Sneaker Cleaning 101 with Sneakers ER


Based out of Glasgow, Sneakers ER has taken one of the most sought after and seemingly simple products on the market and found a way to do it differently while continuing to impress sneakerheads. We caught up with the brand's founder Al to pick his brain about the cleaning insights he's picked up over the course of his extensive background in sneakers.
What’s your current sneaker rotation looking like? Any favourites from 2016?
Mostly adidas and NB at the moment: like the 91' Gazelle, I picked it up in Red, Blue, Green, Burgundy, Pink & Forest in 2016. This year, I've started with the Gazelle Super and on the 'tech' side I'm wearing a lot of Ultraboost, EQT Adv, and the EQT Support Boost 93/17 which I'm loving. That said, my favourite runner is the NB 998 Made In U.S.A which i seem to buy quite often. Rob my business partner at Sneakers ER is a huge New Balance Collector and has the hugely popular newbalance_gallery Instagram page so every now and again he hooks me up with the best NB.


Being from Glasgow, you must have a different outlook on the sneaker culture, especially given the importance of football in Europe. Which sneaker was the most influential in your life and why?

It would have to be the Gazelle seeing that it's featured a lot in my upbringing. From idolizing the Beastie Boys to my days on the terraces at the football matches when we would sometimes sport two different colour Gazelles. Since those early days they always seemed to play a part, and I think the fact that there have been so many colour ways helps. However, the first ever sneaker I craved was the Nike Internationalist after watching the 'The Breakfast Club' where a young Anthony Michael Hall sported them; I was 14 and from then on i was hooked. So it will always be in my top five. That said my favourite sneaker is the adidas ZX 710 runner. I co-wrote the hugely popular DRESSERS book and many of the shoes that are there were from my days at the football matches.


How did Sneakers ER come about? What made you want to start a sneaker care brand?

Simple, I was not happy with what was available on the market and wanted to start a brand that looked after every aspect of sneaker care. Myself and my good friend Robert Stewart (Rob) who I had met years earlier through the now defunct Crooked Tongues forum decided that the time was right and we went for it. The partnership was just right as I had a long history of sneaker retail/buying along with a good knowledge of care products and Rob was probably the best sneaker restorer on the planet. Our first product was the Sneaker Cleaning Solution and from the day we launched it the reviews have been crazy, we spent over two years working on that product and it paid off. We then invented the Midsole paint pen and i think it's fair to say that this product has revolutionized sneaker care, we now have 19 colours and more on the way.


White Premium Midsole Paint Pen

Sneakerheads are always looking for the best way to keep their sneakers clean, what’s your cleaning process like and have you discovered any trips and tricks from experience?

There are many ways to look after your sneakers, prevention is key so our Superhydrophobic Protecter is a must when I get new sneakers but as we all know sneakerheads like to run out in their new sneakers as soon as they get them. If possible when you have small marks on suede you can use our erasER block which saves you having to clean the whole shoe but when needs must be there is nothing quite like our Premium sneaker Cleaning Solution. You quite simply will not find a better cleaner on the market & more often than not it will remove denim bleed also which is just insane. Right now a big issue is Boost ‘yellowing’ and the best way to deal with this is to clean from new, even before the yellowing is visible. The yellowing is oxidization and once it sets in it’s near impossible to remove with standard cleaning, if the process has already set in then a few light coats with our Midsole Paint Pen will get them back to new, at this moment in time we are actually developing a boost paint pen so stay tuned.


Professional Sneaker Cleaning Solution & Brush Kit

Many would say that a pair of Chuck Taylors look better when beat, do you have a pair of sneakers you purposely keep away from the cleaning products?

The only sneakers i don’t clean are a pair of Nike ACG Blazers that i purchased approximately 10 years ago for working at music festivals, they are absolutely covered in mud and and in a real state but remain waterproof and have never let me down.


Over here in Canada, stains are inevitable when walking through the snow. What are your suggestions for keeping nubucks and suedes safe from the outside elements?

Our Superhydrophobic Protecter is essential, anything that creates a barrier to the elements is a must and this just the job.

Superhydrophobic Protecter

Cleaning your sneakers is a process, some tend to rush it and don’t always get the proper results. What are the little things that you found make the difference for you in your cleaning routine?

We actually have a Sneaker laundry in Glasgow that we opened a few months back so i usually drop them off there but for me a Sunday evening is for cleaning sneakers. Get prepared, one or two capfuls of solution will do a good few pairs. Stick to similar colours when doing session cleans, many suedes are not colour fast so even water on it’s own will bring out the colour so you don’t want to be cleaning a pair of white canvas Vans Old skool with the same solution just used on a orange pair of NB 998. A good tip I always do before cleaning is to wet a corner of a white cloth with just water and gently rub on the suede, if the colour transfers then it’s not colour fast so take care. When Cleaning sneakers work the brush gently, no need for elbow grease as the brush should do the work, always have a microfibre cloth at hand to remove any unwanted foam or water. During the drying process work the suede with a Crepe rubber brush to bring the nap back on suede & always let sneakers dry at room temperature.

Premium Crepe Suede Cleaning Brush

You’ve just recently released a loaded 6-piece travel kit that’s set to clean any disaster when away from home. Has travelling taught you any important guidelines to follow to keep your sneakers looking clean and how does your travel kit simplify the cleaning process for anyone travelling with sneakers?

Our travel kit is one of our best selling products. There are three 100ml bottles in the pack so keep two at home and take one on the road (or air ha ha), the solution is non hazardous so it’s totally safe to take in hand luggage. Some people think some wipes is enough while travelling but i’d disagree. We don’t do wipes as you only have to look at most of the wipes out there at the moment and they have disclaimers due to the alcohol content so you can’t use on suede. So i don’t see the point, we don’t just care about our own sneakers, we also care about our customers' sneakers.

Sneakers ER Travel Kit

In the words of Al, Sneakers ER looks after every aspect of sneaker care -- You can pass by our downtown location to find the Travel Kit and the Superhydrophobic Protecter along with a wide range of Sneakers ER cleaning products.