Did you recently purchase a pair of hand-painted sneakers? They have recently become quite popular and trendy, especially Vans, Nike AF1s, and Converse. You’ll see them everywhere, and now there are even hundreds of videos and posts available online teaching you how to customize your shoes yourself. So, maybe you hopped on the bandwagon and got yourself a stylish new pair of customized shoes, or perhaps you painted your favorite kicks yourself. Either way, now that you have them, you’re going to need to learn how to maintain them so let’s talk about the best way to clean your custom painted shoes!
No matter what materials were used on your shoes, the paintwork will inevitably start to fade or chip after some time. It’s also possible that in the areas of your shoes where there is more flexing while walking and creases form, the paint will start to chip faster. So what can you do to avoid that? Well, we’ve made a list of a few things that you can do to keep your shoes in peak condition and make them last much longer.
Do you already own a pair of custom sneakers and hand-painted shoes?
Before we dive in, I wanted to share with you a few recent articles we’ve written that may interest you.
If you are new to the space, read this on where to buy custom Vans slip-ons.
But if you already purchased your pair and looking to customize them, here are a few pieces we wrote:
- How to customize Nike Air Force Ones (AF1s)
- How to customize Vans kicks
- How to hand-paint Converse All-Stars
- How to customize Adidas shoes
Our website is packed with guides and tutorials so explore around for what you’re looking for! But if you already own a pair of new painted kicks, keep reading to learn how to keep them fresh and clean.
Add sealant when you first get them.
While most acrylic paints are water-resistant, some are not, and being water-resistant does not mean that they are waterproof. The paint could still be very easily damaged if it comes in contact with a little water like after rain. To bind the paint to the surface and provide it an external protective layer, seal the paint using any acrylic finisher. There are different kinds of finishers available in the market, like matte, glossy, shiny, etc. Get any good quality finisher of your choice and apply 2-3 thin, even coats of it over your shoes. It’ll help with the following things:
- Protection from moisture: Paint sealers form a thin layer over your paint that keeps the moisture out (i.e., doesn’t make any direct contact with the paint).
- Prevents cracking: Acrylic paints have a tendency of peeling off or cracking when the shoes are worn, sealer will help prevent that.
- Protects from dirt: The thin layer that stands between moisture/water and paint also ensures that no dirt, sand, etc. ruins your paint.
- Easier to clean later: A major advantage of sealer is that it provides a smooth surface that is easier to clean and less prone to any damage resulting from using soap, foam, or water for cleaning your shoes.
Depending on your shoes’ material, you could get a sealer made specifically for that material like canvas or leather, which would be more effective than a general sealer. Two of the frequently used sealers are from Mod Podge, which you can order on Amazon, or Angelus Acrylic Finisher, which again you can order from their online store. Both are available in different finish styles like matte, glossy, etc.
General guidelines to take care of your shoes.
You must take extra precautions with your custom shoes and are careful in the way you wear them. You could lookout for some simple things, which would ensure that your kicks keep rocking for a long while.
- Do not wash your shoes! Although you could easily put any pair of Vans in the washing machine, do not do that with hand-painted canvas Vans… the paint may chip or crack (same goes with your hand-painted Nike AF1s too! And just about any pair you own with paint on them).
- Keep your shoes out of direct sunlight, especially for longer periods, otherwise, the paint would crack and start looking dry and saturated.
- Avoid putting your shoes in any place with moisture or excessive humidity.
- Like humans, shoes need to breathe too! Store them in a dry and aerated place with very little humidity.
- Don’t wear your shoes outside when there is rain, or it has been raining recently, leaving puddles, etc. Also, avoid your custom shoes when going for some strenuous physical activity or when you know you’ll be out for a long time.
- When applying a sealer, move in the direction of the shoes’ creases, like the toe box or the midsoles, give special attention to these areas.
Whatever shoe you have (Vans, Nikes, Adidas, etc.), these are some surefire tips to maintain their look for quite some time.
Cleaning products and their usage.
There are multiple ways you could go about cleaning your shoes, depending on the material they’re made of and how dirty they are. There are different products for different levels of cleaning, and you could get any depending on how often you plan on cleaning your shoes. Some frequently-used cleaning products for customized shoes are listed below. Before you use any of these, though, make sure they’re compatible with the material of your shoes. Also, wipe out any excess dirt using a slightly damp cloth before moving on to deep cleaning.
- Foaming Cleanser: This is probably the best way to get rid of all the dirt and make sure that your shoe isn’t damaged in the process. Certain foaming cleansers are manufactured just for shoes. Spray that on your shoe, use a brush with firm bristles and scrub over the foam to cover each spot and bring out the dirt. After that, just wipe the foam off using a towel.
- Detergent and water mix: If you don’t have a foaming cleanser, use a good quality detergent, mix it in some water, and then use a shoe brush to lather it over your shoes. Again, rub over all the stains or dirty spots, then wipe off the lathered foam using a cloth or towel.
- Baking soda/water mix: Not sure if your detergent is of the right quality? Substitute it with baking soda. Make a baking soda and water paste (not a more liquid consistency), apply it over the stains, leave for 15-20 mins, scrub with a brush, and then wipe off with a damp cloth.
- Angelus easy cleaner: This is a go-to when you want deep cleaning and is perfect since it works amazingly on canvas, leather, suede, rubber, almost any material you could think of. Just pour some of it in a bowl, dip your scrubbing brush in the bowl and start rubbing over your shoe. Once you’re done, use a microfiber towel to wipe away the excess, and you’re done!
- All-purpose foam cleaner: Need to get all the old, collected dirt? Order an Angelus foam cleaner that comes with a scrubbing cap to get the job done quickly and without hassle. Apply foam, scrub with the cap, and then just remove the extra lather.
You can find most of these products online, and a trusted place is Angelus. For more information, you can check out their website Angelus Shoe Polish or order, go straight to their online store Angelus Direct. A Youtube video by Angelus Shoe Polish also explains the use of their products, and yes (!!), they’re completely safe for customized shoes.
Long live your shoes?
You now know the best ways to clean your shoes properly, make them last longer, and retain their fresh look. We’d say it’s worth investing in at least a few of these products, you and your shoes deserve this much care, plus it ensures that you get the most from your customized shoes and enjoy them for more time!