I have always been a white sneakers kind of gal. In middle school it was white Jack Purcell platforms, in high school and college it was a pair of classic white Converse, and now I'm completely smitten with Everlane's white Street Shoe. There's something so polished about wearing a pair of sparkling white sneakers. They add a little pop to my typically dark and monochromatic outfits, and I love how they play off of rich denim hues. It's classy and punchy and cool all at once. The only problem? I've never been able to keep a pair white for long.
You'd think that having worn white shoes for the past 15 years I would have learned how to keep them clean, but nope. I'm just not that girl who can wear white shoes and not spill shit on them or scuff them up. To date I have had to toss many a pair of chucks after they faded from their pristine white to a muted cream and then finally breathed their last breath a dingy shade of light brown. The upper on the Everlane shoe is nubuck, which is kind of like a suede. Friends, suede is a whole different beast. You can't just throw suede in the washing machine and call it a day like you can with canvas. Knowing that, I decided to actually research and invest in some cleaning and protective sealants to expand the lifespan of these beloved kicks.
Monday, after looking down and realizing that my street shoes had lost their luster, I went to a local cobbler (that word feels so hilariously old-timey to me), and walked out of there with an arsenal of products in tow (ha. haha.). I then spent an hour Monday evening applying various substances to my shoes and low and behold, they look AMAZING.
Exhibit A (post-cleaning):
So, how did I bring these sneaks back to life? Check out my how-to for both cleaning and sealing below.
- Cadillac Boot and Shoe Care (to seal leather, recommended to me by the gals at Cuyana and the cobbler)
- Cadillac Shoe Stretcher (to seal nubuck)
- Lincoln EZ Cleaner Shampoo
- Leather Brush
- Bowl or Cup
- Cold Water
Steps for cleaning nubuck and leather:
- Triple check that the product you bought is safe for the material you're working with, be it suede, leather, nubuck, etc.
- Prep your shampoo: shake the bottle of shampoo (in this case the Lincoln Cleaner) until it starts to slightly foam, then add equal parts cool water and shampoo to a bowl and mix until a nice foam appears on top.
- Using a rag, apply the shampoo mixture directly onto an inconspicuous patch of the shoe (TEST IT!). Once you've determined that the product wont terribly discolor your leather, use your rag to rub a liberal amount of shampoo all over the shoe, including the sole. Be sure to use the foamy part as well. Work it into any stains or spots.
- Once you've covered you shoe, take the scrub brush and scrub to your heart's content. You should see all of those little scuffs and marks disappear before your eyes, though it might require a bit of elbow grease. I was shocked at how well this worked on getting out ink stains from my purse. A little light scrubbing and they came right off.
- After the shoe has been thoroughly scrubbed, wet your second rag with cold water and wipe down the entire shoe. You don't want to fully submerse it in cold water, but wipe it well enough so that there isn't any residual soap left.
- Let it dry thoroughly.
Now that the shoe is clean, it's time to put a protective coat on it. If you're smart, you'll do this when you're shoes are brand spanking new, rather than waiting like I did until panic set in that the shoes were too far gone.
Seal that ish:
- Triple check that the product is safe for your material! Follow the instructions and be sure to do a little test spot first.
- For the nubuck, just spray the Cadillac Shoe Stretcher lightly all around the upper of the shoe and let dry.
- For leather, take another cloth and wipe the Cadillac Boot and Shoe Care over the entire surface of the shoe. Then let it dry and wipe it down once more.
Again, I am not affiliated with any leather products of any kind, but these worked for me. I used them to seal my new wallet, remove some ink stains from the outside of my favorite purse, and bring the Street Shoes back to their former glory. Also, these products are definitely not all natural or organic. If anyone has any ideas about how to clean and seal leather using nontoxic products I am all ears!
I'm very happy with how they're looking this morning. Let me know if you give this method a try, or if you have any other tricks for keeping your white shoes fresh.