How to Clean White Vans
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Expert cleaning tips to make your sneakers look brand-new (without turning them yellow).
There's nothing like putting on a brand-new pair of white sneakers for a crisp, fresh look. But a quick walk through the park later, you’ll notice scuffs and stains already starting to form on the rubber outsoles and sides of your favorite slip-ons.
No matter how careful you are, wearing anything white (think jeans, shirts or shoes) can sometimes feel like a disaster waiting to happen. A drop of coffee during your morning commute or unexpected rain on your way home from the park and poof! Like magic, your white Vans have gone from bright white to dingy gray. And if you’re brave enough to skateboard in a pair of white high tops? You’ll definitely want to keep this step-by-step guide from the Good Housekeeping Institute cleaning experts handy.
We’ve tested store-bought and DIY shoe cleaners to find the best way to clean all kinds of shoes, mastered the art of cleaning another much-loved white shoe, the Converse All Star sneakers, and have even taken on the smelly task of testing tons of shoe deodorizers.
This step-by-step guide will have all of your white Vans looking like new again. Best of all, most of the products our pros recommend you likely already have at home.
Most of the steps to clean white leather Vans are the same as above, with some small, but very important adjustments.
Suede shoes are notorious for how easily they can get stained — water, dust and dirt can all cause unsightly stains on the material. Suede shoes that have been caught in a rainstorm should be allowed to dry in a well ventilated area overnight, with paper towels or shoe trees stuffed inside to keep their shape. To treat fresh or old stains and restore the suede nap of a pair of suede Vans, follow the steps below.
For suede Vans with fresh stains
For suede Vans with old stains
Can I put my white Vans in the washing machine?
We think it's safest to wash any pair of shoes by hand, especially when they're new. But we get it, sometimes you might be tight on time. If you want to give it a try, only canvas Vans should ever be put into the washing machine. Note that the washer can cause your sneakers to shrink or lose their shape.
Here's the best way to wash your shoes in a washing machine: Place your sneakers in a mesh bag to help them keep their shape and toss in some old white towels to balance and buffer the load. Select a delicate cycle on your machine, cold or warm water, and a low or moderate spin speed.
Skip the dryer. Instead, stuff the wet Vans with white paper towels and let them air-dry away from heat and sunlight.
No! Keep the bleach away from your Vans! Bleach is too harsh for use on white Vans — especially leather and suede ones. Many people even note that after using bleach to clean their white shoes, they found that the shoes took on a yellow tint instead of being restored to their original white.
A few things can cause your white Vans to turn yellow after you wash them. As mentioned above, many people find that using bleach causes yellow staining on white shoes after they are dry. Drying freshly washed shoes in direct sunlight can also cause discoloration. Additionally, residue from shoe cleaners that are not properly rinsed from white shoes can leave behind a yellow tint.
Carolyn Forté brings more than 40 years of experience as a consumer products expert to her role as executive director of the Good Housekeeping Institute's Home Care and Cleaning Lab. Using deep analytical testing and writing expertise in appliances, cleaning, textiles and organizational products, she produces cleaning and home care advice for GH, has authored numerous books and bookazines for the brand and partners with the American Cleaning Institute to co-produce the Discover Cleaning Summits. She holds a bachelor's degree in family and consumer sciences from Queens College, City University of New York.
Jodhaira (she/her) is a product reviews analyst at the Good Housekeeping Institute's Home Care & Cleaning Lab, where she tests and writes about home appliances, cleaning products and cleaning tips. Prior to joining GH in 2021, she graduated from Hofstra University with a bachelor's degree in forensic science and spent two years as an analyst in an environmental lab in Queens.
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10 Ways to Make Your Whole House Smell AmazingHow to clean white canvas Vans What You'll Need: Remove loose dust or dirt. Remove loose dust or dirt. Mix up a thin paste of baking soda, hydrogen peroxide and warm water. Gently scrub your shoes with the paste. Wipe the surface of your sneakers with a clean, wet cloth to rinse them. Clean the rubber outsoles with the same paste or GH Seal Star Mr. Clean Magic Eraser. Allow to air-dry. How to clean white leather Vans How to clean white leather Vans What You’ll Need: Remove loose dust or dirt. Mix up a thin paste of baking soda and warm water. Gently scrub your shoes with the paste. Wipe the surface of your sneakers with a clean, wet cloth to rinse them. Clean the rubber outsoles with the same paste or with a Mr. Clean Magic Eraser. Allow to air-dry. Apply a leather conditioner to the shoes. How to clean white suede Vans For suede Vans with fresh stains What You’ll Need: Blot the stain. Sprinkle baking soda over the stain. If a stain still remains, use a suede cleaner. Gently brush the shoes to restore the suede nap. Clean the rubber outsoles with a Mr. Clean Magic Eraser. Apply a suede protector. For suede Vans with old stains What You’ll Need: Gently brush or scrape the stain from the shoe's surface. Steam the matted area for a few seconds. Clean the rubber outsoles with a Mr. Clean Magic Eraser. Apply a suede protector. Can I put my white Vans in the washing machine? only canvas Vans should ever be put into the washing machine. Should I bleach my white Vans? Tips to keep your white Vans in tip-top shape