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How To Clean Vans (EASY, FREE Ways For All Styles)

Learning how to clean your Vans is a great skill to have to prolong the life of your footwear. Keeping Vans in good condition by removing stains and dirt means you will get way more use out of your favourite pair. Looking fresh is important!

In this guide I have outlined easy and free cleaning methods that work for all types of Vans, including more specific information for canvas, leather, suede materials.

I have also written specific cleaning guides for Old Skools and checkered slip-on Vans later in the post (feel free to scroll ahead to these guides if needed). Here are my pairs – one cleaned and one left dirty so you can see the difference:

My dirty slip on Vans and clean Old Skools.

Just look at the difference in the whiteness of the rubber midsole trim!

How To Clean Vans
Vans before and after cleaning.

How To Clean Vans

If you prefer to consume info in video form, here is a step-by-step video of me cleaning my Vans on the Wearably Weird YouTube channel:

How to clean Vans soles

Cleaning Vans soles is very easy if you have the right things to hand. I simply like to use a mild dish soap, some lukewarm water and an old toothbrush. That’s all!

How To Clean Vans Soles
Cleaning my Vans sole.

Here’s how to clean Vans soles for free at home:

What you will need:

  • An old toothbrush.
  • Dye free paper towel.
  • A mild dish soap.
  • Lukewarm water.
  • A bowl.
  • A bristle brush.


  1. Add a few drops of dish soap to a small bowl of lukewarm water and set it aside.
  2. Take a bristle brush and begin to brush the outsoles of your Vans to remove any large pieces of dirt and debris. Once you are satisfied then you can move on to the cleaning stage.
  3. Use your old toothbrush to mix the dish soap and water into a froth. Then make sure the toothbrush is saturated with the solution and begin gently scrubbing the Vans outsole. A toothbrush will really help you to get in between the small grooves of the diamond and rhomboid sole pattern.
  4. Continue with this cleaning until you are satisfied. You may need to freshen up your soap and water solution.
  5. Once all the dirt has been removed wipe down the outsole with fresh cold water and a dye free paper towel to remove any soapy residue.
  6. Blot dry the bottom of the soles with the paper towel and you are done.

Cleaning the white rubber Midsole

A great way to clean the rubber midsole of your Vans using items you already have around the house is to make a vinegar and lemon juice solution. Vinegar is excellent for removing dirt and lemon juice gently lightens white rubber to restore it’s brightness.

I would recommend using a strip of masking tape to cover the material upper where it meets the midsole so no solution leaks onto the material.

Masking tape on Vans.

You can also use bleach to lighten and clean the midsole. I would like to note that bleach is not as safe (to inhale or as it may stain the material of your Vans even if you take precautions with masking tape).

How To Clean Vans Midsole
Cleaning the Vans midsole with bleach.

A few more things that work well to remove stains from the rubber midsole are: acetone, rubbing alcohol, hydrogen peroxide, magic eraser, toothpaste, dish soap (great for removing grass stains on rubber or canvas) and hand soap on a small scrub brush.

Personally I like to use dish soap and a lukewarm water solution to remove the dirt, then I use a little bleach to lighten the rubber. It yields the fastest results in my opinion. Make sure you use gloves and do this in a well ventilated area, preferably outside.

Here’s how to clean the white rubber midsole of your Vans:

What you will need:

  • A mild dish soap or hand soap.
  • Bleach.
  • Gloves.
  • Lukewarm water.
  • A bowl.
  • An old toothbrush.
  • Masking tape.
  • A soft microfiber cloth.
  • Dye free paper towel.


  1. Make a dish soap and lukewarm water solution and use your old toothbrush to mix.
  2. Lay a layer of masking tape around the midsole of your Vans to protect the material upper (as I did in the above photo).
  3. Gently start scrubbing away the dirt using your old toothbrush and dish soap solution. When you are done take the microfiber cloth and dampen it with fresh cold water. Remove the soap suds and set aside.
  4. Put on your protective gloves. Pour a small amount of bleach into a bowl. Make sure you are in a well ventilated area and wear a facemask.
  5. Use your toothbrush to apply the bleach to the midsole in gentle circular motions.
  6. Make your way around the midsole. Once it looks as though it has brightened up the rubber remove it with the microfiber cloth and lots of fresh cold water.
  7. Once the bleach has been removed blot dry the midsole with dye free paper towel. Then remove the masking tape.
How To Clean Vans
Vans midsole before and after cleaning with liquid soap and bleach.

I find acetone also works great instead of bleach.

Here’s the result from using acetone:

Before and after using acetone to clean the Vans midsole.

After the main part of the midsole is clean, I like to finish the job by making sure the top narrow part is also spotless.

The top edge of the midsole can be a little tricky to clean, so what I like to do is take a microfiber cloth and dip it in a dish soap and water solution. Then I run it along the top edge of the midsole to get rid of any stubborn grime.

