White shoes are having a major moment right now. Crisp white sneakers and leather kicks look so stylish paired with jeans, shorts, dresses, and more. But we all know the struggle of trying to keep white shoes looking pristine. One small scuff or drop of coffee can leave an obvious mark that ruins the clean aesthetic.
While white shoes look amazing when new, their freshness fades quickly without proper care. But don’t despair! With the right tools and techniques, you can keep your white shoes looking brand new for much longer.
This guide will teach you pro tips to clean, protect, store, and prevent stains on white sneakers, trainers, sandals, and leather shoes. Say goodbye to dirty, dingy white shoes and learn how to maintain that just-bought glow. Let’s dive in!
8 Ways to Keep White Shoes White
From preventative measures to deep cleaning methods, we’ve got you covered with pro tips to keep white shoes gleaming. Let’s dive in!
1. Apply Protectant Spray
One of the best ways to protect white shoes is by applying a layer of water and stain repellent spray. This creates a barrier to prevent dirt, oil and moisture from soaking into the material.
Look for sprays made specifically for shoes or fabrics. Apply a light, even coating and let it fully dry. Reapply every few months for continued protection. This prevents stains from setting on the surface so they can be wiped away instead.
2. Clean After Each Wear
Don’t let dirt build up. Wipe down white shoes after every wear before stains have a chance to set in. Use a soft bristle brush and mild soap with warm water. Gently scrub the entire surface, getting into crevices and along the sole. Rinse well and pat dry with a clean towel.
Removing soil right away keeps it from getting ground in and oxidizing. Oils from your skin can also cause yellow stains over time. Frequent cleaning prevents this gradual discolouration.
3. Use Magic Eraser to Remove Scuffs
Magic erasers like Mr. Clean are amazing for removing scuffs, marks and light stains on white shoes. Simply dampen the eraser and gently rub over any dirty spots. The melamine foam “erases” the top layer, lifting off the grime.
Be cautious using excessive pressure, as magic erasers can dull leather or mesh fabrics. Spot test first and go slowly. For tougher stains, try gently rubbing with baking soda and a damp eraser.
4. Whiten with Baking Soda
Over time, white materials can take on a yellowish tinge as dirt accumulates. For a easy whitening boost, make a paste with baking soda and water. Gently scrub over the surface using a toothbrush or cotton swab. Let sit for 5-10 minutes before rinsing.
The abrasive soda will lift discolouration without damaging materials. Add a squeeze of lemon juice to boost cleaning power. Just don’t leave paste on too long, as acids can eventually break down fabrics.
5. Wash in Vinegar, Hydrogen Peroxide or Ammonia
For a thorough deep clean, hand wash white shoes in a solution of warm water and a whitening agent like vinegar, hydrogen peroxide or ammonia.
- White vinegar is a mild acid that breaks up stain molecules and disinfects. Use a solution of 1 part vinegar to 3 parts water.
- Hydrogen peroxide is a mild bleach that can brighten and remove stains. Use a 1:1 solution of peroxide and water.
- Clear ammonia is also an effective but mild bleaching agent. Mix a few tablespoons with warm water.
Soak shoes for 15-30 minutes, gently scrubbing with a soft brush. Then rinse well with clean water and air dry. Check care labels first and test on small hidden area before soaking entire shoe.
6. Avoid Dirt and Stains
Prevention is the best medicine when trying to keep white shoes stain-free. Avoid wearing them in wet, muddy conditions that can quickly lead to discolouration.
Spray shoe surfaces with repellant prior to outdoor wear. Place shoe bags over your kicks if you must commute on public transit to prevent dirt transfer. Shoe bags also protect against scuffs and snags when packing in luggage.
Be extra cautious around liquids that can permanently set into white fabrics. Wipe spills immediately before they have a chance to soak in.
7. Store Properly
Use shoe trees, boot shapers or crumpled paper to hold the shape of shoes when not being worn. This prevents creases from forming, which gradually turn into yellowed cracks on white materials.
Keep shoes stored in breathable dust bags or boxes, away from dirt, moisture and direct sunlight that fades colours. Avoid letting shoes touch or rub against each other during storage to prevent scuff marks and fabric pilling.
Rotate shoes between wears and keep extra pairs clean in storage to reduce the frequency of wears (and potential dirt buildup) on your favourite go-to kicks.
8. Repaint Leather Areas
With regular cleaning and care, white fabric shoes can stay bright for a long time. But white leather is prone to cracking, peeling and flaking after repeated wear. When these blemishes occur, repaint using a leather paint in gloss white.
Lightly sand cracked areas to remove loose flakes and provide a roughened surface the paint can adhere to. Clean and dry fully. Then apply 2-3 thin coats of paint using a small brush, allowing each coat to dry completely before the next application.
