Reviewed & updated: October 19, 2022 by Jamie Wilson BA
White shoes are always a tricky buy. They look good, and they hit good style notes, but that ends the moment they get dirty. There’s nothing attractive about a yellowing sneaker or a white shoe spattered with black marks. Keeping them white does require a bit of effort, unfortunately, but it’s worthwhile and it can be done.
Buying a pair of all white shoes is a waste of time if you’re not prepared to keep them looking white. As soon as they start to change colour, fade, or get dirty, you’re in trouble. Considering how much money you might spend on a pair of white Nikes, letting them get dirty through laziness isn’t an acceptable option.
The type of shoe and the materials used in it automatically change the kind of method you should use for cleaning them, so think carefully. Don’t use the wrong technique or you could end up ruining your all white tennis shoes before you’ve even worn them in. Here’s how to keep those white shoes as white as possible.
How to Clean Sneakers
The first thing that you should know is cleaning starts when you buy the shoes, not when they first get dirty. If you forget to pre-treat them at first, don’t forget to clean them to ensure that there is no dirt present on the shoe.
Pre-treating could be a time saver which, in the long run, prevents those white shoes from getting dirty right away. Use a stain and water repellent, usually in spray form, to coat the whole shoe. This includes the soles and laces. Reapply another coat every few weeks, and be sure to clean away anything that has crept in in-between.
How to Clean Canvas Shoes
Canvas shoes are one of the easiest types of shoe to wash. The fabric is normally breathable and durable, which means that you can put them in the washing machine easily. Before you go ahead and throw them in, be sure to scroll down and read our advice on how to wash different types of white shoe.
There are also other ways to do it. If you want to be an expert on how to clean shoes at home, you should probably give all of the options a try and see which works best for you. Some require more effort than others, but the results speak for themselves. Watch our video below to see how it’s done.
The good news is that every option out there works with canvas shoes, except for using white shoe polish, which should be reserved for leather. If you are trying to decide on which pair of white shoes to buy, this might sway your decision. Keeping them white is so much easier when they are made of canvas!
How to Clean White Shoes
Let’s take a look at the best way to clean shoes before we move on any further. You will need to consider which of these options is suitable before you start. The options at your disposal are:
- Put them in the washing machine
- Use an all-purpose cleaning spray or soapy water with a sponge or toothbrush
- Magic Eraser
- White shoe polish
- Brushing off dry dirt
Generally speaking, you should be careful about how you use your white shoes during the day to avoid serious cleaning problems. Try not to walk in muddy areas or puddles, and stick to the pavement where possible. If you do end up with dried mud or flecks of dirt on your shoes, give them a brush off when you get home. You might find that you are able to get rid of the worst of it with this simple technique.
Once you do get a stain or build-up of dirt, it’s time to decide how to clean your shoes. It all depends on what kind of white shoes you’re wearing.
How to Clean White Vans
Vans are normally made from either suede or canvas, so first of all, take the time to figure out which ones you have. You may see a label on the inside of the shoe telling you what machine settings to use, but if not, always err on the side of caution. It’s better having to wash them twice than ruin them once and for all.
You can actually clean them without the washing machine, too. If you are looking at suede, this might be the best option, and it definitely helps with any rubber areas of the shoe. Get an all-purpose cleaning spray and pair it up with a cloth or sponge. You can also use a toothbrush to scrub at small areas such as the marks on the soles.
Spray the shoe following the directions on the bottle, then wipe it off with your cloth or sponge. If the dirt is still there, try scrubbing it until it comes off. If it still doesn’t budge, you may need to consider stain removal techniques.
How to Clean White Shoe Laces
Shoe laces should always be removed from the shoes before washing, especially if you have white laces attached to a coloured shoe. This helps them to wash properly: dirt can build up around the eyes that the laces pass through, and these areas might not get fully washed otherwise.
If you are putting the laces in the washing machine, you can add them to a normal white wash, although it’s perhaps best not to dry them. They may tangle with other items of clothing, and could even damage delicate items if they get caught. To prevent this, put them inside a white pillowcase that will contain them for the duration of the wash.
When they come out, hang them up to dry. Avoid putting them on the radiator unless they are very slow to dry, as they may shrink when exposed to heat.
How to Clean Nike Shoes
The more expensive the shoes, the more attention you should probably pay to keep them clean. Nikes can often be made from leather, which means you should definitely take a lot more care with them. This also means that they may stain more easily. Try to clean your Nikes by hand before you do anything else. You can use the technique described above for how to clean Vans if the shoes are leather or canvas.
