How to Clean White Sneakers

How to Clean White Sneakers So They Look New

A pair of clean shoes can elevate any outfit to the next level. Fresh white kicks, for example, are so versatile and look good with so many casual and dressy ensembles, no matter your destination. You can pair them with high rise jeans and graphic T-shirts before running errands, dress them up with knit patterned sweaters or cotton sundresses, or even wear them with suits. Chic white kicks go with plenty of stylish pieces in your wardrobe. They are a must-have for any fashionista’s closet.

Unfortunately, white shoes can be a bit tricky to keep looking brand new. After your new white shoes leave the box, they will instantly be exposed to many harsh elements that threaten to dirty your beloved footwear. Since white is the brightest hue, it’s so easy to notice stains, dirt, scuffs, and dust on your sweet kicks — no matter the size of the dirty spots. And dirty shoes are a no-no for a well-put-together outfit.

Cleaning white shoes take a little TLC, whether they are canvas, leather, or mesh. Like suede women’s winter boots, you can’t just toss them in the washing machine since that’ll possibly ruin their shape. However, if you follow and master the tips below on how to clean white sneakers, old or new, they will look their best throughout the year.

What to Use to Clean White Sneakers

You’re probably wondering what you’ll need to clean your dirty white shoes. Chances are you already own most of the supplies you will need for a spotless finish, but if you don’t, just head to the closest grocery store or buy them online. It’s just that easy! Besides common household items like baking soda, white vinegar, bleach, toothpaste, and liquid detergent, you’ll need the following easy-to-find items for scrubbing and cleaning: an old toothbrush, paper towel, a washcloth or rag, a bucket or bowl, and water.


Yes, you can use bleach to clean your sweet kicks, but make sure you crack open a window or two or clean them in a well-ventilated area. Also, since bleach is one of the harsher cleaning solutions, go gentle when using it. Protect your eyes and skin from exposure (rubber gloves will do) and carefully dilute the bleach. You can also use bleach for cleaning your white shoelaces.

Baking Soda

You already know how magical baking soda is for cleaning around the house, freshening your fridge, and baking treats, so you probably have it in your cabinet. You may have to use white vinegar with it to achieve the best clean possible.


Your laundry detergent will come in handy, especially when cleaning white and colored laces. Try to use only a small amount of your favorite liquid detergent. You can also wash other items, like canvas backpacks, by hand using detergent.


Toothpaste works wonders on white shoes. However, stay away from using colored toothpaste. Use a non-gel white option to avoid additional staining. Gather your supplies and get to cleaning those white shoes. Your sneaks will look pristine in no time for your next journey outside.

Preparing to Deep-Clean Your Sneakers

Before cleaning your kicks, you’ll want to prep them by using your toothbrush or paper towel to remove any loose dirt. Dip the toothbrush in water and scrub your shoes in a circular motion, focusing on heavily stained areas. Or wet a piece of paper towel, squeeze out excess water, and wipe down your shoes to remove surface dirt. Take off the shoestrings so they won’t get in the way while you’re cleaning (we’ll go over how to clean your shoestrings, don’t worry).

How to Clean White Sneakers with Bleach

Bleach is one of the harshest cleaning items you can use. However, bleach can work wonders when used to clean white canvas. After finding a well-ventilated area and opening a window, get your supplies ready: bleach, a toothbrush, a bucket or container, and water. Carefully dilute the bleach in your bucket by mixing one-part bleach to every five parts of water. Then dip the toothbrush in the solution and use it to gently scrub your dirty shoes. Afterward, rinse your shoes with warm water and let them air dry, possibly overnight.

Here’s a useful tip: a bleach pen may aid you when you’re in a pinch, so you may want to add one to your toolkit. Apply the pen to spots and after letting your shoes sit for about five minutes, wash them using a cloth dipped in hot water mixed with liquid detergent. Also, bleach works well when cleaning your all-white shoelaces. Put them in a white mesh bag and soak them in a similar solution to the one mentioned above for about five minutes. You may need something heavy (like a plate) to try to keep the bag submerged. After soaking them, toss them in the washing machine with your regular detergent and air dry them once they’re done washing.

How to Clean White Sneakers with Baking Soda

Time to pop out the baking soda and white vinegar. To make the paste-like substance for cleaning, you will need to mix in a small bowl one tablespoon of white vinegar, one tablespoon of baking soda, and one tablespoon of hot water. Then using your handy toothbrush, scrub the canvas parts of your shoes in circular motions to remove dirt and stains. Then, let the paste harden (having them dry under direct sunlight is the best option). After they have dried for 3-4 hours, wipe off the paste using a soft cloth or paper towel. Your old canvas white shoes should appear brighter and as good as new.

How to Use Detergent for Cleaning White Sneakers

Mix a small amount of liquid detergent with warm water in a bucket to create a slightly soapy mixture. Dip your toothbrush in the mixture and clean any dirty areas. Use a cloth to wipe off your shoes and let them air dry. You can also use the mixture to clean colored and white shoestrings. Massage the shoelaces and squeeze out excess water using a cloth. Then hang them so they may air dry. Finally, don’t forget about the rubber soles! Using the same toothbrush, dip it in the mixture and brush the outsole and midsole.

Did you know that just like your white shoes, it’s best to wash other clothing items, like swimwear, by hand? If you use a gentle liquid detergent, your swimsuits will last longer if you wash them by hand as opposed to washing them in the washing machine.

How to Clean White Sneakers with Toothpaste

Grab your practical toothbrush and the non-gel white toothpaste. With a dab of toothpaste on the brush, apply the brush to the canvas in a circular motion, cleaning the extra-dirty spots on your white shoes. After working the toothpaste into the fabric, let your shoes sit for ten minutes or so. Use a damp cloth, towel, or paper towel to wipe the paste off your shoes. Then repeat the process if necessary. As easy as brushing your teeth!

Preventing Future Stains on White Sneakers

It’s smart to take preventative measures so that once it’s time to deep clean your white shoes again, you can save time. For example, as soon as you get home after purchasing your new shoes or before wearing them for the first time, spray them with a stain-and-water repellent for an extra dose of protection. Remember to spray them every few weeks for continual protection against the elements, no matter the season or weather condition. If you can, avoid wearing them when it’s rainy. Finally, try to spot clean your shoes and prevent stains from sinking into the fabric, which will make cleaning them that much more difficult. Don’t wait for the dust, dirt, and grime to build up! If you notice something unsightly, clean it ASAP.

What’s your favorite cleaning method for cleaning white shoes? You’ll find that you’ll gravitate towards the method that best fits into your schedule or that’s the easiest for you to master. You may even have your own clever hacks to use with the above tips. Whatever the case, don’t delay cleaning your white shoes. While you’re at it, research and learn how to keep other closet staples clean too, like your flannel shirts or winter coats. Then, you’ll be one step closer to impressive, head-to-toe styling.


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