Make sure to only use a mild hand soap or dish soap for this, as you won’t be able to help some of the solution getting onto the material upper. This is because using bleach or acetone will likely stain your material upper.

How to clean inside of Vans

A super easy and free way of cleaning and deodorising the inside of your Vans is to use baking soda. Baking soda is a common household item you will likely already have in your kitchen. If not it is very low cost.

How to clean Vans with baking soda
Baking soda and Vans.

I like to create a baking soda paste to use when cleaning the inside of my Vans as it’s really easy to do and there’s no harsh chemicals involved.

Here’s how to clean the inside of Vans:

What you will need:

  • A small scrub brush or nail brush.
  • A lint roller.
  • Baking soda.
  • Cold water.
  • A bowl.
  • A soft cloth.
  • Dye free paper towel.


  • Use a nail brush or scrub brush first and brush out any debris from inside. Take your time and make sure to get all the creases under the upper. Tip out the dirt onto some old newspaper or do this outside.
  • Then use a lint roller to get rid of any lingering dust inside. Make sure to push it down inside the toe box. Lint rollers are great for getting hidden hairs, dirt and debris out!
  • Make a baking soda paste from three parts baking soda to one water cold water. Mix this in a small bowl. The paste should be thick and not watery.
  • Take a scrub brush and gently apply the paste to the insides of your Vans. Be careful not to scrub too hard on the Vans stamp on the insole, as this may cause it to fade.
  • Leave the paste on the insole for 5 minutes. Then take a soft cloth and dampen it with cold water. Begin to remove the paste and rinse out the cloth with each extraction. Make sure not to overly saturate the cloth. We want to try and minimise the amount of water that gets onto the insoles of the Vans.
  • After the paste is removed take some dye free paper towel and blot the insides of your Vans dry to the best of your ability. Stuff the toe box with the paper when you are done to help draw out any addition al moisture and hold the shape as your Vans dry. This prevents any wrinkling in the material upper.
  • Alternatively if the insoles of your Vans aren’t too dirty and just need deodorising you can simply sprinkle baking soda inside them and leave for 3 hours. Then take a vacuum and suck out the baking soda, and the bad smells with it!

Cleaning Vans Laces

Cleaning Vans laces can be done in a variety of ways using common household items.

Two options that work well are to soak the laces in a dish soap and water solution, or to soak them in a cold water and bleach solution. I like to soak them for 15 minutes or so and then rinse them well with cold water.

Baking soda paste also lifts stains from laces well.

Once you’ve cleaned your laces you may want to try out some cool new lacing styles. I have a huge post on different Vans lacing styles with easy step by step instructions, if you want to check it out: How To Lace Vans – 7 Cool Ways (EASY guide).

How to clean Vans with baking soda

Baking soda can be used to clean every part of your Vans, from the interior lining to stubborn stains on the material upper. It removes dirt from the rubber trim and can dissolve dirt from in-between the grooves of the diamond and rhomboid outer sole pattern.

Baking soda is an excellent way to clean your Vans using a household item free of any harsh chemicals.

Baking soda paste.

Here’s how to clean Vans with baking soda:

  1. Make a baking soda paste with 3 parts baking soda and 1 part cold water.
  2. Apply the paste to any area of your Vans that require cleaning – laces, upper, insole, outsole, midsole, anywhere.
  3. Leave the baking soda paste on the Vans for 15 minutes.
  4. Gently remove the baking soda paste with a microfiber cloth and fresh cold water. Be careful not to saturate the Vans.
  5. Leave your Vans to dry in a well ventilated area away from direct heat and sunlight.

Next we are going to move on to cleaning the material the Vans upper is made with. I’ll be covering canvas, suede and leather below, so just scroll to the relevant section for you.

How To Clean Vans Canvas

My favourite way to clean Vans canvas is to make a solution of lukewarm water and mild laundry detergent or a mild liquid soap.

I don’t recommend fully submerging your Vans in solution like a few other guides might say to do. This is because prolonged saturations and exposure to water may damage the glue the Vans are bound with, and I’d rather not risk it.

Instead I like to take precautions by stuffing my Vans with paper towel before I get scrubbing on the outer material upper.

Vans stuffed with paper towel.

Here’s how to clean the canvas upper on your Vans:

What you will need:

  • Mild laundry detergent or mild soap.
  • Lukewarm water.
  • A bowl.
  • Dye free paper towel.
  • A scrub brush.


  1. Brush off any excess dirt on your Vans. Then stuff them with paper towel.
  2. Mix laundry detergent or liquid soap with lukewarm water in a bowl. I like to make a mix of 3 parts water to one part cleaning product.
  3. Apply the solution to the Vans canvas in gentle circular motions with the scrub brush. Don’t scrub too hard as you don’t want the dye of the canvas to fade. Scrub the shoe until you see bubbles forming as this will activate the soap and help remove dirt better.
  4. Once the dirt is removed wipe away the solution with a damp microfiber cloth.
  5. Then blot dry the canvas with dye free paper towel.
How To Clean checkered Vans
Cleaning Vans canvas on checkered Vans.

