Everyone hesitates before they buy something white. It's an age-old question. What if it gets dirty?
When you buy a pair of white shoes, it's even more concerning. After all, they're hardly practical.
One accidental step, your white shoes are stained or scuffed for life. Or are they? Regardless of what you may think, it is possible to keep your white shoes as sparkly and pristine as the day you bought them.
How? You only need to know how to clean them properly. White sneakers, whether for men or women, are pretty easy to clean. Moreover, you don't need to buy fancy cleaning supplies.
Instead, you can use small staple items you probably already have in your home. Let's explore these seven ultimate ways to clean your white shoes. With the hacks in this article, you can rid your white sneakers of all kinds of grub and stains.
The Seven Best Ways to Clean Your White Shoes
White shoes are the ultimate fashion staple. They're very versatile as they can be matched with any outfit. In the eighties, pairing white sneakers with denim was all the rage.
Now, the eighties are making a comeback, and you don't have to compromise fashion for practicality. For example, white shoes can be practical. They simply require regular cleaning.
Luckily, there are many ways you clean white shoes. However, the method you choose depends on a couple of things.
For one, how bad is the stain? If it's awful, try bleaching (Method 4). Oily, ink and alcohol stains are the worst of the lot. On the other hand, food and sweat stains are much easier to clean.
Secondly, what type of shoes do you have? This question is fundamental as specific hacks don't work efficiently on some materials.
For example, white mesh sneakers are challenging to clean with regular cleaning pads and require a stiff-bristled toothbrush. We've elaborated on this in the next section. For now, let's get into our cleaning hacks.
Cleaning Tools List
Before we learn how to clean white canvas shoes or sneakers, let us look into the cleaning tools.
To clean your white shoes, you will require a few cleaning tools. Here is what you need.
- Spray-on protector repellent
- Baking soda
- Soft cloth
- Paper towels
- Eraser sponge
- Gentle wipes
1. Try Soap and Water
This is the most obvious way to go about things; chances are you've already tried this. However, have you tried it effectively?
Here's how to clean white shoes using soap and water:
- Pour two teaspoons of dish soap into 240 ml of warm water.
- Stir the solution until everything's dissolved. (However, be mindful; you want the water to be soapy yet clear).
- Dip an old toothbrush into the mixture.
- Start brushing the stain gently. (Use circular motions).
- Repeat the process until the stain is entirely out and the shoe colour looks even.
This method requires a lot of patience. If you're short on that (as many of us are), it's best to use another way.
You can use this hack for all kinds of white shoes, including white sneakers, fabric shoes, and white leather loafers.
2. Use Magic Erasers
What’s a magic eraser? It’s a common name for Melamine foam, a resin with a foam-like texture. It’s a very versatile cleaning tool, so you should definitely keep one around the house.
Additionally, using magic erasers is very straightforward. You just need to add some water and rub the stain/scuff until it fades. Make sure the foam is damp, or else you can damage the shoes.
However, it’s better to use magic erasers with white sneakers for men. White sneakers for women are generally less sturdy and resilient. The foam has a rough texture that may scuff women’s shoes.
3. Mix Baking Soda and Detergent
Using baking soda to clean is a timeless hack. Baking soda gets stains out of carpets, clothes, curtains, and even light-colored shoes.
So, what do you have to do?
Follow these steps:
- Firstly, collect your ingredients. You need baking soda (one third) and laundry detergent (two thirds).
- Mix the two, but don’t add any water. The mixture should be dry and powder-like.
- Pat the powder onto the shoes with the back of a spoon.
- Let the shoes rest for at least an hour or two.
- Brush the powder off, and rinse the shoes with warm water.
- Lastly, put the shoes in the washing machine. Use the lowest/delicate wash setting.
This is a neat hack for white fabric shoes. However, if you use vegan waterproof footwear, like Loom, there are two extra steps. To maintain the hydrophobic qualities of such a pair of shoes, remember to remove the laces and inner soles. Also, let the shoes air dry instead of machine dry.
