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How to Clean White Running Shoes and Keep Them Looking Brand New

Heorhii Rysak

White running shoes, with their pristine appearance and versatile style, have become a wardrobe staple for many. However, their very allure – that crisp, spotless finish – can be a double-edged sword. One encounter with a muddy puddle or an accidental spill, and the brilliance fades. Whether made of canvas, leather, or suede, the challenge of maintaining their newness is universal. This article aims to demystify the process of cleaning and care for every type of white shoe material. We’ll delve into specialized techniques, product recommendations, and expert tips to ensure that your favorite clean white sneakers always sport a fresh, just-out-of-the-box look.

Why Clean White Running Shoes?

White running shoes not only make a strong style statement but their cleanliness also impacts their longevity. Aesthetically, clean white shoes exude freshness, elevating any outfit. Functionally, regular cleaning removes harmful agents like dirt and sweat, extending the shoe’s life and ensuring comfort with every step.

Types of White Running Shoes:

Type of Shoes:

When it comes to white running shoes, materials matter. White canvas offers a lightweight and breathable option, popular for its casual look. White leather provides a sleeker finish with durability, while suede, with its soft, fuzzy texture, stands out for its elegance but demands extra care.

White Canvas Shoes vs. White Leather Shoes:

Canvas shoes tend to absorb stains more, making them a bit trickier to clean than leather. Leather shoes, however, can be wiped down easily, but they require conditioners to maintain their luster. Both have unique cleaning challenges but are equally rewarding when maintained well.

Materials Needed for Cleaning:

Cleaning white shoes, irrespective of their type, requires some basic supplies. This includes bleach (used judiciously), soapy water, white toothpaste for spot treatments, a soft brush or cloth, and for those who prefer natural methods, even baking soda and vinegar might come in handy.

Best Ways to Clean Your White Running Shoes:

How to Clean White Canvas Shoes:

Clean White Canvas Shoes with Soapy Water: A gentle yet effective way to clean canvas shoes is using soapy water. Mix a few drops of mild detergent in lukewarm water. Dip a soft brush or cloth into the solution and scrub the canvas in gentle circular motions. Rinse with cold water and let them air dry, away from direct sunlight.

Clean White Canvas Shoes with Bleach: For stubborn stains on canvas, a bleach solution can be handy. Mix one part bleach with five parts water to dilute its strength. Use a brush to apply, ensuring even coverage. Once done, rinse thoroughly and allow the shoes to dry. Always wear gloves and work in a well-ventilated area.

How to Clean White Leather Shoes:

Clean Leather Sneakers with Soapy Water: For leather sneakers, mix a few drops of dish soap in lukewarm water. Dampen a cloth with the solution and wipe the shoes gently, removing dirt and grime. Use a dry cloth to wipe off excess moisture, then let them air dry.

Clean Leather Sneakers with Special Leather Cleaner: Specialized leather cleaners can offer deep cleaning while preserving the shoe’s finish. Apply a small amount onto a cloth, gently working it over the shoe’s surface. These cleaners not only remove dirt but also condition the leather, ensuring it stays supple and shiny.

Special Techniques for Stubborn Stains:

Using White Toothpaste: White toothpaste and toothbrush can be a miracle worker for tough stains on sneakers. Apply a small dab directly onto the stain, then use a soft brush or cloth to scrub gently in circular motions. Rinse off with cold water. This method works particularly well for scuff marks and ground-in dirt.

Using Bleach Carefully: For extremely stubborn stains, diluted bleach can be a last-resort solution. Mix one part bleach with five parts water. Apply the mixture on the stain using a brush, ensuring minimal contact with unaffected areas. Rinse thoroughly afterwards. Always use gloves and ensure the room is well-ventilated.

How to Clean White Shoes in the Washing Machine:

Putting sneakers in the washing machine can be a time-saver, but it comes with risks. Remove insoles and laces first. Use a gentle cycle with cold water and a mild detergent.

Shoes in the Washing Machine: Do’s and Don’ts:

Do use a mesh laundry bag to protect the shoes. Don’t wash with bleach or heavy garments. Always let them air dry post-wash, avoiding direct sunlight or heaters which can warp their shape.

How to Keep Your White Shoes Clean Longer:

Stuff the Shoes to Maintain Shape:

After cleaning, stuffing your shoes with white tissue paper or clean cloth helps maintain their shape, preventing creases and wrinkles. This not only keeps them looking new but also ensures dirt and grime don’t settle in crevices, making future cleaning easier.

Use White Shoe Protectors or Sprays:

Investing in protective sprays or solutions specifically designed for white shoes can work wonders. These products form a protective barrier, repelling stains, liquids, and dirt. Applying them periodically, especially after cleaning, ensures your white shoes retain their immaculate appearance for a more extended period.

Cleaning Suede and Other Materials:

How to Clean Suede Shoes:

Suede demands delicate care. For mild dirt, use a suede brush to gently brush away surface grime. For stubborn stains, a clean cloth dampened with white vinegar can be dabbed onto the spot. Always brush the suede in one direction post-cleaning to maintain its texture.

Clean Your White Shoes Made of Other Materials:

For materials like mesh or synthetic blends, mix a gentle detergent in lukewarm or warm water and gently scrub using a soft brush. For patent leather or glossy finishes, a simple wipe down with a damp cloth followed by a dry one helps retain their shine and cleanliness.


Maintaining the pristine appearance of white shoes is achievable with the right methods tailored to different materials. From white canvas sneakers to suede, each requires unique care. Remember, consistent upkeep and protective measures not only combat stains but also extend the life and allure of your cherished white footwear.

Additional Tips

Ensure proper storage for your shoes, ideally in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight. Using shoe trees or silica gel packets can prevent moisture buildup. Lastly, rotating between pairs gives each set a rest, preserving their color and reducing wear and tear.


Can you clean your shoes with just soapy water?

Absolutely. Soapy water, made with mild detergent, is a versatile cleaning solution suitable for many shoe materials like canvas and leather. However, always test a small inconspicuous area first to ensure no discoloration occurs.

How often should I clean my white running shoes?

The frequency depends on usage. If worn daily, a weekly wipe-down is recommended, with a deeper clean once a month. However, if you notice significant stains or dirt, it’s best to clean them immediately to prevent permanent damage.

How to clean white nike running shoes?

For white Nike running shoes, first remove insoles and laces. Using a mixture of mild detergent and lukewarm water, gently scrub the shoe with a soft brush. Focus on stained areas but be gentle to preserve the shoe’s material. Rinse with cold water and air dry away from direct sunlight. For stubborn stains, a specialized sneaker cleaner might be beneficial. Always consult the care label or Nike’s recommendations before applying any cleaning agents.