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How to Care for Cheer Shoes

How To Clean Cheer Shoes

Keeping your cheer shoes bright and sparkling-white can be a bit of a hassle but it’s necessary to, well… put your best foot forward! And that goes for black competition shoes too, many feature white soles or logos that can accumulate dirt and grime. If you take care of your shoes the right way, they’ll last longer and keep your knees, ankles, and feet safe from injury. Not to mention, if you’re a flyer there’s less chance that junk from the street will come off of your shoes and fall in the bases’ eyes (Ouch!).

First, proper care:

Cheerleading shoes aren’t like regular sneakers. Cheer shoes are specially made to be lightweight so you get the best bounce and they won’t slow you down when tumbling. They’re not made to stand up to the friction caused by walking on rough surfaces like gravel and pavement. And they need a little extra special care in order to maintain their white color without causing damage to the fabrics or adhesive holding them together. (And NO, we don’t recommend just tossing them in the washer and dryer. Seriously, please don’t.)

The best defense is a good offense and that goes for your cheer shoes too! Getting them back to their original, out of the box state once they’re dirty is nearly impossible so here are a few tips to keep your cheer shoes in great shape in the first place.

  • Only wear your cheer shoes for practice or performances – your shoes will last longer if you limit the amount of time you wear them. Throw on a pair of slides or your regular shoes before and right after practice.
  • When you’re not wearing your cheer shoes, make sure you store them correctly sitting upright so they don’t get squished. This can ruin the shape of the shoe and make them more prone to rips between the soles and uppers.
  • Pack your shoes in a cheer bag with a shoe compartment to prevent transferring stains and smells to and from your workout wear or uniform.

Cleaning your shoes:

Dirt happens. Even when you do everything right, stains and marks get on your shoes. Many people recommend bleach to maintain that fresh out of the box look, but Superior Cheer disagrees. Especially if your squad wears black shoes! On white shoes, bleach tends to yellow over time while on black shoes, the risk of discoloring the fabric is too great. Our pros recommend a good degreaser such as Mean Green, Simple Green, or 409. But remember to start slow, and go easy on the chemicals.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • An old towel
  • An old Toothbrush
  • Toothpaste
  • Water
  • Degreaser (like Mean Green, Simple Green, or 409)
  • A clean, white cloth
  • Rubber Gloves (optional)
  1. Prepare your space. Lay down a clean towel or work on a surface that you don’t mind getting wet or dirty. If you have sensitive skin, it may be helpful to put on some rubber gloves.
  2. Grab your toothbrush. Oddly enough, toothpaste is great for dealing with surface dirty (it’s also good for cleaning silver jewelry too!). Wet your toothbrush and add about as much toothpaste as you would when brushing your teeth.
  3. Brush, brush, brush. Put your hand inside the shoe to hold the shape and gently brush the dirty areas in a circular motion, working a little at a time. If you’re cleaning the sole of your shoe, you can scrub a little harder.
  4. Wipe. As you finish each section, wipe the area with a clean, damp cloth to remove the dirt and toothpaste.
  5. And repeat. For tougher spots, you may need to go at it twice. Then wipe the entire shoe one more time to make sure there’s no residue left. Repeat the steps with the other sneaker.
  6. Degreaser. If that didn’t work, then it’s time to bring out the big guns. Degreaser works really well on scuffs and marks caused by shoes rubbing together while tumbling and stunting. Just spray a little on the area and scrub the marks with your cloth or toothbrush – again cleaning in small sections in circular motions, wiping clean each time. Don’t leave the toothpaste or degreaser on for too long.
  7. Air it out. Give your shoes one more wipe down with your damp cloth, then let your freshly cleaned shoes air-dry in front of a fan. This will get them dry fast without the risk of fading black competition shoes or drying out the rubber decreasing the life of them quickly.
  8. Don’t forget your laces! You can clean surface dirt off of your laces using the techniques mentioned above, give them a rinse in warm war, and then let them air-dry… or just buy some fresh laces.

That’s it!

While you’re cleaning your shoes, remember to look them over. If the bottom of your shoe is starting to separate from the upper, don’t try to glue it. This cosmetic fix is only temporary, stunting or tumbling in cheer in shoes that are coming apart can cause injury or they could fall apart during a performance. If your shoes are starting to show signs of extreme wear, it may be time to replace them.

Do you have a go-to trick or tips for keeping your shoe clean? Feel free to let us know in the comments!

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