How to Clean White Shoes: Suede, Mesh, Leather & Canvas
If you’re like most people, you probably have a pair of white shoes that you love. But after a while, they start to look a little bit dirty. How can you clean them and make them look new again?
In this article, I’ll share how to clean white shoes the right way in just a few easy steps. Most of the ingredients I’ll recommend using to clean your white shoes are Baking soda, vinegar, bleach, and/or dish soap – which are staples in your pantry.
You can choose a particular shoe fabric type such as suede, mesh, leather, or canvas in the table of contents below or read my step-by-step process from start to finish.
How to Clean White Canvas Shoes
The first step is to take a look at the shoes. If they’re made of canvas, you’re in luck! Canvas shoes are some of the most effortless shoes to clean.
How To Wash White Canvas Shoes by Hand:
- Fill a sink or bucket with cool water and add a small amount of mild detergent.
- Swish it around to create suds, then submerge the shoes and scrub them gently with a soft-bristled brush.
- Rinse the shoes thoroughly.
- Once you’re done scrubbing, rinse the shoes under cool water until the water runs clear.
- Remove the shoes – Take the shoes out of the water and set them on a towel to air dry.
Can You Wash White Canvas Shoes in the Washing Machine?
Yes, if you’re short on time, you can also wash your white canvas shoes in the washing machine. Just make sure to put them in a mesh laundry bag first to protect them from getting damaged.
I don’t like putting any of my shoes in the washer machine because it seems to break down the shoe glue under the insoles. I recommend trying to wash them by hand but a washing machine is an acceptable second-best option.
Touch Up the Edges of the Shoes Using a Clean Magic Eraser.
A Magic Eraser is a cleaning tool that can be used to remove dirt, grime, and stains from a variety of surfaces. I use Magic Erasers on all sorts of stuff including my shoes. They are incredible.
To use it, simply wet the clean Magic eraser and rub it against the desired surface. The eraser will remove the dirt and leave behind a clean surface.
If you need to touch up the edges of your white shoes, a Magic Eraser is the perfect tool to use.
Simply wet the eraser and rub it along the edges of the shoes. The Magic Eraser will remove any dirt or grime that has accummulated on the shoes.
You Can Use Toothpaste to Clean Stubborn White Shoe Stains.
Toothpaste is a great way to clean stubborn stains from white shoes.
Simply apply a small amount of toothpaste to the stained area and scrub it with a soft-bristled brush. Rinse the area with cool water and repeat if the paste and the stain stay.
Remove Shoelaces and Gently Brush Away Dirt and Debris.
If your shoelaces are looking a little bit dirty, you can remove them and brush away the dirt and debris.
Simply pull the shoelaces out of the shoes and brush them with a soft-bristled brush. Rinse the shoelaces under cool water and let them air dry.
Be Sure to Allow Your Shoes to Dry Completely Before Wearing.
If you decide to wash your shoes by hand or in the washing machine put the shoes in the dryer on a low heat setting. Alternatively, you can let them air dry if you prefer. Air drying is a safer bet to avoid any potential scuffs from the dryer.
Rinse the Cleaner Off Your White Shoes
After you’ve cleaned your shoes, rinse the cleaner off with cool water. You don’t want to leave most white shoe cleaners on your shoes for too long, as it can potentially damage the material.
I’ve used and really like the Pink Miracle White Shoe Cleaner kit.
You Can Also Help Dry Your White Shoes With Paper Towels
Once you’ve rinsed the cleaner off your shoes, you can gently wipe them with a clean paper towel. Make sure to dry them thoroughly before you put them away. Paper towels can help speed up the drying process a bit.
As mentioned, you can also let them air dry or put them in the dryer on very low heat.
How to Clean White Leather Shoes
White leather shoes are a bit more delicate than canvas shoes, so you’ll need to take a few extra steps to clean them.
Wipe Down the White Leather Shoes with Damp Paper Towels
Start by wiping down the shoes with a damp cloth. This will remove any dirt or debris that’s on the surface of the shoes.
Remove the Laces and Place Something in the Shoes to Help Hold Their Shape
Next, remove the laces and place something in the shoes to hold their shape. This can be anything from a shoe tree to a rolled-up towel.
Fill a Bucket With Cool Water and Add a Small Amount of Mild Detergent
Once you’ve removed the laces and placed something in the shoes to hold their shape, fill a bucket with cool water and add a small amount of mild detergent.
To create suds, swish the soapy water in a circular motion.
Then submerge the shoes and scrub them gently with a soft-bristled shoe brush.
Leave Your Shoes Out to Dry Completely.
After you’ve finished washing, rinse the shoes under cold water until the water is clear. Allow the shoes to dry fully after that.
Apply a Cleaning Solution to the Leather shoes
To clean the leather, you’ll need to apply a cleaning solution. There are a variety of leather cleaners on the market, so choose one that’s right for your shoes.
Here is my favorite white leather shoe cleaner. It’s safe and works great on all shoe fabrics so you can likely use it for all your shoes. This cleaner contains saddle soap, gentle oils, and shoe conditioners.
