How to Clean Nike Air Max Shoes

Change your laces when cleaning your shoes.
Image Credit: Nenad Zivanovic / 500px/500Px Plus/GettyImages

Whether you're into Air Max sneakers for their cult classic style or just their comfort, you won't want this wearable study in Postmodernism to look worn-out. Keep your Nike kicks — and you, by extension — looking their best by cleaning them regularly, no matter the model or material. Many materials were used across the product line, and each has its own cleaning requirements.

Cleaning Your Laces

Take the laces out of your sneaks before you clean them and soak them in a mixture of warm water and sneaker shampoo, mild laundry detergent or mild dish soap to get them clean. Rinse in a bowl of clean water, then repeat the wash if they're still dirty.


If you really can't get the laces clean, replace them with new laces. This will also make your shoes appear cleaner and newer by association.

Cleaning Air Max Insoles

Pull the insoles out of your Nikes and wipe them down with a sponge dipped in warm water and mild laundry detergent. Wipe off the detergent with a clean sponge dipped in warm water, then let the insoles air dry.


Some Nike sneakers feature glued-in insoles. Do not remove them unless you plan on replacing them entirely.


If you're concerned about smell, or if your insoles are too dirty for soap and water to clean, pick up some replacement soles instead.

Cleaning Air Max Soles

If dirt is stuck deeply in the soles, gently scrub with a soft-bristle brush like a toothbrush, then wipe clean with water.

Scrub Air Max sneaker soles with a household eraser sponge to get rid of dirt and stains. Wipe gently with a damp cloth and let air dry to finish.


White rubber soles yellow permanently if left too long in the sun or if put through a laundry machine cycle.

Cleaning Air Max Air Bubbles

Air Max bubbles, which show off the inside construction, are made from polyurethane, just like the coating on a patent leather shoe. Wipe the bubble clean with a cloth spritzed with glass cleaner, or apply patent leather polish to a cloth and buff the bubble for high shine.

Cleaning Air Max Leather

Dust off dry dirt with a soft-bristle brush, then wipe leather uppers clean with a rag dipped in a mild soap and water mixture. Wipe again with a clean damp rag. Let the shoes air dry completely at room temperature, then coat with a leather protector spray and let the shoes air dry to keep further dirt and weather damage away.


Never use harsh detergent, acidic cleaners or cleaners that contain alcohol on leather shoes. Avoid saddle soap, especially if shoes are used for athletic activities, as it softens leather.

Cleaning Air Max Suede

Wipe suede Nikes with a damp cloth and let them air dry to get rid of dirt and stains. Brush them gently with a nylon brush to remove any remaining dirt and fluff the nap. If stubborn stains persist, rub them gently with a suede bar and brush the area again. Coat the suede uppers with a suede protector spray and let them air dry to repel water.


Some sneaker shampoos are formulated for suede and nubuck, and can replace the suede bar. Check the product packaging to be sure yours is safe to use, then use it together with the damp cloth.

Cleaning Air Max Nubuck

Wipe down nubuck Air Max styles with a damp cloth and let them completely air dry. Gently brush the material with a rubber tip brush to remove dirt. Get rid of stubborn stains by gently rubbing with a nubuck eraser, then brush the material again.


Rubbing too hard with a nubuck eraser can cause color removal.

Cleaning Air Max Nylon and Polyester

Many Air Max styles include nylon mesh or polyester knit fabric in the design. Clean mesh and other delicate fabrics with a soft-bristle brush dipped in a warm water and sneaker shampoo mixture. You can also use mild laundry detergent. Wipe clean with a damp cloth, then let air dry. Repeat as necessary.


Portable shoe cleaning wipes can take care of emergency stains while you're out and about.