The Playbook

How to Clean Leather Sneakers with Sneaker Soap

Even though you take great care of your Greats, every now and again, they need more than just a quick spot clean. Here’s a step-by-step guide to giving your Italian leather sneakers a thorough cleaning using your favorite sneaker cleaning kit:


1. Gather your materials.



For cleaning Italian leather sneakers with a sneaker soap, you’ll need: paper towels, sneaker soap, cotton rags (an old t-shirt works great), and a soft brush.



2. Gently wipe away surface dirt.

Wet a paper towel, squeeze out excess water, then gently wipe down the exterior of the entire shoe. Your goal here is not to deep clean, but rather remove any big particulates that might get ground in when you scrub later.


3. Let shoes dry.



Ah, the waiting game. Thrill-a-minute. 10 minutes of light and air should work fine. 


4. Wet the brush, then add a nickel-sized amount of sneaker soap.



Don’t overdo it on the soap. On this first pass, less is more. After you've added the soap, just dip the brush again to activate the solution. In short: Water. Science. Boom.


5. Scrub every surface of the shoe in small circles, starting with the leather upper first.



It’s scrubbin’ time. Unless dirt is really stuck on (it likely isn’t), more small and gentle circles beats fewer large and aggressive swipes every time. The sneaker soap should start to foam up at this step. Treat this like a back-check: if you see an area without foam, give it a quick touch-up until the entire shoe is covered. Soles definitely included.



By the way: we recommend only working one shoe at a time from here on out. Whereas light rinsing is pretty indiscriminate, truly getting the best from a cleaning requires specialized attention to each shoe. It doesn’t take any extra time, we promise.    


6. Wipe away soap foam with soft rags to clean.



Grab the soft cotton rags and wipe - not scrub – away the soap foam. The name of the game here is long, smooth motions. Then, take a step back and admire your work. You've got 10 minutes, give or take, until you can truly evaluate how well you've cleaned. 


7. Repeat Steps 5 through 6 until satisfied.


Did wash #1 not get that one problem spot? Jump back in the bath. Just repeat Steps 4 through 7 with special attention paid towards dirty areas – no need to dry out the leather by over-washing the whole shoe. For all but the biggest messes, two washes is golden.




Voila! Clean shoes, as simple as that. Just lace ‘em back up and get back out there – your next Greats adventure awaits.


Photos by Drew Dizon