In the footwear world, Jason Markk is synonymous with quality shoe care. “I’ve been into shoes since I was a kid,” he said. “Keeping them clean was a must.” While cleaning his sneakers in 2006, Markk had his transformative aha moment. He could do better. So he hired a chemist and developed his very own shoe cleaner geared toward the sneaker enthusiast. That was the beginning of what is now a ten-year-old, well-established shoe care brand, and a successful L.A. store dedicated to bringing customers’ shoes back to life.
Many people are drawn to high-quality leather sneakers or shoes because they improve with age, but without proper care, your shoes won’t last. We asked Markk about how best to care for leather shoes and sneakers. Read on for his tips, and the products you need to best preserve your leather footwear.
1 Get the right cleaning gear.
For all shoes, you want to use a gentle cleaner (Markk suggests his Premium Shoe Cleaner
, which multitasks, both cleaning and conditioning your leather shoes or sneakers). For fully leather shoes, midsoles and undersoles, use a stiff bristle
. For suedes or knits, use a softer bristle
2Clean your shoes.
You’ll need a bowl of clean water, a microfiber towel, brushes and shoe cleaner. Remove the laces. Dip the brush into water, apply a liberal amount of solution and start scrubbing. When the solution foams, wipe the shoe clean with the microfiber cloth. Repeat until your shoes look clean, then let them air dry.
3Use a shoe tree.
Once your shoes are clean and mostly dry, use a cedar shoe tree like this one
to keep their shape. This will also allow excess moisture to evaporate.
4Store them in a cool, dry place.
This is key: direct sunlight, moisture and heat can damage shoes, so you’ll want to keep them covered, cool and dry (even if you didn’t keep the box they came in).
5Always clean by hand.
It should go without saying, but Markk was emphatic about this: “Never throw your leather sneakers in the washing and/or drying machine!” The amount of water and agitation will ruin your shoes from the inside out.
6Invest in fresh laces.
Whether they’re for a pair of boots or sneakers, new shoelaces
— especially with white sneakers — can make all the difference.
The Products You Need
Keep ‘Em Clean
Premium Shoe Cleaner by Jason Markk $18
Microfiber Cleaning Cloth by Amazon $6
Premium Shoe Cleaning Brush by Jason Markk $10
Cedar Shoe Tree by Allen Edmonds $27