How to Clean White Sneakers and See a Real Difference Your sneakers will look brand-new with these cleaning tips and quick wins

There’s nothing as satisfying as wearing a new pair of white sneakers for the first time. They go with nearly everything you own, can be worn all year round, and when they’re fresh they add an instant crispness to your getup. If you’re anything like us, you might let them sit there for a while to avoid the inevitable smudging and dirtying of your brand new kicks. Just like any other white article of clothing, stains are hard to hide and sometimes even harder to remove.

Instead of trashing them every few months, which is both expensive and not-so-eco-friendly, we’ve laid out some solutions to clean both canvas and leather sneakers. So whether you’re keeping it classic with a low-top Converse or embracing the trend with Stan Smiths we’ll have your shoes looking like they just came out of the box.

Easy Wins for Any Type of Shoe

Mr. Cavaliere

Whether you don’t have the time to clean the whole shoe or you’re just looking for a quick improvement, these easy tips will make an instant difference.

Wear with care

With any common sense, you probably realize there are certain places that are better suited for wearing your white sneakers than others. For instance, an outdoor concert might lead to more dirtying than walking from your car to a restaurant for dinner. Leave your sneakers at home when you know they might be too exposed to the elements.

You can also buy multiple pairs of the same style and switch them out. They’ll show wear and tear much more slowly if you give them a break.

New laces

Have you ever looked down at your shoes and realized they’re looking much dingier than you realized? Since they’re more prone to picking up dirt, your shoelaces are often part of the problem. Pick up a couple of spares (they’ll cost you literally a dollar) and switch them out when you notice your current laces are looking closer to gray than white. It’ll instantly brighten up your shoes and shouldn’t take more than five minutes of your time.

Just do the soles

If you want to bring your shoes back to their former glory but don’t have the time for a full clean, just take a Magic Eraser to your soles. You won’t have to wait for them to dry and with just a little elbow grease, your shoes will look much fresher.

How to clean white canvas shoes

Converse

Canvas sneakers can take more heavy-duty cleaning than their leather counterparts — however, they can also be harder to get back to that crisp white. You’ll need to be extra careful not to apply any cleaning solutions that will leave the fabric yellower instead of white.

This cleaning method works best on Converse, Vans, and any other pair that’s made from a cloth material.

Supplies

Since canvas can take a stronger cleaning, feel free to use a rougher bristle brush. This will allow your cleaning solution to lather up and really loosen any dirt that’s sat into the fabric. You can also use a toothbrush (not your current one, please) to get into any tough-to-reach spots like the tongue of the shoe.

While there are plenty of solutions out there specifically for cleaning shoes, we’ve found that a mix of baking soda, hydrogen peroxide, and water is enough. Going for this mix instead of a soap or bleach also guards against any yellowing in the cleaning.

For the sole of the sneaker and any leather accents, we recommend a Mr. Clean Magic Eraser soaked in your cleaning solution. The rubber can stand up to a good scrub, so feel free to apply some pressure to loosen up any dirt or smudges.

Instructions

  • Gather a bristle brush, toothbrush, desired cleaning solution, Magic Eraser, and of course your white shoes
  • Give your shoes a brush with the brush to loosen any surface dirt.
  • Mix your cleaning solution with water. Generally, a ½ tablespoon of each is enough to clean one pair of shoes and laces.
  • Remove laces from the shoe and soak in solution.
  • Dip your brush in your solution and give the canvas shoe a strong scrub. Feel free to go into any places you can’t reach with the toothbrush.
  • Soak your Magic Eraser with the remaining solution. Give the sole and any accents a vigorous scrub, focusing on any scuffs.
  • Leave your shoes and laces out for 3-4 hours, preferably in the sun.
  • Return to shoes, where paste should be dried and cracking. Clap shoes together and use your brush to remove any remaining mixture.

How to Clean White Leather Shoes

With shoes made from white leather, you’re more likely to get them back to their original color. However, you also need to treat this material with more care. Too vigorous of a cleaning and your shoes could end up with scratches they didn’t have in the first place.

This cleaning method works best on Adidas Stan Smiths, Nike Killshots, and any other shoe made from leather

Supplies

Since leather is a more delicate material, you’ll need to use less harsh cleaning materials. Choose a brush with soft bristles. Again, a toothbrush is great for cleaning the tongue and its bristles aren’t too stiff.

When cleaning leather, a gentle shampoo mixed with warm water is usually all you need for your solution. You’ll want to use the brush to lather it up and a rag to wipe it away.

The Magic Eraser is the answer to all your sole problems — feel free to use it again to get your leather sneaker soles looking good.

Instructions

  • Gather a soft brush, a toothbrush, your mixture of gentle shampoo and water, a rag, Magic Eraser, and your white shoes
  • Mix your gentle shampoo with warm water.
  • Remove your laces. You can either throw them in the washing machine or give them a hand wash
  • Dip your soft brush into the solution and lather up your shoes. Make sure to not get your shoes too wet. Wipe away dirt and lather.
  • Dip a toothbrush in the cleaning solution and clean the tongue.
  • Soak your Magic Eraser with the remaining solution. Give the sole and any remaining scruffs a good scrub.
  • Let shoes dry and re-lace.

Bright Whites

With proper care, your white sneakers will still look fresh way past your first time wearing them outside of the house. Just like you’d give your favorite white shirt some extra TLC, do the same for your shoes. You’ll be surprised just how much a little scrubbing can do.

Read This: The Ultimate Guide to Caring for Your Ties and Shoes