How to Clean Skate Shoes

Your kid’s skateboard shoes are all dirty and messy, and it’s time to clean them. But how do you clean skate shoes and leave them looking nice and fresh? In this post, I show you the step-by-step process of TLC-ing skateboard shoes so your son or daughter will want to wear them all the time.

Related: Kids’ Skateboard Buying Guide

How to Clean Skateboard Shoes: Summary

The best way to clean skate shoes depends on the kind of material the upper is made of. To clean suede skate shoes, use a soft-thistle suede brush to scrape off loose grim and debris. Then, use a mixture of white vinegar and water to spot clean stains or a proper suede cleaner to remove stubborn stains. Next, use a warm soapy water and a piece of cloth to rub off the rest of the shoe. Finally, rinse off the soapy filth and leave the shoes to dry completely. Don’t dry out in the sun, and don’t toss them in the dryer. Just air dry them, 24 hours should be enough time for it.

Most skateboard shoes have a suede upper, and they can be tricky to wash especially if they have stains on them. But what are the chances of your child not staining their suede skate shoes?

Even for a light skateboarder, the odds are pretty much zero. But if you learn how to clean skateboarding shoes, you’ll be confident while taking care of them. And you won’t ruin them.

In this post, I take you through light-cleaning your kid’s skateboard shoes as well deep-cleaning them whenever necessary. The guide also lists down a few do’s and don’ts so you can treat the kicks right and perhaps increase their lifespan a little.

Does Skateboarding Ruin Shoes?

Oh yes, skateboarding ruins shoes if you skate regularly. The grip tape (even a sanded-down one) eats away the soles and the sides of the shoes. Even if you do little to no tricks, the soles still wear out pretty fast because of the friction from the grip tape.

Most skateboarders find themselves going through a number of kicks every year, especially if the shoes are meh quality. By the way, one of the surest ways to make skate shoes last a tad longer is buying the most durable skate shoes you can afford.

I find that skate shoe Brands like Vans, Etnies, Lakai, and Emerica have a pretty decent quality shoes. Their shoes have stronger stitching than most skateboard shoes. But no matter how durable the shoes might be, they’ll eventually wear out.

If you want skateboard shoes that won’t blow out after only 2 or 3 times out skateboarding, go with suede. Small wonder that the vast majority of shoes for riding a skateboard are made of this great material.

How to clean suede skate shoes

As I mentioned earlier, cleaning your suede skate shoes is the surest way to making them last longer. You also feel more confident when in clean shoes and stand out among the rest.

You must know that it’s not just about cleaning but doing it in the right way otherwise you can easily damage your shoes.

Start by investing in a suede cleaning kit. Your cleaning kit can be as basic as just having a suede brush, eraser, and a suede protector spray.

I recommend doing a quick general cleaning every time you step out with your skates and deep cleaning every couple of weeks.

Quick general cleaning

For quick general cleaning or for when in a hurry and want to just do a quick clean, here’s how to effectively do it.

Brush off the loose dirt and grime with a soft bristle brush or a soft suede brush.

If your shoe is muddy and still wet, take it outside and let it dry. Well, I know this seems stupid but trust me on this, it’s easier to get rid of dry mud than it is when the mud is still wet. Plus it’s just less messy that way.

Once dry, take both shoes and knock them against each other to remove the mud. Of course, not all the mud will come off so take a hard bristle brush and clean off the remaining bits. Don’t forget to clean off the bottom of the shoes as well.

Next, take a mild dish detergent, measure two tablespoons, and mix well in water. Dip your brush in the water and clean your shoe all around, going back and forth to ensure it’s all clean.

This should be easy if you had cleaned all the mud and dirt. If not, this is where it gets tough as you may end up with dirtier shoes.

Don’t panic though if this is the case, you can always reach out for some stain remover to help you clean off the mess.

In case of dark stains, make water and vinegar solution in equal parts. Take a clean damp cloth, dip in the solution, rinse out excess solution, and place on the stain. It will suck in the stain.

And if the white strip around your shoe is equally stained, use a magic eraser to clean only around the white strip. Be careful not to touch any other part of the shoe.

Once your shoes are clean, rinse them off with some warm water. Take an old but clean towel and lightly pat on the shoes to soak in any moisture then leave it to air dry. If you want them to dry faster, move them closer to the fan.

How to Deep-clean Your Kid’s Skate Shoes

Deep cleaning your suede shoes is not very different from how you would do a general cleaning only that you will need to be more attentive and more thorough. In fact, if you have vans suede skate shoes, this method works effectively to keep them cleaner for longer.

