How to Clean Converse Sneakers

Gray hightop Converse sneakers being scrubbed with brush next to cleaning materials

The Spruce / Sanja Kostic

Project Overview
  • Working Time: 10 - 30 mins
  • Total Time: 1 - 8 hrs
  • Skill Level: Beginner

Sneakers are one of the easiest items to get dirty—and because of how popular Converse sneakers are with kids, it's almost inevitable that they will need cleaning from time to time. Between running through grass and dirt, Converse can start to become dull and dingy in minutes. But, the good news is that they're easy to clean.

Whether you are wearing Converse sneakers for sport or just stylin', learn how to properly clean all types of Converse sneakers.

Fun Facts

The company began operation as the Converse Rubber Shoe Company in February 1908 in Malden, Massachusetts. Chuck Taylor, a basketball player, was hired in 1923 as a salesman and in 1932 his name became synonymous with classic basketball sneakers. Converse was purchased by Nike in July, 2003, and the line expanded to include custom designs.

What You'll Need

Equipment / Tools

  • Soft-bristled brush
  • Small bowl
  • Suede brush
  • Sponge or microfiber cloth


  • Gentle detergent
  • Melamine sponge
  • White tissue paper
  • Baking soda
  • Cornstarch
  • Fabric protective spray


Materials and tools to clean Converse sneakers

The Spruce / Sanja Kostic

How to Clean Canvas and Leather Converse Sneakers

  1. Remove and Clean the Laces

    It is always easier to clean any type of sneakers if you remove the laces first. You can access the tongue of the shoe and get deeper into the interior to clean the insole.

    To clean the laces, fill a small bowl with warm water and add a few drops of detergent or dishwashing liquid. Submerge the laces and let them soak as you clean the rest of the shoes.

    After soaking, use your hands or a soft-bristled brush (an old toothbrush works great) to scrub the laces. Rinse well in fresh water and roll in a towel to absorb most of the moisture. Hang the laces to dry.


    If the laces are the dirtiest part of the sneakers, replace them and your sneakers will immediately look better.

    Dirty laces soaking in small bowl of soapy water next to gray Converse sneakers

    The Spruce / Sanja Kostic

  2. Remove Excess Dirt

    If your shoes are covered with mud, allow it to dry completely and then use a soft-bristled brush to remove the dirt from the soles and uppers.

    Excess dirt scrubbed off bottom of gray Converse sneakers

    The Spruce / Sanja Kostic

  3. Wipe Away Soil From the Exterior

    Mix a solution of warm water and a mild detergent in a small bowl. Dip a sponge or microfiber cloth in the solution and wring until it is not dripping.

    Gently rub the sneaker to remove soil from the canvas and outer sole. Rinse the cloth often as the soil is transferred. If there are scuffs on the outer sole, dip a melamine sponge (Mr. Clean Eraser) in the cleaning solution and gently scrub the sole. Do not use the melamine sponge on the canvas or leather uppers.

    Microfiber cloth wiping Converse exterior with detergent and water solution

    The Spruce / Sanja Kostic

  4. Clean the Inside of the Shoes

    Mix a fresh solution of the cleaning mixture. Dip a microfiber cloth in the solution and wring it out well to wipe down the interior of the sneakers.


    To freshen smelly sneakers between cleanings, loosen the laces and open up the shoe as much as possible. Sprinkle the inside with dry baking soda. Allow the baking soda to work for at least four hours, overnight is better. Shake out the baking soda before wearing.

    Microfiber cloth wiping inside of Converse shoe with cleaning solution

    The Spruce / Sanja Kostic

  5. Air-Dry the Sneakers

    Allow the shoes to air-dry completely before wearing. To help high-tops keep their shape while drying, stuff them with white tissue paper. If the shoes are quite damp, change the paper after an hour. When the shoes are dry, relace the sneakers.


    The Converse website warns that its sneakers should not be machine-washed or dried under any circumstances.

    Tissue paper stuffed inside Converse sneakers to air dry

    The Spruce / Sanja Kostic

How to Clean Suede Converse Sneakers

  1. Clean or Replace the Laces

    Remove the laces from the shoes and clean them as recommended above or replace them.

    White laces removed from blue and white suede Converse sneakers

    The Spruce / Sanja Kostic

  2. Remove Excess Soil

    If your suede sneakers are covered with mud or are wet, allow them to air-dry completely before you attempt to remove the soil. Use a soft-bristled brush to clean the sole. Do not brush the suede with a toothbrush or scrub brush.

    Excess soil scrubbed off with brush from exterior of blue suede Converse sneakers

    The Spruce / Sanja Kostic

  3. Clean the Exterior Suede and Sole

    Suede should be completely dry and only brushed with a specialty suede brush to remove dirt from the suede leather. If there are oily stains, sprinkle them with cornstarch. Allow the cornstarch to remain on the suede for several hours to absorb the oil, then brush it away. Repeat until all of the oil is absorbed.

    Use a damp melamine sponge or cloth to clean the outer sole.

    Stiff brush removing cornstarch on stain from blue suede Converse sneakers

    The Spruce / Sanja Kostic

  4. Clean the Interior of the Sneakers

    Follow the same cleaning tips for canvas and leather sneakers to clean the inside of suede sneakers.

    Microfiber cloth wiping interior of suede Converse sneakers with soapy water

    The Spruce / Sanja Kostic

  5. Air-Dry the Shoes

    After cleaning, allow the shoes to air-dry. Once the interior and exterior of the suede sneakers are completely dry, use the suede brush to lift the nap.

    Tissue paper inserted inside suede Converse sneakers to air dry

    The Spruce / Sanja Kostic

Tips to Keep Your Converse Sneakers Clean Longer

  • Allow the sneakers to air-dry between every wearing to allow the fibers to recover.
  • Clean or replace laces often.
  • Treat canvas sneakers with a fabric protective spray that will help repel soil.
  • Store Converse sneakers in a breathable cotton bag to prevent dust from settling on the shoes.