| | |

How to Clean Air Forces: Easy, Quick, and Effective Tips for Spotless Sneakers


ListedFit is reader-supported. When you buy through links on our site, we may earn a small commission.

Ah, the iconic Nike Air Force 1s. You’ve made a great investment in a pair of classic sneakers. Now, it’s important to take proper care of them to ensure they stay clean and looking fresh. In this article, we’ll be sharing some helpful tips on how to clean your Air Force 1s without causing damage or compromising their stylish look.

Luckily, cleaning your Air Force 1s isn’t as difficult as you might think. With just a few simple steps and some common household items, you can keep your kicks looking pristine. So, let’s dive into how you can best maintain your Air Force 1s and keep them looking as good as new!

Why Clean Air Forces Matter

Keeping your Air Force 1 shoes clean is essential for maintaining their iconic style and appearance. A fresh, spotless pair of Air Forces can significantly boost your confidence and overall look. Moreover, cleaning your sneakers regularly not only helps preserve their aesthetic appeal but also prolongs their life and performance.

It is vital to remove dirt, stains, and grime from your Air Forces as soon as you notice them. Doing so can prevent the buildup of dirt, which may cause further damage to your shoes. Furthermore, frequent cleaning helps in preventing unpleasant odors that may result from accumulated sweat and dirt over time.

Additionally, unclean sneakers may become breeding grounds for bacteria and fungi, which can pose a risk to your feet’s health. Properly cleaning your Air Forces ensures the shoes remain both hygienic and comfortable to wear. Remember, a clean pair of Air Forces is not only about looking stylish, but it also reflects your overall attitude towards self-care and personal hygiene.

Gathering the Right Supplies and Product Recommendations

Before starting to clean your Air Force 1s, it’s essential to gather the right supplies to protect and restore your shoes effectively. In this section, we will discuss the recommended cleaning solutions, tools and brushes, and drying materials.

Cleaning Solutions

While you can create a simple cleaning solution with one tablespoon of baking soda, two tablespoons of white vinegar, and a cup of water (source), there are also specialized cleaning products available. Some popular options include:

  • Reshoevn8r Sneaker Cleaner: A gentle and effective cleaner for various sneaker materials.
  • Crep Protect Cure: A premium shoe cleaning kit containing cleaning solution, brush, and cloth, designed for all types of sneakers.

Tools and Brushes

Selecting the right tools and brushes will help you provide a thorough cleaning without damaging your Air Force 1s. Here are some recommendations:

Drying Materials

After cleaning, it’s essential to dry your shoes correctly to prevent damage or odor. Consider the following drying materials:

  • Microfiber cloths: Absorbent and gentle on your sneakers.
  • Paper towels: Can be used as a temporary drying solution. However, microfiber cloths are recommended for a more sustainable option.

Now that you have gathered the right supplies, you are ready to start cleaning your Air Force 1s. Remember to follow the cleaning instructions closely to keep your sneakers in excellent condition.

Preparing Your Air Forces for Cleaning

Before you start cleaning your Air Forces, it’s essential to properly prepare them to ensure an effective and thorough cleaning process.

Removing Laces and Insoles

how-to-clean-air-force-ones-laces-out How to Clean Air Forces

First things first, remove the laces from your Air Forces. Soaking them in a mixture of warm water and soap allows them to be easily cleaned while you focus on the rest of the shoe.

Next, remove the insoles from your shoes. This will help you clean hard-to-reach areas and also prevent the insoles from becoming too wet during the cleaning process.

Loosening Dirt and Debris

Before you start scrubbing, it’s essential to loosen up any dirt and debris on your shoes. Use a soft brush or cloth to lightly brush and clean away away surface dirt.

This will help to prevent damage to the material of your Air Forces and make the cleaning process smoother (Nike.com).

Once you have removed the laces and insoles, and have loosened the dirt and debris, your Air Forces are ready for cleaning. By following these preparation steps, you can effectively clean your shoes and keep them looking their best.

