towels or a dry rag. Avoid smearing.
  • Sprinkle corn starch or baking soda onto the stain to absorb excess oils. Let sit 30 minutes before brushing away powder.
  • Dab a small amount of dish soap on the stain using a damp cloth. Gently rub into stain. Rinse with clean water. Repeat if needed for stubborn stains.

Drink Spills Like Wine, Coffee, or Juice

  • Rinse with cool water to dilute sugary spills that can become sticky as they dry.
  • Mix a solution of 1 part white vinegar to 2 parts water. Soak a clean cloth in the vinegar solution and dab onto the stain.
  • For tough dried stains, use vinegar and scrub gently with a soft bristle toothbrush. The light agitation helps lift the stain from the fabric.

Grass Stains

  • Mix 2 cups warm water, 1 tablespoon liquid dish soap, 1 tablespoon baking soda and 1 tablespoon white vinegar. Dip a soft brush into the solution and scrub grass stains.
  • For set-in stains, apply vinegar directly onto the grass stain and let sit 30 minutes before washing. The acetic acid in vinegar breaks up organic matter.

Learning how to tackle specific stains keeps your Converse looking vibrant and fresh. Avoid harsh chemicals and always test cleaning solutions on inconspicuous areas first.

Removing Odors from Stinky Converse

It’s common for shoes that aren’t worn with socks, like Converse, to develop odors from sweat and bacteria buildup. To remove foul scents, use these simple deodorizing methods:

Baking Soda Shoe Powder

  • Remove insoles and sprinkle 2-3 tablespoons baking soda into each shoe. The baking soda will absorb odors.
  • Cover the entire bottom surface and rub into material. Let sit overnight before dumping out excess.

Freeze to Kill Bacteria

  • Place Converse in a sealable plastic bag and put in the freezer overnight. The freezing temperatures kill odor-causing bacteria and freshen shoes.

Disinfect With Vinegar

  • Mix one part white vinegar with two parts water in a spray bottle. Mist the insides of the shoes to disinfect, kill bacteria, and deodorize.
  • Allow shoes to air dry before wearing again. Repeat weekly to prevent new odors.

Change Socks and Insoles

  • Rotate between different pairs of clean socks each time you wear your Converse. Dirty socks spread bacteria.
  • Replace removable insoles every 3-6 months or whenever they show wear. The cushioning breaks down and traps odors over time.

With some simple interventions, you can keep your Converse smelling clean and fresh. Make deodorizing part of your regular shoe care routine.

Cleaning Leather Converse

Converse makes some leather versions like leather Chucks and leather One Star shoes. Follow this guide to clean dingy, stained, or scuffed leather Converse:

Remove Shoelaces and Wash

  • Unlace shoes completely and remove inserts before cleaning leather pairs. This allows full access to the material.
  • Hand wash or machine wash laces and inserts separately in cold water to remove dirt and odors.

Wipe Down

  • Use a microfiber cloth to gently wipe away dust and surface dirt from leather. Don’t use excessive pressure.
  • For stains, lightly wet the cloth with plain water and dab the area. Avoid scrubbing hard as this can damage leather.

Clean With Leather Cleaner

  • Apply a small amount of mild leather cleaner or saddle soap onto a soft cloth. Use gentle, circular motions to clean the entire upper including tongue, sides, and toe cap.
  • Wipe away all soap with a clean damp cloth. Let air dry away from direct sun or heat.

Condition the Leather

  • Once fully dried, apply a thin layer of leather conditioner. Massage into material using a soft cloth to moisturize and soften.
  • Buff gently with a dry cloth to remove any conditioner residue and polish shine.

With regular gentle cleaning and conditioning, leather Converse maintain their supple feel and vintage look. Harsh products can strip protective finishes or discolor leather.

Whitening Dirty Converse

Over time, the optic white canvas on Converse tends to yellow and become dingy looking. Re-whiten your dirty white Converse with these simple methods:

Baking Soda Scrub

  • Make a paste using 3 tablespoons baking soda and 1 tablespoon water. Apply to canvas upper using a soft bristle toothbrush.
  • Allow paste to sit 5 minutes to lift stains. Scrub gently then rinse clean. The baking soda naturally whitens and deodorizes.