How to Clean White Leather Shoes
There is also another way to keep your white leather shoes white. Once you have carefully and gently wiped them with a damp cloth to remove any dust and dirt, get yourself some white shoe polish. Rub this into the leather and leave it until it is dry. Follow this by buffing the shoes with a dry cloth for a perfect finish.
You can also use neutral tone shoe polish. This is a good option if you have white shoes with coloured details or coloured shoes with white patches.
Can You Wash Tennis Shoes?
Good news- it is definitely fine to wash tennis shoes. So, how to clean tennis shoes? But you do have to be a little careful about what materials they’re made of and think about how you treat them. Washing them by hand can take a lot of effort, so putting them in the washing machine might seem like a great option.
If you put your shoes in the washing machine, you should make sure that you are on hand when the machine finishes its cycle. You don’t want to leave them lying around in wet clothes for hours – in fact, it’s best if you wash them in an otherwise empty machine. The specific instructions for washing different types of shoes are below.
How to Wash Tennis Shoes
With canvas tennis shoes, you should be able to put them in the washing machine easily with no complaints. It’s not enough just to put them on any old cycle, however! Knowing how to clean fabric shoes means recognising the delicacy of the material. Shoes aren’t necessarily made to be washed in this way, but with modern machine settings, you should have no trouble if you’re careful.
Set the machine to a delicate cycle – hand wash is the best, but you could also select an option intended for silks or wools. Choose a cold temperature to ensure that the hot water won’t warp your white shoes, and leave the dryer turned off if it’s a combination machine. Your shoes should dry reasonably quickly in the open air, so drying them is unnecessary – and could cause damage.
Wash the laces separately – don’t leave them attached to the shoe. It might be a pain to re-lace them every time, but the results are worth the effort.
How to Wash White Converse
Since you now know how to clean white canvas shoes, you might assume Converse are exactly the same. You would be right, except for one small thing. The big selling point of Converse is their design, which has included a rubber edging to the shoe as well as a rubber toe for the duration of their history.
The inclusion of this rubber means you have to take extra care with your white Converse. You absolutely must avoid exposing them to heat, so don’t put that dryer cycle on and always double-check that you have set a cold cycle. Don’t leave them on or under a radiator to dry, but rather leave them by a door or window. They should dry reasonably quickly on their own.
How to Whiten Shoes
Even if you know how to clean shoes to the best of your ability, it might not be enough to keep them white. You could still quite easily end up with shoes that are stained – yellow stains often come from exposure to sunlight or mud. If you drop something on your shoes, this can easily leave a stain of any colour. Finally, scraping black rubber or leather against your white shoes can also leave a mark. Here’s how to deal with that.
How to Bleach Shoes
Make sure that you water down bleach before you use it on your shoes – there will often be guidelines on the packaging for how to do this. Remove the laces before you start and wear rubber gloves to protect your skin.
Use an old rag to wipe the surface of your white shoe with the bleach, making sure to pay attention to stained areas. Repeat as necessary until you are happy with the results. Next, thoroughly wash the shoe in soap and warm water. This is really important to ensure that all of the chemicals are washed away before your next use.
How to Get Stains Out of White Shoes
If you have yellowing areas on your shoes, and you aren’t going to go and use bleach, the best way to get them sparkling white again is actually to use a Magic Eraser.
It’s super easy to do – just rub the Magic Eraser on the shoe in the areas where you have stains and watch them disappear. Again, if this doesn’t work, you’ll have to try bleach. You can also use a stain remover which is designed for use on clothing if you have canvas shoes.
Best Shoe Cleaner
In the end, the best shoe cleaner is a combination of all these methods. If you have a stain or a build-up of dirt you will need to use more extreme methods, but giving your white shoes a wipe whenever you go out with them is a really great idea. It’s so much more gentle than other methods and ensures that you don’t have to resort to anything drastic for much longer.
How to Keep White Trainers White
- Make sure to pre-treat your trainers before wearing them. We have some great products that repel dirt and liquids.
- Wipe your shoes clean after every wear- this may seem tedious, but it will save you a lot of time in the long run. Also, try to avoid muddy and dirty areas.
- Use a washing machine for durable fabrics, just be weary of the temperate you set your wash on.
- Take care of more fragile fabrics by using soapy water only.
- White shoe polish is great for shining white leather shoes.
On That Note
Basically, keep your white shoes clean by being diligent and taking care of them. The more care you take, the whiter they will stay. But if you do make a mistake and end up with a stain, it’s easy enough to take care of it! Be weary of where you wear your trainers. It’s a good idea to have one cheaper pair that you don’t ,ind getting dirty, and some more expensive ones that you wear occasionally.
Where to buy a pair of Converse
Feature image from Pinterest