Cleaning the Upper Section

how-to-clean-air-force-ones-upper How to Clean Air Forces

Cleaning the upper section of your Air Force 1s can be a breeze if you use the right techniques and products. In this section, we’ve divided the cleaning tips into two sub-sections: Leather Cleaning Tips and Mesh and Fabric Cleaning Tips, to help you take the best care of your shoes.

Leather Cleaning Tips

For cleaning leather, start by wiping down the surface with a damp cloth to remove any loose dirt or dust. Then, mix a solution of one tablespoon baking soda, two tablespoons of white vinegar, and a cup of water, as recommended by Nike.com. Use this solution as a spot cleaner by dipping a soft cloth into it and gently rubbing it into the stubborn stains.

Keep the following tips in mind:

  • Avoid using harsh chemicals or abrasive tools on leather, as they may cause damage.
  • Do not soak your leather shoes, as excess water can lead to deformations.
  • Once the cleaning is done, let your shoes air dry in a well-ventilated area.

Mesh and Fabric Cleaning Tips

For cleaning mesh and fabric areas of your Air Force 1s, start by removing any dirt or debris with a soft-bristle brush. Next, create a mixture of soapy water by adding a few drops of mild detergent to a bowl of water. As recommended by r/Sneakers, dip your soft bristle brush into the soapy water and gently scrub the mesh and fabric areas in a circular motion.

Rinse the brush as needed and continue to scrub until the material is clean.

Here are some additional tips:

  • For tough stains or discoloration, consider using a specialized shoe cleaner.
  • Always air dry your shoes after cleaning to avoid potential damage from direct heat sources.

Cleaning the Midsole and Outsole

In this section, we will discuss how to clean the midsole and outsole of your Air Force 1 shoes. You will find separate tips and techniques for each part to ensure the best possible results.

This is where some of previously mentioned cleaning products may come in handy because the midsole stains and discolourations can sometimes be a lot harder to remove.

Midsole Cleaning Techniques

how-to-clean-air-force-ones-midsole How to Clean Air Forces

To clean your Air Force 1 midsoles, start by gently removing loose dirt with a soft-bristled brush or an old toothbrush1. Next, mix warm water with a small amount of mild laundry detergent or dish soap to create a cleaning solution1.

Dip a clean cloth or soft brush into the mixture and gently scrub the midsole as evenly as possible in a circular motion. Be sure to clean any crevices or textured areas where dirt can accumulate. I like to do this at least three times over to get them as clean as possible.

After cleaning, use a damp cloth to wipe away any soap residue, and let the shoes air dry.

Outsole Cleaning Strategies

For the outsoles or bottom of the shoe, I always like to make sure there are no large bits of dirt on there before I start work.

There can sometimes be mud or bits of debris in the grooves of the sole that can be a little more stubborn to remove.

It’s a good idea if you haven’t done so already, to remove this debris with a stronger brush.

When it comes to the rest of the outsole, start by using a wet, harder-bristled brush to remove any loose dirt or debris. Then move to a softer brush and do the same as the midsole, use the softer brush and move in a circular motion with your soap solution and warm water2.

With a clean cloth or brush dipped in the soapy solution, gently scrub the outsoles, making sure to cover the entire surface. Pay particular attention to the grooves and edges, as this is where dirt tends to collect. Once you have finished scrubbing, rinse the outsoles with clean water to remove the soap and any remaining dirt.

Finally, allow your shoes to air dry. This part is important. Don’t put them in a tumble dryer because the heat can actually damage the materials.

Post-Cleaning Care

After cleaning your Air Forces, there are a few more steps you should follow to ensure they are properly taken care of and maintain their fresh appearance.

Drying Your Air Forces

Resist the temptation to place your shoes under direct sunlight, putting them in a tumble dryer or using a heater to dry them. This can cause discoloration or damage the materials.

Instead, stuff your Air Forces with paper towels or newspaper to help them keep their shape and absorb moisture. Replace the stuffing every few hours as it becomes damp. Leave your shoes to air-dry in a well-ventilated area for 24-48 hours, or until they are completely dry.


