With These Expert-Approved Cleaning Tips, Your White Sneakers Will Look Brand New


It’s almost impossible to keep white shoes clean 24/7. No matter how bright and spotless they were when you first bought them, scuffs, stains and spills accumulate over time. Before you know it, your favorite pair of Converse or Vans are in a less-than-pristine state. But rather than getting rid of your sneakers for good, try our easy guide below on how to clean white shoes. We share expert tips on making your canvas, suede and leather shoes look brand new, along with pointers to prevent dirt and grime from building up.

Throwing your shoes in the washing machine might be the first thing you think of when it’s time to clean your shoes. But, Carolyn Forté, executive director of the Good Housekeeping Institute Home Care & Cleaning Lab, suggests hand-cleaning them with a cloth or a soft brush instead. It’s a gentle process compared to a washing machine’s aggressive cycle. Plus, it’s a better solution for sneakers, loafers and slippers made of leather.

With our simple steps below, we also share the best products needed to clean your shoes, including Dawn, Clorox and Mr. Clean Magic Erasers. And while Forté can’t tell you exactly when it’s time to clean your shoes, she suggests taking note: “The dirtier they get, the harder they are to clean.” Depending on wear, she recommends “washing them every month or so and removing obvious spots and stains as soon as you see them to keep shoes looking cleaner longer.”

So, use our step-by-step instructions below to bring your white shoes back to life — no matter the material. And as another preventative measure, consider these shoe organizer ideas to store your shoes for long-time wear.

Dawn Ultra Dish Soap Dishwashing Liquid

Dawn Ultra Dish Soap Dishwashing Liquid

Furniture Clinic Leather Protection Cream

Furniture Clinic Leather Protection Cream

Multi-Use Soft Nylon Brush

Multi-Use Soft Nylon Brush

How to Clean White Canvas Sneakers

how to clean white shoes, hand holding a pair of shoes

kieferpix//Getty Images

To restore white canvas sneakers, like Vans or Converse, back to their bright white color, 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.

How to Clean White Canvas Shoes With Bleach

preview for How to Clean White Vans

    “Bleach or a bleach solution is okay to use on white canvas sneakers, but I wouldn’t use it on leather or on the rubber trim, as it may turn it yellow,” Forté says. Clorox shares step-by-step instructions on how to wash your shoes with bleach, which you can easily follow below:

    1. Remove the laces and use a long brush to remove loose dirt and soil from your shoes.
    2. Mix 1 tablespoon of Clorox Disinfecting Bleach and 1 quart of water in a measuring cup.
    3. Dip the brush in the solution and gently scrub your shoes in a circular motion.
    4. Wait one minute before spraying hydrogen peroxide on the treated areas.
    5. Rinse the shoes clean with water.
    6. If the stains remain, repeat the process.
    7. Let your shoes dry overnight.

    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

    how to clean white shoes, white shoes on a person's feet

    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 GH Seal Star 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 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 Suede Shoes

    how to clean white shoes, close up of a person wearing white shoes

    yuriyzhuravov//Getty Images

    According to Forté, “white suede should only be cleaned with a suede cleaner.” She recommends the KIWI Suede and Nubuck Cleaner. “I wouldn’t risk using any home method and suede shouldn’t get too wet,” she says. But if you’re worried that your stains have been on your suede shoes for too long, Nike suggests using white vinegar or rubbing alcohol mixed with water. The entire shoe shouldn’t be drenched, but lightly dampened.

    Note: Washing the entire shoe in water can cause stains to settle into the fabric.

    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

    preview for How to Clean White Vans

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

    Headshot of Caroline Picard

    Contributing Writer

    Caroline is a writer and editor with almost a decade of experience. From 2015 to 2019, she held various editorial positions at Good Housekeeping, including as health editor, covering nutrition, fitness, wellness, and other lifestyle news. She’s a graduate of the Medill School of Journalism and dreams of the day Northwestern will go back to the Rose Bowl.  

    Headshot of Mariah Thomas

    Assistant Editor

    Mariah Thomas (she/her) is an assistant editor for Good Housekeeping, where she covers home and lifestyle content. Mariah has more than four years of editorial experience, having written for TLC, Apartment Therapy, Women’s Health and Avocado Magazine. She received her master’s degree in journalism at the Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism and published her first book, Heart and Soul: Poems of Thoughts and Emotions, in 2019. She’s also the founder of RTF Community a platform for creatives of color to connect, learn and showcase their work. 





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