Best Shoe Cleaner – Keep Your Kicks Spic and Span With These Products

You know the feeling, perhaps well. You’ve got a fresh set of kicks, sneakers, shoes, boots, what have you, in your possession. But what you don’t have is the best shoe cleaner. Shoe cleaner, in fact, might be the last thing on your mind. After all, you might be busy planning out outfits and devising ways to get your shoes the maximum face time they need. But again, we divert your attention back towards shoe cleaner.

The sleekest, sharpest sneakers on the market are no good if they’re dirty or scuffed from the first day you wear them, so don’t treat your shoe care like an afterthought. Heck, even boots can use a bit of TLC, and the list grows from there. Your suede shoes and dress shoes deserve proper care, too. Of course, dress shoes can easily be shined up, and we hope you’re limiting the wear and tear on your dress shoes (as in, not trekking far off-road), but consider one of these shoe care kits in a pinch if you need to tackle something tough. Never bought a shoe care kit? Now is the perfect time, because these kits have got it all covered.

It takes a bit of time to get the steps down as far as footwear cleaning is concerned, but let’s not put the cart before the horse.

Dress shoe shine might be the traditional or old-fashioned way of taking care of your most-worn shoes. But dress shoes aren’t quite the most-worn shoes in your wardrobe, we’d venture. So, traditional doesn’t cover the way you dress, most likely, in this day and age.

Naturally, traditional doesn’t cover what it means to pick up one of the best shoe cleaners, either. There’s a whole crop of brands that are making shoe care crisp, clean (literally and figuratively) and sharp. These are upstart brands specifically created to streamline the process of caring for those fresh kicks, and who knows: You might even grow to like the crucial routine of caring for your shoes. Think of shoe polish like the best friend of your dress shoes, and think of the shoe care kits we’ll discuss today like, well, a best friend for the rest of your footwear rotation.

Better still, some of these shoe care kits are designed to tackle multiple types of footwear, including suede (like your treasured suede chukka boots) and even leather. Again, we’d hope your dress shoes aren’t getting too dirty out there, but again, in a pinch, the best shoe cleaner can take on just about anything you ask it to clean. Of course, process and practice — yes, practice — are important when setting out on a (figurative) quest to sharpen up your shoes.

It takes a bit of time to get the steps down as far as footwear cleaning is concerned, but let’s not put the cart before the horse. Here’s what to look for as you shop for a secret weapon to turn your kicks from good to great.

How to Shop for the Best Shoe Cleaner

  • Versatility: The name of the game in most matters of menswear is versatility. You’ve already put in the time and research to stock your collection with everything from classic Vans sneakers to the best chukka boots. With that in mind, go ahead and give some thought to what shoe cleaner you’re buying. Some shoe cleaners, including a few we’ll cover today, tackle everything from suede to athletic sneakers. Other shoe cleaning kits are geared towards sneakers specifically. Depending on the type of “inventory” you have in your personal rotation, you’ll need to find the best shoe kit for your needs. One that tackles multiple types of material, then, is going to be the most versatile shoe care kit. Ya dig? Good.
  • Materials: Some shoe care kits, especially ones geared toward fine leather or rugged boots, are going to really up the ante as far as materials are concerned. Take the Oliver Cabell Essential Kit, which features a wood handle brush — not your average kit, right? One kit you’ll see today even includes shoe trees, those handy inserts that help your shoes maintain shape. With these kits, it’s not something you’re going to pick up in, say, the checkout line. These are kits that have been designed with care and quality in mind, akin to what you might find in a proper, traditional dress shoe shine kit. We told you this is the big-time as far as cleaning your kicks is concerned.
  • Process: Trust the process, as the parlance goes. If you’re cleaning sneakers, the process is going to be different than cleaning suede shoes or suede boots. For instance, Jason Markk — they’ll come up later, not to fear — offers helpful tips via Sneaker Care 101. Don’t skip these crucial steps, nor skimp on them (there’s a difference, and you’ll be able to tell when your shoe care turns out less than optimal). Thankfully, most of the best shoe care brands are going to guide you along the path to clean, crisp shoes. Buy the right kit, and half the battle — or close to it — is already won for you.