Apply the Cleaner to a Soft Cloth and Rub It into the Leather
Once you’ve chosen a cleaner, apply a small amount to a soft cloth and rub it into the leather. Be sure to rub it in evenly and avoid getting any cleaner on the soles of the shoes.
Carefully Wash the Shoes with a Damp Microfiber Cloth
Once you’ve applied the cleaner, carefully wash the shoes with a damp white microfiber cloth. This will remove any residual cleaner from the surface of the shoes.
I also wrote a guide on how to clean leather shoes which applies to leather shoes of all colors.
How to Clean White Mesh Shoes
White mesh shoes are a bit different to clean than regular white shoes. You can’t just use the standard methods to clean them – you’ll need to take a few extra steps.
Use Circular Motions to Rub the solution Onto the Shoes With a Microfiber Cloth.
Start by mixing a solution of one part water and one part vinegar.
Then, use circular motions to rub the solution onto the shoes with a microfiber cloth.
Rinse the White Mesh Shoes with Cool Water & Allow Them to Air Dry
Once you’ve rubbed the solution into the shoes, rinse them with cool water.
Then, allow them to air dry.
Use a Toothbrush to Scrub Away Any Remaining Dirt or Debris
If there’s any remaining dirt or debris on the shoes, use a toothbrush to scrub it away. Be sure to rinse the shoes with cool water after you’re done scrubbing.
Use a Damp Microfiber Cloth to Wash the Mesh Shoes.
Once you’ve removed all the dirt and debris from the shoes, use a damp microfiber cloth to wash them. Use a clean, thin cloth to wipe down the shoes.
Any remaining cleaner on the surface of the shoes will be removed this way.
Use a Hairdryer on the Cool Setting to Dry Mesh Shoes Quicker
If you need to dry your mesh shoes quickly, use a hairdryer in a cool setting.
Hold the hairdryer about six inches away from the shoes and move it around evenly to dry them.
Mix Gentle Laundry Detergent and Warm Water in a Small Bowl
If your shoes are made of fabric, you can clean them by mixing gentle laundry detergent and warm water in a small bowl.
Apply the paste to the shoe and scrub them gently with a soft-bristled brush.
Apply a Stain Remover to any Remaining Stains
If there are any remaining stains on the shoes, apply a stain remover and let it sit for a few minutes. Then, scrub the stain with a soft-bristled brush and rinse with cool water.
The Shoe MGK White Shoe Cleaner kit is one of the best products to remove stains from white mesh shoes.
How to Clean White Suede Shoes
If you own white suede shoes that quickly get dirty, investing in a suede brush and magic erasers is worthwhile.
Here are some compact steps on how to get your white suede shoes to start looking as good as new!
Scrub Away the Dry Patches
Make sure that your white suede shoes are completely dry, and then use a suede brush to rub the dried debris away.
You can stuff the shoes with newspapers first to ensure that they don’t lose shape in the process of cleaning.
Use Suede Magic Erasers to Remove Any Remaining Stains.
If there are any remaining stains on the shoes, use a suede eraser to rub them away.
Start With Blotting
If nothing else works, begin by treating tough stains with a microfibre cloth dipped in vinegar.
You can blot the stains with the cloth until they start to fade away.
Be sure to test the vinegar on a small area of the shoe first to make sure it won’t damage the material.
Use Rubbing Alcohol for Ink Stains.
If you have an ink stain on your white suede shoes, apply some rubbing alcohol to a cotton ball and rub it over the stain. The rubbing alcohol will help to break down the ink and make it easier to remove.
You Can Also Use a Toothbrush to Scrub Away the Stain
Once you’ve applied the rubbing alcohol, use a toothbrush to scrub away the stain.
After you’re finished cleaning, rinse the shoes with cool water.
Use Shaving Cream to Remove Tough Suede Shoe Stains.
If you have a tough stain that’s proving difficult to remove, you can try using shaving cream.
Apply small shaving cream to the stain and let it sit for a few minutes. Then, use a toothbrush to scrub away the stain. Finally, rinse the footwear with cold water once you’ve finished cleaning them.
Tough Suede Stains Might Require a Bit of Elbow Grease.
For tough stains that don’t seem to be fading, you can try using a soft-bristled brush and some warm water. Scrub the stained area gently with the brush until the stain starts to disappear.
Let Your Suede Shoes Air Dry Completely Before Wearing
Once you’ve removed all the dirt and debris from the shoes, allow them to air dry.
If you need to dry the shoes quickly, you can use a hairdryer in a cool setting. Dry the shoes while they are still damp by holding the hairdryer six inches away and moving it across the surface evenly.
Apply a Good Suede Protector
Once your shoes are clean and dry, you can apply a suede protector to help keep them looking new. Simply spray the shoes with the protector and allow them to dry. Be sure to follow the instructions on the bottle for the best results.
Based on my research, the Crep Protect Suede Shoe Protector Spray is a great choice. This shoe protection creates an invisible coating that repels liquids and prevents stains. The spray also dries in less than 10 minutes which is significantly quicker than most of its competitors.
If you want to learn more about suede shoe cleaning, I also wrote an article on how to clean suede shoes which applies to all colors (not just white suede shoes).
