It's common to hold onto a pair of beloved Converse shoes for many years. Once they're perfectly worn in, it would be a shame to have to toss your Chucks because they were damaged by harsh cleaning products – but the white rubber midsole and famous toe cap can get grungy fast. Maintaining the rubber keeps your shoes looking their absolute best for as long as possible. Use products you already have on hand to restore the rubber to that just-unboxed shade of bright white.
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Following Converse's Guidance
Converse advises customers to handle their dirty shoes with care. The company stresses that its sneakers shouldn't be machine washed or dried. The official Converse guidance says to use nothing more than lukewarm water and mild soap (use clear hand soap or dishwashing soap) to clean both the canvas and synthetic parts of the sneakers. Use a soft cloth to work the soap into the material and follow by either rinsing the shoes clean (if they're canvas) or wiping away the soap with a second damp cloth (if your shoes are leather and can't be submerged in water).
If you are going to try using other cleaning products on your shoes, know that Converse recommends testing any products on a lesser-seen part of the shoe (like the edge of the shoe tongue) before using it on the canvas or synthetic part of your sneakers.
Cleaning Converse Rubber
Using mild soap and a damp cloth is always the first step for cleaning Converse rubber, but it may not be enough to return your shoes' midsoles to that brand-new shade of white. A few simple household products may help you scrub away debris and stains without damaging the rubber. One popular trick for cleaning Converse rubber involves creating a paste of two parts baking soda and three parts laundry detergent. Use a toothbrush to work the paste into the rubber, then rinse or wipe it away. A paste of baking soda and plain water may also be used.
A Magic Eraser or another brand of melamine sponge can also be an effective product for cleaning rubber midsoles. It may be your best bet if you have leather Converse shoes, since this is a dry method that doesn't require you to rinse the shoes clean. Simply wet the sponge, squeeze out any excess water and carefully rub it over the rubber parts of the shoes.
In spite of the company's official guidance, a lot of Converse owners do report tossing their shoes in the washing machine without experiencing any significant damage. If you decide to try it, remove the laces first and put the shoes inside a pillowcase. Wash them on cold and let them air dry. While slightly risky for canvas Converse, using the washing machine could destroy leather Converse – so take this risk only with canvas shoes.
Aftercare and Maintenance
If you just used a Magic Eraser for cleaning Converse rubber, your shoes should be dry and ready to wear right away. But if you got the shoes wet, they need to air dry first. Never put Converse of any kind in the dryer; the high heat could warp the rubber, make the shoes shrink and set in any stains or dark marks so they're impossible to remove in the future. Stuff crumpled paper into each shoe to help hold its shape while it dries.
Protect the white rubber midsole and toe cap by applying a shoe protector spray to clean shoes. It should help repel visible stains from forming there. Reapply the spray every week or so. Of course, the soles and midsoles of your favorite shoes will always bear the brunt of walking around in a dirty world – so wipe them down every time you get home.