If you do that, your pair of Loom will be clean in no time. They’re actually one of the easiest types of shoes to clean because the antimicrobial material prevents mold and sweat buildup.
4. Use Bleach for Heavy Stains
Bleach is like the knight in shining armor for tough stains. It has excellent results in cleaning both white shoes and clothes.
But─remember to use bleach very carefully. It’s a potent chemical, and too much exposure can cause skin redness, burning, and breathing difficulties.
Therefore, you have to wear gloves, and you must be in a well-ventilated room.
If you’ve done this, here’s how to clean white sneakers using bleach:
- Mix bleach (one part) with warm water (five parts). (Warning: don’t use more bleach than this or you’ll turn your shoes slightly yellow).
- Use a sponge or toothbrush to loosen surface stains. You can use a lot of pressure but focus on the soiled areas.
- Now, dampen a small microfiber towel in warm water.
- Squeeze out excess water from the towel.
- Gently dab the towel over the shoes. If you’re cleaning sturdier shoes like boots, you can run them under the water tap.
- Finally, let the shoes dry for five to six hours in a well-ventilated room.
Afterward, your shoes will undoubtedly look brand new.
5. Micellar Water Helps Too
Micellar water is traditionally a makeup removing product. However, you can use it for many other creative purposes, cleaning white shoes being one.
There are only two steps to this method. Firstly, pour some micellar water onto a clean cloth. Secondly, rub the cloth on your shoes until they’re clean.
It’s that simple. Micellar water is a great hack for white leather, suede, or rubber shoes.
The water absorbs all dirt and leaves a spectacular white finish. Therefore, it’s an excellent hack for shining white shoes as well.
However, be warned; it doesn’t work well for deeper stains like oil or ink.
6. Let’s Not Forget About White Toothpaste
Last but not least, white toothpaste is a classic shoe-cleaning hack. Again, it’s very straightforward.
You just have to squeeze some toothpaste onto an old toothbrush and start rubbing your shoes. (Stay away from gel and colored toothpaste as they can stain your shoes).
Of course, you should concentrate on dirty areas. But─make sure all areas are covered evenly. When you’re done, let the shoes dry for 15-20 minutes.
In the end, just wipe the toothpaste off with a soft, damp cloth. However, you must ensure that you use non-gel toothpaste as colored toothpaste can stain your white shoes.
Then, apply white toothpaste to your shoes and let them dry for a few hours before dusting them off with a brush. Never use colored gel-based toothpaste or leave them on the shoes for longer.
7. Baking Soda and White Vinegar
You can clean your white canvas shoes with baking soda and white vinegar solution by rubbing the vinegar onto the shoe with a soft cloth. Next, mix one tablespoon of warm water with a spoonful of white vinegar.
Mix them thoroughly to form a paste. Apply the paste to your shoes with the help of a toothbrush.
Use circular motions to remove dirt thoroughly. Leave the shoes for several hours. Then, use a dry brush to remove the dried paste before rinsing with warm water.
Steps to Clean White Shoes
Here are the steps for cleaning your white shoes.
Step 1: Remove the Dirt
The first step of cleaning your white shoes is removing loose dirt. But before you start scrubbing, make sure you remove the shoelaces to access every part of the shoe.
Take the shoes outside to remove mud. First, knock the bottom of the shoes together to remove caked mud. Next, use a dry brush with soft bristles to brush off loose dirt.
Make sure to brush the rubber soles and the shoe edges. If you're cleaning mesh shoes, you must only use soft bristles as the mesh is a delicate and soft fabric. Gently use a soft-bristled brush to remove the dirt.
Step 2: Use Baking Soda and White Vinegar Paste
The next step is to use the cleaning solution. For example, you can use baking soda and white vinegar paste or a baking soda and detergent mix to clean your shoes.
Mix the two cleaning agents in a bowl to form a paste. Dip a toothbrush into the paste and apply it all over your white shoes. Gently scrub to remove stains and dirt.
Let the paste stay on the shoes for hours. When the paste dries off, it becomes hard. Remove the hardened paste by using a brush. Next, use a soft cloth or a paper towel to wipe off excess paste.
