the complete guide to cleaning your air force 1s

The Complete Guide to Cleaning Air Force 1s

If you’re like most sneakerheads, you probably have a pair (or two) of Air Force 1s in your rotation. They’re versatile and stylish sneakers that can be dressed up or down depending on the occasion. But no matter how often you wear them, they’ll eventually start to look a little dirty. That’s where Shoewash Supreme’s complete guide to cleaning air force 1s comes in!

In this post, we’ll teach you how to clean your AF1s using simple steps that will restore their original luster. So whether they’re brand new or well-worn, follow these tips and your AF1s will look like new again!

How to Clean Your Nike Air Force 1 Sneakers By Hand

how to clean air force 1s

One of the easiest cleaning methods is to hand wash your sneakers. Though it may require a little extra patience, it allows you to get a deep clean with the ability to focus on the minor details. Plus, leather sneakers like Air Force 1s are much easier to clean compared to suede shoes. Want to avoid the headache of washing your shoes? Shoewash Supreme offers shoe cleaning to keep your kicks fresh!

What You’ll Need

First, you’ll need to gather some supplies. For this project, you’ll need a soft bristled brush (to avoid scratching the leather), a mild soap or sneaker cleaner, and lukewarm water. You might also want to grab an old toothbrush to get into those hard-to-reach places.

  • Soft Bristle Brush
  • Mild Laundry Detergent, Cleanser or Dish Soap
  • Warm Water
  • A Clean Cloth
  • Clean Toothbrush (Optional)
  • Shoe Tree (Optional)

Once you have your supplies ready, you’re ready to start cleaning!

Cleaning the Laces

cleaning shoelaces

The first step in cleaning your sneakers should always be to remove the laces. This might seem like an annoying step but will make the overall process a lot smoother.

It gives you better access to the areas that need to be cleaned and prevents the laces from getting damaged in the process. Once you have removed them, let them soak in soapy water while you clean your shoes. To learn more, read our guide on how to wash shoe laces.

Cleaning the Upper

Pro Tip: Before cleaning, insert your shoe tree or stuff your shoes with paper towel to help them retain their shape during the cleaning process. Shoe trees can also be used to remove creases.

Using a dry brush, remove any dirt or debris that’s accumulated on the upper of your sneaker. A soft bristle brush will do the trick without damaging the leather.

Then, dip the brush in the cleaning solution and scrub any surface level stains gently in small circular movements. Be sure to test the cleaning solution on a small area first to make sure it won’t damage the leather.

Once you’ve brushed away the dirt, it’s time to move on to the next step: cleaning the midsole.

Cleaning the Midsole

The midsole is probably the dirtiest part of your AFIs, so it will need a little more attention than the upper. Begin by wetting a soft cloth with the cleaning solution and gently scrub the midsole.

When dealing with stubborn stains, try using a toothbrush to get them out. You may need to spot clean the area with a heavy duty stain remover. Once you’ve removed all the dirt and stains, rinse the area with clean water and allow it to air dry.

Cleaning the Under Sole

cleaning air force 1 under sole

The under sole is the part of the sneaker that comes into contact with the ground, so it can get pretty dirty – requiring a little more elbow grease.

To clean it, start by using a soft bristled brush to remove excess dirt and mud. If there are small rocks and pebbles stuck in between the crevices of your shoes, use a small pick to remove them.

Use your soft brush and scrub your shoes with a little dish soap and warm water. Once you’ve removed all the dirt and stains, rinse the area with clean water and allow it to air dry.

It may seem like extra work to hand wash your Air Force 1s, but you will get a more hands on approach that allows you to get a complete clean of your sneakers. Or skip the headache of washing your footwear all together and give our sneaker dry cleaning services a try!

How to Machine Wash Your Air Force 1s

For those who are looking for a faster solution, don’t worry! You can machine wash your nike air forces with a few quick steps.

What You’ll Need

First, you’ll need to gather your supplies. For this project, you will need a washing machine, mesh laundry bag or pillowcase, air force ones and laundry detergent.

  • A Washing Machine
  • Laundry Bag or Pillowcase
  • Air Force Ones
  • Laundry Detergent
  • Heavy Duty Stain Remover (Optional)

Getting Started

Once you’ve got your supplies, you’re ready to start cleaning! But before you throw them in the wash, there are a few things you should do first before you start machine washing.

Remove the Shoelaces and Insoles

remove shoelaces

First, remove the shoelaces and insoles from your sneakers. This will prevent them from getting damaged in the washing machine. Then, stuff your shoes with paper towels to help them retain their shape during the process.

Pre Treat Heavy Stains

If you have any heavy stains on your shoes, treat them with a heavy duty stain remover before washing. Be sure to follow the instructions on the bottle. Alternatively, you can use one of the methods outlined below.

