Four pairs of Vans on display

DIY: How to clean Vans shoes

Vans shoes were designed to withstand skatepark wear and tear, but they still need a little love every so often. Get yours back to their former glory with our official DIY guide to quick cleaning and deep cleaning your Vans.


Vans shoes on a skateboard


How to clean Vans – your questions answered

We’ve answered the most commonly asked questions on cleaning suede, leather and canvas Vans below.

Can you put Vans in the washing machine?
We don’t recommend it. Even if you put them in a pillowcase, they could still get damaged.

So how do I clean them?
You’ll find the different recommended ways to clean your Vans, depending on what they’re made from, further down this page.


Vans shoes on a skateboard


What about the inside of my Vans?

You can use a paste of baking soda and mild detergent to whiten the inside of your Vans. Put a towel on your work surface, then take a small brush or toothbrush and work the paste into the inside of your shoes. Leave it for up to 15 minutes, then rinse with warm water and air dry.


How to safely bleach the white strip on your Vans

Most Vans have a white rubber strip that runs around the outside of the sole to give them a distinctive edge. Your first instinct might be to reach for the bleach, but that could turn your shoes yellow. Restore yours to box fresh using these steps.

  1. Choose a clear work surface and cover it with a towel or sheet
  2. Use masking tape to cover the material of the shoe, to avoid damaging the top or sides with any stray cleaning product.
  3. Fill a small cup with a cleaning product from our recommended list: white vinegar, lemon juice, rubbing alcohol or acetone.
  4. Take an old toothbrush or small, soft-bristled cleaning brush, dip it into the cleaning product and gently buff the white rubber in small circular motions.
  5. Wipe with a clean, damp cloth and you’re done!

You can use the same method to clean the rubber bottoms of your Vans too. Be sure to get loose dirt and grit off first with a brush.


Vans in a field


Cleaning leather or suede Vans

Leather and suede Vans can last for years, so they’re bound to get a little worn as you tear up skate ramps or pound the pavement. Here’s how to quickly clean or deep clean your suede Vans shoes. 

Suede quick clean

  1. Brush any loose dirt and grime off your shoes with a soft-bristled suede brush.
  2. Remove dark stains by blotting them gently with a cloth dampened in equal parts water and white vinegar, being careful not to saturate the whole shoe.
  3. Use a magic eraser to clean the rubber strip around the outside of your suede Vans.
  4. Leave your Vans to air dry.


Vans on railway sleepers



Suede deep clean

  1. Use a soft suede brush to remove surface dirt from the tops, sides and bottoms of your shoes.
  2. To get a deep clean on tough stains, use a small amount of specialist suede cleaner on a toothbrush and work it into the stained areas of suede.
  3. Clean the rubber strip and bottoms with soap and water, using a toothbrush or soft-bristled scrubbing brush.
  4. Leave your Vans to air dry.


Vans on a skateboard



Leather deep clean

For a quick clean for leather shoes, miss out step 3 below, and leave your shoes to dry overnight.

  1. Start by removing surface grime from the bottoms, sides and tops of your shoes with a shoe brush.
  2. Clean your leather shoes using Nikwax Footwear Cleaning Gel and a synthetic brush.
  3. Once your shoes are clean, work a waterproofing product into the leather and the stitching (again, we recommend Nikwax).
  4. Leave your shoes to air dry naturally for 24 hours.


Vans in black and white


Cleaning canvas Vans

Cleaning canvas Vans is easy when you know how.
The quick clean and deep clean methods below are suitable for synthetic and canvas Vans.

Canvas quick clean

  1. Use a brush to remove loose dirt and mud before you start cleaning the fabric.
  2. Use warm, soapy water and a toothbrush to clean the tops, sides and rubber strip of your Vans, working gently to remove stubborn stains.
  3. Use a clean, damp cloth to wipe down the surface and remove any remaining soap suds.
  4. Leave to air dry.


Vans in a kayak on open water



Canvas deep clean

  1. Remove loose dirt or mud using a shoe brush, taking care to clean the rubber strips and bottoms.
  2. Spot-clean stubborn stains by pre-treating them with a stain remover. Apply directly to the stains and leave for 15 minutes.
  3. Remove the insoles and laces from your Vans, then hand wash your shoes with warm water and a small amount of mild detergent.
    We don’t recommend machine washing!
  4. Wrap your damp Vans in a towel and press any excess water out before leaving them to air dry.
  5. Clean your laces in a bowl of warm water mixed with a small amount of mild detergent. Clean the insoles by scrubbing them with a mix of baking soda and mild detergent on a toothbrush. Leave them for 15 minutes before rinsing and air drying.