How to Clean Air Force Ones (By Hand & in Washer Machine)

Nike’s Air Force Ones are top-selling sneakers and a popular option for style and performance. It’s high-quality footwear that coordinates well with any outfit and offers excellent comfort. Like most sneakers, this trendy pair of shoes are prone to scuff marks and stains, especially in white or lighter colors and accents.

Keeping your Air Force Ones in excellent shape requires a bit of regular care, with just a few household items. You can clean your shoes along with your clothing, hats, and other clothing and accessory items.

Preparing Your Shoes for Cleaning

Before you wash your Air Force Ones, you’ll want to get a few items ready and prepare your shoes as follows:

  • Remove your laces completely, including any other loose items or decorations from your shoes. These can be washed separately
  • A sneaker-friendly soap or detergent, or a similar product
  • A soft bristle brush is ideal if your sneakers have lots of stains and dirt
  • One or two microfiber cloths

If you have a few Mr. Clean Magic Eraser pads at home, these work well to clean your shoes in a pinch or remove just a few minor scuffs or stains. You can also use these erasers in addition to a brush

How to Wash Your Nike Air Force Ones by Hand

Prepare your shoes by removing the shoelaces and placing crumpled newspapers or a shoe tree to maintain the sneakers’ shape while cleaning the exterior. You can find shoe trees available online or at a local footwear retailer. Shoe trees for sneakers also protect the interior fabric and materials while you wash the exterior part of the shoes.

  1. In a small basin or bowl, add about three to four cups of warm water mixed with sneaker soap cleaner. If you don’t have this specific soap for shoes, you can add a teaspoon of laundry detergent or mild dish soap as an alternative. Sneaker cleaners are ideal for Air Force Ones, as these shoes are made of leather, fabric and rubber.
  2. To wash your shoelaces separately, fill a small basin or bowl with warm water and a few drops of laundry detergent or sneaker cleaner, then soap them while you wash your sneakers.
  3. Using a soft-bristle brush, dip a corner of the bristles into the soapy water, and begin scrubbing your shoes. Clean around the leather sole and move the brush in a circular motion. Take special care around the leather, and focus on scrubbing off stains, dirt and scuff marks.
  4. If there are stains on the shoe’s interior, remove the shoe tree or newspaper to reach inside with the brush. You can also clean the sneakers’ tongue, then lift this part to reach inside to scrub stains and dirt.
  5. If you find that the soft-bristle brush doesn’t remove all the stains and dirt, switch to a hard-bristle brush and continue scrubbing to cover the surface of each section with the cleaner, including the rubber, material lining and leather.
  6. Magic Eraser pads are another great option to use if you need additional support to clean your sneakers.
  7. A microfiber cloth is ideal for removing scuff marks. Using your index finger with the cloth wrapped around it, dip the cloth into the soapy water and rub the soaked cloth over stains and scuff marks.
  8. When you’re finished cleaning your shoes, remove any excess soap with a microfiber cloth, then place the sneakers on a flat surface and in a dry, well-ventilated room air-dry in 24 hours. It’s essential to leave the shoe trees inside the sneakers while they dry.
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Machine-Washing Your Sneakers

Cleaning your Air Force Ones in a washing machine is convenient and effective in removing dirt and stains. When you don’t have the time to scrub your shoes by hand, adding your sneakers to your next laundry load is a fast and easy way to see good results. It takes just a few steps to prepare your shoes for the washing cycle:

  • Remove the shoelaces and place shoe trees inside your sneakers to prevent them from shrinking or losing shape during the wash
  • When you prepare your laundry, place the shoes and shoelaces separately in a laundry bag
  • Set the washing cycle to delicate, and only wash your shoes with white or pastel clothing or add light-colored towels and cloths to the load.
  • Add half a capful of laundry detergent and add as many other items as possible when you clean your sneakers to prevent them from banging inside the machine.

Once the load is washed, remove the shoes and shoelaces from the laundry bag to air-dry, and place the remainder of the laundry items in a drying machine. Place the sneakers and shoelaces on a flat surface, with a towel underneath and air-dry for 24 hours. If you need to dry your shoes quickly, use a small fan or hairdryer in a cool setting.

When you dry your sneakers, it’s crucial to keep them out of direct sunlight high heat and avoid using a drying machine, as heating the shoes will damage the materials, especially the leather, and cause them to shrink and crease. If you choose to dry your sneakers outdoors, place them in the shade or under a canopy.

Final Tips and Suggestions for Washing Your Air Force Ones

As you get familiar with how to wash your Air Force Ones, you’ll want to keep a few essential tips and suggestions in mind:

  • Magic Erasers are great to have on hand if you need to clean your sneakers quickly and don’t have enough time to wash them thoroughly. These pads also remove small stains and scuff marks quickly and with minimal water, so your sneakers will dry faster.
  • Never use strong chemicals or cleaners on your shoes, as some solvents may damage materials.
  • If you’re washing white Air Force Ones, including white laces, you may need to clean them more frequently to avoid dark stains and dirt.
  • You can dilute some bleach in a bowl or basin of water to lighten white shoelaces that are stained.
  • Wear protective gloves when you use bleach to clean the shoelaces. You can use them when you hand-wash your sneakers with mild soap, though it’s not necessary, as the detergent is mild.
  • If your shoes carry odor, you can deodorize your sneakers with a spray, or for a natural option, place your shoes in a box, with a small bowl of warm water with diluted baking soda (one or two teaspoons). Place the bowl between the shoes, cover with a lid and leave for 24 hours to remove unwanted odors.

Bottom Line

When you clean your sneakers regularly, you’ll enjoy your high-quality Air Force Ones by maintaining their condition. With just a few items and regular cleaning, you’ll keep your sneakers looking great, so you can enjoy them for longer and save the cost of replacing them sooner.

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