The best shoe cleaners will keep your Kicks Box fresh

Good news! The best shoe cleaners aren’t just for finely crafted wing tips or re-released limited edition Jordan 1s, and no longer require an old toothbrush and in-depth knowledge of household chemicals. Which is important, because whether you’re spending $ 100 on new Stan Smiths or $ 400 on the best white sneakers on the market, you want them to stay pristine for as long as possible.

There is now a cottage industry dedicated to keeping kicks in a fresh form, with products much more sophisticated than that toxic white foam the Foot Locker guy was trying to sell you. The brands behind our favorite shoe and sneaker cleaners, like Jason Markk, use innovative chemical combinations that remove dirt without destroying the leather.

They are easy to use Apple level. And best of all, they’ll extend the life of your favorite pair of shoes beyond the standard six months. At every step of the shoe care process, here are the best shoe cleaners for all types of shoes.


Don’t miss GQ’s definitive guide to everything from types of sneakers always worth finding the best ways to score the next hot drop.

Step 1: Prepare your shoes for cleaning

Before you head into town on the soap and scrub, you need to lay the groundwork first. This means using a high quality cleaning brush to remove dirt, dust, and general debris from the surface of your shoes. Not only does this make the rest of the process easier, but it helps remove large chunks of hard debris that could potentially scratch your shoes once you get to the bushy dubby.

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Otter Wax Premium Horsehair Shoe Brush

A horsehair brush is a staple in your shoe cleaning arsenal. The natural bristles are soft enough to glide over your shoes without leaving any scratches and will remove any dirt from the surface before moving on to the next step.

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Shacke brush for 4-way suede and nubuck leather

Designed specifically for suede and nubuck, the specialized bristles of this brush are stiffer than most other shoe brushes. Use it on your Suede Chelseas or Desert Boots to get rid of dust and debris while restoring that slightly hairy natural texture.

Step 2: cleaning

Once you’ve quickly brushed your shoes off, you’re ready to tackle all the wet things. For this you will need shoe soap, a few soft, non-abrasive towels, and a few coating brushes.

Jason Markk Premium Shoe Cleaner

Jason Markk’s Signature Soap has set the benchmark for sneaker cleaning solutions since its first release ten years ago. It smells like grapes, which makes cleaning garbage from your sneakers less horrible. And it’s 98.3% natural, which is a random number, but better than most products in this category.

For your appropriate leather shoes (like moccasins and boots), use saddle soap. It will remove all surface dirt and oil without over-drying your shoes.

Honey microfiber leather cloth

Don’t feel like rubbing your favorite shoes with your oldest, most disheveled tea towel? These microfiber gaskets are perfect for applying all kinds of shoe care products and formulas without leaving lint or scratches.

Red Wing Heritage Smudge Brush

While some people prefer to use a towel to apply soap, daubers tend to be more efficient and ergonomic. Simply apply soap and water of your choice and scrub.

Kiwi suede and nubuck eraser

For superficial scuffs on your suede shoes, just rub this suede eraser.

If you’d rather leave the shoe-cleaning job on the cutting edge, you can throw your less valuable knit and canvas sneakers in the laundry. The mesh fabric of this bag will allow water and detergent to flow through your sneakers while protecting them from excessive impact in the machine.

Step 3: Conditioning and protection

After you’ve wiped your shoes off with soapy water and allowed them to air dry, it’s important to condition them. Soap and water will clean your shoes, of course, but they will also undermine your leather shoes of their natural oils which they need to stay flexible and prevent cracking.

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Saphir Médaille d’Or Rénovateur cleanser and conditioner

A must-have for hard-bottomed leather enthusiasts, this mink oil-based conditioner is like a premium moisturizer for your shoes: it will keep them young and crack-free.

Otter Wax Leather Balm nourishes and waterproofs your leather shoes with an all-natural blend of Shea Butter and Carnauba. This is especially good for sturdier footwear like work boots.

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You can’t exactly walk on water after applying this product, but you can walk it and keep your old dogs nice and dry. There are more durable sprays, but if you want your kicks to spend a night in a dive bar—and Smelling Good In The Process- Jason Markk’s Repel Works Perfectly.

