How To Wash Your Nike Air Force 1s

Air Force 1s are a truly iconic shoe. Usually all-white, it’s hard to keep them looking box fresh, and it’s not environmentally friendly simply to replace them every time they get too dirty for you. So what’s the solution? Give them a good, regular clean, and those AF-1s will last you for decades.

To learn how to wash your Nike Air Force 1s, follow our step-by-step instructions below. For all other information, or if you have further questions you’d like answered, please see our FAQ section at the end of this article.

Things you’ll need to wash your Nike Air Force 1s:

  • Soft-bristle brush – if you have an old toothbrush, use that!
  • Washing-up liquid, two bowls, and access to warm water
  • Baking soda and white vinegar (only for particularly bad stains)
  • Washing machine, laundry detergent, and laundry bag or pillow case
  • Bed sheets or towels
  • Newspaper
  • Microfibre towel

How to wash your Nike Air Force 1s (Step One)

  1. Take the laces out of your Air Force 1s
  2. Prepare two bowls of hot soapy water by mixing a little washing-up liquid in hot water
  3. Put your AF-1 laces into one of the bowls and leave to soak
  4. Dip your soft-bristle brush (or old toothbrush) into the other bowl of hot soapy water, and start scrubbing at your dirty AF-1s!
  5. Repeat step 4 until you’ve got your shoes as clean as you can get them
    1. Note: for really tough stains, you can mix 1 part baking soda with 2 parts white vinegar, wait for the bubbles to disappear, and then use your toothbrush with this solution like you did in step 4

How to wash your Nike Air Force 1s (Step Two)

  1. Having removed the worst of the dirt from your AF-1s, pop them, along with the soaked shoelaces, into a laundry bag or pillow case. Seal the bag or tie the end of the pillow case to seal it.
  2. Pop the shoes in their bag/case into your washing machine along with some sheets or towels (to stop the AF-1s getting bashed about)
  3. Put your washing machine onto a delicate wash at a low-medium temperature
  4. Once the cycle has finished, remove everything from the washing machine

How to wash your Nike Air Force 1s (Step Three: Final Step)

  1. Remove the sneakers from their bag, along with the laces
  2. Stuff newspaper into the sneakers, right up to the toes
  3. Place the Nike Air Force 1s along with the laces in a warm dry place to air dry – this should not be a humid place
  4. Remove and replace the newspaper every 4-6 hours
  5. Leave the shoes for about a day (24 hours), or until they’ve dried out completely
  6. Finally, re-lace your Air Force 1s, and go walk the streets in style!

And that’s it! Everything you need to know to keep your Air Force 1s in tip-top shape. We’d recommend doing Step One every few weeks, and following this with Step Two only when the sneakers are really dirty, or about 1-2 times per year.

If you have any further questions or want more information on the topic, check out our FAQs below.


Do Nike Air Force 1s require special treatment compared to other shoes?

AF-1s are an iconic shoe. All white, mid-top, casual-yet-performance sneakers. Lots of people have them, and lots of people wear them into the ground, simply opting to buy another pair when the ones they’re wearing no longer have that box fresh shine.

However, in our day and age, we are all too aware of the detrimental effects of our consumerism. Simply replacing the semi-old with the brand-new is damaging to the environment. Instead, it’s on us to make do and mend, wherever possible. 

But do Air Force 1s require special treatment? Technically no, but the issue arises from the fact that they’re most commonly sold in all-white. Anything white is a magnet for dirt, especially when worn on your feet. That means that yes, compared to other, darker trainers, AF-1s do require a little extra care to ensure that they keep their shine, and look as good as new, for as long as possible.

How do I avoid my Nike Air Force 1s getting dirty in the first place?

The answer to this one is simple… don’t wear them outside! Of course, what then would be the point of the sneaker? AF-1s are many people’s go-to shoes come rain, hail or shine. So, how are you supposed to ensure that they don’t get wrecked every time you wear them outside?

There are a few things you can do. Firstly, routine care and maintenance is essential. Every week, or even every month, we recommend you take your AF-1s and give them a good clean. Sure, this won’t stop them getting dirty in the first place, but it will surely ensure that they stay as crystal-white as possible for longer, since you’ll be minimising the chance of them becoming permanently stained.

Secondly, we recommend you avoid wearing them on occasions you’re liable to be subjected to mud, freshly cut grass, or extreme weather. Wearing the appropriate footwear for the weather outside will save you time and money in the long run.

Lastly, if you really want to go the extra mile, consider investing in some waterproof spray for your sneakers. Usually used on suede shoes, waterproof spray can be used on AF-1s every few weeks-months to give them a slight protective outer layer, which can help stop muddy water and other dirty liquids from clinging to, and thus staining, them.

Are there special services which can clean my Nike Air Force 1s?

There are! In fact, sneaker repair and cleaning services have been popping up as small businesses all around the world in recent years. Some even have specialities – such as restoring the all-famous Nike Air Force 1s. 

Have a look on Instagram, or Google Maps, or just around town for a store or online business which services people’s old shoes, bringing them back to life and restoring them to that ‘box fresh’ look.

What’s the safest way to wash my Nike Air Force 1s?

If wear and tear is a concern of yours during the washing process, we’d recommend sticking to the soapy warm water and toothbrush technique. However, don’t be afraid to pop those sneakers in the washing machine and allow them to air dry: Nike Air Force 1s are made of leather and hardy material which will stand up well even to the juddering spin of a washer. 
However, just make sure that you follow the instructions above carefully – putting sneakers directly into the washing machine without taking precautionary measures will ruin them.