How To Save Your White Trainers From Winter’s Evil Filth

Just because it’s hacking down and only light for four minutes a day, doesn’t mean you have to make trainer-cleanliness compromises
10:50, 10 Dec 2019

Everyone has their trainer ranking system. The A list, the B list, and those reserved for walking to the corner shop, hungover, to buy eggs and full-fat Coke, under the strict understanding you wouldn’t make eye-contact with your own brother, let alone the neighbours. Often the relegated, neglected shoes are those that have in some way allowed themselves to become soiled by contact with the real world. The box fresh trainer aesthetic is largely created by multimillionaire American sportsmen who rarely wear a pair more than once and only then to step from a black SUV onto a red carpet. LeBron James, we’re guessing, never has to wait for the Bolton Metroshuttle in the rain while eating a prawn-salad wrap. 

So how do you maintain that whiteness, that pristine, not-from-this-world clean? 

1. SBW - Swear, bend and wipe

If something real, something un-white, touches your trainers, don’t pause, don’t deal with it later…MOVE. Fast response is the best initial reaction and may save a lot of masculine weeping later.  Don’t let that filth soak into the fabric. You need something pretty neutral and easy-going to do this – a plain cloth and nothing with heavy biological detergents that may damage the surface. 

Ideally some specially designed wipes from Crep Protect would be nestling in your pocket. These have a rough side and smooth side – rough for that challenging mud-and-thousand-island-dressing incident. 

2. Lace Soak 

If we assume you are back home, sulking and staring at some Stan Smith’s with post-pub soilage, remove the laces and soak them in something strong but gentle. Good Housekeeping know about these things and recommend Vanish Gold Oxi Action Powder Fabric Stain Remover. (Note to manufacturer, yes, the name is descriptive, but could be shorter)

3. Brush, soldier

If after the wipes, there’s still impurities – Highsnobiety suggest a brush, warm water and a cleaning fluid such as Jason Markk. This is a like proper manual labour, somewhat resembling scenes from military coming-of-age movies in which boots are polished, so focus and relax into it – you are saving trainers from death/hanging around under your bed indefinitely. 

4. Magic Sponge 

Not the mysterious object applied to the legs of injured footballers in the 70s. For the soles or anything stubborn, Grazia recommends a magic eraser sponge. Mr Clean and Flash both make these and once you start Googling their potential for creating a cleaner existence, you too will join the eerie cult that surrounds them. Crep Protect also have a magic sponge that comes in a cool black box. 

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Or… just let other people can clean your trainers for you…

There is nothing more mindful and emotionally enriching than shutting yourself off, settling in with the brushes and working over your trai…on the other hand, you could just pay someone else to do it. There is a growing number of trainer revitalising services that will not merely clean the things up but take them to kicks heaven and return them gleaming and reborn. 

Jason Markk first developed its cleaning service in its LA flagship store and now offers a pleasingly stratified range of depth and thoroughness in its London branch. There’s Classic Clean £11, Deep Clean £21 and they tell us most people opt for the Purp Special at £36.  However, for those who *really* love their shoes, there’s Purple Label Detail at £56 in which Beyoncé sings to each pair. (this isn’t true, but it sounds very thorough)

Shoe Spa London offers trainer restoration from £59 and extensive sneaker cleaning from £39 – these prices aren’t precise because they evaluate your footwear from a photograph and offer a quote depending how gargantuan a challenge they present. If you can’t make it to the store, you can send them in.

The Crep Clinic works remotely – you send off your trainers and they return transformed – like a wayward son sent to the cadets. They cleanse and refresh £30-50, lceanse, refresh and restore £30-£70 and perform full restoration £30-£80. Their site includes an impressive range of before-and-after pictures.

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Three white trainers to covet/worry about 

Asics Gel -1090 

It’s almost 15 years since these iconic designs were last seen. Throughout December, a range of colours in a design tweaked for our times will appear (or drop, if you prefer). We like the white: £80

Nanamica and Reebok 

Tokyo-based outerwear brand and the British sports specialists have joined to make a retro-influenced new range with trainers at its heart. The white version is particularly desirable: £89.95


Better known for their sturdy, heavily crafted stout, shiny shoes Grenson also make beautiful running equipment. These aren’t cheap but an off-piste treat for the committed trainer-head: £195.00

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