Skip To Content

    The Sneakerhead-Approved Shoe Cleaning Kit Worth Every Penny

    Dirty kicks? We’ve got just the solution, literally.

    We hope you love the products we recommend! All of them were independently selected by our editors. Just so you know, BuzzFeed may collect a share of sales or other compensation from the links on this page if you decide to shop from them. Oh, and FYI — prices are accurate and items in stock as of time of publication.

    Taylor Miller / BuzzFeed

    Agree or disagree: Sneakers look better worn-in than immaculately brand new.

    Whatever degree of scuff you fancy, the footwear you buy with your hard-earned money merits a cleaning every now and then. Because beyond looks, regular-ish maintenance can and will extend the life of your favorite sneaks, and who doesn’t want that? After walking miles in a bunch of different shoes for our review of the best everyday sneakers, we surely do.

    And while the homespun approach — tide pens, magic erasers, and that one baking soda and hydrogen peroxide trick come to mind — works fine, those methods are bound to just white canvas sneakers. This sent us rummaging through the internet’s trove of dedicated shoe cleaning kits to find an effective and versatile solution that would play nice with more colors and materials.

    Taylor Miller / BuzzFeed

    Our favorite? The Essential Kit from Jason Markk, a pick that won’t come as a surprise to anyone tuned into the comings and goings of sneaker culture. Launched in 2007 by Jason Mark Angsuvarn, who identifies, first and foremost, as a sneakerhead, the brand is known to surpass all expectations when it comes to bringing dingy kicks back to life, going so far as establishing a painfully hip Los Angeles-based shop devoted to cleaning sneakers.

    But this kit isn’t exclusive to sneakerheads. We know because we are not they.

    What you get is a small but mighty 4 oz. bottle of clear solution and a handcrafted wood brush — basically everything you need to get started. Not only is this magical stuff fit for all colors and materials, including the most delicate grades of suede, but it’s completely biodegradable and won’t leave white shoes with a yellow tint, as is often the case with chemical-happy cleaners over time.

    “I didn’t trust any of the products on the market,” Angsuvarn told me. “And I knew I wasn’t alone.” He resolved to create a solution without any harsh chemicals or abrasives. Instead, it’s a mix of natural soaps, with the key component being a coconut oil derivative, which Angsurvarn earmarks as an effective natural conditioner. And looking at my supple New Balance midsoles, I’d have to say it does.

    Jason Markk currently lists the solution as “98.3% natural.” Seem weirdly specific? Angsuvarn would say you’re not wrong. The small missing percentage reflects the product’s added fragrance, a subtly sweet scent that rejects nearly all categorization (is “fresh” a scent?).

    Taylor Miller / BuzzFeed

    Then there’s the brush, which goes a long way in helping you get to the 100 washes Jason Markk claims its bottle provides. In our quick and dirty tests, the firm synthetic bristles were perfect for tackling dirty midsoles on all-leather shoes like Greats’s Royale Sneaker, our splurge-worthy pick. Though, Angsuvarn suggests the Premium Shoe Cleaning Brush (with softer bristles) to err on the side of caution with delicate items (like premium leather, suede, or cotton mesh). To get the best possible clean, Angsuvarn suggests dry brushing the shoe before application. “If you have top-layer dirt and you go and wet it, you’re basically just embedding that into the shoe and making it harder to clean,” he said.

    And for the most precious shoe owners among us who live in fear that their Yeezy Boosts might catch a scuff? There’s a solution (a water-based one, if you will) for that too: The Repel Spray, an easy on-the-go shield against liquid and stains.

    “I’ve always been about wearing your shoes,” Angsuvarn said “Just enjoy them. That’s what they’re made for.”

    We’ll co-sign on that.

    Need A Shopping Buddy?

    Get great products - from pros in the fine art of buying stuff online - delivered to your inbox!
    Newsletter signup form