No wardrobe is complete without a basic white sneaker, but keeping them clean and pristine is a bit of a challenge. Don’t give in to dirt and stains, though! These tips will help you restore old white shoes so that you don’t have to buy new ones.
Make a DIY shoe cleaning solution
If you’d rather save your money than spend it on shoe cleaning products, scrubbing your shoes with a solution of equal parts white vinegar and water should do the trick. Apply the solution with a cloth and then gently scrub away. As long as the stain is relatively new and hasn’t steeped into the shoe yet, this method can work on any material but is the most effective on leather.
Use baking soda
Baking soda is known to break up soil particles, so if you’ve run into a bit of dirt, making a paste out of baking soda and water will help get rid of the evidence. Make sure to only use this method on white fabrics—baking soda may discolor non-white shoes.
Mr. Clean Magic Erasers.
Some people swear by Mr. Clean Magic Erasers for tougher stains but keep in mind that over-use of harsh cleaners can potentially give your white shoes a yellow tinge after a while.
Try a brush
Once you’ve applied the cleaner of your choice, a brush can help get stains out better than an ordinary cloth or rag. Make sure you’re using the right brush though—an old toothbrush might be alright for the soles of your shoes, but the bristles could be too harsh on the upper part of your shoe which could cause pilling. Consider purchasing an actual shoe brush with softer bristles.
What about soles?
The soles of your shoes are doing most of the heavy lifting when it comes to attracting dirt and stains, so it can be helpful to use a different product on them than on the upper parts of your shoes for a more thorough clean. Sneaker Rescue wipes are all-natural and work on all parts of your shoe but are especially good at getting scuffs off the soles. Since the soles are made of tougher material than most other parts of the shoe, grabbing any old brush (like a retired toothbrush) to scrub stains will work, too.
How about tossing white running shoes in the washing machine?
This method is only recommended for fabric or fly knit shoes, and they should be put into a mesh laundry bag or pillowcase before running them through a delicate cycle. Remove laces and insoles from the shoes first for a better clean.
Remember never to put your shoes through the dryer, and to dry them indoors as white soles can be turned yellow by the sun. This cleaning method is harsh and can significantly decrease the lifespan of your shoes so make sure to turn to the machine as a last resort if possible.
And the laces?
Laces are machine washable, but make sure to use a mesh delicates bag so that they don’t get lost in the machine. You can also spray laces with stain remover and let them soak in a bowl for a day before throwing them into the machine.
What about preventative measures?
If you want to protect your shoes from getting stains in the first place, you should spray your shoes with a stain and liquid repellant, especially if you have canvas shoes. These sprays build a protective layer between the outside world and your shoe, which will make spot cleaning easier.
The spray usually lasts for three to four weeks, so remember to respray once you notice that liquid no longer rolls off your sneakers.