Apparel in general, and shoes in particular, tend to last a lot longer than we think. With the right care, you can often extend the lifespan of your shoes by many years. Since sneakers are often worn somewhat more regularly than formal shoes, it is only natural that they wear out more quickly. These days, however, there are a number of brands offering premium sneakers whose leather is of sufficiently high quality to last five, even ten, years. In this guide, we explain how to get the most from this the world’s most versatile footwear.
Cleaning Your Sneakers Both Quickly and Thoroughly
Wipe down the upper and sides of the sneaker with a slightly damp cloth, before running a damp sponge over the sides of the leather sole. This is usually enough to loosen more stubborn dirt.
Sometimes, a more thorough cleaning and restoration process is needed, especially after your sneakers have been exposed to less clement weather conditions. To do this, you will need a bowl of warm water – we recommend a temperature of about 40°C – and a shoe brush suitable for the material of your sneakers. Firmer brushes, for example, should not be used on cotton mesh sneakers as they can tear the fabric.Saphir
offers great brushes for different sneaker materials and colours. In a pinch, a stiffer toothbrush can be used, though only together with a dedicated cleaning cream. For sneakers in particular, we highly recommend the Premium Shoe Cleaner from Jason Markk
, a foam cleaner which quickly and effectively deep-cleans the sneaker. Shake the bottle well and apply a small amount of foam to the cleaning brush before going over the whole shoe and leaving it to dry. For leather, it is particularly important to let your sneakers dry at room temperature as too much heat can cause the leather to crack. Once dry, you can begin treating your sneakers with a shoe cream or polish developed for the specific colour and type of their leather.
Restoring the Colour of Your Sneakers
Wearing just one pair of sneakers day-in and day-out is often a false economy. Try not to wear the same pair more than two days in a row as all footwear needs time to rest and let the material breathe. For leather sneakers, not giving them time to rest can cause them to become discoloured after just a couple of seasons.
In this section of our guide, we share our best tips for restoring the original appearance of your sneakers, but this will only be effective if you follow the cleaning and waterproofing steps described above.
Place your sneakers on some newspaper or a worktable, making doubly sure that they have dried completely after cleaning them. You should also ensure that the polish you choose matches the colour of your shoes. Saphir's shoe polish comes highly recommended and is available in a range of colours, including white. Apply a small amount to a polishing cloth and gently go over the area that needs attention, using a small, circular motion. This should leave your sneakers looking almost 'box fresh' once more.
Protecting Your Sneakers
Having cleaned your sneakers and left them to dry, it is time to waterproof them. Lay some newspaper on a flat surface and, if possible, choose a well-ventilated area as waterproofing spray tends to have a rather 'powerful' aroma. For canvas sneakers, almost all brands of waterproofing should be enough. But for leather and suede, which are much more sensitive materials, we recommend a dedicated, high-quality product such as Jason Markk Repel or Saphir Renovateur. We always recommend waterproofing new shoes as soon as you get them home, even if certain stores may claim that they have already been waterproofed.
Don't Hesitate to Change the Laces
When researching this guide, we tried cleaning our laces by putting them in a bowl of warm water and bleaching them. Unfortunately, the bleach weakened the fabric significantly and gave them a slightly odd feel. We also tried machine washing them at 60°C using a washing bag, which we found to give less than stellar results. Therefore, we have to conclude that swapping out your laces for a new pair is still the best option, as this is a very inexpensive way to keep your sneakers looking their best. Many sneakers even come with a spare pair of laces in the box.
When it comes to shoes, the most common cause of unpleasant odours is not wearing socks in the warmer months. Put simply, warmer temperatures equal more perspiration, and more perspiration equals more odour. However, we shouldn’t lose heart, as this is very easily fixed. When you get home, remove the soles, and leave them to dry overnight. Then, treat them with an antibacterial spray and allow them to dry once more. If odour is still a problem, we recommend placing your shoes in a sealed bag and leaving them in the freezer overnight – this is usually more than sufficient to eliminate any less than fragrant aromas.