Canvas, leather, vinyl, suede, and other materials are all represented in the white shoe market. White shoes are a fashion statement, but they show dirt quickly and lose their luster. The good news is that there are a few easy ways to restore the original brightness of your white shoes and clean them without damaging the fabric. Find out everything you need to know about cleaning white shoes right here.

It is possible to clean white shoes without using bleach by combining baking soda and hydrogen peroxide. However, if you have any particularly difficult stains, you could always try bleach. Fabrics like canvas that are white can be brightened and cleaned with bleach. Make sure your shoes will react well by testing a small area first.

You can also clean your white shoes effectively with diluted bleach. Scrub the shoes with a soft-bristled brush and a solution of one part bleach to five parts water, then rinse thoroughly. Overuse of bleach can lead to yellowing in some cases. In that case, you can restore the original color of your white shoes by scrubbing them in a solution of salt and hot water.

Every time you wear them, white shoes should be cleaned. Simply brush them with a soft-bristled brush or wipe them down with a damp cloth to get rid of any dust or dirt that has settled on the surface. Cleaning up new messes is much less of a hassle than removing years' worth of dirt and stains. Extreme staining or soiling, or long-term storage, both call for a more thorough cleaning, which is best performed by professionals.

How to Clean White Vans ShoesThe Proper Way to Clean Your White Vans
  • Concentrated detergent for large loads of laundry
  • Warm water
  • Using either baking soda, peroxide, or bleach
  • Soap such as Castile, Saddle, or Mild
  • Water
  • Soda bicarbonate (if you have it)
  • Something powdery like cornstarch or talcum
  • Malt vinegar
  • Toilet paper
  • Water
  • Nail polish remover containing acetone
  • Swab or cotton ball
  • As an example, baking soda
  • Soap for washing dishes
  • Lubricating oil
Letcia Almeida's The Spruce.

If your white fabric shoes have any delicate parts, you should clean them by hand instead of throwing them in the washing machine.

  1. White shoes, particularly white canvas shoes, can often be cleaned in the washing machine. Conversely, you should always clean your shoes by hand if they have any leather or suede details, beads, or rope soles. Washing shoes with embellishments can be dangerous due to the washer's agitation, which can loosen the glues used in the construction.

  2. Before cleaning, always take off shoe laces, insoles, and embellishments. While the shoes are being cleaned, soak the laces in a bowl of hot water with a teaspoon of powerful laundry detergent. You can either replace the insoles or clean them by hand.

    Letcia Almeida's The Spruce.
  3. To keep the dirt from clogging your washing machine, rinse the shoes off with a hose if they get muddy. To get rid of stubborn stains, rub some laundry detergent into the canvas with a soft bristle brush before washing. An extremely dirty sole can be cleaned with a melamine sponge (like Mr. Eraser, Clean)

    You can skip this step if you plan to spot-clean your shoes instead of washing them in a machine. Place the shoes in a mesh laundry bag before placing them in the washer. Then, follow these instructions for washing white sneakers:

    • Combine a load of white towels and shoes to wash in your regular detergent.
    • If further bleaching of the shoes is required, chlorine or oxygen-based bleach can be used. Use baking soda or hydrogen peroxide instead.
    • To prevent the washer from tipping over, use warm water and the regular cycle, but reduce the spin speed.
    Letcia Almeida's The Spruce.
  4. Spot-clean white canvas espadrilles and other shoes that can't be washed in the washing machine by soaking them in a solution of one teaspoon of laundry detergent in one quart of warm water. Clean the inside and outside of the shoes by scrubbing them with a microfiber cloth that has been dipped in the cleaning solution.

    To finish, rinse any remaining soap off with a fresh cloth dipped in plain water.

    Letcia Almeida's The Spruce
  5. It's best to let shoes and laces air-dry in a cool, dark place away from direct sunlight rather than using a hot dryer. When the temperature rises, the glues used to assemble the footwear may soften and separate. To expedite drying, wipe the shoes down with a towel to remove excess moisture.

    Pack the toes with nylon mesh if you want the shoes to keep their form.

    Letcia Almeida's The Spruce.

You only need a few things to keep your white leather shoes shining, whether they're sneakers or stilettos. The use of baking soda to clean white sneakers is not required, but can be helpful for removing stains.

