As part of the process in building a slow fashion, sustainable wardrobe, it’s also important to take care of shoes so that they last the test of time, without having to buy a new pair every couple of months or so because of damage or dirt. When King Ranch Saddle Shop asked how I cared for my leather shoes, I thought I’d share how I keep my favourite white sneakers clean and protected.
I’ve read about people who love to wear white sneakers, but as soon as the shoes become dirty they are on the hunt for another clean pair. Now this can’t be a sustainable (nor wallet-friendly) option. White sneakers are tricky beasts, I know – when you’re chasing after kids who are mucking around in sand and mud these shoes are bound to get dirty. But rather than be despaired and buy a new pair because they get dirty, there are some simple steps I take to make sure they’re protected and to bring them back to their (almost new) condition.
First, before wearing them, I apply some leather conditioner and waterproofer to the shoes. My cobbler has previously recommended Shu Glo for my other leather shoes, which I use on my sneakers as well as to condition and buff my leather bags.
Now here are the shoes that have been nicely scuffed after some wear.
To clean the rubber soles, I use a mix of bicarb soda and water – basically I just eyeball it and use about a tablespoon or two of bicarb and enough water to make a paste. I then use a toothbrush or the rough part of a scrubbing sponge and scrub the soles with the mixture. I’ve also had success using toothpaste to clean the soles, but your teeth probably need the toothpaste more than your shoes. Wipe the soles clean with a damp cloth.
Here’s one shoe with the sole scrubbed, and the other one still dirty.
You could use the Shu Glo to clean the leather upper, but it does take a few goes. I was convinced by the Foot Locker salesperson to buy this Mint Instant Sneaker Cleaner, which is specifically for sneakers.
Spray it on the shoe and wipe with a dry cloth until the marks are removed.
Here’s one shoe cleaned with the sneaker cleaner and the other still scuffed.
For the shoelaces, I soaked them in a bowl of bleach and water to get them white again, then rinsed and washed them with some regular dishwashing detergent.
After doing the other shoe with the bicarb soda paste for the sole and the sneaker cleaner for the upper, here are the shoes in their sparkling glory.
In fact, you could use the above steps to clean your leather boots too, obviously just change the sneaker cleaner with the appropriate leather cleaner (or even just some soap and water!). Below are some great tips from King Ranch Saddle Shop on how to clean your boots and ensure they still look fantastic.
Hope these tips help keep your sneakers (and boots!) in top condition! Tell me – how do you clean your leather sneakers and boots? Let me know in the comments box below!