Jul 29, 2023

How to Clean White Running Sneakers

By Jake Woolf

Whether you wear them to the office or to the gym (or both), the biggest thing right now in running sneakers are super-slick all-white, knit-upper versions. Nike's got its Flyknit technology, while Adidas has got Primeknit, but both companies can't seem to make enough all-white sneakers to keep up with demand. (In Adidas's case, you can credit the instant sales of the all-white Ultraboost sneaker to the Yeezy effect.)

And while the style of an all-white sneaker of the future looks great when it's got that new-car smell, it's also the most susceptible to stains that can bring even the most casual sneaker collectors to tears. Even we were convinced that an errant drop of mud or a rogue squirt of ketchup meant the end for our favorite footwear. But the greatest innovations often come in times of desperation, and they've led us to this: You should clean your white running sneakers by putting them in the washing machine with bleach. Yes, it really works, and yes, you might look like a crazy person to your fellow laundromat goers—but you can't argue with these results. Here's everything you need to know about this miracle process.

1. Clean all non-knit surfaces with sneaker cleaner, or with soap and water.You're going to want to get any excess dirt that can be scrubbed off of leather or rubber out first. If you have any questions, check out our guide to cleaning white leather sneakers here.

2. Use Tide to Go on any stains.Hot Take™: The people at Tide know a thing or two about getting dirt, grime, and dirty grime out of clothes. So, in the same way you'd use it on your favorite white tee, take the magical Tide to Go to the knit upper of the sneaker.

3. Measure out 1/4 cup of bleach.There's really not a whole lot of science behind that number, but it's about half of what we'd use for a load of bed sheets, so it seemed right.

4. Set the washer to a warm regular cycle.When it comes to shirts, tees, and other sensitive clothes, we always wash on cold. But these are sneakers, not fine linens, and warm water cleans better than cold water.

5. Ignore the clanking.Believe it or not, shoes with thick rubber soles in a washing machine tend to make more noise than soft clothes do. Ignore it. Everything will be fine!

6. Air dry the sneakers overnight.For one, they'll be wet, and two, they will smell like bleach. To aid the process, stuff some dry paper towels in ’em.

7. Admire the results.Look, we're not salesmen on the Home Shopping Network, but we pretty much guarantee your shoes will look practically brand new. We can't recommend that this system will last forever, but it's definitely a simple, easy, and quick way to get extra life out of them, and keep yourself from buying a new pair every time you get a little reckless with some salsa.

Left: Bleached Adidas Energy Boost Right: Brand new Adidas Ultra Boost

1. Clean all non-knit surfaces with sneaker cleaner, or with soap and water. 2. Use Tide to Go on any stains. 3. Measure out 1/4 cup of bleach. 4. Set the washer to a warm regular cycle. 5. Ignore the clanking. 6. Air dry the sneakers overnight. 7. Admire the results.