This restores a like-new white colour while sealing and protecting the leather underneath. Use a sealant spray after painting for added protection. With proper prep, painted shoes can look professionally restored.
9. Spot Clean Scuffs Immediately
The sooner you can treat scuffs, the less likely they are to stain permanently. Keep wipes or a small brush with you to clean marks right away before they set in.
For light scuffs, use a gentle leather cleaner and soft towel to buff them out. For any deeper black marks, try scraping with a credit card or using an old toothbrush and soapy water to lift the scuff gently.
Getting to scuffs quickly prevents the need for harsher scrubbing later on that can damage the shoes. A bit of effort in the moment will save you from a permanent mark.
10. Add Washable Insoles
Insoles are the first area to get grimy inside shoes, especially around the heel and toes. Swapping out the standard insoles for washable, moisture-wicking insoles will keep the inner shoe fresh.
Look for insoles made of antimicrobial, moisture-wicking fabrics like merino wool. These resist odour and can be removed to machine wash regularly. Let them air dry to retain their odour-fighting properties.
Tips for Cleaning Different Materials
- Canvas shoes can be machine washed in cold water on gentle cycle. Air dry away from direct heat.
- Leather shoes should be hand washed only using mild soap and soft cloth. Wipe gently, don’t soak leather.
- For mesh shoes, mix mild detergent with water and apply using a soft brush. Rinse mesh thoroughly.
- Use a magic eraser to lift stains on rubber soles or midsoles. Rinse immediately so eraser residue doesn’t get stuck.
- Patent leather can be cleaned with a damp cloth and mild soap. Avoid submerging and heat which can crack the coating.
Keeping white shoes clean requires some extra diligence. But with preventative care and frequent cleaning, you can keep them looking box-fresh for longer. Apply protectants before wears, wipe away dirt promptly, and occasionally deep clean with whitening solutions.
Store properly between wears and touch up scuffs or leather cracks with white paint when needed. Follow these pro tips and you’ll have bright, head-turning white sneakers ready for any outfit.
FAQs About Keeping White Shoes White
How can I get stains out of my white shoes?
- Mix baking soda and water into a paste and gently scrub stains. Let sit 5-10 minutes before rinsing. The abrasive baking soda will lift discoloration without damaging fabrics.
- Use a magic eraser dampened with water to spot clean scuffs and marks. Gently rub and they will “erase”.
What is the best protectant spray for white shoes?
Look for sprays specifically formulated for shoes and fabrics. Apply a repellent spray like Scotchgard Heavy Duty Water Shield or Jason Markk Repel to create a protective barrier against stains.
Should you wash white shoes in the washing machine?
Only certain shoes like canvas Converse can be machine washed. Check care instructions first. Hand washing is best for materials like leather that require gentler cleaning.
How do you whiten yellowed soles or midsoles?
Mix baking soda and water into a paste and scrub onto rubber sole with an old toothbrush. For a deeper clean, magic erasers lift stains from midsoles when dampened and rubbed gently. Rinse immediately so eraser residue doesn’t get stuck.
How do you clean tough mud stains on white shoes?
Let mud fully dry first since scrubbing wet mud can grind it deeper into fabrics. Mix a solution of warm water, dish soap and baking soda then scrub with a soft bristle brush. Rinse until the water runs clear.
Can you use bleach to whiten shoes?
Bleach risks damage to fabrics and leathers. For a safer whitening solution, soak shoes in a dilute mixture of hydrogen peroxide and water. It acts as a mild bleach without the harshness of chlorine bleach.
How often should you clean white shoes?
Ideally, clean white shoes after every wear. At minimum, clean every 2-3 wears to prevent dirt buildup. Frequent light cleaning is better than occasional deep cleans for maintaining a like-new white appearance.
What’s the best way to store white shoes?
Keep shoes protected in breathable containers like shoe boxes or fabric shoe bags. Use crumpled paper or shoe trees to hold the shape. Store away from direct sun, heat and moisture which can yellow materials.
How do you get scuffs off white shoes?
For light scuffs, gently buff them out using a soft towel and leather cleaner. For deeper scuffs, scrape with a credit card and use a toothbrush with soapy water to lift the mark. Clean scuffs ASAP before they have a chance to stain.
How do you clean white mesh shoes?
Use a gentle foam shoe cleaner and soft brush to lift dirt from the mesh fabric. Avoid excessive water. Stuff with paper towels and let fully air dry to prevent moisture stains.
How do you clean dirty white shoelaces?
Soak the laces in warm oxy-clean solution for 30 mins up to a few hours depending how dirty. For tough stains, gently scrub with an old toothbrush. Rinse well and air dry.
Blessing Bunmi is the founder and CEO of Blowra, the leading style guide providing insider fashion and shopping tips. With over 4 years of retail experience, She created Blowra to empower readers to confidently express their personal style.