  1. Take off the shoe's adornments, laces, and insoles. To remove excess water, soak a cotton or microfiber cloth in water and wring it out. Then, clean the shoe thoroughly, focusing on the seams and any other areas likely to have accumulated dust and dirt. While the soil is being transferred, please move to a clean part of the cloth. Wait 15 minutes before putting the shoes back on.

    Letcia Almeida's The Spruce.
  2. Soak a melamine sponge in water and use it to wipe down the soles, heel, and toe. If the shoe has leather overlays, you shouldn't use a sponge on them because doing so can erode the leather's protective finish.

    Letcia Almeida's The Spruce.
  3. To make a lather, wet a clean cloth and add some soap. In order to clean the leather, start with a small area and work in a circular motion. The correct order is to start at the toes, then move to the sides, and finally the heel.

    Baking soda is a mild abrasive cleaner that can be used to remove stubborn scuff marks. Using baking soda and water, gently scrub the stain off with a clean cloth.

    Spruce, by Letcia Almeida
  4. Use a clean cloth dampened with plain water to remove any trace of soap. Rinse the fabric until it is just damp. The shoes should then dry naturally out of direct sunlight.

    If the shoes still aren't white enough, try again with a new pair of socks.

    A Spruce Tree by Letcia Almeida

Although suede and nubuck shoes are typically a more ecru color, they still require special care when cleaning.

  1. The first step in cleaning dirty shoes is to brush them thoroughly with a soft-bristled brush to dislodge any loosened or embedded dirt.

    Heidi Kolsky's The Spruce

  2. Cornstarch or talcum powder can be used to absorb oil from stains. Don't touch the stain for at least an hour, and use it again if necessary.

    Using the art gum eraser, softly rub away the scuffs and stains. Remove the stains in layers without scrubbing.

    If the stains persist after using an eraser, try using a cloth dampened with distilled vinegar to rub the affected areas. Using a paper towel, blot the treated area to remove excess moisture.

    Heidi Kolsky's The Spruce

  3. Once the suede is dry, buff it with a suede brush to remove any mats and restore its luster.

    Heidi Kolsky's The Spruce

To achieve its shiny appearance, patent leather is made from genuine leather that has been treated. Cleaning methods designed for patent leather are also effective on vinyl or synthetic shoe finishes.

  1. Wipe the shoes down thoroughly by dipping a soft cleaning cloth in plain water and wiping them down to remove any dust or dirt.

    In Heidi Kolsky's The Spruce.

  2. Apply some nail polish remover containing acetone to a cotton swab and rub the area in question to remove any scuff marks or discoloration. A paste of 1 tablespoon of baking soda and 1/2 teaspoon water can be used to gently rub away scuffs and stains. As a final step, rinse with a clean cloth dampened with plain water.

    Heidi Kolsky's The Spruce

  3. The grosgrain ribbon used to decorate the edges of many pairs of patent leather shoes easily stains. Make a cleaning solution by combining 1 teaspoon of dish soap and 1 cup of warm water. Scrub the hems of the fabric with an old toothbrush dipped in the solution. Finally, rinse with water to eliminate any remaining soap scum.

    Heidi Kolsky's The Spruce

  4. A small amount of petroleum jelly on a clean, soft cloth can revive a dull finish. Buff the surface to a mirror finish with a soft, dry cloth.

    "The Spruce" by Heidi Kolsky.

  • Protective, water-resistant sprays can be sprayed on shoes. White canvas or fabric shoes can benefit from using upholstery protectors.
  • When dealing with stubborn discolorations, try using a little bit of white shoe polish.
  • Shoes that are light in color, like whites, should be kept in fabric bags to prevent them from getting dirty.
  • Scrubbing too harshly will cause the mesh in your shoes to wear out quickly.
  • When you need to quickly remove a stain but don't have any other stain remover on hand, white toothpaste can do the trick on white leather shoes.
  • Use a mixture of 1 part baking soda to 1 part dish soap or laundry detergent and a soft-bristle brush to clean white rubber on shoes. Any loose dirt should be removed first via brushing or wiping.
  • Melamine foam sponges can remove the protective finish from leather if used too vigorously, but they do no damage at all if used gently, and they are sometimes the only hope for a badly worn pair of sneakers. The combination of melamine foam for removing grime and scuffs and some shoe polish can sometimes be more effective than either method used alone.
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