How to Restore Air Jordans

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How to Restore Air Jordans

Nike Air Jordans enjoy status as one of the most coveted athletic footwear brands in the world. Since the release of the Air Jordan I in 1985, the brand has spawned a veritable subculture of Jordans aficionados who prize their kicks as art collectors do sculpture and paintings. However, it takes work to keep a pair of these shoes in tip-top condition. Because the original paintwork fades over time, and white midsoles and outsoles can turn yellow, Jordans owners need certain supplies handy to perform minor restoration work. These materials are readily available from craft and hardware stores and online at eBay. Restoring a pair of Jordans begins with a thorough cleaning, followed by reconditioning work on the uppers and soles.

Assemble a Restoration Kit

The essential materials include acrylic shoe paint, a few paintbrushes, paint thinner, and masking tape. The most popular brand of shoe paint among Jordan restorers is Angelus. The table below lists and describes the necessary materials and tools.




Necessary for removing faded or damaged paintwork from color panels and midsoles


For applying shoe paint to colored sections of the shoes

Angelus Shoe Paint

An acrylic paint available in myriad colors


Required to thin the acrylic paint for application to mesh panels and laces

Also used for thinning paint for use in airbrush guns

Sea Glow

An antioxidant solution that removes yellow discoloration from white and transparent (icy) soles

Masking Tape

For taping off areas of the shoe prior to painting

Jordans come in a variety of color combinations. Because Angelus does not mix paints to order, a restorer should purchase several colors with the intention of mixing hues to ensure the correct color match. Aside from actual color, there is also the finish to consider. Some panels on a pair of Jordans are high-gloss while other panels have a matte finish. Therefore, a restorer should also invest in a bottle of duller, which is a solution the restorer can add to Angelus shoe paint to ensure a non-gloss finish.

Clean the Jordans

A deep cleaning can often lift the appearance of a pair of Jordans. It can also reveal issues requiring the restorer's attention, like yellowing midsoles or faded paintwork. Essential cleaning supplies include dishwashing liquid, a soft bristle toothbrush, and a Mr. Clean Magic Eraser.

To remove grime, one can either wipe away dirt and stains using a Mr. Clean Magic Eraser or gently scrub the soles and the uppers using a soft-bristle toothbrush and a solution of cold water and dishwashing liquid. Difficult-to-shift stains may require the use of a pre-wash stain remover.

If there are flecks of paint or a tiny ink stain on the midsole, the restorer can remove these stains using a cotton swab (Q-tip) and nail polish remover. Because nail polish remover tends to remove paint indiscriminately, the restorer should dab at the stain rather than rub so as to avoid damaging the shoe's original paintwork.

Repaint the Midsoles and Uppers

Restoring the paintwork on a faded pair of Jordans begins by removing the original paintwork using a cotton swab dipped in acetone. Before applying new shoe paint, the restorer should use masking tape to tape off sections he does not want to paint, including the windows to the air units. The air units are the open spaces in the sole that provide enhanced cushioning.

The restorer can apply the paint in one of two ways: using a paintbrush or an airbrush gun. Before loading up an airbrush gun with acrylic paint, the user must thin the paint using a solution like Angelus 2-Thin. When applying paint using a brush, the restorer should brush away from the borders, using smooth brush strokes, and leave the borders of the painted section until last. To paint the borders, the restorer should switch to a fine, precision paintbrush.

Sauce Icy Soles

Jordans with "icy" or transparent outsoles or white midsoles become yellow over time. Many Jordans restorers turn to a product called Sea Glow to restore white midsoles and icy soles. The process is called "saucing," because restorers often refer to the sole restoration solution as "sauce." The process involves applying Sea Glow to the clear soles or the midsoles using a paintbrush and then exposing the soles to direct sunlight.

Before applying Sea Glow, the restorer should cover up the traction pods using small pieces of paper or plastic cling wrap. The traction pods are the raised, opaque, colored sections of the outsole. One should only apply Sea Glow to the clear sections of the outsole. The process requires that the restorer reapply the sauce as it dries until the yellowish discoloration has disappeared. The restorer then rinses off any residue. One thing that the restorer must avoid carefully is sole separation. If it looks like the outsole or the midsole is pulling away from the rest of the shoe, the restorer should remove the shoes from direct sunlight and rinse off the sauce. One can easily remedy any sole separation using a shoe glue like Shoe Goo or Barge Cement.

How to Buy Jordans on eBay

eBay has hundreds of listings for new and pre-owned Jordans. Begin your search by entering the name of the Jordans you want into the search bar at the top of every eBay web page. For example, if you are looking for Jordan Spiz'ikes, enter "Jordan Spizikes" into the search bar and press Enter. Use the refinements menu to narrow down the selection by selecting and deselecting various search criteria, like condition, color, size, and price range. Search for restoration materials by entering search queries like "Angelus shoe paint" or "paintbrushes," and use the refinements menu to target particular colors and types of paintbrushes. Vintage Air Jordans and the appropriate supplies to restore them may be found easily on eBay.

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