How to Clean White Sneakers: Expert Tips and Tricks

How to Clean White Sneakers: Expert Tips and Tricks


Are your favorite white sneakers starting to lose their luster? Don't worry, we've got you covered. In this comprehensive guide, we will walk you through expert tips and tricks on how to clean white sneakers and restore them to their original pristine condition. From determining if your sneakers are machine washable to using the right cleaning products for different materials, we'll cover it all. So, let's dive in and bring back the sparkle to your white kicks!

Can You Put White Sneakers in the Washing Machine?

When it comes to cleaning white sneakers, one common question arises: can you put them in the washing machine? Tide Senior Scientist, Jennifer Ahoni, suggests checking the label on your sneakers before proceeding. While some sneakers are not suitable for machine washing, many canvas and cotton sneakers can withstand a gentle cycle. However, it's important to take a few precautions to ensure the best results.

To begin, use a dry soft brush to remove any excess dirt and mud from your sneakers. Then, create a solution of Tide Ultra OXI Liquid Laundry Detergent with Odor Eliminators and warm water. Scrub the soles of your sneakers with a brush to remove any stubborn dirt. Next, remove the shoelaces and place the sneakers into a mesh garment bag. It's advisable to wash the shoelaces separately in another garment bag. If your sneakers have insoles, remove them and wash them separately or follow the care label instructions for hand-washing.

Now, wash the sneakers on a delicate/gentle cycle in cold water using Tide Ultra OXI Power PODS® with Odor Eliminators. After the wash, make sure to air dry your sneakers. While it may take more than a day for them to dry completely, this step is crucial to prevent any damage and ensure optimal cleanliness.

The Best Method for Cleaning White Sneakers

The best method for cleaning white sneakers primarily depends on the care label instructions. If you cannot or prefer not to use a washing machine, handwashing is always a gentle and effective option. Jennifer Ahoni suggests mixing detergent with water in a bowl and using a brush to scrub the fabric. This method allows you to have more control over the cleaning process and is suitable for a variety of materials.

Macie Kreutzer, the founder of For the Love of Simple, recommends a DIY mixture of baking soda, white vinegar, and warm water. Apply this mixture to your sneakers using a medium bristle toothbrush, focusing on stains and scuff marks. The combination of these ingredients helps remove stains effectively while being gentle on your sneakers.

Cleaning Different Materials: A Tailored Approach

Different materials require different cleaning methods to ensure the best results. Let's explore how you can clean sneakers made from various materials:

Cleaning Leather Sneakers

Cleaning white leather sneakers is relatively easy compared to other materials. Begin by using a soft cloth to gently wipe away any stains. For more stubborn marks, you can use Crep Protect Wipes or a Magic Eraser. These products work well in buffing out marks and restoring the original color of your leather sneakers. Remember to be gentle while applying these products to avoid damaging the leather.

Cleaning Canvas Sneakers

Canvas sneakers, such as Chuck Taylors and Supergas, can be challenging to clean due to dirt penetrating the fabric. However, with a little effort, most stains can be removed. Start by mixing dish soap and water to create a soapy solution. Use a toothbrush to scrub the canvas in small, circular motions. After scrubbing, wipe down the sneakers with a damp towel to remove any remaining suds. It's essential to let your canvas sneakers dry between rounds of cleaning to assess the effectiveness and prevent any further staining.

Cleaning Suede Sneakers

Suede sneakers require a more delicate approach to cleaning. Begin by using a gentle brush to remove any surface dirt or scuffs. Avoid using water directly on suede, as it can leave water stains. Instead, you can use a suede eraser or a specialized suede cleaning solution to tackle specific stains. Gently rub the eraser or apply the cleaning solution following the manufacturer's instructions. Finally, use a soft cloth to brush the suede in one direction to restore its texture.

Cleaning Knit Sneakers

Knit sneakers, like Nike's Flyknit or Adidas's Primeknit, offer comfort and style but require extra care when cleaning. Start by dipping a clean cloth in soapy water and gently scrubbing the shoe in the direction of the knit. Avoid scrubbing too vigorously to prevent damaging the fabric. Wipe off any soapy residue and allow the sneakers to air dry completely before wearing them again.

