winter sneaker care

Winter Sneaker Care: Protecting Against Snow and Salt


Winter presents multiple challenges for sneaker enthusiasts. The season’s harsh conditions, characterized by snow and salt, can wreak havoc on your favourite pairs if they’re not properly cared for. Snow, while it may seem harmless, can soak into your sneakers causing them to lose their shape and colour. On the other hand, the salt used to de-ice roads and pathways can cause detrimental chemical reactions with your shoe materials, leading to irreversible damage and discolouration. This underscores the importance of proactively protecting and caring for your sneakers during winter, to ensure they remain in optimal condition. Here’s our Winter sneaker care guide.

Understanding the Damage

importance of winter sneaker care

Snow, despite its fluffy and seemingly harmless appearance, can be quite harmful to sneakers. When snow soaks into the fabric of your shoes, it can cause them to lose their shape as well as their original colour.

The melting process of snow within your sneakers can also accelerate material degradation, making them less durable over time. For instance, a sneaker enthusiast once reported his white Air Jordans warped and discoloured after a brief walk in the snow.

Salt, on the other hand, poses a different threat. Salt is hygroscopic, which means it attracts and holds water molecules from the surrounding environment. When salt comes into contact with your sneakers, it absorbs moisture from the shoe material, leading to dryness and cracks over time. The chemical reactions between salt and the materials used in sneakers can also lead to discolouration.

A case in point is a collector who noticed salt stains and colour fade on his prized suede Adidas after a winter season in a city that heavily salts its pavements. Understanding these potential damages highlights the need for appropriate sneaker maintenance during winter months.

Essential Equipment for Winter Sneaker Care

essential tools for winter sneaker care

To protect your sneakers during the wet winter months, consider investing in some essential equipment that will help you maintain them in great condition. These include a waterproof sneaker spray, microfiber cloth, and a shoe tree.

Waterproof Sneaker Spray

A waterproof sneaker spray is an essential tool for protecting your precious pairs against snow and salt. It acts as a barrier between the shoes and external elements, preventing moisture from penetrating the fabric. Look for a spray specifically designed for sneakers, as it will be formulated to provide optimal protection without damaging the shoe material.

Microfiber Cloth

A microfiber cloth is an essential tool for cleaning your sneakers without causing any damage to the delicate materials. It’s soft and gentle enough to use on all types of sneaker materials, including suede and leather. Use the cloth to gently wipe away any salt or snow residue from your shoes before it has a chance to cause any damage.

Shoe Tree

A shoe tree is an excellent investment for maintaining the shape of your sneakers during winter months when they’re likely to become damp from snow and moisture. A good quality shoe tree will also help to absorb any excess moisture, preventing it from damaging the shoe material.

Basic Care Tips

In addition to using the essential equipment mentioned above, there are some basic care tips you can follow to ensure your sneakers remain in top condition during winter:

  • Avoid wearing your favourite pairs on heavy snow days. Instead, opt for more suitable winter footwear and save your sneakers for drier days.
  • If your shoes do come into contact with snow or salt, make sure to wipe them off as soon as possible. Use a microfiber cloth and gently rub away any residue.
  • Allow your sneakers to air dry naturally, away from direct heat sources like radiators or blow dryers. This will prevent the material from becoming brittle and cracking.
  • Protect suede sneakers by using a suede brush to remove any salt residue and restore the nap of the material.

By following these basic care tips, along with using the essential equipment mentioned, you can ensure your sneakers survive winter in great condition.

Step-by-Step Guide to Protecting Your Sneakers


Step 1: Cleaning

cleaning white sneakers

Before pre-treating your sneakers, ensure they are completely clean. Remove any dirt or debris using a soft brush or microfiber cloth. Pay special attention to the nooks and crannies where grime tends to accumulate.

Step 2: Drying

Once the sneakers are clean, let them dry naturally. Avoid placing them near a heat source, as high temperatures can warp the shoe shape and cause the material to crack.

Step 3: Applying the Waterproof Spray

Shake your waterproof spray well before applying. Hold the spray can about six to eight inches away from the sneakers and spray evenly. Ensure you cover all areas, especially the seams where water can seep in.

Step 4: Drying

Allow the sneakers to dry naturally. The waterproofing spray needs time to bind to the shoe material, so avoid wearing or handling the sneakers for at least 12 hours.

