The kind of care your pair needs depends on the material it's made of. Photograph from Freepik
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How to save your sneakers from rain and floods

In a tropical country, shoe care for the rainy season is practically mandatory reading. Here’s every sneakerhead’s guide on how to protect and care for your kicks.
VR Castañeda | Jul 25 2019

Water and sneakers don’t mix. When a pair of Adidas Ultra Boosts or Nike Air Jordans can set you back by a lot, you don’t want a sudden downpour to ruin your precious kicks. Or worse, you may have no option but to brave the floods and end up with NMDs that permanently smelling of wet dog. The fact remains that we live in a country where rain is a seasonal problem and city management leaves much to be desired. (Heck, it even floods in Baguio.) So to keep your shoes in tip top condition, dear sneakerhead, we’ve prepared this list on how to protect them, just for you.

 

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General care

Serious sneakerheads swear by sneaker protector sprays. There are nearly as many kinds as there are shoe brands, but the idea behind them is the same: they form a protective layer around the shoe to repel dirt and moisture.

Use your chosen spray as soon as your new kicks leave their box and re-apply every two weeks or so. When it comes to how to protect sneakers, this is step number one. The spray won’t save your shoes from a dunking in a deep puddle, but it should keep your sneaks safe from the occasional splash, or some light rain.

 

Cleaning your Yeezys or Flyknits

These days, mesh shoes are so on trend, this is probably the most valuable piece of information you’ll get here: Clean your mesh shoes with water and some dish soap. This gentle cleansing is the way to go should your beloved sneakers get all muddy. Alternately, you can use a water-based cleaner. Do not—we repeat, DO NOT—use bleach. Also, sticking your shoes in the washing machine, or applying any kind of heat or steam is not a good idea.

 

Caring for your Nike Air Jordans or Adidas Superstars

Visit your local True Value and you’ll be sure to find a product called a “magic eraser.” This is a godsend for shoes with leather uppers. To use, simply rub gently on soiled parts and watch the magic happen. For white rubber shoes with leather uppers, there’s a nifty trick: toothpaste. Get a toothbrush and some toothpaste (the white kind, skip the crystals), add water, then gently brush brush brush. It works!

 

 

TLC for Your Chucks, Vans, or Superga

Canvas shoes may get dirty easily, but the great thing about them is they can take more of a beating when it comes to cleaning. For some deep cleaning, make a 50-50 mixture of water and hydrogen peroxide, and then add some baking soda. Use this to gently scrub all the canvas parts of your sneakers.

 

Wash your laces regularly

Nothing can ruin the look of a pair of awesome kicks more than dirty laces. Yes, these need cleaning, too. Thankfully, it’s simple to do so. Just wash them in lukewarm water and mild soap. (A few drops of dish soap works well, too). For really filthy laces, leave them to soak for a couple of hours.

 

High and dry storage

Your favorite sneakers are best kept in their own box or bag—not in a cabinet where they may gather dust. Throw in a few packets of silica gel to absorb moisture and keep mold away. Finally, keep your sneakers away from direct sunlight.

 

The Professionals

Of course, you can always consult the professionals to have your sneakers cleaned or even restored. Leading the pack is Repent, with branches in White Plains and BF Homes, and a pop-up store on High Street. Sintas is another “shoe laundry” that also does restoration. They have a number of branches from Manila to Cavite.

 

Actual rubber shoes

In case of heavy rain, water will get to your sneakers if you can’t get to somewhere dry, fast. The only truly bulletproof way of facing the rainy season then—short of breaking out your tsinelas—is to get a pair of waterproof sneakers.

Converse, in years past, released all-rubber hi-cut Chuck Taylors, which are a good idea for Philippine weather, well, every year. Or you can opt for a pair of Nike Classic Cortez Nylon OG if you can find them. Or hunt for Adidas’ water-repellent Ultra Boost All Terrain.

Do take note though that water repellent IS NOT the same as waterproof. It’s all about the materials the shoe is made of and the sealing in between parts. Water repellent shoes will eventually let water in, even though they’re made of materials that are water-phobic. That said, keep an eye on what the sneaker is made of. Anything with Gore Tex will give you some degree of water protection. Converse, Vans, and Under Armour all make some models with Gore Tex uppers. Nothing keeps water out like rubber, but shoes with rubber uppers can be hot because they don’t breathe.

So there you have it. Now you—and your beloved sneakers—don’t have to be afraid of the rainy season. Happy trails!