Then use your diluted bleach mix or a bleach pen to remove dark stains. Leave the mixture on the shoes for five minutes before wiping it off with a soft, damp cloth. Then wash the shoes with warm water and a detergent.
Step 3: Clean Rubber Soles
The next step of the cleaning process is to remove the marks of dirt from the shoe soles. Dampen a soft cloth with water to wipe off the shoe soles. You can mix detergent with warm water for a thorough clean. Let the soles air dry before you wear them.
Step 4: Time for Finishing Touches
Dampen a soft cloth to scrub the edges of the sole at the base of the shoes. Or use a toothbrush to clean off the edges.
Do not submerge your shoes in water as it will ruin the interiors, damaging the shoe's shape. Instead, stuff the shoes with paper towels to maintain their shape. This will also speed up the drying process.
Let the shoe air dry for a few hours before applying a spray-on dirt-repellent to keep your shoes clean.
Cleaning Different Types of Shoes
Different types of shoes require different cleaning techniques. For example, you cannot use a hard brush on mesh shoes as they have a delicate fabric.
Similarly, you cannot clean your loafers with a soft brush. For this reason, we have a shoe cleaning guide for different types of white shoes.
Mesh is an incredibly soft fabric. However, excessive scrubbing and the use of bleach can damage your white mesh shoes. Therefore, you must only use mild dish soap and warm water for a thorough clean.
Use a soft brush to clean the excess dirt. Then rinse the shoes with cold water. If you notice any discoloring, spray the spot with diluted white vinegar and let it dry for an hour.
Use a shoe brush to remove mud, dirt, or gunk. Next, use a sponge or a soft cloth to apply a minimal amount of cleaner.
You can use a detergent and baking soda mixture to clean the dirt. For stubborn stains, use baking soda and white vinegar. Clean the stains by using a circular motion of the brush until they lighten.
White Canvas Shoes
Canvas shoes are made of cotton canvas fabric. They are easy to clean. You can use a brush and a shoe cleaner with lukewarm water to remove dirt and stains.
You can also make a shoe cleaning agent at home to clean your white canvas shoes. Then, apply your homemade cleaning agent all over the canvas fabric.
Let the cleaning solution sit for a while before cleaning it with a brush. Then apply a thick baking soda and white vinegar paste and let it dry.
Once the cleaning paste dries off, use a brush to wipe off the hardened paste. Clean with a dampened soft cloth.
White toothpaste works best to clean leather sneakers. You only require a toothbrush, warm water, and white toothpaste.
Apply the toothpaste directly onto the shoes and gently scrub with a toothbrush. Next, rinse the white leather sneakers with warm water and let the shoes air.
White soles usually get scuff marks. It is challenging to clean mud and scuff marks from the soles.
But here's a tip. Use a wet magic eraser or sneaker wipes to clean off the soles. For specks of dirt, use white nail polish.
Once you clean your shoes, you can't use your dirty shoelaces. While white shoelaces are readily available, you can still clean your current shoelaces to continue using them with white sneakers.
All you need is rubber gloves, diluted bleach, water, and laundry detergent.
You can use warm water and diluted bleach to clean all-white shoelaces. Wear your rubber gloves when you use the bleach solution as it can harm your skin.
To thoroughly clean your white shoelaces, fill a bowl with warm water and add bleach. Then, soak your white shoelaces for five minutes.
After five minutes:
- Remove the laces from the bleach solution.
- Thoroughly rinse them with water and a detergent.
- Air-dry the shoelaces or keep them in the sun; they're good as new!
Tips to Keep Your White Shoes Clean Longer
Now that you have learned how to clean your white shoes, let us know how to keep the white shoes clean for longer.
White shoes are more likely to get dirty. Therefore, you must take measures to prevent them from getting soaked up in the dirt. Here are some tips for keeping your white shoes clean.
- Before you wear your new white shoes, use a stain repellent or a waterproofer. Apply a waterproofer every week to protect your shoes from mud stains. Also, remember to use the right product as every shoe material is different. For example, you can use a stain repellent or a waterproofer on your white canvas shoes. But for your leather shoes, using beeswax, oils, or protective creams is a better choice.
