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Year after year, Air Force Ones are Nike‘s top selling sneakers, but keeping them clean is a sport in itself. Knowing how to clean Air Force Ones at home makes the most economical sense since they retail at about $100 each. These iconic sneakers are all-white, which makes them a magnet for dirt. Luckily, we have a few simple steps to restore them to their packaged glory. When it comes to beloved footwear, you always want shoe hacks on hand.
Exactly how you clean your Air Force Ones will depend on how dirty they are. Stains like grass or mud need a bit more babysitting (and we’ll cover that), while general cleaning to brighten them are fairly simple applications of household products (aka cost savings). Speaking of savings, I have some tips on how to save at the Nike Factory Outlet, which typically has discounts starting at 50% compared to regular shoe retailers.
Browse our Nike Deals or Shoe Deals pages if you want to expand your shoe collection. Or text DEALS to 57299 to get instant alerts on money-saving tips and deals.
How to Clean Air Force Ones
If you think you can just throw your Air Force Ones in the washing machine, think again. Nike even recommends against this cleaning method because it damages the shoe’s leather. Instead, hand-wash them. Set up your cleaning area with the following items:
- Clean water
- Dishwashing liquid
- Plastic tub
- Soft bristle brush or toothbrush
- Microfiber cloth
Follow these steps to clean your Air Force Ones:
1. Remove laces.
Since laces are prone to getting dirty, you’ll want to remove and clean them. They can be cleaned in a washing machine, but you can just as easily add them to a bowl of warm water and detergent. Swish the laces around until they’re white again.
2. Brush off physical dirt.
Use a clean toothbrush or soft bristle brush to break up any hardened dirt or debris from the Air Force Ones. This step helps prevent your water bath from becoming cloudy right away.
3. Make wash solution and hand-wash.
Fill a large plastic tub with warm water and a few drops of dishwashing liquid, swishing around until soapy. Dip a scrub brush in the water to hand-wash the shoe, paying close attention to the top, soles, tongue, and sides. Don’t submerge the shoe in the water.
4. Wipe clean and air-dry
Dry off any excess water with a microfiber cloth, and let them air dry for 24 hours before wearing.
Remove stains from Air Force Ones with micellar water.
I’ve explained how to wash your Air Force Ones, but stains need a bit more attention. For continued maintenance, keep micellar water or a Mr. Clean Magic Eraser handy for quick touch ups. Try these cleaning tips for specific stains:
Nike recommends rubbing alcohol or white vinegar to remove grass stains. Use a cotton ball or Q-tip to dab one of the cleaning options to the stain. If it doesn’t lift the stain, let it sit for 30 minutes, then scrub a bit of non-gel, white toothpaste to erase any remaining stain.
Your kicks will become yellow due to oxidation (kind of like peeled potatoes) over time. Make a paste of equal parts baking soda and water, and use a brush to apply a small amount to the yellow areas. Let the solution sit for five minutes before wiping away with a damp cloth.