Six Proven Hacks to Cleaning White Shoes

Are your white shoes looking a bit more than just dusty lately? They’re probably long overdue for a deep clean.

Knowing how to properly clean and take care of your favorite pair of white sneakers can ease the anxiety of wearing them and make them into a more practicable choice, rather than just collecting dust in your closet. We’ll discuss the best way to clean different types of shoes using household items so there’s no need to break the bank or take extreme measures.

Here are six proven DIY methods on how to clean white shoes:

1. Scrubbing Your Shoes with Soap and Water

I know this might sound pretty simple, but there’s a reason why using regular soap and warm water is the easiest and most effective way to clean most things, including your sneakers. 

Let’s first breakdown how to clean white canvas shoes, like a pair of Converse or Vans.

Mix about a tablespoon of dish soap into a pint of warm water until you see suds. An old toothbrush will work fine, but using a Mr. Clean Magic Eraser will have the optimal effect to get rid of prominent scuffs and deeper stains. 

Next, remove your shoelaces, dip a soft cloth into the soapy water, and damp the exterior of your dirty canvas shoes. Grab your toothbrush or magic eraser and start scrubbing your soles and sides in circular motions until the dirt begins to dissipate. Then, use a different cloth to dip it in plain water to rinse off the shoes.

Once you’re done, grab a dry towel to carefully pat your shoes dry. Avoid wiping them so you don’t spread dirty water or grime back into your white shoes. Once you’ve taken out all of the excess water, fill your shoes with dry paper towels to absorb excess moisture. Finally, leave them out to dry in a well-ventilated area at room temperature.

Don’t know how to clean white leather shoes?

No need to fret. You can use the same method above on your leather sneakers or heels, but try gently brushing rather than scrubbing your shoes to prevent harming the leather. After drying and stuffing them with the paper towels, apply a leather conditioner, to keep the leather soft, supple, and clean.

2. Using Baking Soda for Tougher Stains and Grime

If regular soap and water don’t do the trick, we can use the classic DIY method of mixing baking soda and white vinegar to get the deeper stains out of your canvas sneakers. Make sure you combine equal parts of baking soda, vinegar, and hot water into a mixing bowl to form a thick paste. If you see the mixture bubbling, it’s ready to go. Grab your toothbrush, dip it into the mixture, and start brushing it into your shoes in small circles until you cover the entire exterior.

Once they’re fully covered, leave the shoes outside under direct sunlight or in a well-ventilated room for three to four hours until the paste hardens. After the mixture fully dries, clap the shoes together to shake off the hardened paste. Brush them again with a clean, dry toothbrush to get the excess bits off, and you can grab a damp towel for a final clean.

3. Using White Vinegar to Get Rid of Salt Stains

Are you tired of salt stains sneakily attacking your pristine white shoes? The road salt the city uses can easily damage your shoes and even stain them. Thankfully, there’s an easy method to get rid of those pesky marks.

Add a tablespoon of white vinegar into one cup of cool water, use a cotton ball to soak up the mixture, and carefully dab it over the salt stains. This is especially effective for leather and sheepskin boots. Allow the shoes to air-dry, ideally overnight. Finally, use a clean soft cloth to buff the shoes.

4. Fighting Stains with Toothpaste

Start by wetting your shoes with a damp cloth to get excess dirt off without getting it soaking wet. Apply a pea-sized amount of non-gel white toothpaste onto your old toothbrush and start brushing your shoes in small circular motions you’ve completely covered the exterior. You can rub toothpaste directly onto the heavier stains for deeper cleaning.

Let it sit for at least 15 minutes, then thoroughly wipe your shoes with a clean, wet cloth. Leave your shoes in front of a fan, in a ventilated room, or even outside under direct sunlight so they can completely dry. Since using toothpaste is a more delicate method, this is ideal for those looking how to clean white mesh shoes.

5. How to Erase Stains on Suede Shoes

White suede shoes are literally the cream of the crop, so let’s make sure we properly take care of them. You’ll need a dry soft cloth (preferably cotton), a pencil eraser, paper towels, white vinegar, and a soft-bristled brush that can handle suede. 

Use the cloth to blot wet stains to absorb any moisture, then use the eraser to gently massage other noticeable scuffs. Next, dip your cloth into the white vinegar and carefully rub out the remaining stains. After drying, softly brush your shoes in the same direction as the suede to avoid further damage. For tougher grease stains, you can use corn starch on the spots, let it sit for two to three hours, and then brush them out to remove the grease.

6. Using Bleach to Whiten Your Shoes

Yes, you can use bleach to clean your white shoes, but be wary. Bleach is a very potent cleaning solution so you need to carefully dilute it with water, ideally mixing one part bleach to five parts of warm water. Find an area next to an open window, dip your toothbrush into the bleach and water solution, and gently scrub your canvas shoes. Rinse them thoroughly after you’re done, then let them dry overnight near the open window.

Final Thoughts

Just bought a brand new pair of white kicks? Try some prevention methods like using a water and stain repellant, and make sure you store them in a clean, ventilated area so they don’t collect dirt all day. And don’t let the stains linger and deepen. If you scuff your shoes, take care of it as soon as you can to maintain that clean white canvas.