The Art of Crep Protect Spray

The spray from The Art of Crep is more water repellent than Jason Markk’s version, so if those rain clouds look particularly cool, you can opt for that instead.

Step 4: Odor Control

Did you know that the average person’s feet produce about half a liter of sweat EACH. SINGLE. DAYTIME? Unless you wash your shoes as often as your underwear, keeping them odor-free takes some work. Rotating your shoes so they’re not wearing the same pair every day gives them time to breathe and dry out all the moisture they’ve absorbed during the day, helping not only to slow bacterial growth, but also to literally stop them from rotting. Beyond that, you can also use a variety of shoe deodorizers to manage the funk between deep cleanings.

Lavandière sport spray

No matter how hygienic you are, you are sweating in your sneakers and soon the stench will follow. Fortunately, The Laundress – the makers of the fancy detergent that obsessive launderer John Mayer swears by – sells this spray. It will deodorize your kicks and replace the funk with a “fresh and crunchy blend of leafy greens, orange, rose, eucalyptus and jasmine, with undertones of musk”. In other words, taking off someone’s shoes will no longer be considered the use of a biological weapon.

Set of 2 Hex Performance deodorant spray

Hex Performance effectively neutralizes odors at the source without alcohol or added perfume for a completely stink-free shoe. So if you prefer to keep lavender and citrus out of your shoe collection and your shoes are really odorless, get this.

Step 5: Preventive care

Once your shoes are shiny, the job isn’t really done. Keeping your shoes in pristine condition means treating them with care between wears. Shoes buckle and warp over time, but with the right tools, you can help them maintain their shape and age them gracefully.

Cedar Elements shoe trees 2-pack

Cedar shoe trees are the unsung heroes of sneaker longevity. Slipping a pair into your sneakers after a day of wearing does two important things: ensures the shape stays perfect and sucks in moisture, a sneaker’s worst enemy. For sneakers, it is best to buy shoe trees that have a slightly round toe and a metal spring design, which allows them to fit all the different body shapes, from high to low, in your range.

Set of 2 Velette metal shoe horns

Stop getting your feet stuck in your shoes! Use a shoe horn to help you glide through your kicks and avoid the dreaded heel collapse.

All-in-one shoe cleaning kits

If you can’t bother buying a dozen separate products, just get a fully-packaged shoe cleaning kit. They often only come with travel-sized servings of soap and conditioner, but most shoe cleaning kits are great for beginners who just need to get started.

Jason Markk Sneaker Boot Set

There’s no worse feeling than dripping coffee on your new suede sneakers or walking through a puddle the first day you wear your new shoes (or worse, both). Jason Markk makes a suede eraser to gently get rid of stains and a brush to revitalize suede once the stain is a thing of the past. (Pro hack: you can use a regular old eraser and toothbrush if you’re in a rush, just make sure they’re brand new.) The brand’s microfiber towel is designed to wipe down any basketball ( suede or leather) after a rigorous cleaning session. It’s softer than your average hand towel, so it won’t cause damage. You can purchase each of these items separately, but Jason Markk offers them all, plus this spray from above, in one kit that saves you a few bucks.

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Reshoevn8r signature cleaning kit

Reshoevn8r is trusted by sneakerheads around the world with formulas that avoid harsh chemicals and somehow manage to work. When your shoe care game starts from scratch and you just want an all-in-one set, this shoe cleaning kit has all the tools to make your shoes look like new, including wipes, brush , cleaning solution, shoe trees, and a microfiber towel.

Shoe transport

For a true sneakerhead, deciding which sneakers to take on the road and which to leave behind is a nerve-racking moment, Sophie’s choice. An even more difficult ordeal is worrying about exactly how to pack them so that they don’t get damaged. And after going through a glove to make your kicks look flawless for roughing them on the way to point B, why would you want all your hard work to go to waste? That’s why you need a good baggage specific to your shoes.

Private Label brand sneakers

Private Label created this cabin size bag with sneaker lovers in mind. Plush, removable dividers organize the duffel bag into separate compartments, while the soft, water-resistant individual containers inside (ventilated to ventilate odors) pamper your most beloved kicks.

KXKS trainers and travel backpack

If you prefer to keep your hands free while carrying your most valuable cargo, you can attach this sneaker backpack from KXKS.

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