To Bleach or Not to Bleach?

While bleach can be effective in removing stains, it's essential to proceed with caution, as it may damage certain fabrics and lead to permanent staining. Jennifer Ahoni advises against using chlorine bleach on white sneakers. However, color-safe bleach alternatives, such as Tide Plus Bleach Powder Laundry Detergent or The Laundress' All-Purpose Bleach Alternative, can be used as a gentler option. These products help dissolve stains, brighten fabrics, and visibly whiten your sneakers.

If you choose to clean canvas white sneakers with bleach, it's crucial to dilute the bleach with water to minimize the risk of damage. Clorox cleaning expert Mary Gagliardi recommends measuring one quart of water in a cup and adding one tablespoon of Clorox® Disinfecting Bleach. Stir the solution and gently scrub the canvas in a circular motion using a nylon brush. After one minute, spray the treated areas with hydrogen peroxide and rinse the shoe completely with clean water.

Effective Products for Cleaning White Sneakers

Apart from detergent and bleach alternatives, several other products can help you achieve squeaky-clean white sneakers. Jennifer Rodriguez, Chief Hygiene Officer at Pro Housekeepers, suggests using lemon juice or white vinegar as effective cleaning agents. Simply fill a cup with either ingredient and use a toothbrush to clean your sneakers. These natural solutions can be surprisingly powerful in removing stains and restoring whiteness.

Another effective option is The Laundress' Wash & Stain Bar, specifically formulated to dissolve oil and grease-based stains. Wet the bar and lather up a brush, then work the soap into the stains before removing it and patting dry with a damp, lint-free cloth. This method is especially useful for tackling stubborn oil stains on your white sneakers.

Tackling Oil Stains on White Sneakers

Oil stains can be particularly challenging to remove from white sneakers. The Wash & Stain Bar mentioned earlier is an excellent option for dissolving oil and grease-based stains. Jennifer Rodriguez also recommends using salt and hot water scrub, cream of tartar, or a mixture of laundry detergent and white vinegar. Apply these solutions to the stained areas, scrub gently, and rinse thoroughly.

Dealing with Yellow Stains on White Sneakers

If you notice yellow stains on your white sneakers, don't panic. There are solutions to minimize and even eliminate these stubborn stains. Jennifer Rodriguez suggests soaking your sneakers in a solution of salt and hot water, cream of tartar, or a mixture of laundry detergent and white vinegar. These solutions help break down the yellowing and restore the whiteness of your sneakers. Scrub gently, rinse thoroughly, and air dry to complete the process.

Drying White Sneakers: Best Practices

After cleaning your white sneakers, it's crucial to dry them properly to prevent any damage or odor buildup. Jennifer Ahoni recommends air-drying your sneakers to ensure the best results. If possible, dry them outside under sunlight, as it acts as a natural fabric brightener. However, if outdoor drying is not an option, choose a well-ventilated area like next to an open window or fan. Make sure your sneakers are completely dry before wearing them again to avoid any discomfort or potential mold growth.

When to Retire Your White Sneakers

While it's possible to extend the lifespan of your white sneakers through proper cleaning and care, there comes a time when they need to be retired. If your sneakers are falling apart, with the sole ripping or other significant damage, it may be time for a new pair. Additionally, some stains may be too stubborn to remove completely, even with the best cleaning techniques. However, a few imperfections can add character to your sneakers and tell a story of all the adventures you've had while wearing them.

Cleaning and preserving the pristine whiteness of your sneakers require a little effort and the right techniques. By following these expert tips and tricks, you can ensure that your white sneakers always look fresh and stylish. So, roll up your sleeves, gather your cleaning supplies, and give your sneakers the care they deserve. Step out with confidence, knowing that your white kicks are shining bright!

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This article was written by Muhammad Saleem Shahzad, Managing Editor of Fashion and Manufacturing. With more than a decade of experience in the Fashion industry, Muhammad reports on breaking news and provides analysis and commentary on all things related to fashion, clothing and manufacturing.