How to Clean White Waterproof Shoes If They’re Knit

How to Clean White Waterproof Shoes If They’re Knit

Water resistant sneakers might be good at repelling water, but they're not immune to dirt and grime buildup.

When dealing with knit shoes, it is important to remember that they are much more delicate than their counterparts. It is easy to damage the integrity of your water resistant sneakers, especially if they are knit.

Keep in mind that this is an extremely laborious process. Don't get us wrong; it's pretty straightforward. Nevertheless, it can be time-consuming, especially if your shoes are extra dirty.

Don't worry, though. With the right precautions, cleaning your knit water resistant shoes will be a walk in the park.

Machine-Washing Versus Hand-Washing Water Resistant Knit Sneakers

Before we get into the nitty-gritty of it, let's settle the age-old debate: is machine washing or hand washing better for water resistant sneakers that are knit?

Many people will argue that hand-washing your shoes is the way to go. And they're not entirely wrong.

Firstly, hand-washing is a much gentler process. In the machine, your shoes will be tossing and turning, hitting the walls and knocking against each other.

Believe it or not, this is actually very detrimental to the integrity of the shoe, especially if they are waterproof.

Furthermore, hand-washing shoes guarantees a much more thorough cleaning. This is because you can be as meticulous as you want, getting into the tiniest grooves and hard-to-reach crevices.

Then there are times when you’re aiming for spot-treatment. In this case, tossing the whole shoe in the washer is both pointless and wasteful.

However, there are actually some valid reasons to opt for a washing machine instead. Maybe your shoes aren’t that dirty, or maybe you simply don’t have the time to hand-wash them. The latter is usually the case for frequent runners and hikers.

Canvas shoes, trainers, and kids’ shoes are generally safe to wash in the machine. But bulkier shoes such as leather boots or formal footwear should never go anywhere near a machine.

When it comes down to it, we always recommend hand-washing your shoes if they are knit. But that doesn't mean that the washing machine is completely out of the question.

Preparing Your Knit Water Resistant Sneakers

 Whether you’ve decided to go for the machine or use your trusty hands for the task, the first step is basically the same: preparation.

Preparation involves a lot of manual labor. Basically, you’ll have to get up close and personal with those grimy patches and clogged grooves. This way, you’ll remove a huge bulk of the dirt beforehand. 

What you’ll need:

  • Toothbrush
  • Plastic Knife


  • If the mud is still wet, wait for it to dry off completely. This will enable it to flake off without causing a mess.
  • Remove the laces.
  • Flip the shoes upside down to remove all debris from the inside.
  • Using a plastic knife, scrape off any bulky buildup of mud from the whole outer.
  • With the plastic knife, get into the grooves in the outsole and remove any debris buildup. This is especially important if you’re going to be washing the shoes in a washing machine since pebbles can damage the hardware.
  • Tap the shoes on a hard surface to remove any remaining loose mud and debris. 

Your shoes are now ready for a thorough cleaning.

How to Hand-Wash Knit Shoes

As we said, hand-washing is the way to go when it comes to knit sneakers.

That being said, it can definitely get a bit repetitive. But keep in mind that repetition is key here.

Step-By-Step Guide

What you’ll need:

  • Microfiber cloths, or any soft cloths
  • A small bowl
  • Old soft-bristled toothbrush
  • One tablespoon of detergent (more on this later)
  • Old newspaper or pieces of cloth to stuff into the shoe 


  • Fill a small bowl with cold water.
  • Dilute the detergent in the bowl of water. Mix well until it becomes sudsy.
  • Roll up the newspaper into balls large enough to fill the inside of the shoes. This will help maintain the shape of the shoe.
  • Dip the soft cloth into the bowl of detergent water and gently scrub the sneakers all over.
  • Use a toothbrush for the outsoles.
  • Use a toothbrush for any hard-to-remove stains.
  • Repeat as needed until the shoes are stain-free.
  • Finally, use a clean, dry cloth to remove the soapy residue. Don’t scrub; instead, use gentle tapping motions.
  • Keep the balls of loth or newspaper inside the shoe.
The only thing left to do is to dry the shoes. However, it is just as meticulous as the actual washing process. This is why we felt that it deserves a whole section of its own.