During the deep cleaning, you will focus on removing stubborn dirt and stains on the sides, top, and bottom of the shoe as well as cleaning the insides.

To give your most treasured suede shoes a spring clean, here’s how to effectively and quickly do it.

Step 1: Brush off the dirt

Shake off the shoes and clap them against each other to remove all dirt and debris that has collected on the shoe’s laces, soles, and insides. Use a soft suede brush or an old toothbrush to brush off the remaining dirt. Mud really sticks on the soles of the shoes so you will require some arm work to brush it off.

Step 2: Remove the Stains

Once you have brushed out all the set-in dirt, it’s time to clean off the stains. For this, you will use an old toothbrush and the stain eraser that came with your suede cleaning kit. Suede stain erasers are formulated to remove stains on suede shoes.

If you don’t have a stain eraser, you can use home products like vinegar and rubbing alcohol.

Apply some suede cleaner on the stain, let it rest for some minutes then use the toothbrush to further work it into the stain. Apply some pressure if you must, there is no harm. You can even add some more stain eraser. The good thing with these stain erasers is that they don’t spread the stain, unlike water.

Step 3: Clean the Rubber Strips

Clean the rubber strips with soap and warm water. Gently scrub using the suede brush or old toothbrush. But if you find a small soft-bristled scrubbing brush, the better. Once the strips are clean, move to the bottoms and do the same. Be careful not to splash water to the suede part of the shoe when rinsing.

Step 4: Apply Some Suede Protector

Once your shoes are all clean, you now need to protect them so that they stay clean for longer. For this step, you will need a suede protector spray. There are plenty of them online and are quite affordable. Follow the directions on the package to know who to use the protector .

What I love about these protectors is that they make the next cleaning so much easier as they protect your suedes from stains and water.

Step 5: Dry the Shoes Completely

The last step is to air dry your suede skate shoes. Ensure they are completely dry before putting them away. You don’t want to dry the shoes out in the sun. Nor do you want to use a dryer on them. I’m guilty of drying our shoes (mine, my hubby’s, and my sons’) in the sun when it’s all bright and sunny outside and I’m feeling a tad impatient.

What if you only want to clean specific parts of your shoe? I explain down below how to clean each part.

How to Clean the Inside of Suede Skate shoes

To whiten the inside of your suede skate shoes, use the step-by-step guide below:

Things you’ll need

  • Baking soda
  • Mild cleaning detergent
  • An old toothbrush or a small regular brush
  • Warm water

Method to Follow

  1. Make a paste by mixing baking soda and a small amount of your mild cleaning detergent
  2. Place your shoes on a clean working surface
  3. Take the old toothbrush or small brush and use it to scoop some of the paste
  4. Rub it into your shoes (the inside) and leave it to soak in the paste for 20-30 minutes. You can let it stay for longer if the insides are too dirty or have a stench. Don’t let it stay for longer than one hour
  5. Rinse with warm water and let your shoes air dry.

How to Clean the White Part of Vans Suede Skate Shoes (And Other Such Shoes)

Not all vans shoes will have the white strip that runs around the shoes but most do. By the way, the only reason they put the white strip outside the sole is to just make it stand out. Nothing more.

But if your suede shoes do have and you only want to clean that white part to make it look cleaner, here’s how you can do it:

Here’s what you need

  • Cleaning product- white vinegar, acetone, lemon juice, or alcohol
  • Masking tape
  • Piece of cloth
  • Small container
  • An old toothbrush or soft-bristle brush

Here’s the Cleaning Method to Follow:

  1. Find a clean place to work on.
  2. Take a masking tape and run it above the white dirty strip as well as below it. Sort of how spot-painting works.
  3. Take the small container and fill it with a cleaning product of your choice.
  4. Dip the old toothbrush or a soft-bristle brush into the cleaner and agitate the strip in circular motions. Be sure to do this gently.
  5. Once the entire strip is cleaned, wipe clean it with a damp cloth and you’re done.  Your shoes are now looking as good as new.

How to Remove Stains from Suede Skate shoes With vinegar

Vinegar is a good option if you can’t find a suede stain eraser. You definitely cannot miss having plain white vinegar in your pantry. It’s also very effective for stubborn stains.

To use it, mix one cup of water and one cup of white vinegar in a small bowl or basin. Give it a few seconds to mix well and dip a small, hand towel into the mixture.

Rub the towel over the stains and the rest of the suede part, there is no harm in cleaning the unstained part. In fact, it will make it look exceptionally clean. Let it air dry completely before you run a brush over it to fluff the suede back up.

