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Maintain and clean your sneakers

Maintain and clean your sneakers

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Hot topic in the shoe world and specifically world of sneakers: maintenance and cleaning. Above all, buying quality products crafted with noble materials will make the difference and will extend your favorite sneakers’ life. However, maintenance also plays a big role in their durability. We’ll give you our best tips on how to care for and clean your favorite pairs of sneakers, in order for them to last longer and look great again.

At Wibes, we offer canvas sneakers, leather sneakers, suede sneakers and even bi-material sneakers. But be careful, leather is not maintained in the same way as nubuck or suede! Throughout the article, you will find tips and tricks from our team in cleaning and maintenance of sneakers, and as we are super nice, we give you some additional advice thanks to our guest-expert in the field, Doctor Sneaker.

Our advices will be divided as follows:

  • The Do’s & Don’ts to maintain your sneakers
  • Focus on material: white and leather sneakers.
  • Focus on the material: suede and nubuck sneakers are more fragile ?
  • Focus material: canvas sneakers more dirty ?
  • The experts’ opinion: Doctor Sneaker.

Les Do & Don’t pour entretenir ses sneakers

Although your suede or canvas sneakers do not require the same methods of care and cleaning, some practices remain fundamental if you want to see your favorite sneakers last in time.  Here are the do’s and don’ts, in other words the practices to avoid and those to keep in mind when buying your sneakers.


  • Regular maintenance will be your ally to keep your pairs of sneakers longer. Once a week, dust and wax the leather with a suitable cream and then brush the sole. This will prevent walking creases and dirt from settling in. And above all, space out your wear.
  • Store your sneakers flat in a dry and clean place like a closet or a shoe cabinet.
  • Use wooden shoe trees or newspaper to keep your sneakers in shape and prevent them from sagging.
  • Waterproof your sneakers (with a suitable waterproofing product) to avoid stains. Natural materials such as leather, canvas and suede “drink” water, which, if not properly dried, can cause yellow stains and smell damp.
  • Let them air dry by removing the insole to ventilate.


  • Avoid using aggressive cleaning products such as bleach when cleaning, as this can damage natural materials such as smooth leather or suede.
  • Do not dry your sneakers near a heat source (radiators for example).
  • Avoid storing your sneakers in a humid environment, as this may cause some parts such as leather or suede, which are natural materials, to become moldy.
  • Avoid using a washing machine, even for canvas sneakers, as this can damage the textile fibers.
  • Avoid wearing your sneakers every day. Moisture, perspiration and regular walking will damage your favorite pair of sneakers more quickly.

Material focus: white and leather sneakers (full grain leather, grained leather, suede leather or calf leather)

Maintaining white sneakers, especially leather ones, requires a little work. But above all, regular cleaning, using appropriate products, will allow you to give them a second life and preserve them from daily wear. Finally, it is possible to maintain your sneakers at lower cost and at home easily!

Step 1 – Eliminate the dust

  • Brush the leather with a classic brush but not too abrasive so as not to scratch the leather. Small tips, toothbrushes work very well, and it allows you not to scratch the leather.
  • The use of a sponge, a cotton swab and a microfiber cloth is also possible and complementary.

Step 2 – Gently cleaning 


  • Rub with a damp cloth or a cotton pad (be careful not to soak it in water) with cold soapy water.
  • Use Marseille soap, washing powder, make-up remover or white vinegar and rinse with cold water (be careful with hot water, which can damage some fragile materials).
    Tip: For dirt marks: Use a little Marseille soap and warm water. 
    Tip: for grass marks: A little alcohol at 90° and water. Be careful to dry the leather well. 
    Tip: For stubborn stains: A cotton ball lightly moistened with nail polish remover or alcohol vinegar and water. Be careful to dry the leather well to avoid stains. 


  • Wax fabric is made out of 100% cotton, so it can be easily washed like your canvas.
  • Use Marseille soap or washing powder on the heel and tongue inserts of your wax sneakers to clean the dirt.
  • Rinse thoroughly with a soft cotton cloth or a soft brush and very little water to prevent the fabric from fading or becoming damaged.
  • Be careful to not put too much water, the color may stain on the cotton!
    Tip: The tongue can be easily cleaned by removing the laces beforehand. 


  • Brush gently with a toothbrush and a little toothpaste to restore the whiteness of the previously dusted rubber and leave to act.
  • Wipe the sole, insisting on the most raised parts such as the heel or the front after having rinsed with a soft cloth.
  • Even if the sole is sewn, be careful not to put too much water on it as it could seep into the sneaker or make yellow stains.

Tip: Use baby wipes if the traces do not go away, inexpensive and effective.


  • Put your laces in the washing machine.
    Tip: If residues or stains remain after washing, you can soak them in a little diluted white vinegar.

Step 3 – Leather care

  • Using a body cream or a shoe polish specially designed for the material
  • Gently massage the leather to make the product penetrate, insisting on the walking folds, then buff to shine.

Focus on materials: suede and nubuck sneakers are more fragile, we disagree!

Over time, suede tends to get sanded and blackened. But don’t panic, it is NOT a fragile material, not more than smooth leather! It is possible to give a second youth to your suede very easily with a little patience and regularity.

Step 1 – Eliminate the dust

  • Remove excess dirt with a specific brush made for suede, or a classic brush but not too abrasive to avoid scratching the suede. Do not forget the outer sole.