Additional Equipment

It’s super easy to DIY washing knit sneakers using regular household items. That being said, you can choose to up your game and invest in some professional cleaning equipment.

If you’re looking for an all-purpose cleaning solution, Reshoevn8r is the holy-grail of shoe cleaners. It’s an all-natural solution made from organic oils such as coconut and jojoba. Moreover, the solution is safe to use on virtually all materials- leather, suede, mesh, you name it!

Considering that you’re splurging anyway, try out the Reshoevn8r cleaning kit that comes with a set of cleaning brushes. The bristles are extremely soft, making them safe to use for knit sneakers.

For the times when you get small spots of dirt on your shoes, try out the Sneaker Lab Shoe Wipes. These wipes are perfect for cleaning your shoes on the go. We recommend using them every time you wear your shoes to reduce the dirt buildup.

How to Machine-Wash Knit Shoes

If it comes to it, machine-washing your knit sneakers is a viable option. Still, we’ve come up with a few hacks to make sure that you keep your shoes as safe as possible.

What you’ll need:

  • Mesh bag or pillowcase
  • Rope or rubber bands
  • Dirty towels (optional)


  • Secure the shoes inside the mesh bag. Make sure to tie it off properly.
  • If the bag doesn’t have a rope, or if you’re using a pillowcase, use a piece of rope to tie it off. Make sure the hanging ends of the rope aren’t too long.
  • Fill the washing machine with cold water.
  • Toss in a few dirty towels to arm your machine with some extra padding. Otherwise, the shoes will be knocking against the walls of the machine and potentially damaging it. This step is optional.
  • Wash the shoes using the gentle cycle.
  • Wash the laces by hand.

The Drying Process

Have you ever noticed that your shoes tend to collapse a little when they’ve dried off? Or that they might have faded a bit?

That’s likely because you messed up the drying process.

Generally, shoes take a very long time to dry. But some shoes like Senja Waterproof Sneakers have a very small drying period. That’s mostly because of the lightweight and perforated mesh fabric; it physically can’t retain water for too long.

However, there are still a few precautions you need to follow.

First of all, it’s always good to let knit shoes air dry instead of using excessive heat. Similarly, make sure you don’t leave them out in direct sunlight for hours on end.

The most crucial step, however, is leaving in the balls of cloth as they dry. This way, the shoes won’t collapse as they dry.

Some Pointers

Good cleaning practices will help you maintain the integrity of your shoes and increase their lifespan. While washing your shoes, keep the following things in mind:

  • Never use hot water. Hot water can damage the fabric and cause it to fade. Additionally, not all stains respond to hot water. In fact, hot water can actually cause them to settle farther into the fabric. Most importantly, hot water can cause the glue bonds in your shoes to weaken.
  • Always wash laces separately. Whichever method you’re using, always wash the laces separately. This is especially important when you’re using a washing machine because the laces will end up getting tangled and frayed.
  • Be as gentle as possible when scrubbing the shoes. With knit water resistant shoes, the material is extremely delicate. If you scrub too hard, you can create microtears without even realizing it.
  • Use rubber bands to make the ball of cloth. This way, it won’t come apart in the washing process.

How Often Should You Wash Your Knit Water Resistant Sneakers?

Cleaning your shoes is a laborious yet important task. Oftentimes, the functionality of the shoes, such as water resistance and cushioning, suffers when you don’t clean the shoes for long periods of time.

On the other side of the coin, washing your shoes too often can cause micro-tears in the fabric.

We believe that the sweet spot is once every two weeks. Additionally, it’s always good practice to wipe them down after every time you’ve worn them. You can do this with a damp cloth or with shoe cleaning wipes.


We know; that was a lot of information to take in for such a simple task. However, when it comes to washing water resistant sneakers that are knit, every little detail matters.

In fact, we encourage you to give this article another read before you undertake this grueling task. You’ll thank us for it!