White sneakers are stylish, practical and useful. In fact, they should be a wardrobe staple for both ladies and gents, since they can be worn with almost all types of casual outfits. But despite their versatility, these shoes are extremely hard to keep clean, once you take them out of the box. In order to keep your white sneakers looking clean and fresh, you will have to clean them regularly. Whether your white sneakers are made of leather, fabric or canvas, here are some of the methods that you can use to clean them and maintain them in pristine condition.

Brush Away Dirt

If you have worn your white sneakers for a while and you’ve not bothered cleaning them, there is a high chance they have accumulated some grime, mud, dust or other forms of dirt. You need to remove this dirt first before you proceed with the rest of the cleaning process. Scrubbing away dry mud from the shoes will make your cleaning work easier. And you can do this using an old toothbrush, or a piece of cloth. Ensure you also remove the dirt that is lodged in the soles.

Clean the Upper

Once you’ve finished removing mud, grime, and dirt that is lodged on the shoes, it’s now time to give the upper a thorough cleaning. So, what can you use to clean the upper of your white sneakers to leave them sparkling? Well, you have numerous options to consider. You can use a commercial cleaner, bleach, baking soda or even toothpaste.


Bleach is an effective household cleaning agent that is found in almost all households. It’s mainly used to whiten laundry and remove stains, which means you can use it to clean your white sneakers. However, it’s important to dilute bleach carefully, to minimize or prevent damage to your shoes. Shoe-care specialists recommend mixing five parts of water for every one part of bleach. If you use too much bleach, your white sneakers might turn yellowish. After you’ve diluted the bleach, dip the old toothbrush that you were using to brush away the dirt and scrub the upper thoroughly. After that, rinse your shoes with warm water and then air dry them.

As much as household bleach is not considered toxic or corrosive, it can cause irritation to your mouth, eyes, ears, nose, skin, and lungs. Therefore, make sure you use it carefully. If you are using bleach to clean your white sneakers, ensure you do it in an area that is well ventilated. Also, protect your skin and eyes from excessive exposure to bleach. You also need to rinse your hands thoroughly after you’ve finished cleaning your shoes with this solution.

Baking Soda

Baking soda is also an excellent cleaning solution for white sneakers. Mix it with vinegar and hot water, and stir them until you obtain a thick paste. After a few minutes, the vinegar and the baking soda will begin to fizzle and form bubbles, as the two compounds react. Dip your old toothbrush into this mixture and then apply the paste evenly on the surface of your shoes. Once you’ve applied the solution on the entire upper, you should leave your shoes outside in warm and bright sunlight for approximately 3 to 4 hours. Once this mixture is dry, you should clap the sneakers together so that the dry paste can come off. After that, you should scrub the shoes with a dry toothbrush to remove the remaining paste. At the end of this process, you will notice that your shoes will be several shades whiter than they were.


If you are in a rush and your white sneakers have some ugly marks, you can use toothpaste to cover them up. Apply toothpaste on a toothbrush and then apply it directly to the areas that have stains. The toothpaste will cover these marks, leaving your shoes looking white and clean. And if you have enough time to give your sneakers a thorough cleaning, you can still use toothpaste to remove stains, just as it does on the teeth. It’s highly advisable to use non-gel, white toothpaste for this process. Colored toothpaste might leave stains on your shoes. Just like how you would clean shoes with baking soda or bleach, you will apply whitening toothpaste all over the shoes, while focusing on the stained and dirty areas. Let the toothpaste sit for around ten minutes and then use a damp, clean towel to wipe it off from the shoes. Repeat this process until the results are satisfactory.


You can also use an ordinary eraser to remove some scuff marks on your white sneakers. Using circular motions, buff the scuff marks gently until they are no longer noticeable. After that, you just need to wipe off the eraser’s debris using a soft piece of cloth. However, you should note that this method can only work with patent-leather and vinyl sneakers. If they are made of canvas, then the eraser will not remove the scuff marks.

Nail Polish Remover

Besides removing nail polish, this product is also an effective scuff marks remover. Before using it, ensure you test it on a less conspicuous area of your shoes. If it doesn’t leave any residue, then you can proceed to use it. Apply a small amount of it on a soft piece of cloth or a cotton ball, and then rub the area that has stains or scuff marks. Repeat the process until you have achieved satisfactory results. This method can work on a wide range of sneakers, from fabric to mesh, and canvas to patent leather.

Clean the Interior Parts

Apart from cleaning the exterior parts of the shoe, you also need to pay attention to the interior. If you fail to clean the interior properly, the moisture and dirt inside the shoes can provide a breeding ground for bacteria and fungi, which can lead to foot infections like athlete’s foot. The good news is that cleaning the interior of your shoes is only going to take a few minutes. You just need to mix vinegar with ordinary dish soap, and then scrub the interior of your shoes using a piece of cloth or a sponge. Ensure you also remove the insoles and give them a proper scrubbing using the above cleaning solution. Once you’ve finished cleaning them, you should then sprinkle some baking soda inside them to help with deodorization. Baking soda will absorb unpleasant odors and kill odor-causing bacteria, leaving your sneakers smelling fresh.

Closing Remarks

White shoes, in general, pick up dirt quite fast. Therefore, prevention is always the most effective method of keeping them white and clean. Before you put on your white sneakers for the first time, you should first treat them with a spray-on, water, and stain repellent. Ensure you repeat this process after 2 to 3 weeks. Also, make it a habit of spot-cleaning your shoes. While it might appear like a time-consuming and tedious process, it will make your work easier when it’s time to clean your sneakers. With the right care and maintenance, you will keep your white sneakers sparkling and looking new.

About the Author Cindy

Hello, I'm Cindy. I’m a super duper mega hiking enthusiast, with a love for everything that has to do with outdoors, hiking, gear, footwear and more.

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