Step 2 – Gently cleaning 

  • If embedded dirt remains after dusting, use a crepe brush specific to suede and nubuck care. You can press a little harder.
  • Brush the suede upper and toe of your Wibes sneakers with the brush in both directions to remove dust. Use dry or with a specific suede product.
    • Tip: You can also use a mixture of 2 tablespoons of water and 1 tablespoon of white vinegar for stains.
    • Tip: Use some “terre de sommières” on any stains and leave it overnight. This will absorb the greasy stains and moisture.
    •  Tip: Use a suede eraser, very effective against stubborn stains and others.

Be careful not to use too much water to avoid yellow stains on the suede.

Step 3 – Leather care

  • Spray a special suede cleaning spray on the shaft and brush again to restore the suede or nubuck to its original shine.
  • To polish and shine the suede, use a suede restorer and scrub with a brass brush.

Focus on material: are canvas sneakers easier to dirt?

Photo par Lina Verovaya

Step 1 – Eliminate the dust

  • Brosser de manière énergique la toile avec une brosse classique ou “décrottoire” mais en faisant attention de ne pas tirer les fibres textiles.

Step 2 – Gently cleaning 

  • Especially if your canvas sneakers are white, rub gently with a cloth soaked in baking soda and water.
  • You can add a little lemon, dishwashing liquid or white vinegar to the microfiber cloth.
  • For other darker fabrics and wax, a little water and Marseille soap will do the job.
  • Let dry in the open air and away from a heat source.
  • Be careful with the mesh which is quite fragile, do not rub too hard as this could damage the canvas.

Final steps for all types of materials

Step 4 – Storage

Often neglected, it is however a crucial and very important step if you want to preserve your leather sneakers.

  • Genuine leather is a natural and therefore organic material that requires attention: it will stretch, bend and mark. The maintenance of the vegetable-tanned, metal-free leather that makes up the Wibes is even more fragile because it is the raw material, without any chemical.
  • All the components of your sneakers, such as your soles, linings, seams or even the skins and canvas for example, will deteriorate over time. It’s inevitable. What’s also inevitable is perspiration. It is composed mostly of water and is often acidic. Natural materials such as suede, leather and other skins will therefore absorb the moisture caused by perspiration.

Tip: let your sneakers breathe and dry between each wear, in the open air and avoiding a source of heat too strong!

  • Then, store your sneakers in a closet, flat, or in dedicated airtight boxes, avoiding cardboard which can easily get wet. The shoe professionals will never repeat it enough: the wooden shoe trees are your allies! They allow your favorite sneakers to keep their beautiful shape but also to avoid the wrinkles of too marked steps which are made during the drying of your pair.

Tip: be careful to choose the shoe tree according to your shoes and your expectations! For example, plastic shoe trees are less expensive but do not absorb the humidity of the pair and often do not respect the initial shape of the sneaker.

Step 5 – Waterproofing

  • Waterproof your sneakers with appropriate products, if possible outdoors.
  • Spray at about 20/30 cm from the sneaker.

3 tips to avoid bad odors:

Quick reminder : it’s normal and totally ok to sweat from your feet, especially when they are locked up all day!

  • Sprinkle a little baking soda in your sneakers.
  • Put lemon peels in your sneakers to absorb foul odors.
    Tip: place a dry tea bag on the inside lining of each pair. Black tea is an effective ally.

The experts’ opinion: Doctor Sneaker

As on each article dedicated to tips and advices you will find the opinion of an expert in the field. Today, who better than Docteur Sneaker’s team to bring you the best cleaning advice and how to maintain leather, suede or canvas sneakers to keep them in good health.

Created in April 2015 in Toulouse, Docteur Sneaker is one of the precursors of the services dedicated to sneakers in France. The Docteur Sneaker team offers three services, namely Cleaning, Renovation and Customization. Inspired by the medical world, Docteur Sneaker has in 2017, opened in Toulouse, the first clinic in France exclusively dedicated to the maintenance and customization of sneakers. As part of their development, they have announced the opening in the coming weeks of a second clinic in the city of Bordeaux.

“The care of your shoes should be a habit for you. The more you take care of them on a daily or weekly basis, the better condition you will keep them in.” 

As sneaker specialists, we recommend the use of baby cleansing wipes for daily cleaning. Contained in good packaging that you can store and take anywhere, they have the advantage of being a convenient use. Many brands have designed wipes that are quite effective according to studies and user feedbacks. For our part, we recommend the wipes of the brand Tarrago SneakersCare. However, you can totally use the ones found in your supermarket.

For a weekly or bi-weekly cleaning, we recommend you to use the Tarrago SneakersCare pack. This pack consists of a cleaning solution, a bristle brush and a microfiber cloth. These products have the advantage of being used several times with the same quality of result. They are suitable for materials such as leather, suede, mesh, or fabric. They can also be used to treat all accessible parts of the shoes (soles, tongue, upper, laces,…)

After each cleaning, protect your pairs with a waterproofing agent. We recommend the High Tech Nano Protector Spray from Tarrago SneakersCare. It is a waterproofing agent based on nanotechnology. It protects the pair and prevents the transfer of water inside breathable materials and membranes such as Gore-Tex®. Thanks to its effective waterproofing properties, the breathability of the treated surface remains without loss. The product repels dirt and regular use extends the life of every surface.

In the continuity of the exploitation of the medical universe, we have created the Sneaker Pharmacy, a platform exclusively dedicated to the sale of products for cleaning and maintenance of leather or canvas sneakers.

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