How to clean white shoes

Keeping your white shoes clean and looking like new can be a challenge, especially with scuffs, stains, and dirt that accumulate over time. While tossing them in the washing machine may seem like a quick fix, it can actually damage the shoes. But don’t worry, we’ve got you covered! In this article, we will provide you with step-by-step instructions on how to clean white shoes, regardless of the material they’re made of. Whether it’s canvas, leather, or mesh, these tried and tested methods will have your footwear looking spotless in no time.

How to clean white shoes
Ray Piedra

White shoes are a popular choice for both casual and formal wear. However, they tend to get dirty easily, which can be frustrating. Cleaning white shoes requires a bit of effort, but with the right materials and techniques, you can restore their pristine appearance. In this article, we will guide you through the process of cleaning white shoes effectively.

Importance of Clean Shoes

Keeping your shoes clean goes beyond just aesthetics. Clean shoes not only look good but also last longer. Regular cleaning helps prevent dirt and grime buildup, which can lead to discoloration and deterioration of the shoe material. Additionally, cleaning your white shoes helps maintain hygiene and prevents the growth of bacteria or fungi.

Materials Needed

Before you start cleaning your white shoes, gather the necessary materials. Here are some items you will need:

  • Mild liquid soap or shoe cleaner
  • Soft-bristle brush or toothbrush
  • Water
  • White vinegar
  • Baking soda
  • Toothpaste
  • Bleach (if suitable for the shoe material)
  • Hydrogen peroxide (if suitable for the shoe material)
  • Clean cloth or sponge
  • Paper towels
  • Old newspapers

Preparing the Shoes

Before diving into the cleaning process, prepare your white shoes by removing the laces and any loose dirt or debris. This will make it easier to clean the entire surface of the shoes.

Cleaning Methods

There are various methods you can use to clean your white shoes. Let’s explore some of the most effective ones:

Method 1: Soap and Water

Start by mixing a small amount of mild liquid soap or shoe cleaner with water. Dip the brush or toothbrush into the soapy water and gently scrub the surface of the shoes in circular motions. Pay extra attention to stained or dirty areas. Once clean, rinse the shoes with clean water and pat them dry with a clean cloth.

Method 2: Baking Soda and Vinegar

Create a paste by mixing baking soda and water. Apply the paste to a brush or toothbrush and scrub the shoes thoroughly. For stubborn stains, mix white vinegar with water in a 1:1 ratio and apply it to the affected areas. After cleaning, rinse the shoes with water and wipe them dry.

Method 3: Toothpaste

Toothpaste can work wonders in removing scuff marks and stains from white shoes. Apply a small amount of toothpaste to a soft cloth or toothbrush and rub it onto the affected areas. Gently scrub in circular motions and wipe off any residue with a damp cloth.

Method 4: Bleach

Bleach can be effective for certain white shoe materials, but it should be used with caution. Dilute bleach with water according to the instructions on the bottle. Apply the solution to the shoes using a cloth or sponge and let it sit for a few minutes. Rinse the shoes thoroughly with water and dry them completely.

Method 5: Hydrogen Peroxide

Hydrogen peroxide can be used as an alternative to bleach for some shoe materials. Apply a small amount of hydrogen peroxide to a clean cloth and gently rub it onto the stained areas. Rinse the shoes with water and dry them properly.

Drying and Maintenance

After cleaning your white shoes, it’s essential to dry them properly to prevent damage. Stuff the shoes with crumpled paper towels or old newspapers to help them retain their shape and absorb moisture. Avoid exposing the shoes to direct sunlight or using heat sources, as this can cause discoloration or warping. Let the shoes air dry in a well-ventilated area.

Stain Removal Tips

If you encounter stubborn stains that are difficult to remove, try the following tips:

  • For grass stains, apply a mixture of lemon juice and water to the affected areas and scrub gently.
  • For oil or grease stains, sprinkle some cornstarch or talcum powder on the stains and let it sit for a few hours before brushing it off.
  • For ink stains, use a cotton swab dipped in rubbing alcohol or nail polish remover to dab the stain gently.

Prevention Tips

To keep your white shoes cleaner for longer, consider the following preventive measures:

  1. Apply a protective spray or coating to your white shoes before wearing them. This helps repel dirt and stains.
  2. Avoid wearing white shoes in muddy or rainy conditions, as this increases the chances of getting them dirty.
  3. Regularly wipe down your shoes with a clean cloth or damp sponge to remove surface dirt and prevent it from settling.


Cleaning white shoes can be a straightforward task if you follow the right techniques and use the appropriate cleaning methods. With the steps outlined in this article, you can keep your white shoes looking fresh and immaculate. Remember to always check the care instructions provided by the shoe manufacturer to ensure that the cleaning methods are suitable for your specific shoes.


Q1: Can I clean my white shoes in the washing machine? A1: It is generally not recommended to clean white shoes in a washing machine, as it can damage the shoes or cause discoloration. It’s best to stick to manual cleaning methods.

Q2: Can I use bleach on all types of white shoes? A2: Bleach is suitable for certain white shoe materials, but it can damage or discolor others. Always check the care instructions or test a small, hidden area before applying bleach.

Q3: How often should I clean my white shoes? A3: The frequency of cleaning depends on how often you wear your white shoes and the level of dirt or stains. As a general rule, clean them whenever they appear dirty or stained.

Q4: Are there any natural alternatives for cleaning white shoes? A4: Yes, baking soda, vinegar, toothpaste, and hydrogen peroxide are natural alternatives that can effectively clean white shoes.

Q5: Can I use a hairdryer to speed up the drying process? A5: It’s not recommended to use a hairdryer or any direct heat source to dry white shoes, as it can damage the material. Allow them to air dry naturally.

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