How To Clean White Fabric Shoes: Step By Step Guide

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If you're trying to figure out how best to clean your white fabric shoes, then you're in the right place!

We've put together a step-by-step guide to help you remove dirt and stubborn stains from your sneakers, highlighting a few top tips along the way to ensure they remain in great condition once finished.

With temperatures rising as well, and white shoes consistently featuring as some of the best sneakers for summer, we'd argue there's never been a better time to learn this skill.

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So whether you own a pair of white Old Skool Vans, or you're a pair of Chuck Taylor All-Stars, we've got you covered right here.

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Make sure you check out our guide to cleaning white sneakers as well though for more in-depth tips on different sneaker materials.

How To Clean White Fabric Shoes

The following method is what we believe to be the most effective way of cleaning a pair of white canvas sneakers, regardless of whether they're your everyday shoes or your best pair of running trainers.

However, if you're looking to clean other materials, then check our guides on cleaning leather, suede, and mesh shoes right here.

What You'll Need:

  • Soft-bristled brush or an old toothbrush
  • Old newspaper
  • Mild soap
  • Shoe cleaner
  • Baking soda
  • Shoe protector
Vans product image of white Skate-His with purple paint splattered over the top.
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Credit: Nathan Dumlao

Step 1: Remove the shoelaces from your sneakers and leave them to soak in a mixture of warm water, mild soap, and a touch of baking powder.

Step 2: Gently scrub your shoes with your soft-bristle brush whilst dry to remove any large clumps of dirt.

Step 3: Mix a small amount of a dedicated shoe cleaner with warm water as per the manufacturer's instructions. We'd recommend either Pink Miracle or Angelus Easy Cleaner.

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Pink Miracle product image of pink shoe cleaner next to a red and white Jordan.
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Credit: Pink Miracle

Step 4: Dip your brush into the solution and gently scrub the surfaces of your shoes once again to remove any stains.

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Top Tip: We'd recommend an old toothbrush for any harder-to-reach areas.

Step 5: If any of the stains are proving particularly difficult, we'd advise combining a tablespoon of warm water with one tablespoon of baking soda, then scrubbing your shoes again using the paste-like mixture.

Step 6: Once clean, remove your shoelaces from their soak and leave them to dry with your sneakers naturally and away from direct sunlight or heat.

Top Tip: Fill the insides of your shoes with old newspaper before leaving them to dry to help ensure your sneakers keep their shape.

Step 7: Once dry, we'd advise adding a protective shoe spray like Crep Protect to minimise how often you'll need to clean them. Use as per the manufacturer's instructions once again.

Crep Protect product image of a purple and black spray can with yellow details.
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Credit: Crep Protect

Step 8: Leave to dry once more before relacing your shoes so they're ready to be worn. For tips on this, check out our guides to lacing Converse, Jordan 1s, and Air Force 1s right here.

How Often Should You Clean White Fabric Shoes

As touched in how to clean running shoes, there's no set rule on how often you should be cleaning your trainers as it really just depends on how clean they look, and how clean you want them to look.

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A pair of white canvas shoes, one covered in mud, the other clean.
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Credit: NY Times

If your shoes are caked in mud, for instance, you'll no doubt be looking to clean them as soon as possible.

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Tackling a situation like this early can also help prevent stains from setting into the fabric, which would ultimately make cleaning your shoes a bit harder once you get round to it.

We'd therefore suggest cleaning your fabric shoes every few weeks, although this decision will ultimately come down to personal preference.

Things To Avoid When Cleaning White Fabric Shoes

The process of cleaning white fabric shoes can be simple once you know how; however, there are several things you should avoid during the process in order to avoid irreversible damage.

Our number one piece of advice is to avoid using bleach to clean your shoes. If you don't dilute the bleach properly, then you may end up bleaching your shoes and damaging the fabric forever.

We'd also recommend against putting your shoes in a washing machine or tumble dryer, something leading sports shoe manufacturer Asics recommends for all of its trainers.

The reason for this is that soaking your shoes in water, along with the extreme heat, can cause damage to the fabric and adhesives, therefore potentially tearing your sneakers apart.

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Moreover, we suggest you dry your white fabric shoes naturally as opposed to using any direct heat or sunlight. Much like a washing machine or tumble dryer, the heat can cause your shoes to lose their shape and deform.

Finally, we suggest you avoid using any rough sponges or wired brushes during the cleaning process as they can sometimes pull the knitted fabric apart, leaving you with loose threads which you shouldn't really cut off.

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