Washing Your Sneakers

Once you’ve pre-treated your shoes, it’s time to machine wash them. But before you do, there are a few things you should keep in mind.

  • Use a Laundry Bag: Always use a mesh bag when washing your air force 1s in the machine. This helps to protect it from getting damaged.
  • Wash on a Gentle Cycle: Use cold water and set your washing machine to the gentle or delicate cycle. If your shoes are extremely dirty, you can wash them on a regular cycle.
  • Use Laundry Detergent or Sneaker Cleaner: Add the recommended amount of laundry detergent or sneaker cleaner to your washing machine. If you’re using a sneaker cleaner, follow the instructions on the bottle.
  • Wash Your Sneakers Separately: It’s best to wash your sneakers separately from your other clothes to avoid any damage. You can add a few white towels to help them from getting banged around too much.

Be sure to follow the tips above before you throw your 1s in the washing machine.

Drying Your Sneakers

nike air force 1s

Once your sneakers have been washed, it’s time to dry them. We always recommend that you let your shoes air dry overnight. However, if you’re in a time crunch and absolutely need to dry your shoes as soon as possible, be sure to take the necessary precautions!

  • Protect Your Shoes: To avoid damaging your shoes, put them in a mesh laundry bag or pillowcase before putting them in the dryer.
  • Dry on Low Heat: Set your dryer to the low heat setting and dry your shoes until they are completely dry.
  • Do Not Over Dry: Remove your shoes from the dryer as soon as they are dry as excessive heat can damage them.

How to Treat Tough Stains on White Air Force 1s

There are some particularly stubborn stains that no matter how hard you scrub, you just can’t get them out – especially when they’re white sneakers. In these times, you need to treat your shoes with a heavy duty stain remover for the most effective clean. You can try one of the methods below to treat tough stains on your white air force 1s. Learn more by reading our guide on how to treat stains.

Baking Soda

Baking soda is one of the best options when dealing with difficult stains. Not only is it common to find around the house, it’s extremely effective when treating stains on white laces and shoes.

  1. In a small bowl, combine one tablespoon of baking soda with one tablespoon of white vinegar. Pro Tip: Add a pinch of lemon juice for added effectiveness.
  2. Blend the mixture to create a paste.
  3. Using a toothbrush, cover the stained area with the baking soda paste.
  4. Let soak for 15 minutes to 1 hour.
  5. Using the toothbrush, work the stain gently until it lifts.
  6. Rinse your shoes with water and dry with a microfiber towel.

White Vinegar

distilled white vinegar

Another way to clean shoes from stains is by using distilled white vinegar. This can also be effective for removing scuff marks on your white air force 1s and is perfect for when you want to avoid harsh chemicals.

  1. Mix one part white vinegar with one part water.
  2. Dip a clean towel into the solution and rub stain gently until it lifts.
  3. Repeat until your dirty air force 1s are clean.
  4. Rinse your shoes.
  5. Dry with a microfiber cloth or let air dry.

White Toothpaste

Toothpaste can also be used to clean your shoes, but it’s important to use a non gel toothpaste. Gel toothpastes can actually damage your shoes and make the stains worse.

  1. Squeeze a small amount of toothpaste onto the stain.
  2. Gently rub the toothpaste into the stain using a toothbrush.
  3. Rinse your shoes with water and dry completely.
  4. If the stain is still visible, repeat the process until it disappears.

If you have white Air Force 1s that develop yellow stains, you will need reverse oxidation treatment to restore its fresh white appearance. Read our guide on reverse oxidation to learn more.

Preventing Stains on Your White Air Force Ones

preventing stains on air force 1s

The best way to keep your shoes clean is by preventing stains in the first place! We recommend the following tips to help keep your white shoes looking clean and new.

Wear Protective Gear

When you know you’ll be in a situation where your shoes might get dirty, it’s best to protect them ahead of time. You can do this by spraying them with a water repellent or wearing socks that cover your shoes.

Wipe Them Down

After wearing your shoes, it’s always a good idea to give them a quick wipe down with a microfiber cloth. This will help remove any dirt or debris that might have gotten on them during the day. Or skip the trouble altogether with Shoewash Supreme’s cleaning services.

Store Them Properly

When you’re not wearing your shoes, be sure to store them in a cool, dry place. Avoid keeping them in direct sunlight or in a humid environment as this can cause damage.


By following the complete guide to cleaning your Air Force 1s, you can get rid of stains and scuffs and keep them looking fresh for longer! What are your best tips for cleaning and maintaining Air Force Ones? Share them with us in the comments.

Tags: shoe cleaning

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