The best shoe cleaner, to review: Doesn’t cut corners, makes the process easy on you and provides the proper care for nearly every shoe in your rotation. Now, let’s dive into the kits themselves.

The Best Shoe Cleaner to Buy Right Now

Jason Markk Essential Kit

Jason Markk Essential Kit

If we had to pick out one brand that’s nearly cornered the market on a particular type of shoe care — say, caring for dozens of sneakers — especially in recent years, it’d be Jason Markk. The brand personifies sleek and streamlined design, a targeted approach — the sneaker care tips we mentioned — and plenty of ever-critical versatility. As Jason Markk says themselves, its Essential Kit (aptly named, to be sure), is “safe to use on all colors and materials including leather, suede, nubuck, canvas, vinyl, cotton mesh.” It’ll effectively clean up to 100 pairs of sneakers, and the included shoe brush is also safe for premium leather. The brand even makes it easy to toss additional items into your digital cart, from another shoe cleaning brush to a handy microfiber towel. We’re hesitant to call any one of these brands the gold standard, but Jason Markk might just take the cake.

Shoe MGK Starter Kit

Shoe MGK Starter Kit

Looking for a helpful intro to the world shoe care? The Shoe MGK Starter Kit is precisely what you need, from the name on up to the ease of use across plenty of different types of footwear. “Spic and span” doesn’t begin to cover it with this jam-packed Starter Kit, which targets, among other footwear varieties, smooth leather footwear, athletic sneakers and even suede and nubuck. You get a highly effective cleaner and conditioner, plus a shoe brush — simple and easy as that, for just a shade under $30. And the utility is top-notch, with plenty of bang for your buck. According to Shoe MGK, its Starter Kit can handle “any stain you throw its way including oil, grease, grime, grass, blood, red clay, certain inks and paints, stains, and more.” The next time your canvas sneakers take a beating, make sure you have this Shoe MGK Starter Kit close at hand.

Oliver Cabell Essential Kit

Oliver Cabell Essential Kit

If you’re in search of a super-premium shoe cleaner, yet one that’s quick and easy to use, Oliver Cabell has you covered. It only makes sense, after all. This shoe cleaner should work in perfect harmony alongside the retailer’s famed shoes and boots. Oliver Cabell makes the type of covetable shoes every guy should own, be it crisp white leather lace-ups or durable leather Chelsea boots. The precisely named Essential Kit features a Natural Cleaning Solution and a fine brush. Simply wet the brush, add cleaner, dip the brush back into the bowl of water (it’s all about the process!) and then go about cleaning your shoes. The cleaner-water solution will create a foaming base designed to target dirt stains, grime and more. Wipe clean with a towel and repeat the process until your Oliver Cabell shoes — or any shoes, for that matter — look good as new. Oliver Cabell knows how to craft exceptional shoes, and you can now care for them the very best way possible.

Reshoevn8r Signature Shoe Cleaning Kit

Reshoevn8r Signature Shoe Cleaning Kit

If you haven’t caught on by now, the brands that make the best shoe cleaner aren’t your run-of-the-mill brands. These are companies dedicated to the proper care of shoes, and Reshoevn8r fits the mold quite nicely. They’ve built some solid buzz as of late, probably because items like the Signature Shoe Cleaning Kit are so carefully thought-out and well-designed. This kit is one such kit that includes shoe trees, as we mentioned before, and it also includes three types of brushes. Pick your poison, figuratively, between soft, medium or hard bristle brushes, all the better to take on different types of shoe material. You’ll even get 30-50 uses out of the cleaning solution. Last but not least, Reshoevn8r includes handy shoe laundry bags. Talk about a brand that’s thought of everything as far as shoe care is concerned. Reminds you of how you’ve covered all the bases in your footwear collection, right? Sounds like a fair companion to stylish shoes.

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Beau is Brooklyn-based style and lifestyle writer. He covers menswear, gear, spirits, craft beer and music. When not writing, Beau can be found shopping for vinyl or sipping on a Brooklyn beer.

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