What Are Some Easy Ways to Wash Shoes by Hand?
Washing your shoes by hand is the best way to ensure that they stay in good condition. Here are some easy tips for hand washing your shoes:
1. Use mild dish soap and warm water
If your shoes are made of leather or synthetic materials, you can clean them by using mild dish soap and warm water.
To remove minor stains and dirt, simply combine the soap and water in a bowl, then use a soft cloth to clean the shoes. When you’re done, make sure they’ve been fully washed with clean water.
2. Use Baking Soda
If your shoes are made of canvas or another type of fabric, you can clean them with baking soda.
Simply add a half cup of baking soda to a bucket of warm water, then use a soft cloth to scrub the shoes. Once you’ve removed all the dirt and debris, rinse the shoes with clean water.
3. Use a toothbrush for tough stains.
If you have tough stains on your shoes, you can use an old toothbrush to scrub them away. Simply dip the brush in soapy water and scrub the stained area gently.
4. Use a vinegar and water solution.
If you have white shoes, you can clean them with vinegar and water solution.
To clean your shoes, combine equal amounts of vinegar and water in a small container. Wipe the shoes with a soft cloth afterward. When you’re done, make sure to rinse them thoroughly with clear water.
5. Use OxiClean to clean white shoes (video instructions).
If you don’t have any already, you can get OxiClean on Amazon.
6. Use bleach for tough stains.
If you’re dealing with tough stains, you can use bleach to clean your shoes.
However, you should only use bleach on white shoes. To clean your shoes, mix one-part bleach with three parts of water in a small container.
Use a soft cloth to apply the paste to the stain, then rinse it off with clear water afterward.
I personally would only use bleach to clean shoes as a final last-ditch effort.
Things to Keep in Mind When Cleaning White Shoes
Please clean your white shoes while keeping these things to keep in mind:
- Be sure to read the care label. Before you start shoe cleaning, be sure to read the care label. This will give you specific instructions on how to clean your shoes without damaging them.
- Test cleaners in an inconspicuous area first. If you’re unsure about a cleaner, be sure to test it in an inconspicuous area of the shoe first. This will help you to make sure that the cleaner won’t damage the material.
- Use a soft-bristled brush. When scrubbing tough stains, be sure to use a soft-bristled toothbrush. This will help to avoid damaging the material of the white sneakers.
- Remove the soles before white shoe cleaning. If possible, remove the soles of your shoes before cleaning them. This will help to make sure that you don’t damage the material in the soles while scrubbing the dirt and debris from the shoes.
- Allow shoes to air dry. After you’ve cleaned your shoes, be sure to allow them to air dry. This will help to prevent water damage and keep your shoes in good condition.
How to Clean White Shoes – FAQs
How do you clean white sneakers fast?
If you’re in a hurry, you can clean your white sneakers by using a vinegar and water solution.
To clean your shoes, first, fill a container halfway with water and vinegar. Then dip a soft cloth in the solution and use it to clean the sneakers. Rinse them thoroughly with clean water after you’re done.
Do baking soda and white vinegar clean shoes?
Yes, baking soda and white vinegar can be used to clean shoes. Simply mix a tablespoon of baking soda and white vinegar each and use a soft cloth to scrub the shoes. Please do not re-use the excess water after cleaning them. Once you’ve finished, be sure to rinse them under clean water.
How do you clean white vans without turning them yellow?
To avoid turning your white vans yellow, be sure to use mild soap and warm water. When it comes to cleaning most shoes, you’ll need only a few items. The combination of soap and water is usually all you need for dirt.
You might need to try one of my other tips for tougher stains on white vans.
To clean your sneakers, simply mix the soap and water together and use a soft cloth on them. After washing them thoroughly, rinse them with clean water.
Is it safe to use bleach for white shoe cleaning?
Yes, it is generally safe to use bleach for white shoe cleaning. However, it’s important to mix the bleach with water in a ratio of one part bleach to three parts water. This will help to avoid damaging the shoes.
It’s also important to rinse the shoes thoroughly with clean water afterward.
I’d only clean white shoes with bleach if nothing else is working. Try a Magic Eraser or the Pink Miracle White Shoe Cleaner first.
How do clean white shoes in the washing machine?
You can clean your white shoes in the washing machine. However, you’ll need to use a mild detergent and set the machine to a delicate cycle.
Also, be sure to put the shoes in a mesh bag before putting them in the machine. This will help to protect them from damage.
After the cycle is finished, be sure to air dry your shoes. You can also put them in the dryer on low heat but I don’t recommend it.
How to Clean White Shoes – My Final Thoughts
Whether you’re looking for an easy way to keep your white shoes clean or want to try some new methods, I hope this guide has given you the information you need.
You can clean the laces and the shoe fabric the same way. Experiment with different methods and cleaners to find what works best for you. And most importantly, have fun cleaning your shoes!
Get the Pink Miracle White Shoe Cleaning Kit
Get Crep Protect Shoe Protector Spray
If you found my guide helpful, I’d love to hear from you! Leave me a message in the comments!