Can you put suede Vans in the washer or are there better ways to clean your shoes when they get dirty?
It can be really tempting to use a washing machine and a tumble dryer to clean Vans shoes. Washing machines are convenient, easy to use and get stubborn stains out of your clothes so people instantly think they can do the same with their Vans shoes.
However, convenience won’t work when cleaning Vans, particularly suede ones. In fact, using a washing machine could very well ruin your suede Vans.
Here’s what you need to know before you think about throwing your shoes into the washing machine with laundry detergent and hoping for the best.
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Can You Put Suede Vans In The Washing Machine?
Firstly it is always good to hear the official guidance from the shoe manufacturer and they are very clear when it comes to the question of can you put suede Vans in the washer? They clearly state don’t put any type of Vans shoes into a washing machine as if you do they are likely to get damaged.
This doesn’t just mean their suede footwear but their canvas sneakers and leather shoes as well.
Whilst some people will tell you that they did it and they got away with it the fact is that putting vans in the washing machine leaves you at risk of ruining your footwear.
How to Wash Suede Vans
Ok so now you know you can’t put your suede Vans into the machine to clean them what about washing them by hand? Surely using some soapy water and a soft-bristled brush can help to clean them?
Wrong again! The fact is that suede is a delicate material. Unlike leather, it isn’t quite so robust and is more porous making it prone to damage
So if you start to wash your Vans shoes with water you are going to damage them. The texture can change as well as the color and the shape of your shoes. In fact, you can make the suede shrink and go hard which will make it impossible for you to wear your shoes comfortably.
Cleaning suede shoes is in fact usually done without water.
Can Suede Vans Get Wet?
So does that mean you can’t get your suede Vans wet at all?
Well no most suede Vans can withstand rain showers provided they don’t start to become saturated. This is because the rubber bottoms of the shoes deal with the worst of the rain.
Make sure you waterproof your shoes with a spray and it will make it easier for them to repel water.
Dunking your shoes in water for a significant period of time however whether that be in a washing machine or in a bowl in the sink is another matter entirely. This is why cleaning a delicate material like suede needs to be done with some care.
How to Clean Suede Skate Shoes
If you want to know how to clean suede Vans then follow my tips below to get your footwear looking like new again.
Remember if you are in any doubt about any of the products and are worried about your expensive shoes test an inconspicuous area first to check that any of the recommended methods are not causing any marks or damage. If you don’t want to try it yourself there are professional cleaners that will do the job for you.
So where do you start if you want to clean Vans Shoes?
Well, the very first thing you should do is to get rid of any surface dirt and debris that might be on your shoes from walking around outside. This can be easily done by brushing it off with a soft suede brush. If you can brush the suede in the direction of the nap to make sure you keep it looking good.
Don’t forget to clean the rubber bottoms of your shoes. As you want to be careful about getting the suede part of your shoes wet carefully use a damp cloth to wipe any loose dirt off the soles and the white rubber. You can either let them air dry naturally or use a paper towel or dry cloth to remove any excess moisture.
Getting the White Rubber Surround and Soles Looking Clean
Now you would think that removing loose dirt with a damp cloth would be enough to clean the rubber strip around your Vans but that often isn’t enough. This is because they bear the brunt of the wear and tear.
So to get the rubber strips looking white again you need to use some additional products to make them gleam.
Now I have seen people recommend using bleach on this part of your shoes. I personally think this is a very bad way to clean Vans because it only takes a small amount of the bleach to hit the upper and you have a stain that you can’t get rid of.
I use a couple of products for cleaning white soles and the first of these is Barkeepers Friend.
If you have never heard of Barkeeper’s Friend then it is a brilliant product that is really a household cleaner. I use it mainly for removing stains on my kitchen worktops but it can also be used to clean white rubber.
I use the powder version of the product. All you need to do is get a damp cloth and dip it into the powder and gently rub it over the stained parts of the shoes. The product is slightly abrasive and removes surface stains really easily.
When the stain is removed get another clean damp cloth and wipe any excess product from the shoes.
Can You Use a Magic Eraser on Vans White Rubber Soles?
The other product I use which is another household must-have product is a magic eraser.
A magic eraser is a piece of melamine sponge that you damper slightly with water and rub on the area that has surface marks or dirt.
I like magic erasers better for cleaning Suede Vans because the magic eraser isn’t saturated with water and so there is little chance of impacting the suede part of the shoe.
Magic erasers are also great for cleaning marks off walls, removing tea and coffee stains from mugs and even getting pesky stickers off new products.
Cleaning Your Shoe Uppers With a Suede Eraser
Now that you have gotten rid of the loose dirt and cleaned the rubber strips and soles of your shoes it is time to pay attention to cleaning the suede uppers of your Vans.
Start by looking for any marks or stains that might be on the surface of the suede and use a specialist suede eraser to rub the problem area and remove the mark.
Suede erasers like Saphir’s Nubuck and Suede Eraser Block are really simple to use and are a bit like a rubber that you use to remove pencil writing.
When you have rubbed off the mark just rub off any excess eraser and you are good to go. Just remember not to mix one of these with a magic eraser which should only be used on the white rubber strips.
Using a Suede Cleaner on Your Uppers
If your suede Vans need a bit of a deeper clean then typically it makes sense to buy a suede cleaner product to use on your footwear.
SHOEGR Unisex-Adult Shoe Cleaning Solution is an example of a product that is helpful for more stubborn stains. The great thing about this product is that it can also be used on canvas Vans as well as leather shoes so it is a great multitasker.
Interestingly this product is mixed with water but because it has been tested by the manufacturer as a specialist suede cleaner it can remove tough stains without damaging your footwear.
To use the product mix 3 pumps of the solution with 250ml of water. Use a soft-bristled brush to rub the product into the shoes and then dry any lather with a microfiber cloth.
How to Clean Suede Vans Without Suede Cleaner
If you don’t have any suede cleaner around then there are other household products that you can be used to clean stains on the uppers.
Rubbing alcohol is one of the most popular products. I’ve used it to clean mold off leather before but it also works to get ride of stains.
Just blot the rubbing alcohol onto the stain with a white cloth and then allow your shoes to air dry and hopefully, the stain will be gone.
Alternatively, talcum powder can work as well. Just put some on top of the stain and leave it for a few minutes. Then rub the talc off with a suede brush and your stain should be gone.
How to Clean Suede Vans With Vinegar
Believe it or not, a mix of half white vinegar and half water is also a solution for cleaning dirt and spots off suede shoes.
Simply use a white cloth and dip it into the solution and then gently blot the product on the stained area of your Vans. Don’t vigorously rub the area as that can damage the suede.
Then let your shoe air dry and hopefully, the stain will have gone.
Use a Suede Conditioner and Protector Spray
Prevention is in my view much better than letting your footwear get filthy or wet whilst you are outside. Using a couple of simple products can help you to look after your shoes and prevent problems such as tough stains appearing in the first place.
A suede protector spray is a product that I use as it helps to make the material less prone to marks and staining. It also helps to repel water which is going to help keep your Vans cleaner for longer.
You can also use a suede conditioner to help keep your shoes staying soft and supple. I have to say I am a little lazy with using conditioner as I find that the repellant spray works well for me so another product could be overkill. However, if you have expensive Vans shoes then it makes sense to spend a little extra to keep them looking good.
So can you put suede Vans in the washer? As you can see that is not a solution to cleaning your Vans but hopefully my other solutions can help you keep your skater shoes looking good and lasting longer.
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