Leave your Vans to dry in a well ventilated place away from direct sunlight for 24 hours.

Top tip: avoid hot water as it may damage the glue on your Vans. Stick to lukewarm to be safe.

How To Clean Vans Suede

The best way to clean Vans suede is to take a suede brush and gently brush off any dirt and debris. Then take a suede cleaner or gentle liquid soap/laundry detergent and water solution and brush it onto the suede. Once clean, remove the solution with a soft microfiber cloth and fresh cold water.

Leave the suede Vans to dry in a well ventilated place.

Cleaning Vans Leather

Cleaning Vans leather is really simple:

  1. Brush the leather to remove any debris.
  2. Use a leather cleaner to return the leather to a nice conditioned and clean look.
  3. Wipe away excess cleaner with a sponge.

Next I’m going to get into a couple of detailed cleaning guides for specific types of Vans – checkered slip-ons and Old Skools.

How to Clean Checkered Vans

I’ll be showing you how I wash my checkered slip on Vans as they are super dirty right now and could do with a good clean.

How To Clean Checkered Vans
Before and after cleaning checkered slip on Vans.

The biggest concern many have with cleaning checkered Vans is worrying about fading. Using my method fading won’t be a problem, as it’s much more gentle than regular shoe cleaning products.

What I like to do is use a baking soda paste and dish soap combo.

Here’s how to clean checkered slip on Vans:

What you will need:

  • A mild dish soap.
  • Baking soda.
  • Cold water.
  • A bowl.
  • An old toothbrush.
  • A microfiber cloth.
  • Dye free paper towel.


  1. Brush away any excess dirt from your checkered vans.
  2. Mix together 3 parts baking soda to one part cold water. Add a couple of drops of mild dish soap to the solution.
  3. Apply the solution all over your Vans, inside and out with your old toothbrush.
  4. Leave the solution on your Vans for 5 minutes before taking a microfiber cloth and fresh cold water to remove it.
  5. Leave your checkered Vans to try in a well ventilated space away from direct heat and sunlight. After 24 hours they should be fully dry and ready to use.
How To Clean Slip On Vans
Scrubbing slip on Vans.

How to clean Vans old skool

Cleaning your Old Skool Vans is easy to do at home. You can either use a shoe cleaner, or use things you can find around the house to get the job done.

How To Clean Vans Old Skool
Old Skool Vans and cleaning supplies.

How to Clean Vans Old Skools:

What you will need:

  • Shoe cleaner, laundry detergent or a mild liquid soap.
  • A scrub brush or old toothbrush.
  • Dye free paper towel.
  • Bleach.
  • Microfiber cloth.
  • Water.
  • Bowl.


  1. Remove the laces from your Old Skools and set them aside.
  2. Brush your Old Skool Vans inside and out to remove all excess dirt and debris that will have built up from use. I like to use a lint roller or a vacuum on the insides as an extra step to get them nice and clean.
  3. Next add laundry detergent or a mild liquid soap to a bowl of lukewarm water to create a solution. Or use a shoe cleaner, following the instructions on the bottle.
  4. Using a brush apply the solution to the Vans, all over inside and out. Work it into the upper gently ensuring it lathers.
  5. Leave the solution on the Vans for 15 minutes, then remove it with a microfiber cloth and fresh cold water. Blot dry the Old Skool Vans all over with dye free paper towel and allow to dry for 24 hours before use.
  6. Take the laces and soak them in a bleach and water solution for 15 minutes. Be careful when removing them from the solution and make sure to rinse them thoroughly with fresh cold water until all of the bleach solution is removed. Allow the laces to dry before lacing up your Vans.


Can you put Vans in the dryer?

Vans should not be put in the dryer as exposure to high heat can damage the materials Vans are made with. High heat can create cracks in the rubber soles, or melt the glue the foxing tape is bound with. At worst, the Vans may also shrink.

Personally I would never put my Vans in the dryer as I don’t want to risk any damage to them.

Can you put Vans in the washing machine?

Vans should not be put in the washing machine as they may become damaged due to the heat and excess saturation. The glue binding the foxing tape of the midsoles may break down with high heat, causing the soles to come away from the shoes. Cleaning Vans by hand is a much safer alternative to avoid risking damages.

Related articles

Thank you for reading this post on cleaning Vans, I hope you feel confident to clean your own pair following the above advice.

For more Vans content check out:

How To Break In Vans (7 FAST and Painless Ways)

Fake Vans vs Real Vans: 15 Ways To Spot Fake Vans (Photos)

How To Clean Vans