High-quality dance shoes are quite the investment so if you want to make the most out of every pair, they need to be cared for properly. No matter how often you wear your dance shoes, you have to clean them regularly because the materials get dirty really quickly. An example of this would be the soles.
Dance shoes are different from your regular walking shoes because of the soles, which are either crafted in microfiber or suede leather. Yami dance shoes have microfiber soles made from flock leather material. Flock leather is a type of synthetic leather that’s almost identical in texture to suede leather. The difference, apart from being cruelty-free, is that flock leather is softer, hardier, and easier to maintain than suede leather.
But here’s the thing: the textured surface material of flock leather and suede leather is a dirt magnet! It does not take long before dust, dirt, and grime collect on top of the material. If you don’t clean the soles regularly, the material could turn crusty and eventually crack. Or, the material could become extra slippery, which increases your risk of injury while dancing. Either way, it’s never a good idea to leave the shoe soles dirty, it will shorten the life of the dance shoes.
How Often Should You Clean the Soles of Your Dance Shoes?
You can’t simply toss your dirty dance shoes in the washer. You have to clean the shoes before and after every use or at least once a week. Focus on the soles because these are the dirtiest parts of the shoes.
Thankfully, suede and microfiber leather often use the same cleaning products - including a good quality wire shoe brush and conditioners. The shoe brush will lift the dirt, grime, and dust while the conditioner preserves the quality of the material.
How to Clean the Soles of Your Dance Shoes
Dry Brushing for Regular Cleaning
Suede and microfiber soles will benefit from regular dry brushing. Dry brushing helps lift dust and dirt and even eliminate floor wax and grime stains off the material. Regular dry brushing also raises and refreshes the nap - the fine, raised fibers on the surface of the material.
Use a regular suede brush for dry brushing. Opt for a suede brush with a combination of wire and nylon bristles. Hold the shoe over a trash bin so you don’t make a mess. Using short strokes, brush from toe to heel, starting at the center of the sole outwards in one direction. Don’t forget to dry brush the edges too!
Use a light hand for easy to remove dirt and dust. For stubborn, deep-seated stains like grime or traces of floor wax, brush deeply but do not overdo it. If you’re too heavy-handed with the brushing, you might end up destroying the sole - especially delicate suede.
NOTE: Expect shedding if you’re dry brushing suede material, this is normal. Suede is a delicate material and some fibers will shed from vigorous dry brushing but it won’t damage the material. Dry brushing will, in fact, prolong its life.
Stains and Spot Cleaning
For dried up stains on the soles, use suede gommadine or suede gum cleaner to eliminate unsightly marks. Stain eraser or suede gum are also perfect for spot cleaning stubborn scuffs on the material.
For oily, heavy stains that don’t remove easily with dry brushing, you can use regular suede cream or foaming cleansers. Just spread a thin layer of cream or foam onto the material then brush gently in one direction. You can also use vinegar or rubbing alcohol to cut the grease or grime and remove unsightly marks.
As the dirt and grime are brushed off, you’ll notice the soles have regained their texture because of the raised nap. Regular cleaning should be done after every performance. Cleaning the shoes before a performance is a must but the cleaning itself is easy. Just give the material a good dry brush and you’re good to go.
After cleaning the dance shoe soles, it’s best to apply a conditioning product to preserve the texture and quality of the material. Use a regular suede conditioning spray helps restore the color, texture, and suppleness of the material. It also hydrates the material, preventing flaking, shedding, or cracking. Leather conditioning oils, all-purpose leather cream, leather moisturizers, and castor oil are also used to restore and revive aging dance shoe soles.
Always air dry the suede and microfiber material before storing the shoes to prevent mold growth and bad odors. Do not force to dry out the material using a blow dryer either because this will damage the soles.
If you forgot to clean your dance shoe soles during a rehearsal or performance, here’s a quick fix: slightly dampen a piece of paper towel and blot the soles with it if they get too slippery. This trick will temporarily restore the traction of the textured soles.
But don’t do this often especially if you’re dealing with suede because you might end up causing even more damage to the material. Don’t be lazy! It’s best to take time dry brushing the surface grime after every use and utilize the right products to boost the life of the shoe soles.
Again, make a habit out of keeping your shoes completely dry prior to storage so the material won’t dry out or worse, turn moldy. Store your dance shoes in a cool, dry place, away from direct sunlight and humidity. Exposure to moisture can easily ruin the soles of dance shoes.
As you can imagine, dance shoe soles can turn into a breeding ground of bacteria if it's not cleaned often. After regular cleaning, we highly suggest packing your shoes in an airtight bag and putting it in the freezer for a few hours. The freezing temps will stop bacteria growth and reduce bad odors. The cold will also restore and refresh the quality of the shoe materials, including the soles. Just be sure to use an airtight bag so you’re not exposing the shoes to moisture.
If you are wary of sticking your dance shoes in the freezer to restore and deodorize, opt for activated charcoal. There are shoe bags that are treated with activated charcoal to absorb bad odors while also keeping your shoes nice and clean.
When it comes to cleaning the soles of your dance shoes, it’s important to act fast. Do not wait until the stains have settled in before removing them. If your shoes have developed bad odors from all the dirt and grime, refresh the shoes and use a mild deodorizer. By being proactive, you can extend the life of your dance shoe soles and get the most out of your money.