Cleaning and Care, Sneakers

Cleaning Jordan 1’s: You Probably Only Need Water

We’ve all been there. You’re walking along and either because you’re not paying attention or because you have to, you hear a squish and your shoes are 2 inches deep in mud. Your heart sinks, and you’re wondering what you can do to fix your mistake.

There are no shortage of products aimed at helping you clean them off. Both Crep Protect and Reshoevn8r will sell you cleaning kits for around $40. In some cases, this might make sense. However, for most Jordan 1’s, you can probably do 95% of the job with just simple water.

I’d like to show you what you can do with materials you already have, or could find for free in pretty much any public bathroom.

The Dirt

Dirty Jordan 1
Dirty Jordan 1

This pair of Court Purple 2.0s just met 2 inches of fresh mud, mixed with road salt. The dirt got onto the purple panels, the white panels, the midsole, outsole, and stitching. This pair also uses pure white, as opposed to sail, for it’s midsole and panels. While it’s not the worst ever, it is a good representative of how each of these materials react to mud.

In order to try and make this a bit more realistic, I let the mud dry on these shoes for about an hour.


Thankfully, like most Jordan 1s, the leather on these shoes have a thick plastic layer on top. While the purpose of this is to get the bright colors that Jordans are known for (and hide the cheap leather they use…), a nice side effect is that they are incredibly easy to clean. Really, for most people, all you need is water.

A Simple Wipe Off

How to clean Jordan 1
After a few seconds of wiping with a wet papertowel

After just 20 seconds or so of wiping with a wet paper towel, it’s nearly impossible to tell there was ever any mud on the shoe. Every single panel and the midsole are completely clean. Considering that shoes will inevitably yellow with age and wear, this is probably good enough for just about everyone.

Of course, for many people, the idea that there is any dirt on their shoes is a problem. And, in fairness, after water these still showed some dirt.

Dirty Threads Upper
There is still a bit of brown staining on these threads after the water
Dirty Threads Midsole
These threads are the only area the water didn’t effectively clean

Unlike the panels and rubber outsole, the thread on the upper and the thread on the midsole both still had staining. Again, however, there is no need to buy a special product for most Jordan 1s.

A Bit of Hand Soap

Clean Jordan 1
After a wipe with a soapy paper towel. Hard to tell they were ever muddy.

Here, I used a bit of hand soap on the threads to see how much better they could get. In total, I was cleaning for around a minute. As you can see from this photo, from about a foot away it’s almost impossible to tell there was ever mud on the shoe.

Cleaned threads upper
After a bit of soap, these threads are white again
Cleaned threads midsole
The only real spot that is still dirty

If you really zoom in, you can see that there is still a small amount of dirt. That being said, it’s hard to argue that this is something to lose sleep over.

Wrap Up

To be clear, the more substantial cleaning products haver their place. Jordans (and other sneakers) come in all sorts of materials including suedes, nubuck, knit, uncoated leather, and more. These materials all require much more specialized care.

That being said, for most Jordan 1s, stepping in a bit of mud isn’t something that should ruin your day. With materials you can find for free just about anywhere, and less than 60 seconds of effort, you can get them looking (almost) brand new.