Once your shoes are completely dry, remove the stuffing and re-insert your shoe trees (if used). Re-lace your Air Forces, making sure to lace them up correctly and evenly. This will ensure that your shoes maintain their shape and fit properly when you wear them again.

Preventing and Maintaining Cleanliness

Regular Maintenance Tips

It’s important to take care of your Air Force 1s to keep them looking fresh and clean. Here are some simple tips to help you maintain their appearance:

  • Wipe down your shoes with a damp cloth after each wear to remove dirt and debris before it has a chance to build up.
  • For the more stubborn stains, use either one of the pre-made solutions mentioned earlier, or a solution of one tablespoon of baking soda, two tablespoons of white vinegar, and a cup of water as a spot cleaner.
  • Remove the laces and clean them separately by hand or in a gentle machine wash.
  • Allow your shoes to dry completely before wearing them again, even if you’ve just lightly gone over them with a damp cloth as moisture can contribute to the buildup of dirt and stains and effect the look of the material.

Protection and Prevention Methods

Preventing damage and stains before they occur is an effective way to keep your Air Force 1s looking good for longer.

Implement these preventative measures:

  • Apply a good leather protector spray to your shoes after cleaning, to create a barrier against stains and dirt.
  • Avoid wearing your sneakers in wet or muddy conditions, as this can cause damage and make them harder to clean.
  • Store your shoes in a cool, dry place, away from direct sunlight and extreme temperatures.
  • Use shoe trees or other shoe shapers to maintain their shape and prevent creasing when they’re not being worn.

By following these simple tips, you can keep your Nike Air Force 1s looking clean and stylish for a long time.

Other Air Force One Articles

Are Air Force Ones Good for Working Out?

Air Force Ones FAQs

Why Do Air Force Ones Turn Yellow?

Air Force Ones can turn yellow over time due to several factors:

Oxidation: The materials used in the construction of the sneakers, particularly the rubber soles and the synthetic or leather upper, are susceptible to oxidation. Exposure to oxygen in the air causes a chemical reaction that leads to the yellowing of these materials. This process is accelerated when the shoes are stored in areas with high humidity or temperature.

Ultraviolet (UV) exposure:
Sunlight and other sources of UV light can cause the materials in the sneakers to break down over time, leading to discoloration. UV exposure can affect the color of the synthetic or leather upper, as well as the rubber soles. Prolonged exposure to sunlight speeds up this process, causing the sneakers to yellow more quickly.

Sweat and moisture: Wearing the sneakers for extended periods can cause sweat and moisture to be absorbed by the materials, particularly the insoles and lining. This can lead to a buildup of bacteria and other microorganisms, which can contribute to discoloration.

Dirt and grime: Accumulation of dirt and grime on the shoes can cause them to turn yellow. This is particularly true for lighter-colored sneakers, where stains and discoloration are more noticeable.

Aging: Over time, the materials used in the sneakers can break down and lose their original color. This is a natural process that occurs as the sneakers age, and is more noticeable in lighter-colored sneakers.

To prevent or slow down the yellowing process, it’s essential to take proper care of your Air Force Ones. This includes cleaning them regularly, avoiding prolonged exposure to sunlight, storing them in a cool and dry place, and using sneaker protection products to minimize the effects of oxidation and UV exposure.

Why Are My Air Force Ones Squeaking?

Air Force Ones, like many other sneakers, can develop a squeaking sound due to several reasons:

1. Moisture: If the insoles or the interior of the shoes are exposed to moisture, such as sweat or rain, it can create a squeaking sound as the wet insoles rub against the inside of the shoes. To resolve this issue, remove the insoles and let them air dry completely before putting them back in the shoes.

2. New shoes: When you first purchase a pair of Air Force Ones, the materials may be stiff, causing a squeaking noise as you walk. This issue typically resolves itself as you break in the shoes and the materials become more flexible.

3. Friction between materials: Squeaking can occur when there is friction between different parts of the shoe, such as the insole and the midsole or the tongue and the laces. Applying talcum powder or cornstarch on the insoles, laces, or other friction points can help reduce the squeaking noise by minimizing friction.

