Graphic: Chelsea Stone
5 Neat ThingsJolie Kerr is a cleaning expert, advice columnist and the host of the podcast “[Ask a Clean Person](” Each week, she’ll round up five essential cleaning products, tools and organizational systems to help you live your tidiest lives.   

This week’s Ask a Clean Person/Style Girlfriend crossover event was all about colorful sneakers—which ones to buy, what to wear them with, how to keep them looking as colorful as the day you bought them, all that good stuff. When it comes to sneaker cleaning, there are loads of products on the market from brands like Jason Markk and Sneaker Lab, that do everything from protect shoes to clean and detail them. And they’re good products! But…you don’t need them. So I rounded up five alternatives to expensive shoe cleaning products so you can save your pennies for buying another pair. Because: Priorities!

Ask a Clean Person and Style Girlfriend are teaming up this month to bring you the latest on what to wear for spring and summer ... and how to care for your new wardrobe acquisitions. This week: colorful sneakers. 

Clorox Wipes with Micro-Scrubbers
Graphic: Chelsea Stone

Clorox Wipes with Micro-Scrubbers

Wipes are a great way to quick clean a pair of sneakers, and are especially useful when you’re traveling. But instead of buying a pack of sneaker wipes, you can absolutely use a product like Clorox Wipes with Micro-Scrubbers. (Clorox Wipes don’t have bleach in them, so they’re safe to use on all kinds of shoes, not just white ones.) For sneaker cleaning, definitely opt for the wipes with the micro-scrubbers, which will help to, well, scrub away the kind of dirt and grime that collects on shoes better than the basic wipes will—though those are just fine too if you’ve already got a package at home.

Soft-Bristled Toothbrush

Sneaker brushes are great for gently scrubbing away dirt on a favorite pair of kicks, but a soft-bristled toothbrush will do the job just as well (if not better!) for a fraction of the cost. One advantage a sneaker brush has over a toothbrush is that it will cover more area, faster buuut on the flip side of that coin, the toothbrush is much, much more effective at getting into tight areas where grime tends to collect, like the tongue attachment and around the eyelets.

Dish Soap

Ahhh my beloved dish soap! Are you guys starting to get that I love-love-love dish soap?!? I do! Palmolive is my poison (mostly because I grew up using it and I’m a bit of a creature of habit), but Dawn and Seventh Generation are also great dish soaps that serve a bunch of purposes beyond just getting your dishes clean. Dilute a few drops in a bowl of cool water, leaving enough headspace to dip your soft-bristled toothbrush, and use that instead of expensive sneaker cleaners to get your shoes looking brand new.

White Art Eraser

This is specifically for your suede sneaker care needs: Suede erasers are great and I recommend them often—especially because you can get a suede brush and eraser combo for not too terribly much money. But also! Suede erasers basically function in exactly the same way that white art erasers do, and those can be used for cleaning suede shoes that have gotten stained, which is helpful to know because you can pick up a box of ten of them for pretty much the same price as the single eraser-brush combo.

Fabric & Upholstery Protector

If you have canvas sneakers like Vans, Chuck Taylors or Keds that you want to keep stain- and grime-free, using a protective spray is a great idea. Most of the fancy sneaker care companies like Reshoenv8r and Crep offer protective sprays but honestly? Good old Scotchgard is all you need for the job. Scotchgard also makes a formula for suede and nubuck (just note that it shouldn’t be used on smooth leathers) so make sure you’re picking the right protector spray for the job!