Are your cheer shoes looking a little worse for wear? Yes, they are the unsung heroes of cheerleading. They support us through stunts, tumbling, and all those high-energy routines. But let's be honest - they can get pretty gross.

Between all the sweat, dirt, and (let's be honest) probably a little bit of spilled sports drink or two, it's no surprise that our cheer shoes can start to look a little...rough. But fear not! There is a solution that will have your kicks looking fresh and clean in no time.

Some may see well-used cheer shoes as proof of your dedication to the sport. Because hey, if you're willing to put up with the funk, you must love cheerleading. But imagine slipping on a pair of clean, freshly scented cheer shoes before your next game or competition. Doesn’t that sound heavenly?

If you agree, you’re in the right place. Prepare to bid farewell to dirty cheer shoes and say hello to sparkling clean footwear.

What’s the Solution?

If your cheer shoes are so dirty that people stare at your feet instead of your impressive moves, it's time for a cleaning intervention.

Dirty cheer shoes don’t just detract from your performance. If not properly cleaned, dirt and sweat can build up on the shoes, leading to odors, discomfort, and even health issues. That doesn’t sound heavenly.

Following our step-by-step guide below, you can give your cheer shoes the thorough cleaning they deserve. In just a few simple steps, you'll have your cheer shoes looking good as new in no time. And you’ll have all eyes on your skills, not your soles. Sound good? Let’s go.

Step 1: Gather Your Supplies

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Before you start cleaning your cheer shoes, make sure you have the following supplies ready:

  1. Dry Brush: This will be used to brush away the first layer of dirt and debris from the outside of the shoes.
  2. Soft-Bristled Brush or Old Toothbrush: This will be used to gently scrub away dirt and debris during the wet cleaning/scrubbing step.
  3. Mild Detergent (Like Dish Soap): You will need this to create a cleaning solution.
  4. Lukewarm Water: You'll need lukewarm water to mix with the mild detergent for the cleaning solution, as well as for rinsing the shoes.
  5. Small Bucket or Container: This will be used to mix the cleaning solution and hold the lukewarm water for rinsing.
  6. Clean Towels: Prepare a few clean towels, like hand towels, to wipe and dry the shoes.
  7. Specialized Stain Remover (Optional): If stains are stubborn and not coming out with regular cleaning, you may need a specialized stain remover.
  8. White Vinegar (Optional): If the shoes are still stinky after cleaning, you can add a small amount of white vinegar to the detergent/water mix to help deodorize.
  9. Non-Porous Sheet: It's a good idea to protect the surface you're working on with a non-porous sheet to prevent any mess.
  10. Newspaper or Similar Material: You will need this to stuff the shoes for air drying.
  11. Fabric Protector Spray: For maintenance and to keep your shoes clean and fresh for longer, use a fabric protector spray.
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By gathering these supplies beforehand, you'll be well-prepared to clean and maintain your cheer shoes effectively.

Step 2: Remove Laces and Accessories

Start by removing poms, bows, charms, and laces. This might seem like overkill but trust us, it will be worth the effort. By getting down to the bare shoe, you’ll be able to reach every nook and cranny. Plus, it’s a great time to refresh your laces and accessories too.

Pro Tip: It's a good idea to protect the surface you're working on with a non-porous sheet to prevent any mess.

Step 3: Grab a Dry Brush

First things first, give those shoes a good brush down. Use the dry brush to gently remove any dirt or debris stuck to the outside of the shoes. This will help loosen any tough stains and make the rest of the cleaning process much more manageable.

Step 4: Get Scrubbing

Mix a small batch of mild detergent (like dish soap) and lukewarm water, and give the shoes a good scrub with a soft-bristled brush or old toothbrush. Pay special attention to any particularly dirty areas, like the soles or the inside of the shoe, where your foot sweats the most.

If your cheer shoes are particularly dirty, you may need to repeat this step to remove all dirt and odors. With a bit of extra elbow grease, you should be able to eliminate most lingering dirt or odors.

Step 5: Time for A Deep Clean

Are stains just not coming out? You may need to use a specialized stain remover. Follow the instructions on the bottle, and test the solution on a small, inconspicuous area before applying it to the entire shoe.

Are shoes still stinky? Add a small amount of white vinegar to your detergent/water mix to help deodorize. Please note you should not add vinegar if your detergent contains bleach, hydrogen peroxide, baking soda, or castile soap.

Step 6: Rinse and Wipe

Once you've given the shoes a good scrub, it's time to rinse them off. Grab a clean bucket of lukewarm water and a clean towel (like a hand towel- just not the guest towels). Dunk the towel in the water and ring out as much water as possible. Now give the shoes a good wipe down with the towel. You’ll want to give the towel another dunk and ring out several times during this step. Make sure to remove all the soap suds, as leftover soap can lead to some funky smells (and nobody wants that).

Step 7: Air Dry Time

Now it's time for the shoes to dry. Avoid placing them in direct sunlight or in front of a heater, as this can cause the shoes to become stiff and potentially shrink. Instead, stuff the shoes with newspaper (or something similar) and let them air dry in a well-ventilated area.

Step 8: Protect and Shine

Finally, it's time for a little bit of maintenance. Give the shoes a once-over with a fabric protector spray to help keep them clean and fresh for longer. And if the soles look worn down, consider investing in a fresh set of insoles to give your shoes extra support.

Remember to follow the instructions on the bottle for the best results, and it's always a good idea to test a small, inconspicuous spot on your shoes before applying anything to the entire shoe.

This is an excellent step to do outside, so you don’t risk damaging any surfaces in your home.

On a Final Note

With some elbow grease (and some soap and water), your cheer shoes will look as good as new.

So go ahead and show off those freshly cleaned kicks with pride. Your feet (and your team) will thank you.

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