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Chemo For Cons: How To Revive Your Chuck Taylor All-Stars

by Tom Gates Jun 4, 2009
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.

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.

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.

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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