May 17, 2023

How to Clean White Shoes: 4 Totally Tested Methods

Nothing looks sharper than bright white shoes, but it can be a real trial to keep them that way. Especially when your white shoes face everyday threats like mud puddles, pollen and regular old dirt.

While some people only shop for bargain white shoes, others drop serious money on theirs. For example, Air Jordan 1 Mid "Triple White" Shoes retailed for $110 plus tax when they were released back in 2020 (now they retail for about $160!). Since many sneakerheads have multiple pairs, it pays to protect the investment and keep those kicks clean.


Many experts suggest storing shoes in a dust-free environment, inside of a shoebox and with shoe covers to protect them. Sneaker protector spray is another excellent option that'll keep them cleaner, longer.

It's important to know what you're doing when cleaning white shoes, however. A misstep one way or the other can leave them looking yellowed, overly bleached or unevenly clean. No one wants that! Here are some tried-and-true, totally tested methods for cleaning white shoes.


A few household items are all that's necessary to clean white shoes that are primarily made of leather. Gather the following: toothbrush, soft cloth, an eraser sponge (like the Magic Eraser) paper towels, liquid dish soap and 1 cup (236 milliliters) of warm water.

First, remove the shoelaces, then use the toothbrush to get rid of loose dirt on the shoes. Rinse the dirt off the toothbrush. In the cup of warm water, mix in a small amount of liquid dish soap (three or four drops should do). Now, swirl the toothbrush around in the soapy water. Then scrub the shoes carefully.


Next, it's time to clean the soles of the shoes. Use the eraser sponge according to package directions to gently buff out any unsightly marks. Then, dampen the clean cloth and wipe the soles down. Once everything's clean to your standards, wad up a bunch of paper towels and stuff the shoes. This will absorb the moisture from the inside and help preserve their shape.

Another great option for cleaning white leather shoes is using a makeup remover called micellar water. Simply pour the "water" on a clean white cloth and use the cloth to wipe the shoes. This also works on rubber or suede shoes, but really tough stains, such as oil, won't respond to this method.


Some canvas shoes can be tossed in the washing machine, but those with other types of detailing, like leather or suede, cannot. So, before going that route always check the washing instructions.

If the washing machine is an option, handle the shoes this way:


If they can't be machine washed, gather the following household materials: baking soda, laundry detergent, a bucket, an old toothbrush or some type of cleaning brush.

Bang the soles together to get rid of dirt, or brush it off using the toothbrush/brush. Then, fill the bucket with 1 cup (236 milliliters) of baking soda, one drop of laundry detergent and 1 gallon (3.8 liters) of water.

Next, remove the shoelaces and then soak both shoes and laces in the bucket for approximately one hour. Remove them from the bucket, then scrub any stains using the brush. Don't forget to scrub on the inside to get rid of any stinky odors! Lastly, rinse them thoroughly with clean water. Air dry both the shoes and the laces, then lace them back up.


White toothpaste is another popular shoe-cleaning hack. Whatever you do, make sure it's completely white because gels and toothpastes with colors will stain the shoes. To clean using this product, squeeze some paste onto a toothbrush. Then, scrub the shoes, lending extra elbow grease to the really dirty spots. Let the toothpaste dry for 20 minutes, then wipe it off with a damp, clean cloth.


Bleach is another option, especially for shoes with serious stains, but approach with caution. This chemical is very strong and can cause skin irritation, trouble breathing, etc. if used inappropriately. When working with bleach, definitely do so only in a well-ventilated room, while wearing gloves.

To clean white shoes with bleach, mix up five parts of warm water with one part of bleach. Too much bleach will cause the shoes to yellow, so don't overdo it! Next, loosen up dirt and stains with either a toothbrush or sponge, dampened with the bleach mixture.


Then, dip a microfiber towel into the solution, then wring it out to remove extra liquid. Blot the shoes with the towel, then rinse the shoes with a cloth soaked in warm water. Allow the shoes to dry in a room with plenty of ventilation.

Using any of these methods, white shoes should be effectively restored to their former glory.

Don't put dingy laces back on clean shoes! Another way to make all-white shoelaces gleam is to wash them using bleach. Take the laces out of the shoes and put them in a washable mesh laundry bag. Wearing rubber gloves, mix up a bleach solution of 1 gallon (3.8 liters) of water, 3 tablespoons (44 milliliters) of bleach. Then soak the bagged laces in the solution for about five minutes. Make sure they stay submerged. Once the time is up, wash the laces (still inside the bag) in the washing machine. Allow them to air dry completely.