Step 5: Checking Coverage

After the sneakers are dry, check to ensure the entire shoe surface was covered. Pay attention to any areas that appear to absorb water instead of repelling it. If necessary, apply a second coat of spray to these areas and let dry again.

By following these pre-treatment steps, you’re offering your sneakers a strong line of defense against the harsh winter conditions. Remember, preventative care is always easier and more effective than trying to reverse damage after it has happened.

Regular Cleaning

Regular cleaning plays a pivotal role in maintaining the longevity and aesthetic appeal of your sneakers, especially during the winter months. It aids in the removal of corrosive substances, such as salt and slush, reducing the potential damage that can be inflicted on your sneakers.

Furthermore, regular cleaning allows you to spot any early signs of damage or wear and tear, thus enabling you to take necessary preventive measures. Fundamentally, the process of regular cleaning not only extends the life of your sneakers but also maintains their comfort and performance.

Remember, prevention is always better than cure, and a small effort in cleaning can save your favourite pairs from the harsh winter onslaught.

Post-Snow/Salt Care

After your sneakers have been exposed to snow or salt, swift and appropriate action can prevent damage and extend their lifespan.

Step 1: Wipe Down

As soon as you get back indoors, gently wipe down your shoes with a microfiber cloth. This removes the snow and salt before it has a chance to dry and set into the material.

Step 2: Dry Naturally

Place your sneakers in a well-ventilated room and allow them to dry naturally. Avoid heat sources as they can cause the material to crack or warp.

Step 3: Insert Shoe Trees

If you have shoe trees, insert them into your sneakers. This helps maintain the shape of the shoes and absorb any excess moisture.

Step 4: Deep Cleanse

Once the shoes are dry, perform a deep cleanse using appropriate sneaker cleaners. Pay attention to the soles and areas where salt might accumulate.

Step 5: Reapply Waterproof Spray

After cleaning and drying, reapply the waterproof spray. This ensures that the shoes are ready to resist further encounters with snow or salt.

Remember, consistent care is crucial in maintaining the look and longevity of your sneakers, especially during winter months.

Drying & Storage


After cleaning your sneakers, it’s important to dry them properly. Here are some best practices:

  • Always allow your sneakers to dry naturally in a well-ventilated area. Do not attempt to speed up the process using a radiator or hairdryer as this can damage the material.
  • If your sneakers have removable insoles, take them out to dry separately.
  • Fill your sneakers with crumpled newspaper or shoe trees. This will help maintain their shape and absorb moisture from the inside.


Proper storage is an essential aspect of maintaining your sneakers, especially during winter. Here are some tips:

  • Avoid storing your sneakers in damp or unventilated areas. A dry, cool place is ideal.
  • If possible, use shoe trees to help keep your sneakers’ shape when they’re not being worn.
  • Store suede or leather sneakers with packets of silica gel to absorb any residual moisture and prevent mold.
  • Keep your sneakers in a shoe bag or box to protect them from dust and accidental spills.

Remember, the manner in which you dry and store your sneakers can significantly impact their longevity and appearance.

Professional Sneaker Care Services

steam cleaning sneakers

If you’re looking for an expert touch in maintaining your sneakers during the harsh winter months, Shoewash Supreme is here to help. Our professional sneaker care services go beyond the regular cleaning, offering a comprehensive maintenance regime tailored to your shoe’s specific needs.

With a keen understanding of different materials and their distinct characteristics, we provide a range of services from deep-cleaning and reconditioning to waterproofing and salt-stain removal. Our winter care package is specifically designed to combat the adverse effects of the season, ensuring your sneakers remain in prime condition, irrespective of the weather.

Trust Shoewash Supreme with your sneaker care needs, for we believe in keeping your steps comfortable, stylish, and winter-proof.


In conclusion, taking care of your sneakers in winter is more than just a chore – it’s an investment in the longevity and performance of your footwear. By following the outlined steps for pre-treatment, regular cleaning, post-snow/salt care, and proper drying & storage, you can protect your sneakers from the harsh winter elements. And remember, if the task seems too daunting, professional care services like Shoewash Supreme are always at your disposal. Keep your sneakers clean, dry, and ready to step confidently into any weather.

Tags: sneaker care

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