Philippine Daily Inquirer
SNEAKER CARE 101
‘The first rule is, don’t wash them if you don’t know the right way to do it, whether it’s a new pair or a well-loved pair’
Sneakers are such big business that they have given rise to businesses devoted solely to cleaning and maintaining them.
Like “bagaholics,” or luxury bag addicts, sneakerheads, aka sneaker collectors, pay good money for TLC of their rare finds, to keep them in tiptop shape.
For newbie collectors or just the clueless, it’s crucial to properly prep your brand-new kicks before wearing them, especially if they’re white.
Owning white sneakers is a commitment, notes Caleb Edpao, president of Ethan Cash Sneaker Lounge, a professional sneaker cleaning company. After unboxing, he advises to treat the sneakers with a waterrepellent spray and let it dry for at least 12 hours before wearing.
After each wear, spot-clean your shoes before storage so any dirt doesn’t leave a permanent stain, he adds.
“The first rule is, don’t wash your sneakers if you don’t know the right way to do it, whether it’s a new pair or a well-loved pair. Bring it to your nearest sneaker specialist,” he says.
Note that there are specific cleaning products for each sneaker material, so it’s not a one-size-fits-all solution, he adds.
For nylon mesh, “use a dry brush to remove excess dirt, since the mesh is a breathable fabric and it catches more dirt and dust,” he advises. “Then use a mild cleaning solution”— usually, a mixture of water and liquid nonbleach detergent—“and gently scrub for a minute. Wipe and let it dry.” He advises the same for leather material. Air-dry after cleaning.
“The most sensitive material is knit. Knits are soft so avoid brushing them. Instead, use a soft cloth to remove dirt.”
How to clean white kicks
Canvas, he adds, is most durable, even as it gets dirty easily. Simply use a mild cleaning solution and scrub it clean.
“Classic canvas shoes will always be in style,” Edpao notes. However, “investing in leather might be a better option. It’s easier to clean and is less likely to get stained.”
Aside from not using bleach to clean your white pair, also avoid drying it under direct sunlight, since it causes yellowing on the fabric. “Bleach can turn your shoe into yellow instead of white,” he says. Let your shoes air-dry for at least 12 hours.
It’s very tempting to just throw your kicks into the wash, but Edpao warns against it. “The washing machine should be your last resort. It will most likely affect the structure and foam of your shoes, which can impact comfort during wear. Some foams are more sensitive. Any shoe made with EVA (ethylene-vinyl acetate), a rubbery elastic material, should always be hand-washed. Hand-washing is less risky and will help extend the life of your sneakers.”
It is crucial to keep kicks clean and dry, as humidity and aridity can take a toll on a beloved pair, he says. Folds and creases naturally form in wellworn shoes, and some materials stiffen as they age.
“Use a shoe tree to maintain the shape of our shoes,” he says.
For storage, he recommends those clear plastic shoe organizers loved by sneaker collectors. “The shoe storage box gives our shoes the highest level of protection from dust, sunlight and temperature.” If you choose to store in the original box, make sure to remove the paper that came with the shoes. “The paper is acidic and can cause our shoes to yellow.”
Disinfecting and deodorizing
With a raging epidemic, he advises not to wear your luxury brand and expensive sneakers to places where they could be contaminated, since viruses and germs can stay on shoes for days.
“I recommend leaving your shoes outside the house after wear. Clean and disinfect it with an aerosol disinfectant meant for fabric. Let the shoe dry before storing. At Ethan Cash, we disinfect and deodorize for free all pairs brought in for professional cleaning.”
Edpao also advises alternating or rotating use of your sneakers to give them a rest between uses. It allows the foam in the midsole to decompress and return to its original cushioning support, he explains.
Make sure to wear and air out all your sneaks. “For shoes that are not worn and not exposed to fresh air, the glue and the soles eventually dry out. This can cause your shoes to fall apart and the soles to crumble.”
There’s such a huge demand for sneaker service that, within a year, Edpao and his partners were able to open branches in several malls around Metro Manila. Due to the pandemic, however, only their flagship kiosk at Bonifacio High Street (across Runnr) in Bonifacio Global City is operating at the moment. “Since business now should be done contactless, we are strengthening our pickup delivery channel,” he adds.
“What I believe sets us apart is the experience we give to our customers, and that is the same feeling of excitement and satisfaction they get when unboxing their newly bought sneakers, but this time, with their newly cleaned sneakers.”
Ethan Cash Premium Restoration Inc. is at Activity POD 1, Bonifacio High Street Bonifacio Global City, Barangay Fort Bonifacio, Taguig City; tel. 0915-1764073, 0907-1900859; follow @ecsneakerlounge on Facebook and Instragram; visit ethancashsneakers.com
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