How to Clean White Shoes
Keep those kicks looking like new by following these easy tricks.
With a high incidence of scuffs, proximity to the dusty ground, unavoidable grass stains and that occasional drip of ice cream in the summer heat, white shoes really take a hit. Keep them looking their best by following a simple care routine.
Always remember to check the care instructions for your shoes so that you can first attempt what the manufacturer recommends. If that doesn’t work, dive into some of these options to tackle the tough stuff. While there are lots of different solutions to consider when you’re tackling dirt on fabric and scuffed up soles, the best approach is usually to spot clean by hand using an old toothbrush or a white, soft rag, rubbing the cleaning solution in a vigorous, targeted circular motion. Keep in mind that if you use a colored cloth, you’ll risk transferring unwanted dyes onto your white shoes.
Some sneakers can withstand the wash cycle, but it’s always advisable to air dry your shoes rather than put them into the dryer. The heat of the dryer can break down adhesives used in the shoe’s construction and cause them to fall apart more quickly than you’d expect.
Cleaning Shoes With Baking Soda and Hydrogen Peroxide
A baking soda paste is one of the most tried-and-true solutions for cleaning stains on a number of surfaces, and it works wonders on fabric shoes, too. The properties in the baking soda safely promote whitening without the threat of deterioration for the rubber, adhesives and fabric, and can be used regularly to keep your shoes looking sharp.
To make a paste, mix two parts baking soda with one part hydrogen peroxide and stir it together until it is mixed. The solution can then be applied to any dirty areas of your shoes using an old toothbrush and massaged in gently to soak into the fabric and agitate the soil. Use a clean cloth to wipe off any excess dirt that lifts from the fabric and rinse the toothbrush when it is visibly dirty. Apply two layers of the paste to the fabric of the shoes and then rinse clean with water. Allow the shoes to air dry.
Cleaning Shoes With Toothpaste
Toothpaste is an easy option if you don’t have plain baking soda or hydrogen peroxide on hand – that’s because many products already have both ingredients in the tube to promote a healthy, white smile. Choose a toothpaste that lists baking soda as a leading ingredient and rub the paste onto the dirty fabric to allow it to spot treat small areas. Allow it to sit for 10 to 15 minutes and then wash it clean with a white rag or clean sponge.
Cleaning Shoes With Lemon Juice
Lemon juice has often been used as an option for whitening clothing, and it works well for cleaning white shoes, too. Start by soaking the shoes in water so that they’re fully saturated. Then, after squeezing the juice from one lemon and creating a 1-to-1 solution of lemon juice and water, use a toothbrush to apply the diluted juice onto the shoes. Allow the shoes to sit for an hour and then rinse clean and allow the shoes to air dry.
Cleaning Shoes With Bleach
Bleach shouldn’t be your go-to when it comes to cleaning white shoes. When applied in a strong concentration or for repeated cleanings, the bleach can actually yellow the white fabric and rubber, and reversing that process is difficult. If you’re going to clean white shoes with bleach, be sure to dilute the bleach 10-to-1 and work in a well-ventilated area. Spot clean by hand and thoroughly rinse the shoes so no residual bleach is on the fabric.
Washing Shoes in a Washing Machine
If you’re going to put shoes through the washing machine with bleach, reconsider that decision! Instead of bleach, try putting a cup of white vinegar into the wash after the contents are soaked with water and allow it to finish its cycle. White vinegar has similar bleaching properties (and it’ll reduce smells in your shoes, too). Wash the shoes in a mesh laundry bag with a few towels to balance the load, then let air dry.
Never, ever combine bleach and vinegar for cleaning purposes, even if diluted in the washing machine, as the combination creates highly toxic gasses in the home.
Cleaning Shoes With Melamine Foam (Magic Eraser)
Melamine foam works wonders when it comes to cleaning the exposed rubber toe and sole of white shoes (so keep it in mind even if your shoes have colored fabric with white accent rubber trim). Use small pieces of wet foam to target scuffs and stains that won’t rinse clean easily. Make it a part of your routine, and you’ll never fret about those frustrating scuffs again.