I’ve been wearing and collecting sneakers since I was a little kid so cleaning and restoring them have never been a problem for me. I was one of those kids who would spend weeks just looking at a pair of Air Jordan before I even dare put them on my feet.
And after each use, I was also one of those kids who would immediately clean the the ENTIRE shoe and then place them back inside the shoe box, in exactly the same way that I bought it. I would repeat this (vicious) cycle for each pair of sneakers that I bought.
Over the top? Maybe. But little did I know that all that cleaning was really training me for life as a reseller! So when it comes to prepping thrift store shoes for auction, it’s almost second nature for me.
Not everyone, however, suffers from my obsession with shoes so I wanted to create a post that shows you exactly how I get each and every one of my thrift store shoes ready for eBay.
Do I Need To Do This?
Technically, you don’t have to do anything. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with just selling your shoes in the exact same way that you found them at the store. It’s perfectly fine.
But just know that you are potentially leaving behind hundreds (and even thousands) of dollars worth of additional bids and sales by skippig these important steps. So while it’s not mandatory to clean them, I highly recommend that you take the extra 5 minutes to follow the steps that I’m going to share with you.
What You’ll Need
The good news about prepping your shoes is that it doesn’t cost much and it doesn’t require a lot of materials. All you really need are the following:
- Shoe cleaner
I insists on wearing gloves because, let’s face it, I don’t know where these shoes have been and some are really bad condition to start.
As for shoe cleaners, I’ve been using the Footlocker and Champs Sports brand cleaners ever since I was a kid and it’s never let me down. They really inexpensive (less than $10) and they last a REALLY long time!!
The napkin is for wiping off the excess dirt after using with the shoe cleaner and I recommend using an old toothbrush for scrubbing. Some shoe cleaners are equipped with their own bristles for scrubbing but they’re really weak and they break easily. Using a toothbrush allows you to put some pressure while scrubbing and, thus, more of the dirt will come off.
The scissors appears to be an odd item in this list but it’s actually one of the most important one. I use them to remove any thrift store tags on the shoes plus they’re extremely handy at removing any rocks or pebbles that get wedged on the bottom of the shoes. They’re also great for removing old gum and any stubborn dirt marks as well. Keep them around, they’re definitely useful!
There are a few things that I do before I start actually using the shoe cleaner.
First, I always make it a point to dig into the insoles of the shoe (with the gloves, of course) and remove any debris that may be stuck in there. Dig with your hands – and I mean really dig with your hands – to make sure that there are no surprises in their for your buyer such rocks, grass, or even insects (I’ve found a lizard in a pair before). That’s one sure fire way to get a negative feedback!
Second, I take my handy scissors and I remove any rocks, gum, and other debris on the bottom of the shoe. Again, the scissors are great at reaching the narrow crevices where most of the small rocks will likely be stuck.
Lastly, I adjust the laces. Most of the shoelaces you’ll find will be in a tight bow on the front of the tongue, like so.
I always like to hide the lace tips in the back of the tongue and here’s why: 1) it gives the shoe a much sleeker and cleaner appearance compared to when the laces are visible and 2) leaving the bow in the front will obstruct the top of the shoe tongue.
The shoe tongue is an important piece of real estate on sneakers because it’s a favorite place for company’s and top athletes to place their logo. Buyers recognize these logos and they’ll want to see, trust me.
Here’s an example: The number “3″ is Dwyane Wade’s signature logo. Notice how much sleeker the shoe looks and how much more visible the logo is when the laces are hidden?
After completing these steps, the rest of the process involves the actual scrubbing of the shoes.
Footlocker and Champs Sports uses a foam gel in their cleaners and it works really well. All you need to do is point the nozzle in the area that you’re trying to clean and spray a small amount of cleaner. Again, this cleaner is strong and you really don’t need to use to much.
After spraying your shoes, grab your toothbrush and just start scrubbing away.
You should start to see dirt and scuffs start to disappear after a few strokes. In this example, I sprayed the foam cleaner only a small portion of the shoe to showcase the difference that it can make. See how much whiter and brighter that area is after a few small brush strokes?
Pretty good, right?! It’s already looking much better! Simply repeat the process on the entire shoe to finish up.
Here are some before and after pictures of a pair of vintage Air Jordan Dwyane Wade’s:
It may take a while to get familiar with the process, especially if this is your first time, but stick with it. It will become automatic after a while and you’ll be cleaning shoes in half the time.
Again you only need a few materials and most of them are probably just laying around your house as you’re reading this – like the napkins, toothbrush, and scissors.
I highly recommend the shoe cleaner from Footlocker and Champ Sports but if you don’t have a store nearby you can also purchase the Sof Sole Oxy Shoe Cleaner
from Amazon (this is my affiliate link, THANK YOU!!). This product is priced the same and it works just as well!
Cleaner shoes will receive higher bids. It’s really that simple.
This process has literally earned me thousands of dollars and I still use it to this very day with much success!
Thanks again for all your support and best of luck at the thrift stores!