How to Keep Your Kid’s Sneakers Clean and Fresh: A Parent’s Guide

Kids are constantly moving around from their walk to school to their games on the playground and everything in between. So it’s no surprise that their shoes can get dirty and grimy. Regularly cleaning your kids’ sneakers can help keep them looking good and smelling fresh. It can also extend the lifespan of their footwear.


Whether your child wears removable character insoles or traditional shoe inserts, taking care of them can keep shoes fresh and comfortable for the whole family. A simple and effective way to clean insoles is to sprinkle them with baking soda, then leave them overnight, shaking them off in the morning. For extra freshness, try a sachet of activated charcoal (you can buy them at drugstores or make your own out of old socks) placed inside each shoe to absorb moisture and odors.

Some insoles are washable, requiring only a quick rinse with mild soap and water. However, checking the care instructions on your insoles before washing them is essential to avoid damaging the materials. If your insoles cannot be cleaned in a washing machine, hand-wash them in a plastic sink using warm water and dish soap. Each insole should be scrubbed on both sides, paying particular attention to the heel and toe regions, using a clean, stiff-bristled brush or sponge dipped in soapy water. Rinse the insoles, squeezing out excess water, then let them dry completely before reinstalling them.

Regularly cleaning and replacing your kids’ shoe insoles is the best way to prevent unpleasant smells, prolong their shoes’ life, and protect their feet’ health. Choosing the right insoles for your kids’ shoes can also help reduce foot fatigue, increase comfort and cushioning, and prevent common sports injuries such as shin splints and Achilles tendonitis. The majority of the time, children’s improper shoe selection causes them to experience foot pain. It’s crucial to ensure their shoes are well-fitting and have enough cushioning to absorb hits when walking or running. Invest in high-quality shoes from and watch how your children behave differently.

Stain Removal

Stains can be a sneaker’s worst enemy. They tend to settle in crevices; if you ignore them, they can eventually discolor the entire shoe. Regularly cleaning the soles of your child’s sneakers will help keep them looking fresh. The outsole is the part of the sneaker that gets the most dirt on it, as it comes into direct contact with the ground. This area can be cleaned using a toothbrush to scrub away any dirt stuck in the crevices and then wipe it down with a damp cloth. If your child’s shoes are made of leather, suede, or any other type of fabric that water could damage, use a protectant spray to prevent them from getting wet. Brands provide a protective barrier that will cause water splashes to bead on the shoe instead of soaking in. Make an at-home cleaner for stubborn stains by mixing water with a splash of mild detergent or a shoe-specific cleaner. Work the solution into the fabric surface of the shoe with a soft-bristle brush after dipping it into it. Remove the laces before working on them, as they can get in the way during cleaning. Rinse with a warm, well-wrung sponge and stuff with paper towels to dry.


Kids are hard on clothes and shoes alike. Running around in dirt, mud, and wet grass is all part of being a kid—and while there are ways to minimize stains and discoloration from natural wear and tear, those adventures will inevitably result in some stubborn, stuck-on debris that can be tricky to clean. Luckily, washing sneakers doesn’t have to be a complicated process. Using a few simple steps and the right supplies, you can have your kids’ shoes looking good as new in no time. Start by removing as much caked-on dirt as possible from the shoes before washing them. You can use your hands or a brush to sweep away any big pieces of dirt, and if your kids have a pair of kicks in suede or leather, make sure to use a safe cleaning product for these materials.

When washing, fill a bucket or laundry sink with warm water high enough to cover your shoes completely. Add a bit of laundry detergent and allow the shoes to soak for about 5 minutes. After that, take a sponge and scrub the shoes, starting with the soles and working your way up to the top. Reluctant stains may be removed with a small amount of baking soda. Mix some with water to form a paste, then apply the paste to your shoe and rub gently.


Once your child’s shoes have been scrubbed clean (or at least as much as they’re going to get), it’s time for them to dry. Moist shoes breed odors and can cause the shoe’s fabric to be damaged. A drying agent, such as a mild soap or dish detergent or a specialized shoe cleaner, will help the boots maintain their shape and texture while keeping them clean. A soft-bristled brush, such as an old toothbrush, is also recommended to get into the shoe’s eyelets and seams quickly.

If you don’t have a washing machine handy, it’s possible to air-dry your sneakers in the same way that you would do for clothes. Fill a bucket or laundry sink with warm water and add enough laundry detergent to make the water sudsy. Soak the shoes in the solution for about five minutes. After this, you should be able to remove them and let them dry overnight. You can also stuff your kids’ shoes with newspaper, which will help them absorb moisture and dry more quickly. Just be sure to replace the wet paper regularly so your kids don’t have to deal with swollen shoes that are uncomfortable and smelly. Following these simple tips, you can keep your kid’s sneakers looking as good as new all year.