How To Clean White Sneakers: Step By Step Guide

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If you're trying to figure out how to clean white sneakers, you've come to the right place.

With temperatures starting to rise, knowing how to keep your white shoes looking fresh is vital, especially as they consistently feature as some of the best sneakers for summer around.

So, to help point you in the right direction, we've put together this step-by-step guide to talk you through the most one of the most effective ways of keeping your white sneakers in great condition.

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We've also included a few top tips along the way to help ensure your shoes come out looking good as new once you've finished with them.

Table of Contents

So, grab your white sneakers and follow along with our guide right here...

How To Clean White Sneakers

The following is what we believe to be the most effective way of cleaning a pair of white leather sneakers like these Air Force 1 '07s.

Nike Air Force 1 '07 product image of a white pair of sneakers with black Swooshes.
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Credit: Nike

Stick around though, because we also discuss a few top tips for cleaning other sneaker materials like suede a little later on.

With that being said, let's dive in...

What You'll Need:

  • Soft-bristled Brush
  • Mild Soap
  • Shoe Cleaner
  • Shoe Wipes
  • Shoe Protector
  • Towel
  • Baking Soda
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Step 1: Start by removing the laces and placing them in a bowl containing warm water and mild soap.

Top Tip: You can add a touch of baking soda to the mixture for an even brighter white finish.

Step 2: Take a soft-bristled brush and use it to remove any surface dirt and debris from your shoes. Doing this after each wear can help ensure your shoes remain stain-free for longer.

Step 3: Apply a dedicated shoe cleaner onto a damp soft-bristled brush. We'd recommend either Pink Miracle Shoe Cleaner or Angelus Easy Cleaner for white leather. Use as per the manufacturer's instructions.

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

Step 4: Use the brush to rub away any remaining stains and dirt. Brush in circular motions in order to achieve the best results.

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Top Tip: An old toothbrush works well if you're struggling to get into tight cracks and hard-to-reach areas of your shoes.

Step 5: Wipe dry with a towel and assess how clean your sneakers are. If there are still a few stains, you can then take a wipe and use it to remove any remaining marks. We'd recommend Crep Protect's Shoe Wipes.

Step 6: As an optional step, we'd also recommend applying a protective shoe spray to minimise how often you need to clean your white sneakers. Again, we'd recommend Crep Protect for this.

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

Step 7: Once completely clean, leave your sneakers to dry naturally and away from direct heat with their shoelaces.

Top Tip: Stuff your shoes with old newspaper first to ensure they maintain their shape whilst drying.

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What About Other Materials?

While white leather shoes are some of the most common sneakers around, we recognise that trainers can be made from an array of different materials like suede and canvas fabric.

As a result, here are a few of our top tips for when you come across an alternative material.

Canvas

Canvas shoes can be cleaned using a similar technique to leather, although we'd recommend using a little less water to ensure the fabric, like the cotton used to make these white Vans Old Skool's, doesn't absorb too much liquid.

Vans product image of a pair of all-white canvas sneakers.
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Credit: Vans

If the stains prove to be particularly stubborn, then we'd recommend combining a tablespoon of hot water with one tablespoon of baking soda to make a paste-like mixture.

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Apply this to an old toothbrush and rub the surfaces of your shoes in a circular motion. Once dry, your shoes should be crystal white once again.

For more top tips, check out our guides to cleaning Converse, Vans, and even canvas sneakers right here.

Suede

White suede shoes are not overly common; however, if you do own a pair, then you probably know that suede can be notoriously difficult to clean.

PUMA product image of white suede shoes with gold and green details.
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Credit: PUMA

That said, a dedicated suede brush, like this Shackle bit of kit, should work well for removing surface dirt, then a rubber, like this Kiwi Suede Eraser, can be used for tougher stains.

Check out our guide to cleaning suede shoes for more information.

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Things To Avoid When Cleaning White Sneakers

It's important to treat your white sneakers carefully when cleaning them as one wrong move or product could result in irreversible damage.

Our number one piece of advice is to avoid using a washing machine or tumble dryer to clean your shoes. The intensity of the spin, water, and heat can damage delicate materials, often leading them to crack and deform.

We'd also recommend drying your white sneakers naturally as opposed to using any direct heat or sunlight. Much like the washing machine, the heat can cause your shoes to lose their shape and crack.

Next, we suggest not using any rough sponges or wired brushes during the cleaning process. Both will likely create small, permanent scratches to the surface of your shoes.

Our final tip is to avoid using any harsh cleaning products, particularly ones that contain bleach.

Dish soap, for instance, is a degreaser that could end up removing the oil from white leather. Not only that, but harsh chemicals can dry out your shoes as well which, again, can lead them to crack.

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