It’s almost impossible to keep white shoes clean 24/7. No matter how bright and spotless they were when you first bought them, scuffs, stains and spills accumulate over time. Before you know it, your favorite pair of Converse or Vans are in a less-than-pristine state. But rather than getting rid of your sneakers for good, try our easy guide below on how to clean white shoes. We share expert tips on making your canvas, suede and leather shoes look brand new, along with pointers to prevent dirt and grime from building up.
Throwing your shoes in the washing machine might be the first thing you think of when it’s time to clean your shoes. But, Carolyn Forté, executive director of the Good Housekeeping Institute Home Care & Cleaning Lab, suggests hand-cleaning them with a cloth or a soft brush instead. It’s a gentle process compared to a washing machine’s aggressive cycle. Plus, it’s a better solution for sneakers, loafers and slippers made of leather.
With our simple steps below, we also share the best products needed to clean your shoes, including Dawn, Clorox and Mr. Clean Magic Erasers. And while Forté can’t tell you exactly when it’s time to clean your shoes, she suggests taking note: “The dirtier they get, the harder they are to clean.” Depending on wear, she recommends “washing them every month or so and removing obvious spots and stains as soon as you see them to keep shoes looking cleaner longer.”
So, use our step-by-step instructions below to bring your white shoes back to life — no matter the material. And as another preventative measure, consider these shoe organizer ideas to store your shoes for long-time wear.
Wet another cloth with plain water and wipe the shoes to rinse.
Stuff the sneakers with white paper towels to absorb moisture and maintain the shape.
Let the shoes dry at room temperature.
How to Clean White Canvas Shoes With Bleach
“Bleach or a bleach solution is okay to use on white canvas sneakers, but I wouldn’t use it on leather or on the rubber trim, as it may turn it yellow,” Forté says. Clorox shares step-by-step instructions on how to wash your shoes with bleach, which you can easily follow below:
Remove the laces and use a long brush to remove loose dirt and soil from your shoes.
Note: Washing the entire shoe in water can cause stains to settle into the fabric.
How to Clean White Shoelaces
So what about those grimy laces? Give ’em a quick spruce with dishwashing liquid before threading them back through:
Untie and remove the laces from the shoes.
Soak them in warm, soapy water.
Rinse the shoelaces with fresh water.
Squeeze the excess water out.
Lay flat to dry.
How to Keep White Shoes White
To keep your shoes sparkling, guard them against the elements and remove spots as soon as they appear:
Caroline is a writer and editor with almost a decade of experience. From 2015 to 2019, she held various editorial positions at Good Housekeeping, including as health editor, covering nutrition, fitness, wellness, and other lifestyle news. She’s a graduate of the Medill School of Journalism and dreams of the day Northwestern will go back to the Rose Bowl.
Mariah Thomas (she/her) is an assistant editor for Good Housekeeping, where she covers home and lifestyle content. Mariah has more than four years of editorial experience, having written for TLC, Apartment Therapy, Women’s Health and Avocado Magazine. She received her master’s degree in journalism at the Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism and published her first book, Heart and Soul: Poems of Thoughts and Emotions, in 2019. She’s also the founder of RTF Community a platform for creatives of color to connect, learn and showcase their work.