4. Air pocket in the sole: Some Air Force Ones have an air pocket in the sole, which can cause squeaking if the air pocket becomes damaged or deflated. This issue might require a replacement of the sole or the entire shoe if the damage is severe.

5. Worn-out soles or insoles: Over time, the soles or insoles of your sneakers can become worn out, causing them to rub against each other and create a squeaking noise. Replacing the insoles with new ones or investing in a new pair of sneakers can help eliminate the noise.

To prevent squeaking in your Air Force Ones, ensure they are kept clean and dry. Regularly inspect the shoes for signs of wear or damage, and address any issues promptly. Additionally, consider using moisture-absorbing inserts or shoe deodorizers to keep the interior dry and fresh.

Why Do My Air Force Ones Smell?

Air Force Ones, like other sneakers, can develop an unpleasant smell due to various reasons:

1. Sweat and moisture: Wearing sneakers for extended periods, especially during physical activities, can cause sweat and moisture to accumulate inside the shoes. This damp environment creates favorable conditions for bacteria and fungi to grow, which can lead to unpleasant odors.

2. Poor ventilation: Air Force Ones may not provide adequate ventilation for your feet, trapping moisture and heat inside the shoes. This further contributes to bacterial and fungal growth, exacerbating the odor problem.

3. Lack of proper maintenance: Failing to clean and air out your sneakers regularly can lead to a buildup of dirt, grime, and dead skin cells. These materials can contribute to the growth of odor-causing microorganisms.

4. Wearing the same shoes every day: Wearing the same pair of sneakers daily without giving them a chance to dry out and air can intensify the smell. It is advisable to rotate between different pairs of shoes, allowing each pair to rest and air out between uses.

To prevent and eliminate odor in your Air Force Ones, consider the following steps:

1. Maintain proper foot hygiene: Wash your feet regularly with soap and water, ensuring you dry them thoroughly before putting on socks and shoes. This can help reduce the amount of sweat and bacteria that enter the shoes.

2. Use moisture-absorbing socks: Wearing moisture-wicking socks can help keep your feet dry and reduce the amount of moisture inside your sneakers.

3. Air out your shoes: After wearing your sneakers, take out the insoles and let the shoes air out in a well-ventilated area. This allows any trapped moisture to evaporate, reducing the chance of odor development.

4. Clean your shoes regularly: Follow the manufacturer’s guidelines for cleaning your sneakers, which may include gentle washing with soap and water or using specialized shoe-cleaning products.

5. Use odor-fighting products: Consider using shoe deodorizers, odor-absorbing insoles, or antimicrobial shoe sprays to keep your sneakers smelling fresh.

6. Rotate your shoes: As mentioned earlier, try not to wear the same pair of sneakers every day. Rotating between different pairs of shoes allows each pair to dry out completely, helping to prevent odor buildup.


Avatar of Stuart Patrick
Stuart Patrick
Stuart Patrick is a health and fitness lifestyle journalist who writes for ListedFit.com.

“I've spent a lot of time trying to get in shape and change my body and I realised there are so many untruths in the health and fitness industry that can slow down or stop your progress, so I share my knowledge and experience to help others to cut through the BS.”

This post may contain affiliate links that at no additional cost to you, the site may earn a small commission. We only recommend products we would use ourselves and all opinions expressed on this site are our own.

General Advice:
The information provided in this article is for general informational purposes only. It is not intended as a substitute for professional advice. Always consult with a qualified healthcare professional before starting any new diet, exercise program, or making changes to your health routine.

Accuracy Advice:
While we strive to provide up-to-date and accurate information, the content in this article may not reflect the most current research or medical guidelines. We encourage readers to do further research and consult with professionals for more personalized advice.

Our Recommendations:
The products and services mentioned in any of our articles are recommended based on our independent research and personal experience. We are not sponsored by any company. We aim to suggest products and services we believe are of high quality and could be beneficial to our readers.

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *