A Guide To Cleaning Your Vans

Everyone loves a good pair of Vans — they’re strong, versatile, comfortable, and attractive. But just like anything you wear on a regular basis, these shoes are bound to get dirty as you use them. So, how can you clean a pair of Vans?

To quickly clean your canvas Vans, all you need is a clean rag and soapy water. For a deeper clean, you can pre-treat stains and then wash them with soapy water. When using a washing machine, make sure you put the shoes in a laundry bag or closed pillowcase. Never bleach your Vans.

Cleaning a pair of Vans isn’t too tough, but you should make sure you’re doing it right. The cleaning procedure varies depending on the material of your Vans. Let’s take a closer look at the process and what you need.

How to Wash Your Vans

Vans Shoes

Van shoes are designed to withstand wear and tear from skateparks, but they still need some tender care to last as long as possible. One way of caring for the vans is to clean them on a regular basis.

There are different ways of cleaning vans. The most suitable method for your van depends on the material it’s made of. 

Canvas Vans: Quick Cleaning

  1. Use a shoe brush (on Amazon) to remove loose mud and dirt. 
  2. Next, you can use warm water and soap to clean the rubber strip, sides, and top of the Vans. Work gently so you don’t scratch the canvas. 
  3. Once all the stains are removed, use a damp cloth to wipe the shoes and remove any remnant soap suds. You can then leave the shoes to dry. Never use a dryer; let the shoes air dry.

Deep Cleaning

  1. As usual, start by using a shoe brush to remove loose mud or dirt from the shoes. Make sure you clean the bottoms and the rubber strips. 
  2. Use a stain remover (on Amazon) to spot clean stubborn stains. Pre-treat the stains with the stain remover by applying it directly on the stains and leaving them to rest for about 15 minutes. 
  3. Next, remove the laces and insoles from the shoes, then wash the shoes with a mild detergent and water (don’t machine wash them). 
  4. Use a dry towel to wrap the shoes and press out all the excess water. 
  5. Leave the shoes to dry.
  6. Use a mild detergent to clean the laces. Rinse them well and allow them to dry.
  7. Use a mixture of mild detergent and baking soda on a toothbrush to clean the insoles. 
  8. Allow the mixture to sit for about 15 minutes before rinsing it off and allowing all of the insoles to air dry.

Suede Vans: Quick Cleaning

A quick clean will suffice if your vans aren’t very dirty. In this case, you’ll need to use a soft-bristle brush to remove any loose grime and dirt, after which you can use a damp cloth to clean all the dark stains on the shoes by blotting them. 

You can soak the cloth using a mixture of equal parts of white vinegar and water. Be careful not to saturate the shoes with this mixture.

Finally, clean the rubber strip on the outside of the shoes using a Magic Eraser (on Amazon). You can then leave the shoes to dry.

Deep Cleaning

Deep cleaning is necessary when the Vans have tough stains. Start by removing the loose dirt using a soft suede brush. 

To remove the tough stains, you need a special suede cleaner (on Amazon) and a toothbrush. Dub the toothbrush into the cleaner and use it to brush the tough stains. 

Next, you can clean the rubber strip using soap and water. In this step, you can use a soft scrubbing brush or a toothbrush. Leave the Vans to dry.

Leather Vans: Deep Cleaning

To deep clean leather Vans, start by removing the loose grime and dirt using a shoe brush. Next, you can use a synthetic brush dabbed in the Nikwax Footwear Cleaning Gel (on Amazon) to clean the tough stains. 

Once the shoes are clean, apply a waterproof product (preferably Nikwax) to the stitching and the leather, then leave them to dry for 24 hours.

For quick cleaning of leather Vans, you won’t need the cleaning gel.

Can You Bleach Your Vans?

Bleaching agents are too harsh for Vans. Bleach can leave yellow marks on your shoes. It can also zap color from Vans’ material. So you should avoid bleach when cleaning vans.

However, you can bleach the white rubber strip outside and around the sole to give your shoes a distinctive, clean edge.

To safely bleach the white strip, follow the steps below:

  1. Choose a flat, clean surface and cover it with a sheet or towel.
  2. Use masking tape to cover the material of your shoes. This will protect the sides and bottom of the shoes from the bleach.
  3. Fill a small cup with a cleaning agent such as acetone, rubbing alcohol, lemon juice, or white vinegar.
  4. Take a soft-bristled brush or an old toothbrush and dip it into the cleaning agent.
  5. Gently clean the white rubber in a circular motion. Be careful not to interfere with the masking tape.
  6. Wipe the shoes with a damp cloth, then allow them to dry.

This method can also be used to clean the rubber bottoms of Vans. But you must start by removing the loose grit and dirt using a brush.

Can Vans Go in the Washing Machine?

Woman wearing vans near the washing

Though it’s not recommended to wash Vans in a washing machine, you can still do so, depending on the material and type of your vans. For example, you should never machine wash suede Vans. Before you put any Vans shoes in a washing machine, check the label first.

If the label says you can wash it in a washing machine, do so gently using cold water. Anything hot or too vigorous will damage your shoes and can even shrink their fabric.

If you have to use a machine to wash your Vans, choose a bleach-free detergent (if you have black or colored Vans) and use only half the amount you’d normally use for a regular wash and load. You can use gentle bleach when washing white Vans.

Remove any loose dirt from the Vans before putting them into the machine. 

Remove the laces, then put the shoes in a pillow case that’s tied shut or a mesh laundry bag (on Amazon). Add one or two old towels to buffer and balance the load. Wash them with warm water using the lowest setting.

The pillowcase (or laundry bag) and the towels will protect your Vans from banging around in the washing machine.