Everyone Is Obsessed With This Trick for Cleaning White Sneakers

Caroline Picard
Photo credit: Maksym Azovtsev - Getty Images
Photo credit: Maksym Azovtsev - Getty Images

From Good Housekeeping

No one buys white sneakers thinking they'll stay bright and grime-free forever, but when the inevitable spills, stains, and scuffs happen, it's only natural to hope you can restore them to their pristine state.

Before you throw dirty or stained canvas shoes in the washing machine, try hand cleaning them with a cloth or soft brush instead, advises Carolyn Forte, director of the Good Housekeeping Institute Cleaning Lab. The machine may damage your shoes if the cycle is too aggressive, and if you're dealing with leather, you need to avoid it at all costs.

In fact, Converse and Nike, specifically warn their customers against machine washing or drying their sneakers. Adidas also recommends cleaning shoes the DIY way. The good news: It's very easy to do at home, and you likely already have all the supplies on hand. Here's what you'll need:

How to Clean White Canvas Sneakers

Photo credit: kieferpix - Getty Images
Photo credit: kieferpix - Getty Images

To restore white canvas sneakers like Vans or Converse back to their bright white hue, follow these steps:

  1. Untie and remove the shoelaces.

  2. Use a soft brush to remove loose dirt, including along the rubber edge and tongue.

  3. Mix a few drops of dish soap, like Dawn, into a cup of warm water.

  4. Dip a cloth or soft brush into the soapy water and gently go over both shoes.

  5. Clean rubber soles and sides with a Mr. Clean Magic Eraser.

  6. Wet another cloth with plain water and wipe the shoes to rinse.

  7. Stuff the sneakers with white paper towels to absorb moisture and maintain the shape.

  8. Let the shoes dry at room temperature.

For tough stains on white canvas shoes: Dip a brush in hydrogen peroxide and scrub. Wipe with a clean, wet cloth and air dry.

How to Clean White Leather Sneakers

Photo credit: Maksym Azovtsev - Getty Images
Photo credit: Maksym Azovtsev - Getty Images

For leather shoes — like white Adidas or Nike sneakers — follow a similar method:

  1. Untie and remove the shoelaces.

  2. Use a soft brush to brush off loose dust and dirt.

  3. Mix a few drops of dishwashing liquid, like Dawn, into a cup of warm water.

  4. Dip a cloth or soft brush into the soapy water and gently go over the entire shoe.

  5. Clean rubber soles and sides with a Mr. Clean Magic Eraser.

  6. Wet a cloth with plain water and wipe the shoes to rinse them.

  7. Stuff the sneakers with white paper towels to absorb moisture and maintain the shape.

  8. After they dry at room temperature, apply a leather conditioner, like GH Seal star Furniture Clinic Leather Protection Cream to help keep the shoes soft and supple.

For tough stains on white leather shoes: Dip a wet brush in baking soda and rub gently. Wipe with a clean, wet cloth and air dry.

How to Clean White Shoelaces

So what about those grimy laces? Give 'em a quick spruce with dishwashing liquid before threading them back through:

  1. Untie and remove the laces from the shoes.

  2. Soak them in warm, soapy water.

  3. Rinse the shoelaces with fresh water.

  4. Squeeze the excess water out.

  5. Lay flat to dry.

How to Keep White Shoes White

Photo credit: yuriyzhuravov - Getty Images
Photo credit: yuriyzhuravov - Getty Images

To keep your shoes sparkling, guard them against the elements and remove spots as soon as they appear:

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