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Feature photo by CrowdedGarage. Photo above by joey.parsons.

If you wear Chucks then you probably wear the same pair every day without even thinking about it. While they last a surprisingly long time for a cheap sneaker, they’re also quick to become dirty. Here’s a step-by-step guide to reviving a pair that’s seen active duty.

Purchase a Mr. Clean Magic Eraser (or your store’s knockoff). These sponges are the greatest invention since the stripper pole.

Cut the sponge into 2-inch strips (you’ll get more use out of them, since using a whole sponge dirties it fast), apply a little bit of water and rub like crazy on anything vinyl. You’ll be shocked at how much dirt you can remove, especially from the sneaker’s lower sides.


It’s time to dunk these Chucks in the washing machine. Always take the laces off first, as they’re prone to turning machinery into mayhem. Remember to pack the machine with a whole load of clothes, because otherwise the noise from the machine will wake every baby within a two mile radius.

Photo by Tom Gates.

Add detergent and if you’ve got some, fabric softener. If you’re cleaning white Cons, I’ve also had success adding them to the “whites” wash load using some bleach.


When washed, you’ll want to dry them in the sun. I never put them in the dryer, mostly because heat doesn’t seem like a good thing to do with cheaply glued sneakers. Also, the noise is just ungodly.

Open the tongues and imagine the fragrance from all of the smelly bar-nights disappearing into the atmosphere. If you’ve worn the to a concert or festival recently, it also helps to pray. When half-dry, I often stick a Bounce inside for good measure.


Arm yourself with some Crazy Glue. The first thing to go with Chuck Taylors is a piece of molding in near the toes. Nobody knows why – it’s one of the great mysteries of the world.

Five Months And Still Kicking. Photo by Tom Gates.

Get in there and do a little bit of surgery, if necessary. I take the cotton off a q-tip to apply it and use as little glue as possible, so that it won’t splatter onto the outside of the shoe and look unsightly. There’s also a product called “Shoe Gum Repair” that can help out if things have gone horribly wrong.


Chuck Taylors are VW Bug’s of sneakers, efficient but not meant to last. After a couple of polishes, you’ll might have to add a new insole. Heel pads can play an important role, as the area at the back of the sneaker seems to rot quickly, as if it’s been attacked by a sneaker-eating virus.


The last step is to add new laces. Remember to buy a size appropriate for 14 eyelets, usually 114cm or so.

Photo by Tom Gates.

The cool thing is that with a little expense and lots of love, a pair of Chucks can easily last a year. We’d love to hear your tips for shoe/clothes resurrection in the replies!

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About The Author

Tom Gates

Tom is a wayward writer based in Los Angeles. He has served as Editor for both Matador Nights and Life. He loves to go far, far away whenever possible. He is also pretending to be a third person right now and is obviously writing his own bio. He knows that you knew that, despite the deft maneuvering of pronouns. Tom's new book 'Wayward: Fetching Tales from a Year On The Road' is available for download on Amazon and iTunes.

  • Tim Patterson

    I don’t get it.

  • nicole

    Great article! I’ve had a pair of pink Chucks for going on 3 years now and the only real problem is the whole fading when wearing during the summer. I think it gives them some character, but after all these years they are still my go-to sneaker for shows, based on the comfort & style factor.

  • Melí

    I was thinking about throwing mine away…but this actully might save them.


  • Carlo Alcos

    My wife would have a heartattack if I tried to put shoes in with regular laundry. I bought a pair of Adidas sneaks from the silk market in Beijing for $9 in late 2007. I still wear them.

    • tom gates

      One more reason I’ll never marry a woman!

  • Hal

    Love the title!

  • Ryukyu Mike

    Usta be a marathon runner, back in the last century. Don’t like wearing socks, so kept 2 pr running shoes and rotate daily.. Get some gal’s pantyhose and fillum with kittylitter and stuff your shoes with them; eats the odor (if it ain’t used kittylitter). Another trick is to put orange or tangerine peels in them overnight. About once a month wash them, but don’t use soap, just pour 1/2 a bottle of fabric softener in the machine. Air dry definitely and go drink cold beer !

  • Kevin

    I didn’t expect to find this here, but I love it!

  • MaryBeth

    umm… this was amazing. thank the lord for people who care about the little things. i freaking love and refuse to throw away my Chucks. no can do. muchas gracias. how i found this article at all, i don’t know.

  • john

    if your chuck’s aren’t dirty you shouldn’t be wearing them.

  • E. Grover

    My chucks are going on 5 years and since I work in a coffee shop they are now milk stained and covered in coffee…so let’s pray this brings them back from the brink.

  • Ron K.

    Mix vinegar and baking soda into a thick lather and scrub on with a cheap toothbrush. It brought my year old chucks to like-new condition. And, if there’s any stains, you can always bleach them out for a custom look.

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