Home Style & Beauty How To Keep Your AF1s So Fresh & So Clean

How To Keep Your AF1s So Fresh & So Clean


One sneaker that will always evoke feelings of nostalgia is none other than the classic White Air Force 1.

While most kids counted down the days until school let out, I counted down the days until I could get a fresh pair of Air Force 1s (aka Ups or Uptowns where I’m from). As a kid, I understood and appreciated the elite aesthetic of white Air Force 1s, but keeping them clean was never at the top of my to-do list. My mother, who often reminded me that “money doesn’t grow on trees,” knew this but still allowed me to live my best life every summer in a fresh pair of Ups. Good times.

Long before Nelly rapped about his love for the classic kick, Air Forces 1s earned its spot as a totem in urban culture.

While the “force” of White Air Forces 1s can be felt everywhere today, it’s undeniable that Black and Brown people helped mold its legacy through a special connection to the origin of the shoe. Since its introduction in 1983, white low Air Forces have gained elite status as a timeless sneaker first popularized by hustlers on the East Coast.

The shoe’s popularity within urban communities was the “sole” reason Nike decided not to shelf the shoe to move on to the next best design decades ago. Undoubtedly, the image of the classic shoe has shifted from its gritty inner city roots to being a widely accepted staple shoe. Still, it’s a part of the origin story that can never be erased. 

Folks today are convinced that dirty air force 1’s is a style, but I’m here to tell you that’s a lie.

how to keep air force 1 clean

Dirty White converses? Maybe. Dirty White Air Forces? NOPE. I hate to be the Air Force 1 police, but I’m telling you the truth because no one else would. However, White Air Forces aren’t meant to last forever—at a certain point, there is no amount of cleaning that can resurrect them. Eventually, you will probably have to replace them between oxidation and creasing. However, there are ways to keep them looking good until that time comes.


How to Keep Air Force 1s White, Clean and Crease Free


This is the only true way to clean dirty air force ones and yes I consider this dirty. 🤢 #MessFreeHero #PartyWithVMAs #howtocleanairforce #airforce1 #airforcecleaningtutorial #airforceclean #blavkgirltiktok

♬ Air Force Ones – Nelly

1. Don’t tie your laces too tight.

Not only does tying your laces extremely tight ruin the sneaker’s silhouette prematurely, but it also doesn’t look flattering. Air Force 1s are bulky by nature, and tying your laces tight takes away from what makes the shoe attractive in the first place. Tighten your laces just enough so that you can walk comfortably and don’t have to worry about them unraveling.

2. If you store your sneakers in the original box, toss the tissue paper that they come with.

I’m trying to learn more about how to beat oxidation, aka yellowing of white sneakers. I’ve been advised to toss the paper that comes with your shoes because it speeds up the oxidation process. From my experience, this has helped, and it wouldn’t hurt to try it.

3. Use a spray sneaker protectant.

Jason Markk Repel Spray

Whether you’re rocking White Air Force 1’s or any other sneaker you adore, you should always have a spray sneaker protectant on hand.  These sprays create a breathable barrier on your shoes that helps keep freshness in and stains out.

If your Air Forces are fresh out the box, give them a quick coat to keep them up. If your Air Forces are lived in but in good shape, clean them up first. After they’re dry, spray them with your sneaker protector.

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4. Consider buying Force Field Crease Protectors to minimize creasing in the front of your White Air Force 1’s.

Force Field Crease Protector

I saw a TikTok video where a creator cut the cardboard inserts that came with the sneakers as a DIY crease protector. While this is a cost-effective method, I’d recommend buying Force Fields. Also, I imagine them to be way more comfortable and durable than cardboard (they’re made of flexible foam). I’ve also used my Force Fields in my Air Jordan 1’s. No crinkly toe box formed against me shall prosper.

Pro-Tip: Hold onto the cardboard inserts that come with your sneakers to shape while storing.

5. Quick clean your white Air force 1’s between wears with sneaker wipes.

how to keep white air force 1s clean Crep Protect Sneaker WIpes

Don’t wait until your White Air Force 1s are trashed to clean them. Use a sneaker wipe or damp cloth between wears.

6. Don’t delay your “deep” cleaning and have a bottle of THIS sneaker cleaner on hand. (available here on Amazon).

Jason Markk Premium Shoe Cleaner

If you’re looking at your AF1s and thinking, “hmm, I think I should clean these,” just do it (pun intended).  The longer you wait, the worst condition your AF1s will be in, and the harder they’ll be to clean. Don’t forget the laces and the soles! My cleaner of choice is none other than Jason Markk Premium Shoe Cleaner.

Remember to sign up for a free 30-Day trial of Amazon Prime for fast, free shipping.


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I may earn a commission for purchases made through links in this post, however, all opinions are my own—YKTV.



Anonymous June 13, 2021 - 11:27 am

Your impression is good

Anonymous September 16, 2021 - 11:29 am

Thank you!

Chayse ber May 20, 2022 - 11:59 am

I never understood how dirty forces became a trend.

Mika May 20, 2022 - 2:32 pm

You and me both!

Anonymous October 27, 2022 - 1:03 am

Why are my laces off white color on my Air Force 1 LE?

Mika November 2, 2022 - 9:58 am

That’s interesting. And you’re positive they’re classic whites? I can say that sometimes the different materials on the shoe (i.e., the leather, tongue, laces) can look different shades of white bc they’re different materials. Over time, they also age differently colorwise.

MIKA ROBINSON August 27, 2023 - 4:46 pm

So, I recently did more digging, aka purchased a pair of AF1 LE, and it does appear the laces are off-white. Another difference (between AF1 LE and ’07) is the slightly shorter cut silhouette on LE. For crisp white laces, opt for the ’07 version.


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