Have you ever wanted to know how to restore shoes, but weren't sure where to get started? We have asked 4 of our favorite restoration experts to help answer the most commonly asked sneaker restoration questions.
Before You Get Started
What if I ruin a pair of shoes?
Have no fear. Don't be afraid to mess up your shoes. The only way you can learn is by ruining a few pairs.
Also, at the beginning practice on cheap shoes that you find on eBay, at thrift stores or borrow your friends shoes. The max you should spend is $20, that way if they do get ruined you aren't out a lot of money.
How do I know if I have what it takes?
Get into the right mind set. You will need to have: patience, when trying to make restorations into a gig. Consistency, to make sure you are always learning. And persistence, when you are working on a difficult shoe.
Where do I learn how to restore shoes?
Do your research. Watch lots of YouTube videos. Study them. There are a lot of great resources out there now like John Manalo, Vick Almighty on Reshoevn8r, DJ, and MS.
Working on Your First Pair
What should I use to clean my shoes?
Use the correct tools for each shoe. Every shoe will have a different material, so you don't want to use the same cleaning brushes on each shoe. Use a soft brush for delicate materials, a stiffer brush for rubber etc.
Will I ruin my shoes if I put them in the washing machine?
Cleaning your shoes is an important part of the process, but make sure that you don't let all the scrubbing go to waste by damaging them in the washer. Use a laundry bag when washing your shoes to protect them.
I have dirt that won't come off my midsoles, what should I do?
If there is dirt stuck on a shoe for a long time you can apply acetone on non-painted rubber soles (example: AirForce 1, Vans Old Skool, Vans New era) it will return the natural white of the shoes.
How to I remove dirt stuck in the grooves of the sole?
Take the bottom of a toothbrush and wrap a towel around it. Then get it wet and add a little cleaning solution to it. Then, you can scrub really deep with pressure to get out major dirt on the sole. This eliminates using your finger and not messing up your hands.
How do I make suede soft again?
Brush the suede before they dry completely with a brass brush, that helps to maintain the softness and then brush again after finishing drying.
What paints should I buy?
Only buy two colors of paint to start, black and white. For hand painting the best paint to use is Angelus.
After You're Done
How to make restorations into a business?
Take high quality photos, make sure that there isn't a lot of distractions and use a good phone. Also, unless you already have a large following make a separate IG for your restoration business.
Don't take more shoes than you can handle, especially, when you are starting out and possibly still in school or have a full time job. Know how long it takes you to do one shoe and account for that each time you take on a new pair.
You're not going to be great over night. "I have been doing this 6 years and I am still learning new skills and getting better with every shoe." - Vick Almighty
Thanks to our Contributors
Sneaker collector and reviewer since 2017.
Sneaker custom and restoration team in South America.
Restores super expensive sneaker since 2011.
Sneaker restorer and customizer for the past 6 years.