Have an old pair of sneakers you don’t want to throw away? This DC-area business will make them look like new

“Sole Wash” is a sneaker cleaning and restoration service with locations in Southeast D.C. and Laurel, Maryland. (Courtesy Sole Wash)
Sole Wash founder Nichole Verdejo works on a pair of sneakers. (Courtesy Sole Wash)
Verdejo said restoring footwear through Sole Wash can save customers big bucks in the long run. (Courtesy Sole Wash)
Verdejo said her customers are often surprised at how well their shoes come out looking, and leave with a smile on their face. (Courtesy Sole Wash)

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Nichole Verdejo didn’t set out to become a shoe restoration expert, but it’s something she realized she cares about deeply, and has become her way of keeping the sneaker culture alive.

“It grew out of a sneaker boutique that I had with customers asking us if we could clean their sneakers and restore them,” Verdejo said. “It’s not something you see around very often.”

Verdejo runs a business called “Sole Wash,” with locations in Southeast D.C. and Laurel, Maryland.

Her job is to take old footwear and make it look new again, so her customers can continue wearing their favorite shoes instead of throwing them in the garbage.

“It’s really kind to the environment,” Verdejo said. “We preserve a lot of sneakers, and we preserve the culture by cleaning and restoring.”

Restoring footwear can save customers big bucks in the long run.

Quality shoes are expensive investments, and replacing them frequently due to wear and tear can strain budgets. By choosing repair services, Verdejo said her customers can maintain their beloved shoes at a fraction of the cost of picking up new ones.

“Sneaker heads actually take care of their sneakers really well,” Verdejo said, referring to her customers who are particularly passionate about their shoes. “A lot of the work that we do for sneaker heads involves repainting and regluing sneakers that they love and do not want to trash.”

Shoes often carry personal significance, whether they’re worn on special occasions, travels or daily adventures. According to Verdejo, her business understands the emotional attachment customers have to their shoes and works to uphold their sentimental value.

“There is so much story behind sneakers,” Verdejo said. “You have sneakers that just have a lot of history, and it brings up memories and things of that nature.”

That’s why Verdejo’s customers often leave with a smile on their face.

“When people get their shoes back, and they’re looking good, they get so excited,” Verdejo said. “They don’t think that we can bring them back [to life] the way that we do, so when they receive their shoes, they’re ecstatic.”

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Nick Iannelli

Nick Iannelli can be heard covering developing and breaking news stories on WTOP.

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