How to clean Converse shoes: Step by step guide

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Although it may seem simple, knowing how to clean Converse shoes can sometimes be tricky, especially since they often feature a variety of materials to make cleaning a bit more challenging.

With summer winding down though, and Converse shoes often a staple amongst some of the best sneakers for fall, we've decided to put together a step-by-step guide to show you some of the most effective ways to keep them spotless.

We've also highlighted a few top tips along the way to help ensure your shoes come away looking pristine, plus a few handy tricks to ensure they maintain their like-new condition thereafter.

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So grab your best pair of Converse shoes and follow along with our guide right here.

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How To Clean Converse

The following method is what we believe to be the most effective way of cleaning a classic pair of Chuck Taylor All-Stars seeing as they are one of the brand's most popular models.

Not only that, but even some of the variations, like the new "Surfman Pink" Stüssy All Stars, stick mostly to a combination of cotton canvas and rubber in their construction.

Stüssy x Converse "Surfman Pink" All Stars product image of a pink canvas sneaker with black details and a white midsole.
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Credit: Converse

So, with that in mind, here are our top tips for cleaning fabric Converse sneakers.

What You'll Need:

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Step 1: As touched on in our guide to cleaning canvas shoes, the first step in cleaning Converse sneakers is to remove the laces and leave them to soak in a combination of mild soap and warm water.

Converse product image of a pair of unlaced high-tops.
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Credit: WikiHow

Top Tip: You can add a small amount of baking soda to the mixture if your Converse shoes come with white laces.

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Step 2: Take another bowl, and combine a small amount of shoe cleaner with warm water once again. You can purchase dedicated shoe cleaners such as Angelus Easy Cleaner, but a neutral cleaning agent can also work.

Step 3: Dampen a cloth using the mixture and begin to gently rub away any dirt across the canvas section of the sneakers. Avoid pressing too hard as this could damage the fabric.

Top Tip: If you're unsure whether the soap you use will damage your sneakers, Converse FAQs recommends testing the cleaning product on a section of your sneakers that isn't visible, like the outer edge of the tongue.

Step 4: Take a soft-bristled brush or toothbrush, dampen the bristles in the mixture, then rub the dirt and debris off of the rubber sections like the toe caps.

Step 5: Take another, dry cloth and remove the excess water from the rubber, whilst at the same time making sure to get rid of any last remaining stains.

Step 6: Once you've cleaned both your shoes, fill the insides with newspaper to ensure they keep their shape.

Step 7: Remove the laces from their soak and leave everything to dry naturally, away from direct sunlight, before relacing them.

Converse product image of a white pair of shoes being laced.
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Credit: Good Housekeeping

Top Tip: If you're looking to keep your Converse shoes clean for longer, then we'd recommend applying a protective spray like Crep Protect as featured in our list of the best protector sprays. Use as per the instructions.

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What About Other Materials?

Although most Converse trainers are made from canvas and rubber, there are some iterations out there that are made from other materials.

Don't worry though, here are some of our top tips for when you encounter an alternative material to what you're used to.

Leather

While the original Chuck Taylor's remain fan favourites, the leather All-Star low-tops are also an incredibly popular Converse option, particularly for summer.

Converse product image of a white leather shoe with red and blue details.
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Credit: Converse

Fortunately, Converse recommends using an almost identical technique to the one used to clean canvas. This involves using a damp cloth to clean the surface of your shoes until the dirt is gone.

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We'd also recommend using a soft brush beforehand to remove any loose debris to avoid spreading it across your shoes with your cloth.

For more information and top tips, check out our guide to cleaning leather shoes right here.

Suede

As touched on in our guide to cleaning suede shoes, removing dirt and stains from the material is notoriously difficult.

If you do own a pair of suede Converse though, like the new Sean Pablo x Converse One Star Pros, for instance, then there are a few techniques you can use to ensure your shoes are kept clean.

Converse product image of a single light blue suede sneaker with a black star on the side and a white midsole with the phrase "The Path To Paradise Begins In Hell" on the sides.
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Credit: Converse

Converse recommends using a suede brush, like this Shacke 4-Way Suede Brush, to remove any dirt when your shoes are dry.

You can then take this a step further by using a suede eraser, like this bit of kit from Kiwi, to rub away any tough stains and smaller marks. Make sure you also check out our list of the best suede protectors to help keep your suede Converse clean for longer.

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Things To Avoid When Cleaning Converse

It's important to treat your Converse sneakers carefully when cleaning them as one wrong move or product could result in irreversible damage. As a result, here are a few things we'd recommend avoiding.

Firstly, Converse strongly suggests you never put your shoes in a washing machine or dryer, regardless of the material. The intensity of the spin, water, and heat can damage delicate materials, often leading them to crack and/or deform.

Converse also advises you to avoid using direct heat to dry your sneakers. Again, this can cause the materials to lose their shape and, in the case of leather or rubber, crack.

On top of that, we'd suggest you avoid using any soap that contains harsh chemicals, particularly bleach. Not only can soap be a degreaser that could end up removing the oil from your shoes, but the chemicals can also dry out the materials.

Finally, and as touched on in our guide to cleaning Vans, we'd recommend avoiding wired brushes or rough sponges, particularly when cleaning suede, because they can both leave permanent scratches on the surface of your shoes.

Read More: Best Vans Shoes - Our Top Picks