Homemade Sneaker Cleaner

by Dan Ketchum

A Multi-Pronged Solution

By nature, a sneaker's uppers attract plenty of dirt, day-to-day grime and oxidation. To keep synthetic and smooth leather-based sneaks looking fresh the all-natural way, turn to a multipurpose household formula that attacks dirty shoes on all fronts, from stains to odors.

Items you will need

  • Talcum powder
  • Baking soda
  • Clove oil
  • Essential oil
  • Stockings or cheesecloth
  • Microfiber cleaning cloth

Each of these serves a key purpose in the sneaker-cleaning battle. Talcum powder and baking soda sop up moisture and odors while clove oil combats mold and musty smells. Use an essential oil that cuts through bacteria and lends your shoes a sweet scent, such as cinnamon or lemongrass.

Combine the ingredients in equal parts to form a paste, and then scoop the paste into the foot of a stocking or cheesecloth and tie it off. After dry-brushing the shoes with a toothbrush, give the entirety of the upper a thorough rub-down with the solution and wipe away any remaining residue with a clean, damp microfiber cloth for an effective, general-purpose cleaning.

Matters of the Sole

Some homemade sneaker cleaners don't call for complex recipes; when it comes to making the soles shine, just head for your pantry. For rubber and synthetic outsoles, rub on some creamy peanut butter and buff it off like a wax -- its natural oils not only remove oxidation, they leave your shoes with a subtle sheen.

Tips

  • The oil-rich inside of a banana peel has the same effect on synthetic and leather uppers, so next time you have a peanut butter and banana sandwich, remember to treat your sneakers to a DIY spa.

For something a bit more heavy duty, borrow a little lighter fluid from the grill. A rag dampened with this stuff cuts through tough, sticky stains on outsoles, but look at this harsh cleanser as a last resort. It may remove painted-on details, so test it out in an inconspicuous spot first.

Warnings

  • Always use lighter fluid in a well-ventilated area, and keep it away from open flames.

If stinky insoles have you down, sprinkle them with a bit of plain old baking soda or mist them with deodorizing vodka for a welcome return to freshness.

About the Author

Dan Ketchum has been a professional writer since 2003, with work appearing online and offline in Word Riot, Bazooka Magazine, Anemone Sidecar, Trails and more. Dan's diverse professional background spans from costume design and screenwriting to mixology, manual labor and video game industry publicity.