How to Clean White Shoes (Like Vans or Converse) at Home

Have your white kicks turned yellow? Learn how to return leather, canvas, and suede shoes to bright white without bleach or expensive cleaners.

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Comfy white sneakers are a wardrobe staple for men and women. Whether you're rocking a suit, sundress, or classic jeans and a T-shirt, a stylish pair of white sneakers may be the most versatile item in your closet. The only downside is having to clean white shoes once the inevitable scuffs and scrapes start popping up. And let's be honest, it usually happens within the first two minutes of putting them on.

But what if there was a way to keep your beloved white Vans or Converse pristine without harsh chemicals, a dry cleaner, or a washing machine? Trust us, it's possible. Try out these three simple methods to clean your shoes by hand with items you likely already have in your closet or pantry. Before you get started, double-check what your white shoes are made of, study the instructions, and gather your supplies. Our step-by-step guides walk you through cleaning canvas, suede, and leather shoes with ease.

Person using a cloth to wipe a white leather shoe, teal background
Marisa Kikis

How to Clean White Leather Shoes

Leather is one of the easier materials to clean because it doesn't absorb as much water as most other fabrics. Here's how to give white leather sneakers a thorough cleaning:

Step 1: Gather your materials.

  • Paper towels
  • Basic white bar soap
  • Cotton rags (an old T-shirt works great)
  • Mr. Clean Magic Erasers

Step 2: Tackle surface dirt.

Wet a paper towel, squeeze out excess water, and gently wipe down the outside of your shoes. This helps remove big pieces of dirt caught on different parts of the shoe. After you're done, let your shoes dry for 10 minutes.

Step 3: Clean the sole.

Wet your Mr. Clean Magic Eraser and squeeze out excess water. (You want your Magic Eraser damp but not dripping all over your shoes.) Run the Magic Eraser up and down the soles of your shoes until dirt and stains are gone. Try to use only enough pressure to remove the stain, but not so much that you risk scuffing the fabric.

Depending on how dirty your shoes were, you may need to repeat this process a few times.

person using a toothbrush to clean a white shoe, teal background
Marisa Kikis

How to Clean White Canvas Shoes

You may think it's difficult to get grime out of white canvas shoes, but it's actually pretty simple (maybe even easier than deodorizing smelly sneakers). Here's how to clean those almost-new white Converse—or how to clean white Vans that turned yellow—with just baking soda and white vinegar.

Step 1: Gather your materials.

Step 2: Combine ingredients.

Slowly mix 1 tablespoon baking soda with 2 tablespoons white vinegar and 1 cup warm water. Let the fizz settle down before proceeding to the next step.

Step 3: Start scrubbing.

Dip a cloth or clean toothbrush into the mixture and begin scrubbing the dirt on your shoes. (The baking soda mixture dries pretty quickly.) Once you're finished scrubbing, brush off any remaining mixture, wipe with a damp cloth (if needed), and let your shoes air dry.

If you don't have baking soda and white vinegar, you can use generic dish soap and water.

Person using a pencil eraser on a white shoe, teal background
Marisa Kikis

How to Clean White Suede Shoes

Cleaning suede shoes can be tricky since suede is a delicate fabric that stains easily. You've probably noticed that most suede shoes don't come in a true white hue but, just like true whites, off-whites can get dirty easily. Here's how to clean suede shoes gently and effectively.

Step 1: Gather your materials.

  • Soft cotton cloth
  • Pink pencil eraser
  • White vinegar
  • Suede brush

Step 2: Begin by blotting.

Blot your shoes with a soft cloth to help remove any moisture. Then gently rub any stains with the pink pencil eraser.

Step 3: Dry with a paper towel.

Place a paper towel onto any wet stains and apply pressure. Make sure not to rub the dirt and stains, as they could spread across the shoe.

Step 4: Get rid of remaining stains.

Dip your soft cloth in white vinegar and gently rub any remaining stains. Once you've done that, allow your shoes to dry and then rub the outside of each shoe with a suede brush. This helps them get that velvety texture back.

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