How to Clean Suede skate shoes without ruining them

Here are a few dos and don’ts of cleaning suede skate shoes without ruining them. It’s important that you adhere to each one of them.

  • Do not use a harsh cleaning detergent
  • Do not dry under high temperatures or direct heat
  • Do assemble your own suede cleaning kit that includes a suede eraser, suede brush, and suede protector for a start.
  • Don’t wet your suedes: suedes have zero resilience to water and even just a small splash can damage your skate shoes. Also, no matter how stained or dirty they are, never soak or use hot water on them. Water can quickly dull the look of your suedes, cause them to be wrinkled, and badly tamper with the texture.
  • Do regularly clean your skate shoes: Make it a habit to lightly clean your skate suedes after every skating day to prevent the accumulation of dirt which can be cumbersome to clean off.
  • Do clean up wet spots immediately. In case of a wet spot, use a towel or terry cloth to soak in the moisture. You can also use cornstarch to soak up the moisture.
  • Don’t throw your suedes into your washing machine. Unless you are just tired of them and are looking for a good excuse to buy another pair. Even the most gentle cycle can ruin your suedes.
  • Do consult suede cleaning professionals if you can’t get rids of the stains even after using a stain eraser, vinegar, lemon juice, and rubbing alcohol.

How to Make Skateboard Shoes Last Longer

Buy Suede or leather shoes: Purchase suede skateboard shoes as opposed to mesh/textile or canvas shoes. Because suede shoes (along with leather) are the most long-lasting options.

Suede is a type of leather. To make suede skate shoes, manufacturers use leather obtained from the underside of goats, deer, calves, and lambs. So, they’re definitely not vegan. They’re not what to choose if you find the idea of people killing innocent animals to make obtain skin repulsive.

But there’s a material called microsuede made by matting together tons of tiny polyester fibers. Microsuede is definitely vegan.

Good suede skate shoes come in at a hefty price, not surprisingly. The upside is that they offer great comfort, good board feel, and high durability. If you can’t afford all-suede shoes, consider ones with this tough material around high-wear areas such as the heel and sides.

Reinforce Stitching with Super Glue Glue or Shoo Goo

Another trick to make your kiddo’s skateboard shoes last longer is to reinforce them before the tyke wears them and hits the streets. Apply some super glue or shoo goo along the stitching and this slows down wear.  You can also apply some Shoe Goo to the heelflip, ollie, and kickflip areas. Reinforcing stitches with shoo goo can make skate shoes last almost twice as long.

Add New or Old Suede Patches on Worn-out Areas

Here’s another approach to increase shoe longevity: putting suede patches onto torn areas. Can’t find new suede patches? No worries; you can always cut out some from your old worn-out shoes.

Buy Skateboard-specific Shoes

Lastly, be sure to buy shoes specifically designed for skateboarding. Skateboard-specific shoes tend to hold up much better compared to other shoes when subjected to the inevitable constant abrasion and friction.


The path to a long-lasting suede skate shoe is regular maintenance. It’s the only sure way to keep your shoes in good condition for longer. Besides, you don’t want your child to be pulling off those cool stunts in dirty shoes.

You can schedule a deep-cleaning routine for every couple of weeks if your grom skates a whole lot. You also want to give the kicks a quick clean after every skating session.

For better success with cleaning, be sure to invest in the right cleaning tools. Fortunately, there are plenty of cheap suede cleaning kits that do a great job.

Author: Esther Moni

I'm Esther Moni, a proud stay-at-home mom and a psychology graduate of the United States International University (USIU) . I hate it when anyone calls me a housewife, because what does housewife even mean? Being a mother of two babies and a pup, Bailey, as well as being Ricky's wife tires me to no end, but I still manage a smile at the end of it all. And when my boys aren't done doing mischief, I juggle writing a post on parenting or baby gear performance for this blog and running my little counselling office based out in Nairobi. <a href="">Visit my Facebook profile here</a>, and this is my <a href="">LinkedIn profile</a>, and here's my <a href="">nascent youtube channel.

Esther Moni

I'm Esther Moni, a proud stay-at-home mom and a psychology graduate of the United States International University (USIU) . I hate it when anyone calls me a housewife, because what does housewife even mean? Being a mother of two babies and a pup, Bailey, as well as being a wife tires me to no end, but I still manage a smile at the end of it all. And when my boys aren't done doing mischief, I juggle writing a post on parenting or baby gear performance for this blog and running my little counselling office based out in Nairobi. Visit my Facebook profile here, and this is my LinkedIn profile, and here's my nascent youtube channel.

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