- Do not machine wash your white canvas sneakers. Canvas sneakers use soft cotton fabric. If you wash your canvas shoes in the washing machine, the shoes' interior will get damaged. As a result, it will ruin the shape of your canvas shoes.
- Use a soft cloth to clean your shoes if you get any mud marks. When you come home, remove your shoes and clean them with a damp cloth to get rid of the stains as soon as possible. This will make the stains lighter. You can use a cleaning paste every once in a while to keep the stains from becoming permanent.
- Make sure to spot clean stubborn stains such as grease and oil. Dip a soft cloth into a solution of lukewarm water and shampoo. Spot clean the stains to keep your shoes clean for longer.
- Make a bleach solution by adding one part bleach and five parts water. Use a sponge to spot clean stubborn stains.
- If your shoes get dirty by mud, use an old toothbrush to brush off the mud. It will keep the excess mud from becoming hard. Then you'll only have to use a damp cloth to keep your shoe cleaner for longer.
Things you Should Keep in Mind While Cleaning your White Shoes:
There you have it, folks. You’ve gone through all seven ways to clean your white shoes.
However, there are still some things you should know. What are they?
Let’s find out.
- Always Take Care of Your White Shoes
If you’re going to buy white shoes for men or women, you have to care for them right out of the box. That means keeping them in a dust-free area, appropriately covered.
These days there are micro dust particles everywhere. These particles aren’t visible, but over time, appear prominently on white surfaces, including white shoes. Therefore, you should store your shoes in a box with shoe covers.
To go the extra mile, you can spray the shoes with a sneaker protector. Sneaker protectors are liquids (readily available at shoe stores) used to protect shoes from liquids, stains, and dirt.
However, waterproof shoes like Loom footwear don’t really need such protectors. Loom sells spectacular white shoes for women and men, which are resilient in all outdoor conditions. Shoes designed for outdoor purposes are already pretty resistant to liquids, stains, and dirt.
- Consider Your Shoe Type
As promised, here’s a quick guide on how to clean what type of shoe:
Leather, rubber, or plastic shoes
Magic erasers for deep stains and micellar water for normal ones.
All types of methods work on these. However, if the fabric has mesh, be careful. As mentioned, don’t use any cleaning tool except a toothbrush
Patent leather and faux leather shoes
Baking soda or toothpaste
Soap and water usually work for these
Athletic shoes (white sneakers or joggers)
Baking soda and detergent for regular stains
- Don’t Scrub
It’s better to rub or brush your white shoes. Scrubbing any shoes, especially leather, suede, or rubber shoes, can cause scuff marks.
Consequently, you have to be gentle with your movements and apply pressure gradually. Sneaker experts say you should always begin cleaning the shoes’ fabric. Afterward, you can move onto harder surfaces like the insoles.
Speaking of, when you’re cleaning your shoes, always remove the insoles and wash them separately. Insoles absorb the most sweat and dirt, so you need to wash them properly.
Never Put Your Shoes in a Washing Machine
Washing your shoes in a washing machine is a hot debating topic. Some people have successfully machine-washed their shoes, while others have stories of disintegrated shoes.
But what is the outcome? Should you put your shoes in a washing machine? Sometimes, our shoes have an extremely delicate fabric such as cotton mesh. A machine wash can ruin the mesh, disintegrating the shoes.
However, some stronger fabrics and materials can withstand a machine wash. But if you're unsure about the material strength, we suggest that you do not put your shoes in a washing machine.
Instead, gently clean them using our seven ultimate shoe cleaning tips to remove dirt, mud, and stains.
To sum it up, these were the seven ultimate ways to clean your white shoes. If you use these hacks and consider these tips, your white shoes will undoubtedly look brand new. As mentioned, always take care of your white shoes.
Even if they weren't expensive, you could keep them in optimal condition for years with regular maintenance. Therefore, you can keep your fashion staples without worrying about ruining them.