How to Clean White Shoes — Whether They're Canvas, Leather, or Suede
White shoes have become a wardrobe staple for both men and woman alike. Whether you’re rocking a suit, sundress or your classic jeans and tee, white sneakers may be one of the most versatile items in your closet. The only downside to white shoes is how to clean them once the inevitable scuffs and scrapes start popping up — which, let’s be honest, usually happens within the first 2 minutes of putting them on. And washing your shoes can seem like a daunting task if you have yet to figure out the best way to get the task done.
In a perfect world, ice cream would have no calories, and white shoes wouldn’t get dirty. (Okay, maybe that’s just my idea of a perfect world.) But what if I told you there was a way to keep your beloved white shoes as pristine as when you first got them? Trust me, it’s possible. Try out these step-by-step tips for how to clean white shoes to see for yourself how easy it is to keep canvas, suede, and leather spick and span.
How to Clean White Canvas Shoes
You may think it’s difficult to get grime out of your white canvas shoes–like the Converse All Star sneakers ($55;) above–but it’s actually pretty simple. Here’s how you can clean white shoes with only two household products, baking soda and white vinegar.
Step 1: Gather your materials.
Go into your pantry and grab some baking soda and white vinegar to clean your white shoes.
Step 2: Combine all of your materials.
Mix a tablespoon of baking soda with two tablespoons of white vinegar and a cup of warm water.
Step 3: Start scrubbin’.
Dip a cloth or clean toothbrush into the paste and begin scrubbing away the dirt on your shoes. The baking soda mixture will dry pretty quickly. Then, brush off any remaining paste and let your shoes air dry.
To clean white Converse shoes (or other canvas styles) without baking soda and white vinegar, you can try the soap and water method.
How to Clean Suede Shoes
Cleaning suede shoes can be a little tricky since it’s a delicate fabric that stains easily. Because of this, you've probably noticed most suede shoes don't come in a true white hue–like the Vans Old Skool Suede Low Top Sneaker ($65;) above.
As with the true whites, though, off-whites get dirty easily. Here’s how to clean suede shoes gently and effectively.
Step 1: Gather you materials.
You’ll need a soft cotton cloth, a pink pencil eraser, white vinegar, and a suede brush.
Step 2: Begin by blotting.
Blot your shoes with the soft cloth to help remove any moisture. Then, gently rub any stains with the pink pencil eraser.
Step 3: Dry with a paper towel.
Place a paper towel onto any wet stains and apply pressure. Make sure not to rub the dirt and stains as they could spread across the shoe.
Step 4: Get rid of remaining stains.
Dip your soft cloth in white vinegar and very gently rub any remaining stains. Once you’ve done that, you’ll want to allow your shoes to dry and then rub the outside of each shoe with a suede brush. This will help them get that velvety texture back.
How to Clean White Leather Shoes
Leather is one of the easier materials to clean because it doesn’t absorb as much water as some other fabrics. Here’s how to give white leather shoes, like the GREATS Sneakers above ($179;), a thorough cleaning:
Step 1: Gather your materials.
You’ll need paper towels, Ivory soap, cotton rags (an old t-shirt works great), and Mr. Clean Magic Erasers ($7 for a pack of 8;) to wash leather shoes.
Step 2: Tackle surface dirt.
Wet a paper towel, squeeze out excess water, and then gently wipe down the outside of your shoes. This will help remove any big pieces of dirt that are caught in different parts of the shoe. After you’re done with this step, let your shoes dry for 10 minutes.
Step 3: Clean the sole.
Wet your Mr. Clean Magic Eraser and squeeze out any excess water. Run the Magic Eraser up and down the soles of your sneakers or shoes until the dirt and stains are gone. You want to make sure your Magic Eraser is damp but not dripping all over your shoes.
Step 4: Scrub with soap.
And now, the most satisfying step. Wet your rag or cotton shirt and lather it up with some Ivory soap ($5 for 10 bars,). In a small gentle motion, massage the upper part of the shoe until it returns back to its perfect white color. Wipe any excess soap with the rag. After this last step, let your shoes dry again for 10 minutes.
Depending on how dirty your shoes were, you may need to repeat this process a few times.