How To Clean Vintage Nike Shoes

If you are lucky enough to find a clean, comfortable pair of used Nikes in a vintage clothing store, here’s what you need to know about how to clean vintage Nike shoes. Some guys cringe at the thought of wearing Nikes that another guy wore first. But the label’s high quality, high performance styles make Nikes attractive to collectors.

Some vintage dealers buy “dead stock” or old merchandise from original manufacturers, so your Nikes may not be used at all. But if you found your shoes at a thrift store or consignment shop, you must disinfect them before wearing them. Of course, a shoe repair store can clean them for you. But if you want to save a few bucks and do the job yourself, here’s what you need to know to clean that “new” pair of vintage Nikes.

Cleaning Supplies

  • Rubbing alcohol
  • Cotton balls
  • Hand cloth
  • Laundry bleach
  • Water
  • Spray bottle
  • Anti-bacterial spray
  • Insoles
  • Cat litter
  • Baking soda
  • Two old socks

Cleaning Instructions

  1. Disinfect the outside of the shoes. To disinfect your vintage Nike shoes, start with a bottle of rubbing alcohol. Pour about half the bottle on the outside of your shoes. Use cotton balls to wipe the shoes and spread the alcohol around. This will kill any bacteria on the shoes. Let them sit for five minutes to dry.
  2. Disinfect the inside of the shoes. Mix a quarter cup of laundry bleach with a cup of water. Pour the mixture into a spray bottle. Spray a thin coat of diluted bleach inside the shoes. This will kill any germs or fungi present. Since bleach can damage some materials like leather, you can use a commercial anti-bacterial or anti-fungal spray instead of bleach. Allow the shoes to dry completely.
  3. Clean the outside of the shoes. After your Nike shoes are disinfected, they may require further cleaning to remove dirt and give them new life. Lightly rub the outside of the shoes with a wet hand cloth and an alcohol-based cleaning solution.
  4. Air dry the shoes in sunlight. After you disinfect and clean your vintage Nikes, place them on a windowsill or porch. Leave them in direct sunlight for two hours. This will dry the alcohol outside the shoes and remove any germs inside the shoes.
  5. Fit the shoes with new insoles. If you still wonder how sanitary your used Nikes are, replace the insoles. Simply pay a visit to a shoe store or sporting goods store. Many brands have products with new and improved technology, so insoles are comfortable and easy to custom fit.
  6. Deodorize the shoes overnight. To deodorize those vintage Nikes, fill two old socks with a mixture of cat litter and odor-absorbing baking soda. Tie off the end of each sock. Stuff a sock into each shoe, and let the shoes sit overnight. In the morning, remove the socks and throw them away.
  7. Air out the shoes overnight. Every once in a while, it’s a good idea to air out your Nike shoes overnight. Remove the shoelaces, and pull the tongue up and out to allow the shoes to air out thoroughly.
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