Maintenance: Sneaker Rehab with Mr. Clean

I never advocate fussy treatment of sneakers—boxfresh is nice and all but most improve with a little dirt and creasing. When simple canvas sneakers like Vans authentics or Chucks get too far gone, they can be tossed in a washing machine, but what to do with leather is less clear.

A potential solution: Mr. Clean Magic Eraser. Kyle (previously featured as a Real Person) recently uploaded before-and-after photos of his Pierre Hardy sneakers, which he’s been wearing on and off since 2009. He scrubbed them with a Magic Eraser, added new laces, and they’re looking 4 years younger. I’m going to try this out on an older pair of Nike Dunks as soon as I can.

Some caveats—the eraser pads are made of melamine foam, a whiz-bang space-age product that’s mildly abrasive, like an incredibly fine sandpaper. It took all the dirt off Kyle’s kicks, and the original glossy finish, too. If you’re concerned about that, test it out on an inconspicuous spot before you attack your Margielas. Kyle also said that the eraser was less effective on the rubber sole than on the leather upper. For suede sneakers, I’ve found suede cleaning kits (which often include a traditional, rubber eraser and a brush) effective, and would expect the Magic Eraser to be less so.

-Pete

How to Soften Wool
If you happen to have any wool knits that feel too itchy to wear, try this simple solution: Fill a basin with cold water and thoroughly soak the garment in it. Then drain the basin and gently press the water out (woolens should never be wrung). While it’s still damp, apply a liberal amount of hair conditioner and work it through the fibers. Higher quality hair conditioners will work better (I recommend Bumble and Bumble*), and make sure you’re not using one of those 2-in-1 “shampoos and conditioners” mixes.
Once you’ve really worked it through the entire garment, let it sit in the basin for about 30 minutes to an hour. When you come back, rinse the conditioner out, press it dry, and lay it flat on a towel for about 24 hours. Make sure it’s not placed next to anything like heaters, which can dry out the fibers again. When you come back, your garment should be considerably softer. Of course, this only works on very dry wools, and only goes so far. You’re not going to turn everything into cashmere, but you may soften things up a bit. 
* This stuff, by the way, is fantastic. I strongly recommend giving a small bottle of their shampoos or conditioners a try. Windle & Moodie sell them at a 25% discount, but you can also find them at most higher end hair salons.

How to Soften Wool

If you happen to have any wool knits that feel too itchy to wear, try this simple solution: Fill a basin with cold water and thoroughly soak the garment in it. Then drain the basin and gently press the water out (woolens should never be wrung). While it’s still damp, apply a liberal amount of hair conditioner and work it through the fibers. Higher quality hair conditioners will work better (I recommend Bumble and Bumble*), and make sure you’re not using one of those 2-in-1 “shampoos and conditioners” mixes.

Once you’ve really worked it through the entire garment, let it sit in the basin for about 30 minutes to an hour. When you come back, rinse the conditioner out, press it dry, and lay it flat on a towel for about 24 hours. Make sure it’s not placed next to anything like heaters, which can dry out the fibers again. When you come back, your garment should be considerably softer. Of course, this only works on very dry wools, and only goes so far. You’re not going to turn everything into cashmere, but you may soften things up a bit. 

* This stuff, by the way, is fantastic. I strongly recommend giving a small bottle of their shampoos or conditioners a try. Windle & Moodie sell them at a 25% discount, but you can also find them at most higher end hair salons.