Keeping your shoes bright white is easier than you think with these cleaning tips.

By Ariel Klein
Updated May 20, 2020
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White shoes have become a wardrobe staple for both men and woman alike all year long. Whether you’re rocking a suit, a sundress, or your classic jeans and tee, white sneakers may be one of the most versatile items in your closet. The only downside to white shoes is learning how to clean them once the inevitable scuffs and scrapes start popping up which, let’s be honest, usually happens within the first two minutes of putting them on. Washing your white shoes can seem like a daunting task if you have yet to figure out the best way to get the task done.

In a perfect world, ice cream would have no calories, and white shoes wouldn’t get dirty. (OK, maybe that’s just one idea of a perfect world.) But what if there was a way to keep your beloved white shoes as pristine as they were when they were brand new? Trust us, it’s possible. Try out these step-by-step tips for how to clean white shoes to see for yourself how easy it is to keep canvas, suede, and leather practically spotless and looking like new.

Fortunately, in order to clean white shoes you don’t necessarily need a lot of fancy supplies or a particular white shoe cleaner. A little cleaning vinegar, baking soda, Magic Erasers, and more can be used to clean your white shoes, depending on the material of the shoes. Double-check what your white shoes are made of—we have easy guides for cleaning canvas, suede, and leather white shoes here—study the instructions, gather your ingredients, and get cleaning: Your white shoes will look clean and good as new before you know it.

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1
How to Clean White Leather Shoes

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

Step 1: Gather your materials.

You’ll need paper towels, Ivory soap, cotton rags (an old T-shirt works great), and Mr. Clean Magic Erasers ($7 for a pack of 9; amazon.com) to wash leather shoes.

Step 2: Tackle surface dirt.

Wet a paper towel, squeeze out excess water, and then gently wipe down the outside of your shoes. This will help remove any big pieces of dirt that are caught in different parts of the shoe. After you’re done with this step, let your shoes dry for 10 minutes.

Step 3: Clean the sole.

Wet your Mr. Clean Magic Eraser and squeeze out any excess water. Run the Magic Eraser up and down the soles of your sneakers or shoes until the dirt and stains are gone. You want to make sure your Magic Eraser is damp but not dripping all over your shoes.

Step 4: Scrub with soap.

And now, the most satisfying step. Wet your rag or cotton shirt and lather it up with some Ivory soap. In a small gentle motion, massage the upper part of the shoe until it returns back to its perfect white color. Wipe away any excess soap with the rag. After this last step, let your shoes dry again for 10 minutes.

Depending on how dirty your shoes were, you may need to repeat this process a few times, or see more tips for how to clean white leather sneakers, including those tricky shoelaces.

2
How to Clean White Canvas Shoes

You may think it’s difficult to get grime out of your white canvas shoes, but it’s actually pretty simple (maybe even easier than defeating smelly sneakers). Here’s how you can clean white shoes with baking soda and white vinegar.

Step 1: Gather your materials.

Go into your pantry and grab some baking soda and white vinegar to clean your white shoes.

Step 2: Combine all of your materials.

Mix a tablespoon of baking soda with two tablespoons of white vinegar and a cup of warm water.

Step 3: Start scrubbin’.

Dip a cloth or clean toothbrush into the paste and begin scrubbing away the dirt on your shoes. The baking soda mixture will dry pretty quickly. Once you’re finished scrubbing, brush off any remaining paste and let your shoes air dry.

If you don’t have baking soda and white vinegar, you can also learn how to clean Converse shoes (or another canvas shoe) with this soap and water method.

3
How to Clean White Suede Shoes

Cleaning suede shoes can be a little tricky since suede a delicate fabric that stains easily. Because of this, you’ve probably noticed most suede shoes don’t come in a true white hue. Same as true whites, though, off-whites can get dirty easily. Here’s how to clean suede shoes gently and effectively.

Step 1: Gather your materials.

You’ll need a soft cotton cloth, a pink pencil eraser, white vinegar, and a suede brush.

Step 2: Begin by blotting.

Blot your shoes with the 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 very gently rub any remaining stains. Once you’ve done that, you’ll want to allow your shoes to dry and then rub the outside of each shoe with a suede brush. This will help them get that velvety texture back.

RELATED: How to Clean Suede Boots