Lemon Juice or Vinegar Rinse

  • Squeeze fresh lemon juice onto dirty canvas areas. Let soak 5-10 minutes before rinsing. The acid brightens whites.
  • As an alternative, mix equal parts vinegar and water. Spray or wipe onto canvas. The acetic acid kills bacteria and whitens.

Use Oxygen Bleach

  • For a deeper clean, add 1⁄4 cup oxygen bleach like Oxiclean to a bucket of warm water.
  • Soak shoes 1-2 hours, gently scrubbing with a soft brush. Rinse thoroughly. Oxygen bleach won’t yellow over time.

With a little extra attention, you can keep white Converse looking crisp and clean. Avoid harsh chlorine bleach that weakens fibers.

Storing Converse to Prevent Dirt and Stains

Proper storage helps keep Converse sneakers cleaner between wears. Here are some storage tips to avoid stains and damage:

Keep Them Dry

  • Ensure Converse are completely dry before storing to prevent mold or bacterial growth. Stuff with paper to absorb moisture if needed.

Use Cedar Shoe Trees

  • Placing cedar shoe trees inside Converse after wear will help wick away moisture and maintain the shape of the shoes.
  • Cedar also naturally deodorizes and repels insects.

Replace Laces with Silicone Bands

  • Take laces out of shoes in storage. Replace with silicone lace lock bands to keep the shape without tying laces.

Store in Breathable Container

  • Place clean, dry Converse in a fabric shoe bag or breathable plastic container. Avoid storage in non-breathable plastic.
  • Store in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight to prevent fading.

Proper storage care keeps Converse looking like new shoe after shoe while preventing damage and odor.

Preventing Converse from Getting Dirty

Preventing Converse from getting prematurely dirty or stained can save time on cleaning. Here are some useful tips for keeping Converse looking cleaner day-to-day:

Spray With Protectant

  • Apply a fabric protectant spray that repels water and oil-based stains but allows fabric to breathe. Re-apply after a few wears.

Add Washable Insoles

  • Replace standard insoles with washable versions. This allows you to remove and clean insoles regularly to avoid bacteria and odors.

Rotate Shoes Between Wears

  • Don’t wear the same Converse two days in a row. Rotating gives the materials time to fully dry out which prevents odors.

Check Surfaces Before Walking

  • Avoid walking through mud or wet, newly treated grass which can stain canvas Converse.

Let Grass and Mud Dry Before Removing

  • If shoes get grass or mud on them, let it fully dry before brushing off. Wet grass and mud stain more easily.

With smart preventative care, Converse need less frequent cleanings. But even with precautions, periodic washing maintains freshness.

Frequently Asked Questions About Cleaning Converse

Cleaning Converse sneakers seems straightforward until questions arise about products and techniques. Here are answers to some frequently asked questions:

Can you put Converse in the washing machine?

Most standard canvas Converse can be machine washed on a gentle cycle using cold water and mild detergent. Avoid washing leather, suede or custom printed pairs this way. Always air dry fully after washing.

How do you get old stains out of Converse?

Make a paste using baking soda and water. Apply to stained areas and let sit before scrubbing with an old toothbrush. The light abrasion lifts set-in stains without damaging canvas. Rinse clean.

What’s the best way to clean Converse laces?

Remove laces and wash with mild laundry detergent and cold water. Let air dry fully stretched out flat before re-lacing your shoes. Tie a knot at the ends while drying to avoid fraying.

Can Converse go in the dryer?

Never put Converse in the dryer, even on low heat. The heat damages the glues and can cause canvas, leather, and rubber to warp or shrink. Always air dry fully stretched out with inserts and paper towels inside.

How do you whiten dirty Converse?

Make a paste using baking soda and water. Scrub onto dingy canvas using a soft toothbrush. The baking soda naturally whitens and deodorizes canvas. For a deeper clean, soak in an oxygen bleach solution before scrubbing clean.

What’s the best way to clean Converse soles?

Use a stiff scrub brush and baking soda paste to clean stained rubber soles. Scrub well then rinse clean. Wipe with undiluted white vinegar to further whiten and disinfect. Avoid harsh chemicals on soles.


From routine wipe downs to special stain removal, keeping Converse sneakers fresh and damage-free simply takes the right techniques and products. Avoid harsh scrubbing and use gentle, natural cleaners when possible. With regular cleaning and preventative care, Converse can look classic and stylish for many seasons of wear. Follow these comprehensive tips and enjoy your comfortable Converse for the long haul.