White shoes are fantastic, until about 2 hours into wearing them when the first little smudge appears. Once that happens it’s downhill to dirtsville. They’re impossible to keep clean – white literally attracts dirt, and IS harder to clean as they’re prone to stains.
I’m that person who has asked someone wearing a particularly white pair of sneakers for cleaning tips. I’m also an avid Googler, a strong CV skill. And occasionally I actually take those tips and try them.
I spent an exciting day with 2 pairs of less than white, white sneakers and a bunch of household items on a mission to find out how to clean white shoes.
Behold, the household items that actually work to get your white sneakers looking white.
1. Sunlight Bar
The humble sunlight bar is the best thing for cleaning rubber soles (and platforms) of sneakers. For best results, rub the sunlight bar on a wet scrubbing brush and scrub the sole/platform until it’s clean. Important to note is you do not want to use sunlight bar on a white leather/leather look shoe. You also do not want to use it directly on white canvas – it leaves blue streaks which can be a nightmare to get out. Use only for rubber platforms. If you use it on a canvas, rub it onto a scrubbing brush so it’s a foamy soap mixture and doesn’t have that green blue color.
It’s not only your teeth that toothpaste keeps pearly white. Toothpaste is the best thing I’ve used to remove scuff marks off white leather/leather look sneakers. It’s gentle enough that it doesn’t ruin them and bonus, your shoes smell minty clean.
To use it, simply apply toothpaste – not the gel kind, you want a white toothpaste – to an (out of use) toothbrush. Gently rub the scuff marks until they disappear. Use a paper towel to dab up the residue.
3. Nail Polish Remover
A little nail polish remover can remove stains/scuff marks from leather and rubber. I don’t like using it on leather as I feel it’s too harsh. It does work on rubber soles, but a sunlight bar will yield better and faster results. However, if you notice a small mark and don’t want to wash the whole shoe it’s the perfect quick clean solution. Just add some to a cotton ball and wipe over the stain until it comes out.
4. Baking Soda
If you’ve ever washed a white canvas sneaker, thought it was clean only to come back a few hours later to yellow stains, baking soda is your answer. Make a paste by mixing baking soda and water and then apply to those stains. Leave it to dry at least an hour, and then gently using an old toothbrush or scrubbing brush, scrub it off to reveal stainless shoes.
To clean laces you can do it by hand or throw them into the washing. If you’re putting them in the washing put them in a long sock and knot it so they don’t get out and cause havoc by wrapping themselves around every piece of clothing.
To dry your shoes, leave them in a well-ventilated space out of direct sunlight.
And that is how to clean white shoes. Please note, the above worked for me and I bear no responsibility should anything go wrong. You’re only recourse of action is to leave an angry comment below.
Zissy is the co-founder of Nutreats. She likes to make things, do things and wear things.